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Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers

Hypoallergenic dogs? (1997-2008)

 

Dog breeds commonly recommended for allergy sufferers

The following three breed lists (hairless dogs, coated dogs, and other potential low dander breeds) are mostly based on dog breeds that are either hairless or possess a single layer of coat and therefore usually produce less dander than double-coated breeds. I obtained the first list of "low allergy dog breeds" from the American Kennel Club (AKC) around 1990, but I added the two very rare hairless dog breeds, the American Hairless Terrier and the Peruvian Inca Orchid, to the list. These two hairless breeds generally do well with allergy sufferers. They are available in the U.S., although the numbers are low.

Based on owners' allergy trials with different breeds, the American Hairless Terrier seems to be the least allergy causing of all the "low dander" dog breeds. This is true for me as well. American Hairless Terrier is often the last resort dog for those who cannot tolerate any other breed.

When studying the breed lists, please keep in mind that people's allergies vary greatly. There is no dog breed that is truly non-allergenic! You can be allergic to dog dander, dog saliva, dog urine, or all of them. Severe pet allergy sufferers may not tolerate any dogs at all, even with the best environmental controls.

Read also the Allergic to Dogs? main page. It contains information about human pet allergies, symptoms, environmental controls to reduce dog allergens in your home, human pet allergy discussion board, human pet allergy books, and allergy studies.

 

"Low dander" dogs - Hairless dog breeds

Notes:

With hairless dog breeds, it is possible to have allergic reactions to the coated dogs and not to the hairless ones within the same breed (Chinese Crested breeder).

Some people are so sensitive that even the hairless dogs aggravate their allergies! After all, these dogs do still have skin cells and saliva.

The hairless dogs have the added advantage of being very clean, flee free, and truly non-shedding!

 

"Low dander" dogs - Coated breeds

Notes:

Italian Greyhound - According to the IG breeder I spoke with, IG is not a good choice for allergy sufferers. As of 2005, AKC does not recommend the IG as a low allergy breed anymore.

Basenji - As of 2006, the AKC does not recommend the Basenji as a low dander breed anymore.

Chihuahua - Contrary to popular belief, Chihuahuas are usually not suitable for dog allergic people (Chihuahua breeders).

 

Other possible "allergy friendly" breeds

More Bichon family dog breeds:

Coton de Tulear is not on the AKC's low allergy breed list, but it has been recommended by several allergic dog owners. Coton de Tulear is a relative to the Bichon-type dogs. Breeds in the Bichon family are Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Havanese, Maltese, and Lowchen. Bichon Frise and Maltese are on the AKC allergy friendly dogs list above.

Other dog breeds sometimes listed as hypoallergenic:

  • Komondor
  • Puli
  • Tibetan Terrier
Genetically engineered dogs

See the Genetically engineered dogs page.

 

Updates

While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, there are many breeds which the American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests people with allergies to consider. Most of these breeds have non-shedding coats which produce less dander. It's the dander not the hair which causes most pet allergies.

1998 Update:
The 1998 AKC allergy info page lists the Basenji, Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Italian Greyhound, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier as the most suitable dog breeds for dog allergic people.

2005 Update:
The 2005 AKC allergy info page lists Basenji, Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Irish Water Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese, Poodles (toy, min, std), Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzers (min, std, giant), Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier, and Xoloitzcuintli (FSS breed) as "lower dander" breeds.

Changes: The Italian Greyhound is no longer listed by AKC as a recommended breed for allergy sufferers.

2006 Update:
The current 2006 AKC allergy info pages lists the Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Irish Water Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese, Poodle (all 3 sizes), Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer (all 3 sizes), Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and Xoloitzcuintli as less dander producing dog breeds.

Changes: Basenji is no longer listed as a low dander breed.

2007 & 2008 Updates:
AKC still recommends the same list of dog breeds as in 2006. (above)

Please note that the AKC only lists "lower dander" dog breeds that are eligible for AKC or AKC Foundation Stock (FSS) registration on their allergy page. "Low dander" non-AKC rare breeds are not included on their list.

Low shedding dog breeds

All hairless dog breeds (American Hairless, Crested, PIO, Xolo), Affenpinscher, Airedale Terrier, Australian Terrier, Basenji, Bedlington Terrier, Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Border Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Cesky Terrier, Coton de Tulear, Dachshund (Wirehaired only), Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Fox Terrier (Wire only), Schnauzer (Giant, Standard, Miniature), Havanese, Irish Terrier, Irish Water Spaniel, Italian Greyhound, Kerry Blue Terrier, Komondor, Lakeland Terrier, Lowchen, Maltese, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Poodle (Standard, Miniature, Toy), Portuguese Water Dog, Puli, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Silky Terrier, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, and Yorkshire Terrier are low shedding breeds.

Caution, being low shedding does not necessary mean low dander!

High dander dog breeds - Avoid

It has been found that the epidermal turnover is more rapid in breeds that are prone to the various forms of dry and oily seborrhea (term for any skin disease involving dry or greasy scaling), such as Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, West Highland White Terriers, Chinese Shar-Pei, Basset Hounds, German Shepherd Dogs, Irish Setters, Afghan Hounds, Doberman Pinschers and Dachshunds. Instead of the normal 21 day cycle, the epidermal turnover of seborrheic dogs is 3 to 4 days and so they produce exceptionally large quantities of dander. (Allerpet Inc. 1997)

These dog breeds are known to be prone to skin problems and therefore likely to shed more dander (shed more skin): Afghan Hound, Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Shar-Pei, and West Highland White Terrier (Asthma Magazine 2005).

Dog breeds to avoid if you have pet allergies:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Basset Hound
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shephard
  • Irish Setter
  • Springer Spaniel
  • West Highland White Terrier

"Got Your Dander Up?"

by Susan H. Bertram, DVM, Dog Fancy magazine, April 1998

According to this article about human pet allergies, it is a myth that nonshedding breeds of dog are less likely to cause allergies. The breeds (e.g. Bichon Frise, Poodle, Schnauzer) with a reputation of being hypoallergenic are those that get bathed and groomed frequently. It is known that bathing cats decreases the amount of allergen on their skin, and it is assumed the same is true for dogs.

A dog's size also contributes to the amount of dander it produces. So, a larger dog is going to produce more allergen and be more likely to trigger a reaction.

"Keep Your Dog's Dander in Check"

by W. Bradford Swift, DVM, Dog World magazine, August 1998

This article also dispels the myth of hypoallergenic dogs, but mentions that certain breeds (terriers, Poodles, Bichon Frise) are thought to produce less dander than other breeds. However, according to this article the allergic reactions to dogs depend more on size of the dog than on the breed. The bigger the dog is, the more dander it produces.

Environmental controls and dry skin in dogs are also discussed. Dry skin can result in irritation and itchiness in the pet, which in turn causes even more dander to be spread around. This article mentions several common causes of dry skin in dogs, including poor nutrition, lack or improper balance of essential fatty acids in the dog's diet, over bathing the dog or using a wrong kind of shampoo (e.g. human shampoos or using a medicated shampoo too frequently), not brushing the dog frequently enough to release more oil to the coat, and several medical reasons (e.g. various forms of mange, hormonal disorders, fleabite allergies, chronic bacterial dermatitis). 

 

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Lucy's "Allergic to Dogs?" pages first published in 1997.
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