Need a hypoallergenic canine friend to keep you company? Despite the hype, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. Moreover, no breed can guarantee you won’t have an allergic reaction. Vets say every individual dog is different, so breed-shopping is not as helpful as you might think.
Is there no hope? There is, but the issue must first be clarified. The allergens aren’t in the fur itself; they are carried in urine, saliva and dander. Dander comes from the normal sloughing off of dogs’ dead skin. To get below your allergic threshold, these are the elements to which you must minimize your exposure.
Of course, hair, fur and feathers can carry these particles, and that’s why you’ll see some less hairy breeds on this list. If you are serious about reconciling your allergies with your love for Fido, you’re best bet is the play the odds and seek out creatures less likely to cause irritation. The best dogs for people with allergies are generally those that have less fur, shed less skin dander, and produce fewer allergens than other canines.
1. Bedlington Terrier
The loyal Bedlington Terrier is beloved for its smarts, athleticism and serious loyalty to the humans it adopts as family. These joyful sporting pets have boundless energy and are never too tired to play a game. Like many breeds with a mane of dense curls, the Bedlington sheds relatively little of its rough-and-soft coat, earning it a reputation for being allergy-friendly. Bedlingtons must be groomed at least once a week to keep their coat and skin in tip-top shape.
2. Bichon Frise
Weighing no more than twelve pounds, the amiable Bichon Frise is the perfect lapdog. Resembling a small pile of cotton balls, the all-white toy dog breed makes a docile companion that quickly becomes attached to people. In recent years, the Bichon has surged in popularity as a possible non-allergenic alternative to heavy shedders. Certainly, its diminuitive size means it has less overall skin particles to shed. Brush your Bichon Frise daily and see a professional groomer every three to four months to maintain you and your pet’s health.
3. Chinese Crested
If the Chinese Crested could speak, it would say ‘bald is beautiful.’ This breed has won more than its fair share of ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ awards, but for those graced with the delicate Chinese Crested’s companionship, there’s no lovelier creature. While some pets dubbed ‘hypoallergenic’ require extensive grooming to ensure their coats stay tidy, owners of fur-less Chinese Crested dogs can skip this chore.
4. Irish Water Spaniel
Good natured and easygoing, the top-knotted Irish Water Spaniel is an endearing low-allergen option. The curly-haired “Bog Dog,” born on the Emerald Isle, is one of the oldest and rarest of spaniels. Its thick brown, poodlelike coat is tightly wrapped into a single layer that sheds minimally. Given proper hairstyle maintenance, the Irish Water Spaniel is a top alternative for many dog lovers afflicted with allergies.
5. Kerry Blue Terrier
Another descendant of old Ireland, the Kerry Blue Terrier is indeed the color of the sky, at least on an overcast day. The Irish Kerry’s demeanor, however, is anything but blue. A happy, poodlelike giant, its cheery temperament tends to rub off on the people around it. The Kerry Blue’s soft, wavy coat is unique in that it’s not fur at all, but real hair—and it doesn’t shed a bit. It does grow, however—and like human hair, it will just keep getting longer until you trim it.
A small dog with a big personality, the silken-haired Maltese is a supremely gentle breed with an active mind. It can be an enjoyable paradox living with a Maltese. This fearless little dog has an inspiring ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude, but it can also be incredibly emotionally sensitive. Many people believe this breed unleashes less dander in the environment than other dogs. Maltese won’t shed hair provided a conscientious brushing and bathing routine is sustained.
Although there aren’t any completely dander-free dogs, there are definitely ones known to keep their hair and skin to themselves exceptionally well—like poodles. If you are looking for a cuddle buddy, poodles and poodle mixes are good candidates. Famous for their dense curly tresses, their coats seem designed to retain loose hairs and skin dander. Many people swear by poodles’ ability to give those with pet allergies a chance to enjoy a dog in their home with minimal stress.
8. Portugese Water Dog
The Portuguese water dog is a good fit for active families. As its name suggests, the all-swimming Portuguese loves water, having been bred centuries ago to help fishermen make a living off the sea. Today, the Portuguese water dog enjoys special attention for its desirable single-layer, non-shedding coat, perfect for the allergy-prone. It recently took up residence in the White House, as the president’s normally allergic daughter proved able to tolerate this rare breed.
9. Miniature Schnauzer
Bright-eyed and often crop-tailed, the German-bred mini schnauzer is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, in part because of its coveted ability to save sensitive humans the misery of allergy attacks. Although many low-shedding pets have just a single layer of hair, the bearded schnauzer features a thickly woven double coat and a more coarse outer layer on top of that. A full grooming is recommended every month or two to help keep the schnauzer’s salt-and-pepper coat clean and its skin well-exfoliated.
10. Mexican Hairless
Among dogs that don’t shed, the Mexican hairless is about as allergy-friendly as it gets. Also called the Xolo—pronounced “Sho-loh,” this native americano makes a lively companion with an appealing and sociable personality. Given an outlet for its energy, the Xolo is very easy to train. Is it really hairless? Yes, for the most part, although there may be some tufts on the head or tail. The Xolo’s smooth, baby-soft skin doesn’t attract fleas or burrs, and it won’t shed fur or much dander either.