There are many things to think about when it comes to finding the right dog breed for your family and lifestyle.
If you or a member of your family has to worry about allergies, there are extra things to bear in mind. This guide can help you with your decision and answer some questions you may have.
What does hypoallergenic mean in a dog?
In simple terms, the term ‘hypoallergenic dog’ can be applied to a breed that is non-shedding or has particularly short hair (that will therefore shed less).
However, our in-house vet, Martin, advises: “No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic – this term simply refers to breeds that shed less generally than other breeds. Individual dogs will shed differently and also individual humans will respond differently to allergens.”
It is important to make sure you research your options before choosing your new companion, so you can be as informed as possible.
Dog dander – what is it?
Dog dander is essentially dead skin cells that are attached to the dog’s hairs. When a dog has less hair, the dander has fewer opportunities to build up in big enough quantities to cause a problem for the allergic dog-lover.
When people talk about dog allergens, many assume it is the fur itself that causes the problem. In actual fact, it is dog dander that is the root cause of the issue.
What dogs are hypoallergenic?
When we talk about hypoallergenic dogs, we mean dogs that carry less dander through having particularly short hair or less fur in general and therefore shed a lot less or don’t shed at all.
Small hypoallergenic dog breeds
Intelligent — Energetic — Loyal
It is the double coat of the Miniature Schnauzer that causes them to shed less, with a hard and wiry short coat requiring little maintenance, and a softer undercoat.
Sociable — Intelligent — Playful
The Bichon Frise has a curly coat that catches moult from the shorter undercoat, which is why they shed less than other breeds and are classed as hypoallergenic.
Lively — Affectionate — Loyal
Shi Tzus have a long and dense outer coat that doesn’t shed with the seasons, thanks to their soft undercoat.
Intelligent — Active — Friendly
The Toy Poodle has a single coat that is thick and curly and therefore less likely to shed.
Big hypoallergenic dog breeds
Friendly — Intelligent — Obedient
The poodle’s thick and curly coat is non-shedding, which is why they are one of the most popular hypoallergenic breeds.
Portuguese Water Dog
Affectionate — Curious — Intelligent
Portuguese Water Dogs have no undercoat. Instead, they have a single low-shedding coat that will either be curly or wavy.
Confident — Loyal — Intelligent
The Giant Schnauzer’s double coat – a dense and wiry outer coat over a soft and equally dense under coat – is non-shedding.
Independent — Agile — Graceful
The Afghan Hound’s distinctive and beautiful silky coats shed only rarely, which is why this is a popular hypoallergenic breed.
How to choose the best hypoallergenic breed
Knowing you need a hypoallergenic breed will already have narrowed down your potential options considerably, but the most important thing for you to bear in mind is how different breeds can vary wildly when it comes to things like ease of training, energy levels and sociability.
These factors will need to fit your lifestyle, so that’s certainly a good place to start. If you’re the active type with plenty of time and space for long walks and play, for example, an energetic large breed like an Irish Water Spaniel might be the best fit for you.
Recognising a pet allergy
The more common signs of an allergy to dogs are swelling and itching around the eyes or nose area, accompanied by shortness of breath or wheezing. These symptoms will usually occur within 30 minutes after first being exposed to the allergens.
Insuring your pooch
No matter which breed of dog you choose, pet insurance could help if and when you need help with vet bills.