Dogs For People With Allergies Or Asthma

Whenever I run into someone who suffers from allergies or asthma but loves dogs, they often feel their options are limited to Poodles – this isn’t so! There are a lot of wonderful breeds out there that can be great companions to individuals suffering from allergies.

No dog can be truly hypoallergenic, because every dog produces some kind of dander. Dander doesn't just come from fur, but it is also found in skin, urine and saliva. You could consider dander to be “pet pollen”. However the dogs on this list are known for producing small amounts of dander, thus most allergy sufferers do not have reactions. However different people have different allergies. Because you are allergic to one dog, doesn’t mean you will be allergic to all dogs.

Although many Designer Breeds (such as Labradoodles) are often touted as being hypoallergenic, there is little evidence that this is so. The level of dander and shedding in mixed breeds is not consistent and can’t be predicted.

If you have allergies and are thinking about getting a dog, *please* visit a breeder first and spend a good deal of time (at least a half hour) in as closed a space as possible with the dog you are interested in. This will insure that the new member of your family won’t be a cause of sneezes and itchy eyes (and a lot of heartache) to come.

Put away those tissues! I've compiled a list of some of the top breeds that are known to be less triggering for people with allergies or asthma:

1) Poodles

standard poodle
Standard Poodle - Photo by arcarius

The Poodle is the breed that comes up the most when you think of a hypoallergenic or non-shedding dog. Poodles come in 3 different sizes – Toy, Miniature and Standard. While many people believe Poodles originated in France, there is much debate on that subject. Experts believe Germany and Russia also contributed to making the Poodle into what it is today. The Poodle is a multifaceted breed. They are excellent retrievers and hunting dogs and they excel at almost every dog sport in the book. Standard Poodles are good family dogs while Toys and Minis could be hurt by the hands of a small child. All 3 sizes of this breed are very intelligent and can learn many commands. A Poodle has hair and not fur – the breed is non-shedding and will require grooming every 6-8 weeks.

2) Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu Outside - Photo by Tyler Farling

The Shih Tzu originated in China and is also called the “Chinese Lion Dog” or the “Chrysanthemum Dog”. This toy breed is compact and friendly and enjoys the company of its human companions immensely. The Shih Tzu has a short muzzle and is extremely sensitive to heat. This breed must be kept cool on warm days. The coat of a Shih Tzu can be kept clipped into a “puppy cut” or grown long to show length. If the coat is kept long it needs daily maintenance and brushing. If properly kept, the breed sheds an extremely small amount. A Shih Tzu’s face may have to be wiped after eating or drinking to prevent the fur from becoming soiled.

3) Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire terrier puppy
Yorkie Puppy - Photo by sillysnapper

Yorkshire Terriers are a toy breed developed in England as a ratting dog. These little dogs rarely weigh more than 7 lbs. Yorkies have no undercoat and are low shedding. Their hair grows until it is cut. Often owners choose very short clips in order to keep grooming to a minimum with this breed. Yorkshire Terriers are intelligent and can learn many commands. They have a tendency to bark at strangers or may ignore them altogether! However, Yorkies have been known to take on dogs much larger than themselves! They often have no idea how small they are!

4) Maltese

maltese dog
Maltese - Photo by Morag.Bates

The Maltese is a pure white Bichon type dog that originated on the Island of Malta. This toy breed ranges in size from 3-7 lbs. The Maltese is an active and playful little dog who is a great choice for urban dwellers. They are very active in the house and love to engage in indoor games. Short walks are needed to keep them healthy and stimulated. Maltese have no undercoat, thus shedding is almost nonexistent in this breed. Grooming is required to keep their white coats clean and free of mats. This breed is also prone to tear staining which needs to be cleaned daily keep the eyes free and clean.

5) Lagotto Romagnolo

lagotto
Lagotto Romagnolo Closeup - Photo by Bergfreund

The Lagotto Romagnolo comes from the Romanga region of Italy. While it was traditionally bred to be a water retriever, it also is the only dog that is specifically bred to hunt Truffles. The breed is highly intelligent and quick to catch onto training. They are active and get along well with other animals (if socialized properly) and children. Lagottos are excellent swimmers and will be quick to splash in any available body of water. The Lagottos curly coat will become matted if it is not clipped down or brushed regularly. This hypoallergenic breed weighs between 29 and 23 lbs.

