Hypoallergenic dog breeds don't exist, but here are 6 that are close

January 20, 2024 - 5 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
Maltese

When it comes to selecting a hypoallergenic dog, there's more to consider than just the sneeze factor.

Finding the right furry friend isn't just about allergy concerns; it's also about matching their maintenance level, energy, and size to your lifestyle. A dog's grooming needs, activity levels, and physical size can significantly impact your daily routine.

In this guide, we're not only focusing on breeds with the lowest allergen-triggering potential, but also considering these important factors.

First, let's clear something up:

Are there any dog breeds that are actually hypoallergenic?

Unfortunately for the allergy-sufferers out there, no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. And contrary to popular belief, it's not just because of the fur (which is why Xoloitzcuintli—"Mexican Hairless Dogs"—didn't make the list). Why?

Human allergies to dogs are primarily triggered by proteins in a dog's skin cells, saliva, and urine. These proteins hitch a ride on pet dander, which are minuscule skin flakes. When dogs shed or groom themselves, these allergens are dispersed into the air and our surroundings, making it challenging for those with sensitivities.

Top 6 big and small dog breeds for allergy-prone humans

Our lineup includes both small charmers and big-hearted buddies, each selected for their allergy-friendly coats.

Of course, there are no guarantees.

A dog's age can play a part in how much they'll trigger allergies (more on that later). And sometimes, allergies can take several hours to rear their heads.

Even more confusingly, studies on the topic haven't yet shown clear evidence that some breeds are more hypoallergenic. But even still, there are some dogs that many owners report cause fewer flare-ups. It's more important for owners to focus on allergen management (again, more on that below).

That's why a test run at a breeder's home or, even better, dog-sitting for a friend can be eye-opening—and possibly eye-itching. You'll only know if you spend more than a few hours with a purportedly allergy-friendly pup!

OK, now let's get into the six breeds that may cause fewer flare-ups, or at the very least, shed slightly less.

Poodle (standard, miniature, and toy)

Toy poodle

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Very Low

  • Size: Ranges from small (toy) to large (standard)

  • Maintenance: High (requires regular grooming)

  • Energy Level: High

Poodles are the superstars of the hypoallergenic world. What's their secret? A coat that's more like hair than fur, cutting down on the dander that triggers allergies. They do need a bit of pampering with regular grooming, but it's a small price to pay for an allergy-friendly, smart, and lively companion.

Bichon Frisé

Bichon Frise

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Low

  • Size: Small

  • Maintenance: High (frequent grooming needed)

  • Energy Level: Medium

Bichon Frisés stand out as hypoallergenic heroes thanks to their distinctive, low-shedding curly coats that resemble soft, cottony puffs. These curls are adept at trapping dander, making Bichons a top pick for allergy management.

Maltese

Maltese

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Low

  • Size: Small

  • Maintenance: High (daily grooming required)

  • Energy Level: Medium

With their elegant, silky coats, Maltese dogs might look high-maintenance, but they're actually a win for allergy sufferers. Their hair sheds minimally, keeping those pesky allergens at bay. Yes, they need daily grooming, but it's a great way to bond with these serene little charmers.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire terrier

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Low

  • Size: Small

  • Maintenance: Medium to High (regular grooming needed)

  • Energy Level: Medium

Yorkies pack a hypoallergenic punch in a tiny package. Their hair grows continuously, much like ours, meaning less shedding and fewer allergens floating around. Regular grooming keeps them looking snazzy and helps keep your sneezes in check.

Shih Tzu

shih tzu

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Low

  • Size: Small

  • Maintenance: High (daily grooming for long coats)

  • Energy Level: Low to Medium

Shih Tzus are the tranquil heroes in the world of hypoallergenic dogs. Their flowing, elegant coats are surprisingly low on shedding, making them an excellent ally against allergies. Sure, they need regular grooming to keep their majestic look, but the trade-off is a peaceful, affectionate companion who's easy on the allergies and big on love.

