Hypoallergenic dog breeds can be a blessing for the more than one in three people who suffer from various allergies that are caused by cats and dogs.
You may think that your runny nose, watering eyes, and wheezing throat means you can’t have your own furry friend, but thankfully, that is not the case. As you will discover, there are a number of breeds that are both unlikely to set off any allergies you may have, and ideal for living around any of these kind of health issues you have.
While it’s a misconception that you can get hypoallergenic dogs (no breed is 100% allergen-free, so please bear that in mind when you're reading this article), there are plenty of dogs to choose from that are much less likely to affect you. These ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds are either hairless, have shorter single coats, or shed less so produce less dander (ie, the flakes of skin in their fur that subsequently go on to cause allergies).
While these breeds are the most likely to keep you symptom-free out of the many breeds that exist, how they affect you and in what manner will ultimately still depend on you as a person, not to mention the individual dog in question.
You may prove to be completely fine with one Maltese, while another will have you in sneezing fits for some reason. It can't always be explained; sometimes that's just how it happens. You’ll have to choose your dog and see, but for now, let’s help you narrow down your choices, and see which dog breeds are most likely to live in harmony alongside you and your allergies.
PetsRadar's guide to hypoallergenic dog breeds
1. Afghan Hound
You may be surprised to find that the Afghan Hound is classed as a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog. This breed is instantly recognizable thanks to its long, shiny, flowing locks, but despite their thick coat, they actually don't shed as much as you might expect, thus making them a great choice for allergy sufferers. They will, however, need regular grooming in order to maintain that regal look.
Originally bred as a hunting companion in the mountains of Afghanistan, its hair actually serves to protect it from the cold climate. It’s a big, agile dog measuring 25-28 inches at shoulder height, and it’s fast, so it will obviously need regular exercise. While they’re very independent, this is a loving, loyal, and beautifully coiffed pet who will make you feel loved.
2. Bichon Frise
Having originated in the Mediterranean, Bichon Frise is French for 'curly-haired lapdog' and is famous for its fluffy white coat. While it doesn’t shed that often, you will still need to brush and groom this breed – the best dog grooming kit can come in handy here.
As its name suggests, the Bichon Frise makes for a wonderful lapdog and companion. These cheerful pups have bags of personality. The toy dog is small in size, so can be kept in an apartment if that's where you dwell, but don’t leave it alone for too long, as this is one breed that will always crave your attention.
3. Chinese Crested
There are two varieties of this unique-looking breed: hairless (with tufts of hair on its head, tail, and feet), and the powderpuff (coming with a thick, silky double coat). Both serve as good choices for allergy-sufferers, as dander and shedding is minimal.
Despite their name, the elegant Chinese Crested doesn't hail from China. In fact, it’s a descendant of the African hunting dog. The small breed measures between 11 and 13 inches tall, making it the perfect companion and lap dog. They love to lie in bed all day, but can also be playful, and once it warms to you, it will prove to be a devoted pet.
4. Coton de Tulear
You may not have heard of the Coton de Tulear, but it may nonetheless look familiar, as this sweet and cuddly breed is related to both the Maltese and Bichon Frise. Similarly, it is a great choice for a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog as, while its coat will grow long if it is not clipped, it only sheds occasionally, so you can put your mind at rest.
The Coton de Tulear gets its name from its fluffy, cotton-white coat, as well as its place of origin – a city in Madagascar. This playful dog breed gets on with everyone, including kids and other dogs, and will be more than happy to follow you around all day. Just be sure you keep him groomed and don’t leave him alone for too long.
5. Giant Schnauzer
One of the largest ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds about, the Giant Schnauzer’s wiry coat is low in dander, and doesn’t shed as much as other breeds. If you’re active and want a big dog – it stands at 27.5 inches at shoulder height – this pooch is not only full of energy, it is an intelligent and loyal companion.
Originally bred as a working dog in Germany and used to drive cattle, they are natural watchdogs and easy to train, but they’re also playful and affectionate.
6. Irish Water Spaniel
If you’re after a big dog, the Irish Water Spaniel is the tallest of the Spaniels, and is also a low shedding breed, making it appealing in this context. Its distinctive, liver-coloured curly double coat does, however, need to be brushed and trimmed regularly.
