18 Best Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds for People with Allergies
Do puppies make your heart go thump—and your eyes water? If you've got allergies, check out these hypoallergenic dogs.
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What to know about hypoallergenic dogs
We hate to break the news to you, but even dogs that are considered hypoallergenic can set off some people’s allergies. What causes all of that sneezing and wheezing? We’re here to get to the bottom of it and provide some insight into how to choose the best hypoallergenic dog for you. You may also want to try one of these dogs that don’t shed much. Have a size preference? If you want to narrow the search for the perfect pup, see if you can find these hypoallergenic dog breeds on our compilations of the cutest small dog breeds, the best medium dog breeds, and the world’s largest (but most lovable) dog breeds.
What does hypoallergenic mean?
It usually has nothing to do with an animal’s fur, believe it or not. The real source is often a protein found in the saliva and urine of dogs and cats. “This protein sticks to the dead, dried flakes from your pet’s skin, called dander,” says Jerry Klein, DVM, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Is any dog 100 percent hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. “Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a fully hypoallergenic dog,” says Dr. Klein. “But there are a variety of breeds considered less allergenic that allergy sufferers tend to do well with.”
What makes a dog less allergenic?
Hypoallergenic dogs usually have a low- or non-shedding coat, which produces less dander. “Because these dogs don’t shed, or shed very little, the allergy-causing dander that sticks to their fur doesn’t get released into the air or onto the floor as much as with a shedding dog,” says Dr. Klein. “Some individual dogs may even cause fewer allergy symptoms than others. In fact, two dogs of the same breed can each give off very different levels of allergens.” These are the best pets to get if you’re allergic to cats and dogs.
How can you make life easy and less sneezy?
If you suffer from allergies and your pet is making you sick, you’re likely to do better with dogs that have less fur, says Jeff Rockwell, DVM, owner of Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Plus, you can take extra precautions to cut down on potential issues. “There are shampoos that help to reduce dander, dried saliva, which lessens allergenicity,” adds Dr. Rockwell. “You can also wipe down your dog with unscented dryer sheets to make [the animal] less allergenic.” Over time, he says, people tend to acclimate to their own pet’s dander (but not necessarily the dander of other dogs).
You can also take some precautions to control the allergens in the air. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has some suggestions that may help.
- Vacuum once or twice per week (we recommend using one of these vacuums for pet hair).
- Keep pets out of the bedroom.
- Cover vents with a dense material, such as cheesecloth.
Opt for a purebred pup
While mutts are wonderful, it’s a good idea to choose a purebred if you have allergies. Why? You’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting and whether or not your new BFF will set off your sneezing. “The bonus of selecting a purebred dog is their predictability in size, coat, care requirements, and temperament. The coat is especially important for allergy sufferers,” explains Dr. Klein. “For someone with pet allergies, the American Kennel Club recommends that he/she visit an owner or breeder with the breed of interest for several hours to test allergy sensitivities before making the commitment of bringing a dog home.” But with so many dogs to choose from, how can you pick? Well, we’re about to make it a little more challenging with these photos of the cutest dog breeds as puppies. You’ll want them all!
Looking for a playful, loving, and utterly devoted hypoallergenic dog? Dr. Klein suggests the Chinese crested. This Chinese dog breed not only tends to be an attentive housemate but is also very in tune with its human family. The breed comes in two varieties: hairless and powderpuff. Aside from the obvious visual distinction, the main difference between the two is that the powderpuff needs to be brushed daily to remain clean and pleasant to pet. Its coat is different from most hairy breeds: The undercoat is shorter, and the outer coat is a veil overlay, making it easy to brush. On the flip side, shedding isn’t much of a problem with the hairless Chinese crested, and there’s limited doggy odor.
This compact breed has a short, glistening, low-shedding coat that generally requires no more than a quick once-over with a soft-bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt every week. Dr. Klein refers to the Basenji as dignified and intelligent. (Plus, they have the cutest curly tail.) But, he says, make sure you can meet their high exercise needs and the challenges that come with training this catlike canine.
