If you or a family member is allergic to canines, owning a dog may seem like an impossible dream. Canine hair and dander can trigger a wide range of allergy symptoms—including runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing. Does this mean that you'll never be able to welcome a dog into your family? No. Fortunately, there are hypoallergenic breeds that many people with allergies are able to live with comfortably.
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean?
Most people believe that it is a pet's fur that triggers allergies. In actuality, it is a protein in a dog's saliva and urine that causes allergy reactions. This protein clings to a pet's skin and fur, which can then be released into the air and around a home when a dog sheds its hair. That is why low-shedding breeds are considered hypoallergenic.
Why Would You Need a Hypoallergenic Dog?
Many people who have pet allergies have found that hypoallergenic canines don't trigger their symptoms. Another plus? Dogs that do not shed much won't leave tufts of hair all over your floor, furniture and clothing.
Interested in finding your future best friend? Then check out the following 12 hypoallergenic breeds that are excellent choices for families with allergy issues.
- Maltese terrier: Weighing only about seven pounds, the Maltese is a beautiful small dog that is a good choice for apartment dwellers. Its long, silky coat requires regular grooming to prevent tangles and to keep it looking snowy white. Maltese terriers are known for being friendly, feisty and fun.
- Shih tzu: Shih tzus were bred to be lap dogs for Chinese royalty, so they make wonderful companions that love being by your side at all times. These happy-go-lucky dogs are also playful and have a reputation for being good with children.
- Yorkshire terrier: Cute and sassy, these tiny (about 7 pounds) pups aren't afraid to boss around dogs much bigger than themselves. The Yorkie’s spunky attitude and small size have made them popular with city dwellers.
- Scottish terrier: Spirited, energetic and handsome, Scottish terriers have a big dog's attitude in a small dog's body. These terriers should be taken on at least one or two long walks or runs each day to burn any excess energy.
- Standard schnauzer: This is a medium-size, highly intelligent dog that has a strong instinct to act as a guard dog. The standard Schnauzer is definitely not a couch potato breed. If you decide to add one to your family, make sure to take this dog on approximately two to three long walks or runs a day.
- Kerry blue terrier: These handsome dogs get their name from their striking blue-gray coats. Originally bred to hunt small creatures, such as rodents, the Kerry blue is an active breed that will require several long walks a day.
- Labradoodle: The Labradoodle is not an actual breed, but a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever. This resulting designer dog is supposed to have the low-shedding hair of a poodle and the sweet and easy-going nature of the Labrador. Be aware, though, that since this is a hybrid, there is no guarantee that a Labradoodle puppy will be hypoallergenic.
- Afghan hound: This regal breed was originally bred to hunt antelopes, so these hounds are athletic dogs that should be walked or taken on a long run at least once or twice a day. To prevent mats and tangles, you will need to regularly groom your Afghan's long silky coat.
- Portuguese water dog: Portuguese water dogs have a reputation for being calm, intelligent and friendly. They are also an active breed that requires regular exercise. This breed—not surprisingly—loves water activities.
- Basenji: Are you looking for a hypoallergenic dog that doesn't bark? Then consider the Basenji, which makes a yodeling noise instead. These dogs are also known for being loyal and protective of those they love.
- Irish water spaniel: If you're searching for a fun-loving, intelligent and energetic dog, then make sure to consider the beautiful, liver-colored Irish water spaniel. This hunting breed thrives on getting plenty of exercise.
- Standard poodle: Sadly, many people dismiss Poodles as "sissies" with fancy haircuts, but they are athletic dogs that were originally used by hunters as retrievers. Because Poodles are highly intelligent, it's important to keep them mentally stimulated and engaged by playing ball or teaching them new skills, for example.
It is important to note that all dogs, even "hairless" ones will shed, so there is no breed that is 100% hypoallergenic. The breeds listed above, though, are some of the best choices for anyone with pet allergies.
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