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. And dogs that don’t shed need haircuts from time to time.
This 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. We asked Richter to describe the 10 hypoallergenic dog breeds he’d recommend to potential owners with allergies, and why they’re potentially good fits. Read on to get a better idea of how you can side-step a few sneezes.
“Poodles come in just about all sizes, from teacup miniature to full-size standard poodles,” he says. “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 spotless 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.