About 15-30% of all Americans are affected by allergies to cats and dogs, according to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Many of them are animal lovers who would be thrilled with a new pup or kitty, but can’t get one because of the strength of their allergic reactions.
Yet people with allergic reactions to cats and dogs are actually not excluded from the joys of welcoming a pet to the family. If you are one of them, you would be glad to know that there are hypoallergenic dog breeds of all shapes and sizes. In fact, many of the most popular dog breeds are hypoallergenic and therefore adequate for pet lovers suffering from allergies.
So if you’re looking for a low-shedding companion but you are not yet sure what you’re looking for, you can start with our list of the 19 best hypoallergenic dog breeds for people that suffer from allergies.
What are hypoallergenic dog breeds ?
Dog allergies are caused mostly by the protein found in canine saliva and dander. While most of us are okay with these particles, in some people they can induce severe allergic reactions. Hypoallergenic dog breeds are the ones that have a non shedding coat, or short single-layered coat, and they don’t produce dander as much as other breeds.
Is any dog 100% hypoallergenic ?
There are no dogs that are 100% allergen-free – the term “hypoallergenic” means that they are less likely to trigger allergies in people. Hypoallergenic dogs don’t shed as much hair and dander as other breeds, which makes them a great choice for people with allergies.
The minimal amount of shedding doesn’t offer perfect protection against allergic reactions, and the only dogs who don’t shed at all are the hairless varieties, so you should know that even hypoallergenic breeds come with a certain risk.
According to Dr. Lynn Buzhardt, a veterinarian who writes for VCA Hospitals, what exactly makes a dog hypoallergenic is still the subject of heated debate in the scientific community. In her view, how hypoallergenic a dog is may depend on individual factors concerning the individual dog and person, instead of universal ones, like specific characteristics possessed by the dog.
For example, not all dogs produce the same proteins, so if someone is allergic to a specific dog, that doesn’t make them allergic to the entire breed by default. Most scientific studies tend to support the claim that there is no universal hypoallergenic dog breed and the potential of an allergic reaction depends on the individual dog and person.
That being said, the most hypoallergenic dog breeds usually have one of these characteristics: hairlessness, a low-shedding coat or a short, single-layered coat, all of which significantly lower the production of dander and the likelihood of it spreading around in your home.
The best hypoallergenic dogs (dog breeds)
In the list below you will find 19 hypoallergenic breeds that could make an amazing addition in the home of any allergy sufferer!
The Basenji is a breed of hunting dog that originated in central Africa with an unusual yodel-like sound that’s earned it the nickname “the barkless dog”. Often described as curios, clever, confident and alert, the Basenjis are high-performing, independent dogs with a short coat adapted to the hot climate of Africa that requires little grooming.
They rarely shed and don’t have the typical dog smell. Besides being low-maintenance, Basenjis make loving family members who can easily adapt to apartment living, as long as their owners provide enough exercise to meet their high energy levels.
Appfenpinscher breed (Monkey Terrier)
Also known as the Monkey Terrier (for obvious reasons), this toy-sized breed is a smaller version of a working terrier. It’s an active, agile and tough dog with a light gait, confident disposition and a rough coat which is about 1 inch long and somewhat longer on the head, neck, chest and legs. Their wiry coat evolved to provide protection from pests and harsh weather conditions, so it doesn’t shed a lot and grows slowly, which makes these energetic little fellas a good choice for people with pet allergies.
The Bedlington terrier is a graceful dog with a very distinctive lamb-like appearance, known for its sweet nature and desire to be the center of attention, and also for its non-shedding coat. Named after the mining town of Bedlington in North East England, this terrier was originally bred to hunt but has since found many other occupations such as dog sports and dog shows, while also becoming a cherished companion dog.
These dogs love to spend time outdoors and thrive when they have a job to do. Their coat is a protective mixture of hard and soft hair, although not wiry like their terrier relatives. Although they are dogs that don’t shed, their coats grow quickly and require regular basic grooming.
American Hairless Terrier
This small, muscular terrier breed is typically hairless, but there is also a coated variety. Native to Louisiana, the breed’s ancestor were hunters, but the American hairless terrier’s lack of coat makes it unsuited for hunting, even though their hunting instinct has remained sharp.