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Low to Moderate

  • Size: Medium to Large

  • Maintenance: Medium (regular grooming)

  • Energy Level: High

Portuguese Water Dogs are the adventurers of hypoallergenic breeds. Their water-resistant coat is great at trapping dander, making them less likely to set off allergies. Their fun-loving and energetic personalities make them fantastic picks for active owners.

Schnauzer (miniature, standard, giant)

Mini Schnauzer

  • Allergy Trigger Level: Moderate

  • Size: Ranges from small (Miniature) to large (Giant)

  • Maintenance: Medium (regular grooming)

  • Energy Level: High (especially for larger varieties)

Schnauzers, no matter their size, have a knack for keeping allergies at bay with their wiry, non-shedding coat. This makes them a practical choice for those who are allergy-prone. Regular grooming keeps their distinctive look sharp and minimizes allergens, and their lively personality makes it all worth it.

Do you have to buy a hypoallergenic dog from a breeder?

Toy poodle

Technically, no! Finding a hypoallergenic dog doesn't mean you have to go through a breeder. Many rescues also help mixed breeds that can exhibit hypoallergenic traits. And sometimes (albeit rarely), they'll have the dog's DNA test on hand. Just ask.

However, if allergies are a top concern, choosing a shelter dog that "looks" like a poodle can be risky. That's where breed-specific rescues come in. Adopting from these organizations not only gives you the opportunity to find a dog that suits your allergy needs but also provides a loving home to a dog in need.

The process might require patience and a bit of research to find the right match, but the reward is a loyal companion, with the added satisfaction of knowing you've made a difference in a pup's life.

Puppies vs. adult dogs: how a dog's age impacts allergens

small chocolate labrador retriever puppy combats itching by scratching with its hind leg

When it comes to allergens, the age of a dog does play a role.

Puppies, with their soft, often different-textured coats, can initially seem less allergenic compared to their adult counterparts. But as they grow, their coats undergo changes, potentially increasing the amount of allergens they produce.

And to top it off, as their immune systems develop, the types and quantities of proteins they produce can change, which can trigger allergies in humans.

The bottom line? It's important to consider the long-term picture as your pup transitions into adulthood. If allergies are a concern, spending time with both puppies and adult dogs of your chosen breed can give you a clearer idea of what to expect as your furry friend grows.

Spending time with both puppies and adult dogs of your chosen breed can give you a clearer idea of what to expect as your furry friend grows.

How can you reduce allergies to your dog?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Napping In Bed

If you find yourself in a sneezy situation after bringing a dog home, don't panic.

Unless your allergies are severe or life-threatening, you don't have to think about rehoming as the only option. Here are ways to happily coexist with your furry friend:

  • Consult an allergist. An allergist can provide valuable insights and treatment options, including allergy shots, which could make living with your dog a lot more comfortable.

  • Medication matters: Over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications can be effective in managing symptoms. Speak with your healthcare provider for the best options.

  • Regular grooming: Make brushing a bonding ritual. Regular grooming, both at home and with a professional groomer, helps control dander and loose hair, key culprits in allergy flare-ups.

  • Designate dog-free zones: Love knows boundaries! Keep spaces like bedrooms as allergen-free sanctuaries to keep things comfy.

  • Hygiene is key. Your vacuum and dusters are allies in the fight against allergens. Regular cleaning, along with air purifiers, can significantly reduce airborne irritants. Regularly washing your hands after petting your dog and avoiding face-touching can significantly reduce allergic reactions.

Does shaving a dog help with allergies?

Surprise, it doesn't! Shaving a dog can actually make things worse by releasing more dander into the air. It's the dander, not just the hair, that triggers allergies.

Remember, managing allergic reactions to your dog is about balance. With a bit of know-how and the right breed, it's possible to have your dog and cuddle it too.

And once you've landed on the perfect dog, you're going to want to maximize your time with them. Make sure you have great dog insurance in place, so you're in a better position to deal with any of life's unexpected accidents or illnesses!*

*pre-existing conditions excluded. See your policy for details.


Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.