6) Kerry Blue Terrier

kerry blue terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier - Photo by Benny Sølz

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a multifaceted, medium sized (30-40 lbs) dog from Ireland. The breed has been used for herding, guarding and hunting a variety of vermin from farmlands. Kerry Blues are born black and fade to their blue (which is actually a grey color) until they are about 2 years of age. They have wavy coats that lack an undercoat. They do not shed but do need regular clipping or their hair will grow too long. Kerry Blues have a reputation of dog aggression that has been worked on by breeders throughout the years. This stems from their prey drive as hunting dogs. With their owners (children included) this breed has been known to be a loving companion. They are swift and smart and excel in all dog sports. Early socialization is needed with a Kerry Blue puppy in order to get them used to other dogs. They are not a breed for first time owners.

7) Chinese Crested

chinese crested
Chinese Crested - Photo by greypoint

The Chinese Crested comes in 2 different types – Hairless and Powderpuff. The Hairless is exactly what it sounds like – naked with the exception of flowing hair on its paws, tail and head (the crest). The Powderpuff variety of this breed has a full coat of soft hair. Obviously the grooming needs of these two types vary greatly. Moisturizer and sunscreen is needed to keep the Hairless variety well kept, while the Powderpuff needs regular brushing. This breed is active and playful, but they can have a tendency towards separation anxiety. They adore their owners and have trouble learning how to be away from them. Consistency is a must when training these little dogs. They love children but make sure kids know how to be gentle when dealing with these little guys!

8) Bichon Frisé

bichon frise
Bichon - Photo by |ellessu|

The Bichon Frisé is a popular French (Bichon Frisé means “Curly Lap Dog” in French) toy breed that ranges in size from 7-12 lbs. Bichons are all white and are another virtually non-shedding breed. However they do need some intense grooming to keep their coats clean and well maintained. This breed can be prone to skin issues, so it is very important to keep them clean and free of tangles and mats. A well bred Bichon is a pleasure to live with! They are playful little dogs who enjoy meeting new people and other canines. They do well with children and are generally good companions with cats as well.

9) Miniature Schnauzer

miniature schnauzer
Mini Schnauzer - Photo by Llima

The Miniature Schnauzer originated in Germany and is believed to be a cross between a Standard Schnauzer and a Poodle as well as a breed such as an Affenpinscher. These compact little dogs (11-15 lbs) are generally low shedding and are recommended for folks with allergies. Mini Schnauzers are great guard dogs and will generally vocalize if a stranger enters the home until they are assured it is a welcome guest. They have a very high prey drive and are not a good choice for homes with smaller animals. The breed usually has an alert look and is always up for playtime or a romp at the park.

10) Coton de Tulear

coton de tulear
Coton de Tulear - Photo by mydarlingdogs.com

The Coton de Tulear is a Bichon type toy breed that originated in Tulear, Madagascar. The Coton has a fluffy medium length coat that is made up of hair, rather than fur. They do very little shedding, but do need daily grooming to keep their coats free of snags and other dirt. Cotons are known to be incredibly affectionate with humans and very good with other dogs as well. This breed sometimes vocalizes during play. They are very trainable and desire to please their owners.

11) Airedale Terrier

airedale terrier
Airedale Playbows - Photo by Nkimura

The Airedale is nicknamed the "King of Terriers", as it is the second largest of the terriers (the largest is the Black Russian Terrier). Airedales come in 2 different sizes, one ranging from 35-70 lbs and the larger type (called Oorang Airedales) ranging from 60-100 lbs. The Airedale has a wiry coat and is a low shedder. Grooming is done by stripping (loose hair is removed from the undercoat with a specially designed blade). The breed is extremely intelligent and is known to be stubborn and fairly difficult to train. They often grow bored of training sessions and need a creative mind to keep them interested. They are athletic and require a great deal of exercise and physical stimulation. Airedales have been known to excel in obedience, agility and protection work.

12) Havanese

havanese
Havanese On the Beach - Photo by mybluemuse aka PJ Taylor

The Havanese is also known as "Little Dog from Havana". The Bichon type breed was developed in Cuba. Once the Cuban Revolution occurred the furry toy breed became few and far between. When they began to gain popularity in the US during the 1970’s there were only 11 dogs stateside to work with! While the Havanese may be toy in size, these little dogs are big in personality! Even their AKC standard doesn’t want them “dolled up” - "his character is essentially playful rather than decorative". The Havanese doesn’t shed much at all, but the coat does gather dander that should be brushed out on a regular basis to keep from irritating allergy sufferers. The breed comes in a multitude of colors and patterns. As for temperament, Havanese are smart and affectionate and have a history as Circus dogs! They are quick to catch on to training and adore the company of their human companions.