The Bedlington terrier is known for its curly, woolly, lamb-like fur. While its coat doesn’t shed much, it does grow fast, so regular clipping is necessary. In terms of demeanor, these dogs are gentle, lovable, fairly active, and like to be the center of their families’ attention. Loyal to the core, these hypoallergenic dogs also have a reputation for being protective of their loved ones. Do you have little ones at home? These are the best dog breeds for kids.
Bichons have plush, velvety hair that grows continually and doesn’t shed. Still, hypoallergenic dogs aren’t necessarily low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming. Dr. Klein says that regular brushing, monthly baths, and relatively frequent haircuts are musts for this breed. Personality-wise, bichons are adaptable family companions who get along well with other dogs and children. Alert, confident, and curious, they are generally playful and happy. The Bichon Frise Club of America says that “a cheerful attitude is the hallmark of the breed, and one should settle for nothing less.” If you love this little guy, read up on some other adorable white dog breeds.
Affenpinschers are known to be loyal, affectionate, and entertaining. Their small size and moderate exercise requirements make them great apartment dogs. But even better, the affenpinscher’s medium-length, wiry coat is usually considered hypoallergenic, and this breed typically doesn’t bother allergy sufferers. Their coat, however, does require some regular maintenance and should be tended to twice a week.
Coton de Tulear
The AKC calls this fluffy white dog charming, bright, and happy-go-lucky. It’s also silly and “naturally clownish,” known to make unique sounds and walk around on its hind legs. The bond between Cotons and their people is often very strong. In terms of being a hypoallergenic dog, the Coton barely sheds and rarely aggravates allergies, according to the Coton de Tulear Club of America. That said, its long coat does require daily care. Don’t miss these secrets pet groomers wish they could tell you.
The Havanese sports a silky coat, which comes in a variety of colors. You can leave this dog’s coat as is, and most people do, but some owners prefer to cord it (fashioning it into doggy dreadlocks), similar to a puli. And others clip it short to reduce grooming time. Whatever your preference, it’s all good: The breed doesn’t shed much. Havanese are adaptable, intelligent, outgoing, and social, and they make particularly good city pets.
Irish water spaniel
A typical sporting dog, the Irish water spaniel is an active, high-energy companion. The breed is eager to please and relatively easy to train, but these pups need lots of daily exercise. They’re best for an active owner or family. Good news: They’re pretty low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. You only have to brush their hypoallergenic, water-repellent coats every few weeks and trim them every two months. Here are some other things you need to know before you get a new puppy.
Kerry blue terrier
The Kerry blue terrier is an alert, adaptable, and animated watchdog and family companion. Most Kerries just want to be with their owners—and will happily join you in whatever you’re doing. Their non-shedding coats are hypoallergenic, but they still need to be brushed thoroughly once a week and trimmed every four to six weeks. Beyond regular weekly grooming, an occasional bath will keep them clean and looking their best. Believe it or not, a dog’s popularity depends on where it lives: Here are the most popular dog breeds in every state.
Experts recommend brushing these hypoallergenic dogs daily as well as grooming them often to prevent mats from forming in their long, white coats. The Maltese is a very adaptable breed, and it’s surprisingly fearless, making it a great alert dog. They are also excellent athletes on an agility course, so you can have a ton of fun with them. Although sometimes stubborn and willful, they respond well to rewards-based training. Pet MD cautions: “Do not let the innocent appearance of this little dog fool you. It is feisty, bold, and not afraid to challenge larger dogs.”
Poodles are often thought of as the gold standard when it comes to hypoallergenic dogs. In fact, you’ve probably heard about the allure of choosing a poodle mix for this reason. But in terms of straight-up poodles, you have your choice of standard, miniature, and toy—and all of their non-shedding coats are ideal for people with allergies. The dogs also make wonderful pets: They are eager, athletic, extremely intelligent, and remarkably versatile. They can also be easily trained, which can make life a lot easier in other respects. Did you know poodles have one of the longest life spans of all dogs? See which other dog breeds are known to live the longest.