Since these dogs shed very little and very rarely, they are a favorite choice of companion for pet allergy sufferers. They are also quite fun-loving, loyal and affectionate and get along well with children and other pets.
The Bichon Frise is another hypoallergenic breed that has a lot to offer. This breed is easily recognizable by its beautiful pure white double coat which consists of a soft dense undercoat and somewhat coarser curly overcoat, which causes the coat to stand off the body.
Still, Bichons shed very infrequently, and what’s even better, when they do shed, the majority of the shed hair gets caught up in their undercoat. These dogs are characteristically charming and vivacious, with a light and effortless gait, and besides being hypoallergenic, they make amazing companion dogs who easily get along with other pets and children.
This exotic-looking, elegant breed doesn’t really hail from China – it was Spanish explorers who found Chinese Crested dogs in parts of Central and South America in the late middle ages and brought them along far and wide.
The Powderpuff variety is covered with soft silky coat of moderate length, while the hairless variety has hair only on the head, tail and lower legs and is considered to be one of the best hypoallergenic breeds out there.
Despite their liveliness, Chinese Crested dogs are very even-tempered and usually enjoy staying at home, with little desire to go out and run around like most dogs. On the other hand, they are incredibly social and one of the most lovingly devoted dogs you can find!
With its lovely long coat and grooming requirements, the Afghan may appear as the exact opposite of a hypoallergenic breed. However, their silky coats, which were originally meant to protect them from freezing nights at high altitudes, shed very infrequently and don’t affect allergy sufferers in most cases.
These aristocratic-looking dogs begin their life with short, fuzzy coats, which then develop into thick, silky hair with fine texture in a variety of colors such as black, cream, red, blue, brindle or white. Besides being an immensely popular show dog and a distinguished hunting dog, the Afghan hound can be a great addition to any active family.
Brimming with energy, the Giant Schnauzer is one of the biggest dogs on our hypoallergenic breeds list. Originally bred to be a working breed, Giant Schnauzers are intelligent, powerful and strong-willed, but also exceedingly loyal and kind.
Provided with the right training and care, they make fierce companions and devoted guard dogs, but apartment life is definitely not their cup of tea. They thrive when they are active and have a job to do. Although they are naturally a low-shedding breed, the risk can be lowered even further by regular brushing.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel, the tallest among the spaniels, is another large breed on the hypoallergenic list. These dogs are very active and are obviously huge fans of water. Famous for their endurance, alertness and excellent hunting skills, Irish Water Spaniels present themselves with a smooth gait and a lively, intelligent expression.
Compactly built, their bodies are covered with a double coat consisting of crisp hair that sheds extremely rarely. If you’re looking for a high-energy family dog that will accompany you to the end of the world yet won’t upset anyone’s allergies, you’ve just found it!
Kerry Blue Terrier
This versatile, clever and non-shedding breed is best known for its uniquely blue coat and impressive athletic abilities. The upstanding, long-legged Kerry Blue Terrier can run, herd, trail, hunt, retrieve, swim and protect property, which made it a favorite among famers for a long time.
Their fun-loving personality and protective instinct make them excellent watch dogs and family companions that thrive when provided with plenty of vigorous exercise. The coat is dense, soft and wavy, with a beautiful and distinctive blue-grey color. It doesn’t shed, but requires weekly brushing.
Coton de Tulear
Typically bred as companions, Coton de Tulears are small and sturdy dogs with a distinctively bright personality and high intelligence. They are named for the city of Tulear in Madagascar, where the breed is thought to have originated, and are considered as highly trainable and social.
Their profuse white coat is around 4 inches long and has the texture of soft cotton, with a density that makes it stand off the body. This type of coat is the best insulator against heat and cold because it allows air to circulate within it. In addition, Coton de Tulears shed only occasionally and require minimal grooming, which makes them a right fit for owners susceptible to allergies.
The Maltese is a breed of dog in the toy group that most likely originates in south-central Europe. With its compact body structure and smooth, flowing gait, the Maltese is a gorgeous dog with high levels of intelligence, an affectionate expression and a sweet temper that can nevertheless be quite fearless.
Thanks to their easy-going playfulness, this breed is a long-standing favorite choice for a family companion. Even though they need a lot of stimulation and activity to stay healthy and happy, Maltese are also perfectly happy to just chill in the laps of their owners. Much like Bichons and Coton de Tulears, Maltese are distinguished by their all-white coats that shed infrequently.
