The Best Dog Breeds for Managing Allergies
If you’re a dog lover but happen to be in the 10% of the population that suffers from dog allergies—there’s good news.
No breed is completely non-allergenic; all dogs produce pet dander, which is what triggers an allergic reaction for most people. However, there are fantastic, lovable breeds of hypoallergenic dogs. Hypoallergenic simply means that these breeds produce fewer allergens (some produce almost none), making these breeds far less likely to trigger a reaction in all but those who have the most severe cases of pet allergies.
In addition to pet dander (dried skin flakes), many people are allergic to dog saliva and urine. Pet hair or fur is not a significant cause of allergic reactions for most people; however, dander, saliva, and urine can get trapped in the fur, which can aggravate allergies if the fur is not swept up immediately. In general, if you’re a dog lover with dog allergies, you should look for breeds that have low-shed coats.
There are many dog breeds considered hypoallergenic. The American Kennel Club, for instance, officially recognizes 19 dog breeds as hypoallergenic, while other organizations recommend even more. Rather than go into detail about each specific breed, we’ve broken them into categories for you. Even if you’re adopting a mutt, looking for a dog with these characteristics, and spending some time with the dog before committing, will minimize allergic reactions:
Many dog lovers are reluctant to consider a hairless breed, but these dogs come in many shapes and sizes and are truly unique and adorable. Plus, lovable, energetic hairless dog breeds don’t shed, making them ideal for allergy sufferers. The American Hairless Terrier, the Hairless Chinese Crested, the Xoloitzcuintli, and the Hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid are all no-shed breeds that help cut down on dander in the home—and make clean-up much simpler!
Thick Curly-Coated Breeds
It may seem strange, but many dogs with thick double coats or curly coats are actually both low-shed and low-dander, which means they’re great for those with allergies. Breeds to consider include the Poodle, the Labradoodle (not officially a breed yet, but close enough!), the Bichon Frise, the Bedlington Terrier, the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Kerry Blue Terrier, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, and the Portuguese Water Dog, to name a few.
There are also several specific breeds that are known to produce less dander than other breeds, such as the Schnauzer (both the standard and the miniature), the Afghan Hound, and the Maltese. Adopting one of these dogs should reduce your chances of an allergic reaction.
Breeds to Avoid
If at all possible, allergy-sufferers should avoid breeds that produce excess slobber, such as the Saint Bernard and the Bulldog, breeds that are more difficult to housetrain, such as the Pekingese, breeds that have a tendency to wheeze, develop respiratory issues or have itchy, watery eyes, such as the Boston Terrier, and breeds that are prone to dry, itchy skin, such as the German Shepherd. All of these breeds, or mixed-breed dogs who have these same traits, are more likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
Other Tips for Minimizing Allergic Reactions
In addition to being careful about which breed you choose, or which characteristics you look for or avoid in a mixed-breed dog, dog owners can also decrease allergies by following a few simple steps:
Clean Doggie Areas Regularly.
Quickly sweeping up or dusting in areas where your dog likes to rest or play will instantly decrease allergens in your home. In addition, you should wash pet bedding and wash and disinfect food bowls regularly to keep allergies to a minimum—about once a week is sufficient for most people. If you don’t feel like dusting all the time, consider using a high-quality HEPA air filter or buying a compact air purifier to cut down on pet dander in your home.
Replace Chew Toys Frequently.
Since saliva is one of the main triggers for those who suffer from pet allergies, you should be sure to replace chew toys and anything else your dog likes to gnaw on frequently. Even better, keep a bin of soft chew toys by the back door and only use them when you’re playing outside, washing your hands immediately when you’re done playing. Use only rubber chew toys indoors, such as the classic Kong treat toy, and wash them with soap and hot water regularly.
Limit Your Exposure.
We know it’s tempting to cuddle up with your fur baby at night, but letting your dog sleep with you is one of the worst things an allergy sufferer can do. All of that dander gets into your mattress and is difficult to get rid of. Ideally, if you have allergies, you shouldn’t give your dog free reign of the house. Instead, use pet gates to confine your pet to a couple rooms—preferably ones that have hardwood floors! Not only will this make your dog easier to locate in the case of an emergency, it will also make clean-up easier and will give your dog a sense of routine. Clear boundaries actually makes dogs happier and less likely to suffer from anxiety, too. As long as your pooch is getting plenty of playtime and exercise each day, cutting access to most rooms in your home shouldn’t be an issue.
At Ambassador Animal Hospital, we love all dogs, and we are knowledgeable about the challenges and health concerns associated with specific breeds. We can discuss the best ways to protect your dog’s health during your pet’s annual wellness exam, provide regular, breed-specific grooming advice to reduce allergens, and much more.