This sporting dog was originally bred to be a hunting dog, so they are strong, active, and love the water. Known as the clowns of the Spaniel family, while they take time to warm to strangers, these dogs are lots of fun nonetheless.
Named for its country of origin, Malta, the Maltese is one of the oldest and smallest dog breeds, and is thought to have been a lapdog for the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. It's seen a lot of history.
Small, but lively, this all-white breed adores its humans, and will shower you with affection. They make great family dogs, as they’re both playful and gentle. And the great news is that they don’t shed or drool very much, so as long as you make sure to brush them two to three times a week, you can return their cuddles.
It may be the national dog of France, but believe it or not, the Poodle actually comes from Germany. The breed was called ‘Pudel’, meaning puddle because of its swimming ability as a hunting dog used to retrieve birds from the water. Their famous haircuts served a purpose too! Owners groomed their dogs so that the fur would not weigh them down in the water, but their vital organs would be kept warm.
They may have hair that doesn’t stop growing, but Poodles hardly shed or drool, which is why they are considered ‘hypoallergenic.’ As well as their unique updos, Poodles are smart, loyal, and love to play.
9. Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog was once used by Portuguese fishermen to herd fish into nets. In addition to this, they were also used to retrieve waterfowl from the hunt, thus making them both easy to train, and fun-loving, active dogs that love the water.
The breed has two types of coat: long and wavy, and short with tight curls. Both types are single-coated, so they hardly shed at all. If you want a breed that’s friendly, playful, and an ideal family dog that’s less likely to set off an allergy, then this is the breed for you.
10. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
This Irish farm dog is both laidback and fun; and doesn't discriminate; they love everyone they meet. They not only make great family dogs, but they are a suitable breed for first-time owners and people in apartments. Just make sure they get at least a moderate amount of exercise so that their needs are met.
This medium-sized dog is not a big drooler or shedder, but its gently waved or curly hair will need lots of grooming. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is intelligent and independent, but also loyal and affectionate.
11. Kerry Blue Terrier
As you will probably have gathered from their name, the Kerry Blue Terrier originates from Ireland, where it was bred to hunt down ‘pests’ such as rats, hares and foxes. Afterwards, it evolved into a general dogsbody role, with herding sheep being one of its more common tasks.
The Kerry Blue Terrier doesn’t shed, which works in its favor when it comes to hypoallergenic dog breeds. It still needs regular brushing and bathing in order to keep its coat from getting matted, but really that’s a small price to pay for what is a dedicated and loyal dog breed.
12. Yorkshire Terrier
While they’re one of the better-known terrier breeds, they’re not quite as old as some other types, having been bred since the 1800s. Another former hunting breed, rats used to be their prey of choice. Over time, however, they evolved into more of a pet role, in which they flourished due to their inherent love of being pampered.
Yorkshire Terriers have hair rather than fur, and don’t shed, making them one of the more popular hypoallergenic dog breeds out there. Even though, they still need regular brushing in order to keep their coat in tip-top condition, so make sure you bear that in mind.
Otherwise known as a Mexican hairless dog (quite understandably), the Xoloitzcuintle has been around a long time – indeed, they are regarded as sacred in Mexican culture. While they’re not one of the more common breeds, they stand out due to their loyalty, intelligence, and independent nature.
Generally hairless, they are an ideal hypoallergenic dog choice for obvious reasons. Even the ones that do have some hair only shed minimally, so should you find yourself lucky enough to be the owner of one, they are one of the more ideal hypoallergenic dog breeds out there.
Do your research
While crossbreeds like the Labradoodle (cross between a Labrador Retriever and Poodle) are often thought to be the most ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds, it’s actually harder to determine how you may react to them as they may be more Labrador than Poodle. Still, it’s worth investigating all breeds. Just make sure you’re fully informed about their coats, grooming needs, size, and personality so you make the right choice for you.
In addition to choosing the right dog for your needs, it's important to think of the dog too. The last thing you want is to realize that this is a dog you can't live with, and subsequently have to give it up for adoption. As well as serving as a sad ending to your association with that breed, it's also something that can be avoided. With this in mind, please do your research, and make doubly sure that whichever dog you choose, it is the right one for you.
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.
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