13) Peruvian Inca Orchid

Peruvian inca orchid
Peruvian Inca Orchid - Photo by mookiebones

The Peruvian Inca Orchid may have a very little bit of hair on its head, feet, and on the tip of its tail, or it may be completely free of all hair. This breed comes in 3 sizes Small (pequeño), Medium (medio) and Large (grande) ranging from 9 lbs to 55 lbs. This primitive breed must be kept protected from cold temperatures and sunscreen must be used to keep them from burning. Their skin also must be moisturized to prevent flaking and other issues. The Peruvian Inca Orchid is very attached to it’s owner and is generally a “one person” dog. They can be socialized with other canines if it is done gradually.

14) Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terriers - Photo by Areldos

The Bedlington Terrier looks more like a lamb than a dog at first glance due to it’s extra wooly coat! This terrier comes from the town of Bedlington, Northumberland in the United Kingdom. This breed ranges in size from 18-23 lbs and comes in a variety of colors (though Bedlingtons should never be all white). You wouldn’t know by looking at these unique dogs, but the breed was used for dog fighting, hunting and retrieving. They are incredibly smart and very loyal to their owners. They can be headstrong and aggressive with other dogs so they need to be carefully socialized at a young age. Bedlingtons don’t shed but they do need weekly maintenance to keep their thick coats well maintained. They also will need professional grooming every 2 months.

15) Bergamasco

bergamasco
Bergamasco On The Beach - Photo by DutchHighlander

The Bergamasco finds its roots in the Italian Alps. This herding dog ranges in weight from 70-85 lbs and has one of the most unique coats in all of dogdom! The Bergamasco has 3 kinds of hair that grows to from mats that eventually reach the ground at about 5 years of age. The mats protect the dog from the elements and historically protected the breed from attacks by other animals when it was working in the mountains. Unlike many other breeds on this list, once the Bergamasco has a mature, felted coat – there is little maintenance required. The dog will need baths a few times a year and will take quite a while to dry, but that is it! The Bergamasco is a stable working dog who is independent yet friendly. They are wonderful with children and make great watch dogs. They will alert their owners to anything that is amiss around their homes. Because they are herding dogs they do desire a job and need a great deal of activity.

16) Puli

pulis
Pair of Pulik - Photo by mwaulk

The Puli is a corded (think dreadlocks) Hungarian breed that ranges from 20-30 lbs. The unique look of the Pulik (plural of Puli) serves a purpose – the cords are water resistant. They do need a great deal of maintenance to keep them looking in their best shape. Pulik are extremely active dogs that have a natural affinity for herding. Because they are used to protecting a flock, they will defend anything they see as theirs with a vengeance. They need careful training or they will believe they control the household.

17) Dandie Dinmont Terrier

dandie dinmont terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier - Photo by Kennel "luna caprese"

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier (say that 10 times fast!) is a short-legged breed that originated in Scotland. The DDT ranges from 18-24 lbs and is a big dog in a little body. They make great watch dogs and will alert you to any changes they think you should know of. They are very affectionate and loyal to their owners. However Dandies, especially males, like to be the Alpha dogs within the home and may not get along with other dogs. The Dandie Dimnont Terrier does not shed. Dead hair needs to be brushed or combed out daily.

18) Polish Lowland Sheepdog


Polish Lowland Sheepdog Puppy - Photo by aweinfors

Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are often called PONs, this stands for Polski Owczarek Nizinny – the breeds Polish name. PONs are a medium sized breed that requires a moderate amount of exercise. They make great watchdogs and are sometimes wary of strangers. With their family, the breed is playful and loves to participate in all kinds of activities – from hiking to fetch! Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are non-shedders and loose a little dead hair each day just like we do. This can be picked up with daily brushing that will help keep their coats free of mats.

19) Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog
Portuguese Water Dog - Photo by mosippy

The Portuguese Water Dog is a fairly rare breed that was used in Portugal to herd fish into nets, retrieve tackle and broken nets, and to act as couriers between ships. This breed has webbed toes to help it navigate through the water with ease! The PWD is often compared to a poodle, as they both are non-shedding with curly coats and are extremely smart and easy to train. However the PWD is a much stockier breed. Portuguese Water Dogs need regular grooming to keep their coats from matting and their must be trimmed as it grows indefinitely. The PWD is a working dog that catches on to training very easily and swiftly. This breed has a tendency to bond closely with one member of the family. This is an active breed that needs to be kept busy and moving or they can become destructive.

20) Irish Water Spaniel

irish water spaniel
Irish Water Spaniel - Photo by darleen2902

The Irish Water Spaniel is a large, rare spaniel with a hairless tail, lending it the nickname “Rat Tail Spaniel”. The breed has a tight curly coat that is very low shedding and is a good choice for people with allergies. They need a monthly trim to keep matting under control, but overall grooming is minimal for these dogs. Irish Water Spaniels are very active and an ideal home would be one that appreciates the working nature of this breed. They are great for homes with other animals and children.

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