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Hypoallergenic dogs: What breeds are best?

March 25, 2020

So you want to add a furry friend to your family, but you or someone you love is allergic to dogs. This presents one of those good-news, bad-news situations.

The bad news is, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, there truly is no such thing as a dog breed that’s 100% hypoallergenic. While cat allergies are twice as common as allergies to dogs, reactions to dogs tend to be more severe. (We’ll talk more about why below.)

The good news is some allergy sufferers can stifle the sneezes and live happily with their dog. Medication and treatments from an allergist can keep symptoms at bay, and so can choosing a low-shedding, “hypoallergenic” breed. But first, to understand why there is no such thing as a dog that’s completely hypoallergenic, let’s look at what causes an allergic reaction.

What causes an allergy to dogs?

When you’re around a dog, their skin cells (known as dander), saliva and urine contain proteins. When some humans are exposed to these proteins, it triggers an irritated response. When they get breathed in or touch the skin, the immune system identifies the protein as a potentially harmful foreign substance, so it starts producing antibodies, which sets off an inflammatory response. The result is a runny nose, a sneezing fit, itchy red bumps on the skin or an asthma attack.

For some, pet allergies are annoying but manageable, while in others, they’re quite severe.

Pet dander is a major trigger of dog allergies. The dander collects on pet hair, and when dogs are shedding, being groomed or petted, that can stir up the dander, releasing it into the air.

Because the dander collects on the skin, many sufferers find they can live very comfortably with a dog that does little to no shedding. If you decide to look into one of the so-called hypoallergenic breeds, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Spend time with the dog before it becomes a permanent family member. If possible, enter a trial living arrangement before committing to the pet.
  • To maintain an easy-breathing indoor environment, vacuum floors and upholstery, ideally with a machine with a HEPA filter.
  • All the named breeds below require regular brushing and grooming. If doing so sets off an allergic response, have a non-allergy sufferer in the house perform this task, followed by a thorough cleanup. Learn how to wash and brush your dog like a groomer.

Low-shedding, low-dander dog breeds for allergy sufferers

Irish Water Spaniel

This water retriever loves to swim, along with just about any outdoor activity, whether it’s hiking, hunting, running or biking, just as long as he can get his heart pumping and spend time with his humans. Intelligent and easy to train, this breed can be a good alternative to a Golden Retriever (which are known to produce a lot of dander). They have a double coat, which means they’re well-suited for winter weather. His curly coat is soft and a delight to pet. They’re low-shedders, which makes them easier on the sinuses, but their coats do need regular grooming.

Maltese

These smart, low-shedding dogs adore being at home with their humans. Though these people-pleasing dogs are easy to train and willing to perform tricks, they don’t need a lot of exercise beyond the daily walks and excursions. Their long, silky coats don’t shed a lot, but they need regular grooming and brushing to keep the mats and tangles away.

Portuguese Water Dog

Classified as a working dog, these were originally bred to retrieve nets from the water, and complete other errands for fishermen. Today, these high-energy dogs will joyfully bound across the yard, through the dog park, or into a body of water for a refreshing swim, and they’re wonderful with children. To prevent tangles and matting in their longish wavy coats, they’ll need daily brushing.

Poodle

Don’t be fooled. Yes, the breed evokes powdered-wigged courtiers on parade at the Hall of Versailles, but you don’t have to go into high-maintenance mode on their tight, curly coats if that’s not your thing. Poodles can sport a wash-and-comb cut and still be great-looking dogs. And there’s their keen intelligence. Adopt a poodle and you may be tempted, more than once, to boast about their intelligence on social media. Long associated with all things French, this active, athletic dog was originally bred in Germany. Its original name “pudelin” comes from its eagerness to splash headlong into lakes to retrieve ducks. Poodles come in three sizes, standard, miniature and toy, so there’s one to suit any size home. Their wiry coat seldom sheds, but regular brushing, baths and haircuts will keep them in good condition.

Yorkshire Terrier

Their human-like silky locks can be grown to long, poker-straight, flowing styles. But many also wear closely clipped coats for easy maintenance. Either way, this popular breed is known for being very easy on the allergies. They’re eager to head outside for their walks and backyard games, but at the same time, they don’t have high-energy needs, making this an ideal dog for laid-back family living. Though friendly, loving and very bonded to their families, their stubborn nature can interfere with your training regime. To maintain a soft coat, daily brushing is a must.

Afghan Hound

If you’re in need of a hypoallergenic workout buddy, the Afghan Hound is a great option. This is possibly the oldest dog breed in all of human history, and these dogs were bred to keep a lookout and sprint fast after their prey. For that reason, skip the off-leash walks. Their eyes and wispy hair give their faces a human-like quality that will stir your soul. If you enjoy a daily run and have a great big open yard (with the tallest fence you can find), you’ll provide happy living for your Afghan Hound.

Healthy itch-free skin starts with a healthy diet

Does your dog have an itchy coat? Whether or not your dog is considered one of the hypoallergenic breeds, scratching will certainly send dander flying into the air. Switching to a high-quality diet can make your dog feel better in his skin, and ease the sneezy living effects in the house. NutriSource is made from high-quality proteins and contains Good 4 Life, an exclusive blend of supplements that builds healthy skin and a healthy gut, so your furry friend feels and looks great, from nose to tail.

To find NutriSource, shop at your local independent pet retailer.