Hypoallergenic dog breeds are a blessing for the more than one in three people who suffer from allergies 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’s not the case.
While it’s a misconception that you can get hypoallergenic dogs (no breed is 100% allergen-free), 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 (the flakes of skin in their fur that cause allergies).
While these breeds are the most likely to keep you symptom-free, it will still depend on you as a person and the individual dog. You may be completely fine with one Maltese, while another has you in sneezing fits. You’ll have to choose your dog and see but, for now, let’s help you narrow down your choices.
The top 10 hypoallergenic dog breeds
1. Afghan Hound
You may be surprised to find that the Afghan Hound is classed as ‘hypoallergenic.’ This breed is instantly recognizable with its long, shiny, flowing locks but, despite their thick coat, they don't shed that much making them great for allergy sufferers. They will, however, need regular grooming to maintain that regal look.
The Afghan Hound was originally bred as a hunting companion in the mountains of Afghanistan so its hair actually served 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 need regular exercise. While they’re very independent, this is a loving, loyal and beautifully coiffed pet.
2. Bichon Frise
Originating in the Mediterranean, Bichon Frise is French for curly-haired lapdog. Famous for its fluffy white coat, the breed is one of the American Kennel Club’s top picks for ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs. While it doesn’t shed that often, you will 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 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, but don’t leave it alone for too long, This is one breed that will 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 (with a thick, silky double coat). Both make 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 11 to 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 be a devoted pet.
4. Coton de Tulear
You may not have heard of the Coton de Tulear, but it may look familiar as this sweet and cuddly breed is related to the Maltese and Bichon Frise. Similarly, it is a great choice for a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog as, while its coat will grow long if not clipped, it only sheds occasionally.
The Coton de Tulear gets its name from its fluffy, cotton-white coat and its place of origin – a city in Madagascar. This playful breed gets on with everyone including kids and other dogs and will happily follow you around all day. Just make sure you groom it and don’t leave it alone for too long.
5. Giant Schnauzer
One of the largest ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds, 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, standing 27.5 inches at shoulder height, this pooch is not only full of energy, but 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. Its distinctive, liver-coloured curly double coat does, however, need to be brushed and trimmed regularly.
This sporting dog was 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.
Named after 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.
Small, but lively, this all-white breed adores its humans and will shower you with affection. They make great family dogs as they’re playful but gentle. And the great news is 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 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 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. They were also used to retrieve waterfowl from the hunt making them 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. If you want a breed that’s friendly, playful and an ideal family dog that’s less likely to set off an allergy, this is the breed for you.
10. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
This Irish farm dog is laidback and fun; 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 a moderate amount of exercise.
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.
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.
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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