There’s a double-edged sword that comes with loving dogs but also being allergic to their fur. You want to pet all the dogs you encounter—perhaps you’ve even considered hugging one or five—but you know that as soon as you pull away, you’re likely going to have itchy eyes or a runny nose. Some of us, considering these reactions, decide that it’s easier to love from a distance. But others don’t want a few sneezing spells to get in the way of their adoration, so they consider bringing home hypoallergenic dogs.
“The term ‘hypoallergenic’ is a bit of a misnomer,” Gary Richter, DVM, resident veterinarian at Rover, says. “When people say hypoallergenic, usually they are referring to dogs that don’t shed as much as others. Less shedding means less hair and dander in the environment, which can help some people who have allergies. Whether a person has an allergic reaction to any specific dog, however, is an individual response.”
If you find that you’re allergic to dogs but you’re still looking to welcome one into your family, Richter says that there are upsides and downsides. On the one hand, you’ll have less hair to clean up. And on the other, although Richter doesn’t necessarily want to call it a negative, you’ll have to groom these dogs more. “People with dog allergies should bathe their dogs a little more often,” he continues. “Depending on the dog and the person, perhaps once every two weeks, give or take.
Schedule regular grooming appointments for dogs that don't shed as they need haircuts and brushing from time to time to avoid matting.
The need for regular grooming does create an expense when it comes to caring for these dogs. Nevertheless, a little extra pampering is worth it if you’re set on a four-legged companion. Here are 20 hypoallergenic dog breeds that deliver all the joys of pet ownership — without the sneezing.
“Poodles come in just about all sizes, from teacup miniature to full-size standard poodles,” says Richter. “They are highly intelligent and tend to live long.” Although there are no definite conclusions around the idea that smaller poodles are better for those with allergies than larger poodles, smaller versions will obviously shed less and require less grooming.
“These dogs are definitely on the smaller side,” Richter notes. “Yorkies are independent and confident but also good-natured.” Since Yorkshire Terriers have coats that are more akin to human hair than fur, they produce fewer allergens. But grooming is still important because saliva and dandruff can possibly cause reactions.
“These dogs are gentle, playful, and love to have a good time,” Richter notes. Bichon Frise also don’t shed or drool much, making them a great choice for people who like to keep their space spotlessly clean.
Looking for a small dog that will be game for adventures? Richter calls Miniature Schnauzers “fearless and loyal,” for those who want their dog to keep up. Plus, their double coats—which consists of a soft undercoat and a rougher top coat—keep hair from shedding too much.
“This is a great little dog for apartment dwellers or people with less active lifestyles,” he notes. “They are lovable and playful.” Maltese also have hair instead of fur, so they’ll shed less than non-hypoallergenic dogs.
“Griffons are fun little dogs with an adorable face,” he adds. “They are a joy to have around.” Smooth-coated griffons are the best choice for those seeking a hypoallergenic dog since those coats shed the least.
“Shih Tzus are my personal favorite,” Richter says. “They are eager to please and happy to go anywhere, although they’re also satisfied just to hang out at home with their people.” Shih Tzus also have a double-coat that resembles hair more than fur, making them shed less.
“These dogs are playful and affectionate,” he adds. “Havanese are a good small dog for people who like to get outside.” On top of that, Havanese don’t have as much dander in their coats, making them a great hypoallergenic choice.
Portuguese Water Dog
If you’re looking for a companion, Richter says that Portuguese Water Dogs are very loyal. “They also love to go outside to play and swim. Just know, too, that they have a tendency to be opinionated.” Portuguese Water Dogs have a single coat that doesn’t shed often, but it’s a good idea to groom them frequently.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
“These are spirited and energetic dogs that love to get out and exercise,” he says. Again, it’s the soft-coat of this pick that’s best for allergies, because it will shed less.
Shedding isn't an issue with this spunky toy breed. Besides a face-framing fringe and plumed tail and paws, the hairless version of the Chinese Crested (the coated version is known as a Powderpuff) is completely fur-free. That's great news for allergy sufferers, but it should be noted that special care is necessary to prevent the hairless pup from sunburn and other skin irritations.
The lineage of the Xoloitzcuintli ("Xolo," for short) dates back more than 3,000 years when the ancient breed coexisted with the Aztecs. Other than a tuft of fuzz between its ears, the Xolo is totally devoid of hair; however, even hairless dogs produce dander, so regular doggy baths are necessary to help keep allergies at bay.
Russkaya Tsvetnaya Bolonka
The wavy coat of the Russkaya Tsvetnaya Bolonka ("Bolonka" for short) is low maintenance by design. This toy breed was developed in Russia in the 19th century, a time when shampoo and other grooming products were hard to come by. And like its ancestors the Toy Poodle and the Shih Tzu, the Russkaya Tsvetnaya Bolonka boasts the added advantage of having a hypoallergenic coat.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
Dating back to 750 AD, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is an ancient breed that was revered in Chimu, Chancay, and Incan cultures. Initially a small lapdog, the breed has since been developed to also arrive in medium and large sizes. The Peruvian Inca Orchid's most recognizable feature has remained, however: its hairlessness, which proves the dog to be a welcome companion for allergy sufferers.
With a lineage that can be traced back to Renaissance Italy, the Lagotto Romagnolo has been delighting dog lovers for centuries, thanks to its friendly demeanor and signature curls. These dogs are cloaked in a double-coat of thick, woolly hair, and they shed minimally. The Lagotto Romagnolo's coat is also waterproof, as this breed was bred to be a waterfowl retriever.
With a German name that translates to “monkey-like terrier," this ape (and Ewok) lookalike was developed in 17th-century Germany as a ratter and family companion. Its dense, wiry coat can range from black to red, but all variations of this mustached toy breed are said to be hypoallergenic, as they shed minimally.
This breed's long, luxurious coat has been its crowning glory for thousands of years. In fact, it's said that the Afghan Hound is the oldest of the purebred dogs, with origins predating written history. While the breed's free-flowing fur is reputably hypoallergenic, it requires regular grooming to keep it clean and tangle-free.
With its smiling expression and gentle brown eyes hidden behind a mop of curly fur, the Barbet is decidedly huggable, with a friendly, social disposition to match. This centuries-old breed was developed in France as a flusher and retriever of waterfowl, and its dense, woolly coat allowed it to withstand wet conditions. Nowadays, the Barbet's shaggy, non-shedding fur is also noted for its hypoallergenic qualities.
A cross between a Poodle and a Cocker Spaniel, the scruffy, wavy-coated Cockapoo boasts the distinction of being the first "designer dog." This happy-go-lucky breed is particularly popular with families due to its friendly, outgoing disposition and hypoallergenic coat, which can be attributed to its Poodle heritage. Make note, though: The Cockapoo isn't immune to inheriting the shedding trait from the Cocker Spaniel side of its parentage.
Coton de Tulear
The official dog of Madagascar, where the breed was developed during the 17th century, the Coton de Tulear is known for its happy, spunky personality and minimally shedding coat. Its fluffy white fur gives the breed the look of a cotton ball prancing on four paws, and the resemblance hasn't gone unnoticed: "Coton" is French for cotton.