Portuguese water dog
With a reputation for being affectionate and adventurous, the Portuguese water dog is an eager and athletic companion built for families with active lifestyles. Soft, thick, and non-shedding, its coat can be either wavy or curly. While this breed’s coat is considered hypoallergenic, it’s important to regularly maintain it so that it stays that way and doesn’t collect other allergens along the way. Grooming isn’t the only thing you’ll spend money on when you’re a pet owner. This is how much it really costs to own a dog.
American Hairless Terrier
These smart, inquisitive, and playful dogs are protective of their humans and make great watchdogs. The American Hairless Terrier comes in hairless and coated varieties. For either type, grooming needs are minimal. They hardly shed, so all they need is a quick session with a soft-bristle brush once a week and an occasional bath.
Bred to work closely with humans, pulis are agile, faithful, and quick learners who do best with active families. If the puli is on your shortlist, make sure that you have ample time for training and grooming. Dreadlocks are arguably the most recognizable feature of the puli, and these naturally occurring cords are woolly, dense, and weatherproof. Although the puli isn’t much of a shedder, whether corded or brushed out, its coat requires a lot of attention.
If you’re interested in this bearded pooch, you’ve got three options to choose from—miniature, standard, and giant—and they’re all hypoallergenic, according to the AKC. Schnauzers have a double coat: The bottom one is soft and dense, while the top is wiry. Daily brushing prevents mats from forming, especially in their beards and on their legs. And the body coat should be “stripped” (loose, dead hair is plucked out) at least twice a year. This will also help reduce the potential for allergies. These dogs are sociable, smart, alert, and great with kids. Check out these dog breeds that look like bears that are just so fluffy.
Loyal and playful, this small breed tends to be especially affectionate with children. They were originally bred to spend most of their days lounging around inside royal palaces, so they make great pets, whether you live in an apartment or have a big backyard. Shih tzus have hair that doesn’t shed much, so allergy sufferers usually do well with them. This dog’s double coat does require frequent brushing, but you can clip it short for ease, according to the Westminster Kennel Club. Shih tzus are small, but these are some of the world’s smallest dog breeds.
Soft-coated wheaten terrier
The soft-coated wheaten terrier is happy, friendly, deeply devoted, and slightly stubborn. These dogs make great companions for families who are devoted to training and have a fairly active lifestyle. The breed is single-coated and sheds minimally, but it needs regular grooming to keep its coat free of mats.
Its name may be hard to pronounce (it’s “show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee,” according to the AKC), but you’ll be singing this pup’s praises if you’re a dog lover with allergies. Called Xolo for short, this breed comes in two varieties: hairless and coated. The hairless requires occasional baths and body lotion; the coated needs routine brushing and combing. Dr. Klein says that this breed is loyal, alert, and calm—perfect if you’re looking for a dedicated watchdog and a loyal family companion.
Visit your new BFF before you take him home
Whether you have allergies or not, it is always important to spend some time with a dog you want to adopt—in person and at least once before you commit. “We recommend visiting the breeder’s home or kennel and asking to see at least one of the puppy’s parents,” says Dr. Klein. “This will help to get an idea of what the future holds for your dog in terms of temperament and appearance. It can also help you gauge any allergic reactions that may be triggered by that breed or specific dog.” Already made a decision? Here are some unique names to consider for your new pup.
- Jerry Klein, DVM, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club
- Jeff Rockwell, DVM, owner of Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Marblehead, Massachusetts
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality”
- Bichon Frise Club of America
- Madagascar Coton de Tulear Club of America
- PetMD: “Maltese”
- The Nest: “What Kind of Coat Does a Schnauzer Have?”
- Westminster Kennel Club: “Shih Tzu”