This Italian working dog breed originates in the marshlands of the Delta del Po in eastern Italy and its name literally means “water dog”. Prized for their truffle hunting skills, these dogs are also very affectionate companions that can easily adapt to a laid-back family life. They are highly trainable, friendly and loyal, and interact well with children and other dogs.
As a hypoallergenic breed, their double coat is thick, water-resistant and sheds minimally. If you have pet allergies and are looking for a strong and healthy dog with adorable looks and hypoallergenic features, the Lagotto Roagnolo might be the right breed for you.
The Miniature Schnauzer is a robust, quick and tough terrier historically bred to guard and protect the home and farm, which they do exceedingly well even nowadays. It’s a breed that has it all in one small package: great intelligence, an easy-going temperament, lots of personality and humor, and never-ending enthusiasm and thirst for action.
To keep up with their high energy, you need to make sure to give them plenty of exercise. Their low-shedding coat is double, with a close undercoat and a wiry outer coat which is longer on their legs, muzzle and eyebrows. One thing is for certain – you will never be bored with a Miniature Schnauzer in the house!
Regarded as one of the most intelligent breeds in the world, the Poodle is an elegant, clever and affectionate dog with a proud, ancient history and many diverse talents. Thanks to its regal attitude, trainability and athletic build, The Poodle is one of the most successful breeds at dog shows. But Poodles are also fun, friendly and compassionate dogs that can fit in perfectly in any family.
They do best with plenty of exercise for both mind and body and prefer to be with people most of the time. They move effortlessly and sport a curly, harsh and dense coat that sheds very little, and can be kept short for easy maintenance.
Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish Water Dog is a medium-sized dog with a world-class athletic built that somehow manages to be exceedingly cute and huggable at the same time. This is a breed which can excel at anything, based on their unique mix of intelligence, instinct, agility and charm. The Spanish Water dogs adore their families and spending quality time together in fun activities.
In fact, you can always count on them to be by your side. Their unusual coat consists of curly hair with wool-like texture that forms tight cords when grown out, giving them an appearance that has earned the nickname “mop dogs”. That being said, these lovely dogs shed very minimally, which makes them a good match for allergy sufferers.
The soft coated Wheaten Terrier is an exuberant Irish farm dog breed that bears all the marks of a terrier – unlimited loyalty, friendliness and stubbornness. These square and sturdy terriers are both hard-muscled and soft-coated, or as the breed has been famously described, “an iron fist in a velvet glove”.
Their overall appearance is lively and dashing, with a free and graceful gait. Unlike most terriers, who have wiry coats, the soft coated Wheaten terriers have a silky, gently-waving single coat that runs from pale beige to a shimmering gold and sheds very minimally.
Wire Fox Terrier
The Fox Terrier was originally bred to aid fox hunts by flushing foxes out of their hiding places, but later found popularity as show dogs and all-around family companions. Since they thrive on activity, they would do best with owners who can provide them with plenty of exercise and playtime.
Fox terriers are keen, loving and playful companions who boast incredible speed and power underneath the friendly exterior. Due to their energetic disposition, they need a lot of activity to avoid falling into destructive behavior and can exhibit signs of separation anxiety if left alone too much. Their coat is hard, dense and twisted, prone to minimal shedding and easy to maintain.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
According to legend, these mighty, elegant dogs were called “flower dogs” by the Spanish who first encountered them hanging out in caves with wild orchids.
They are a well-loved breed that has been officially recognized as part of Peru’s cultural heritage. Exuding strength and stamina, the Peruvian Inca Orchid comes in two varieties – hairless and coated, both of which can be born in the same litter, with the hairless type probably being one of the rarest hypoallergenic dog breeds. In addition, they make excellent watchdogs and affectionate family pets.
What is the best hypoallergenic dog for you ?
As you’ve noticed, there is a great variety of hypoallergenic breeds to choose from when deciding which dog can meet all of your needs. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a big dog or a toy-sized one, a companion who would enjoy co-habiting an apartment or a family dog with a personality larger than life, this list has something for everyone.
What’s most important, all of these breeds will keep the risk of an allergic reaction to a minimum while providing you with the sincere friendship only a dog can give.
So choose with care and have fun!