All too often, allergies stop us from doing things we love, like going on long nature hikes or dotting fresh flowers around the house. But allergies are especially frustrating when they stop dog lovers from having a canine companion by their side. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, three out of every 10 Americans have an allergy to cats or dogs (although cat allergies are more common). Depending on the severity of your allergy, your dream of getting a dog could still become a reality thanks to the long list of hypoallergenic dogs that are perfect for people who have pet allergies.
Now, this is a good-news-bad-news situation. The bad news is there’s no such thing as a dog that doesn’t produce at least some dander and shedding. And as an allergy sufferer, you may already know that dander and dog hair are what cause you to start sneezing and breaking out in hives when you partake in too many puppy snuggles. Essentially, dander is made up of dead skin cells, while a pup’s fur picks up all kinds of things that contribute to your allergies, including pollen, saliva, and urine.
The good news is there are quite a few hypoallergenic dogs out there who shed a whole lot less than their non-hypoallergenic counterparts. First, a quick disclaimer: While some dog breeds are called non-shedding dogs, all pups shed at least a little bit. That label just means they shed less than your standard dog. Meanwhile, hypoallergenic dogs earn their title because their fur picks up fewer allergens, making them a good choice for someone who suffers from allergies.
Because allergies tend to be mercurial things, it may take a bit of trial and error to find the right hypoallergenic dog for you and your family. In addition to looking for a breed that matches your lifestyle, you should also spend some time with the pup before you bring them home to ensure they won’t wreak havoc on your allergies. Ultimately, no dog will be 100 percent hypoallergenic, but with a bit of research, there’s still a good chance you can find the right four-legged friend for you.
What does it mean for a dog to be hypoallergenic?
Hypoallergenic doesn’t mean allergy-free. Instead, it means the breed sheds less than the average dog. As a result, these dogs spread fewer allergens in your home, making it easier for allergy sufferers to have the indoor pet they’ve always wanted (that isn’t a goldfish, anyway). The American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that dogs with non-shedding coats pick up less dander, which is generally the root cause behind your allergies.
If you do find the pooch of your dreams, then you should still be aware that due to your allergies, there may be more upkeep involved in taking care of your new pet than your average dog-owner experiences. The Mayo Clinic suggests taking the following precautions after bringing your dog home to help keep your allergies at bay:
- Give your hypoallergenic breed a weekly bath to remove dander.
- Avoid letting your dog in your bedroom.
- Remove carpeting from your home to keep dander from collecting on your floors, or be prepared to shampoo carpets regularly.
- Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to improve the air quality in your home.
Ultimately, all pet owners have to do their fair share of extra cleaning after inviting a furry friend into their homes. It’s just that a regular cleaning regimen can make all the difference when you have a pet and allergies.
What types of dogs don’t shed?
Just as no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, all dogs shed at least a little bit. A non-shedding breed simply sheds less than their regular counterparts, but that slight distinction can make all the difference for a person with allergies. In fact, the Mayo Clinic recommends choosing a smaller non-shedding breed because they produce less dander overall. (Although, you should also pay close attention to a breed’s temperament and energy level to be sure you’re getting the right dog for your family as a whole.) With that in mind, the following dog breeds are classified as hypoallergenic by the AKC.
Small Hypoallergenic Breeds:
- Miniature and toy poodles
- Bichon frisé
- Coton de Tulear
- Miniature schnauzer
- Shih Tzu
- Yorkshire terriers
- American hairless terrier
- Chinese crested
- Toy and miniature Xoloitzcuintli
Medium Hypoallergenic Breeds:
- Kerry blue terrier
- Bedlington terrier
- Border terrier
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Wire fox terrier
- Soft-coated wheaten terrier
- Standard Xoloitzcuintli
- Standard schnauzer
- Spanish water dog
Large Hypoallergenic Breeds:
- Standard poodle
- Giant schnauzer
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Irish water spaniel
- Afghan hound
And if you have pet allergies, a few breeds known for being nose-tickling triggers include:
- Boston terrier
- Basset hound
- Doberman pinscher
- German shepherd
- Labrador retriever
Which hypoallergenic dog is best for me?
Whether you have allergies or not, choosing the right dog for you and your family is a big decision. In addition to visiting with potential pets, you should also thoroughly research the breed to make sure it’s a good fit for your particular situation. After all, a dog that’s good with seniors may not be suitable for kids. Additionally, you need to think about how much room you have to offer a pup, whether or not you want a high-energy breed or a lap dog, and whether you’re prepared to adopt an older dog or if you want to take on puppy duty.
Much like people, all dogs have their own personalities, so you should definitely consider their unique temperament alongside how they may affect your allergies. There’s no easy answer to which dog is best for you, but with a little bit of time and research, you’ll be bringing home a new furry member of your family in no time.
Can you develop pet allergies later in life?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. You can become triggered later in life. So, if you didn’t feel allergic to your pup before but now feel sneezy around them, you may have developed a pet allergy. If you find yourself in this specific pickle, brush your pup often to reduce shedding, vacuum your home regularly, and use anti-allergy sprays.
Can you build up an immunity to dog allergies?
Sure, some people may outgrow their allergies and develop an immunity to dogs. That sort of immunity doesn’t always happen, though. So, if you’re hoping for it upon the arrival of your new pup, the opposite may actually occur — you may end up having a severe allergic reaction. But let’s say you have a hypoallergenic dog you regularly bathe that’s still giving you the sniffles. In that case, allergy shots should help diminish your dog allergy.
What are the signs of dog allergies?
Dog allergies feel a little different than the run-of-the-mill cold. For one, they usually flare up after being in contact with a dog or its fur. A few symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Nasal congestion/facial pressure
- Itchy nose
- Scratchy throat or the roof of the mouth
- Postnasal drip
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