Pet allergies affect an estimated 10-20% of the worldwide population - and ironically, many of these sufferers are also dog lovers! For those who are desperate to have their own canine buddy, it’s a horrible situation to be in. But if you’re one of these people, you’ll be pleased to hear that hypoallergenic dog breeds might just be able to help you out.
What causes a dog allergy?
Before we talk about hypoallergenic dogs, it’s important to understand what actually causes pet allergies:
Net Doctor explains “The proteins from the body oils, saliva or urine of household pets cause an allergic reaction that attacks the eyes and the airways and can result in asthmatic symptoms and rhinitis (hay fever). It may also cause atopic dermatitis (eczema) or nettle rash.” “Animal allergens are proteins, which when in contact with the skin or breathed in, provokes the body into producing histamine causing an allergic reaction. The histamine produces swelling and irritation of the upper airways and causes typical hay fever and asthmatic or skin symptoms.”
People often assume that their dog allergies are completely down to dog hair - but this isn’t necessarily true. As we just heard, animal allergies are proteins. These proteins are found in a dog’s saliva and urine - so that means a hairless or low shedding dog can, in some cases, still trigger allergies.
What is a hypoallergenic dog?
So, here’s the reality of hypoallergenic dogs: they don’t actually exist. No dog is 100% hypoallergenic because, as we’ve already mentioned, all dogs shed some allergens.
“The term ‘hypoallergenic’ is a bit of a misnomer,” Dr Gary Richter, a veterinarian at Rover, explains. “When people say hypoallergenic, usually they are referring to dogs that don’t shed as much as others. Less shedding means less hair and dander in the environment, which can help some people who have allergies. Whether a person has an allergic reaction to any specific dog, however, is an individual response.”
When people refer to hypoallergenic dogs, they’re talking about the breeds which shed little to no fur, often making them a better fit for allergy sufferers. Some hypoallergenic dog breeds also produce less saliva, further reducing the chance of an allergy attack.
This might not be the case for everyone though. If you suffer from allergies, it's essential to spend some time with your dog of choice before committing - even if the breed is supposedly hypoallergenic.
Best hypoallergenic dogs
There are tons of so-called hypoallergenic dog breeds, in all sorts of shapes and sizes. All these breeds produce less dander than others, but it’s important to note that the amount of dander produced by different dogs of the same breed can still vary greatly. That’s why it’s so important to spend time with a pup before adopting it, especially if you have severe allergies.
We’ve picked out our top 5 hypoallergenic dog breeds for you to consider if dogs tend to make you go ‘aah-choo!’.
We had to include the Poodle in our top hypoallergenic dog breeds list! They come in so many different shapes in sizes, have a curly, hypoallergenic coat, are highly intelligent and tend to live a long time - where could you go wrong? They’re very loyal pups, and suit anything from busy family homes to an active elderly person looking for a companion.
Just like the Poodle, Schnauzers come in multiple sizes - all of which, have low dander and hypoallergenic coats. If you’re looking for a dog who’s up for adventures, Schnauzers are a great choice. They’ve got tons of energy to burn and love being out and about - and that's true even for the miniature breed. Giant Schnauzers are often used as police dogs and search and rescue dogs, so if you’re hoping for a loyal companion who’ll be a good guard dog, they’re a worthy pick, too.
There are numerous Terrier breeds to choose from which are well suited to those with dog allergies. Some of the most hypoallergenic terrier breeds are the Cairn Terrier, the Airedale Terrier, the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Bedlington Terrier, though this list isn’t exhaustive. In general, Terriers are feisty little pups with a double dose of attitude. But providing they’re trained and socialized well, they’re known to be very friendly, energetic, playful and independent companions.
These remarkable looking dogs are often chosen by allergy sufferers because their coat doesn’t shed, and is the same pH as human hair - meaning no dander! Afghan Hounds are gentle, sensitive creatures who are happiest in a calm household with lots of love and attention. And while their coat might help you avoid dog allergies, it will require quite a lot of time and maintenance.
Affectionate, cheerful, feisty, gentle, playful and intelligent all in one? That’s the sweet little Bichon Frise for you! If you live in an apartment and are prone to dog allergies, these pups could be a fantastic match for you. Although they need daily walks and plenty of toys, Bichon Frises adapt to small living spaces and have a non-shedding coat. Perfect!
But there are so many great options for those who suffer from dog allergies. Allergy&Air provide this comprehensive list of dog breeds which are commonly referred to as hypoallergenic and are well worth researching:
- American Hairless Terrier
- Border Terrier
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Chinese Crested
- Coton de Tulear
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Italian Greyhound
- Lagotto Romagnolo
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Polish Owczarek Nizinny
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Puli / Pulick
- Spanish Water Dog
- Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
- Tibetan Terrier
- Welsh Terrier
- West Highland White Terrier
- Wirehaired Fox Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier