Are There Really Any Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?

Vladimir Negron
May 17, 2011
4 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Reviewed for accuracy on February 13, 2020, by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

Dog lovers who suffer from itchy eyes, a runny nose, or difficulty breathing around dogs might find hope in low-shedding breeds that are marketed as “hypoallergenic.”

While it might make sense that dogs that aren’t big shedders would be less likely to trigger allergic reactions, there’s more to consider when it comes to pet allergen exposure.

Are Low-Shedding Dog Breeds Truly Hypoallergenic?

The fact is that all breeds produce proteins that can be allergens. These are found in their dander, saliva, and urine. Fur can carry these proteins but isn’t their primary source.

Since all dogs produce potential allergens, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic—even if they do shed less than others.

Contact with any of those substances can cause reactions in sensitive people. Unfortunately, a study published in 2011 showed no difference in the level of dog allergens in homes with “hypoallergenic” versus “nonhypoallergenic” dogs.

Other research has shown that what seems to matter most is whether or not a person reacts to an individual dog rather than that dog’s breed.

7 Low-Shedding Dog Breeds

Even if it doesn’t mean that a dog will be hypoallergenic, you may look to low-shedding dog breeds for other reasons, such as reduced amounts of hair around your home, in your car, and on your clothes.

Here are seven low-shedding breeds:

Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier

Image: iStock.com/s5iztok

The largest of all terrier breeds, this “King of Terriers” is known for having a devotion to family, courage and fearlessness. Airedale Terriers are alert, active dogs that are eager students who can excel at basic obedience training and beyond.

Airedales aren’t as tightly wound as other dogs in the terrier family, but they’re still energetic dogs that require plentiful exercise to put a dent in their energy levels.

Their short, wiry coats are low-shedding, and you can further reduce shedding with regular brushing to catch stray fur.

Bichon Frisé

Bichon Frise

Image: iStock.com/f8grapher

This petite white dog has glamorous looks mixed with a playful and affectionate temperament. The Bichon is an outgoing, curious, and cheerful dog wrapped in an adorably fluffy package.

Clever and willing to work, Bichons can master basic obedience as well as tricks to entertain their fans. Bichons have high-maintenance grooming needs, and even though they are a low-shedding breed, loose hairs can become caught in the undercoat and lead to matting.

Professional grooming is suggested to keep a Bichon’s coat in peak condition. 

Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested Dog

Image: iStock.com/Kseniya Abramova

This head-turning toy breed has two varieties; hairless and powder-puff. Chinese Cresteds are as playful as their appearance suggests; they’re friendly and entertaining and can excel at competitive dog sports.

While the hairless option provides obvious benefits, the powder-puff’s impressive waterfall of hair is also low-shedding. And even though a hairless Chinese Crested might appear to be a “low-maintenance” breed, they need protection from the elements.

Hairless Chinese Cresteds are susceptible to cold and can easily sunburn, so they require you to pay attention to the temperature and to apply a dog-safe sunscreen when outside. Occasional moisturizing is also suggested to keep a Chinese Crested’s spotty skin in peak condition.

Poodle

Black and White Standard Poodles

Image: iStock.com/ivanastar

Poodles come in three sizes; toy, miniature, and, standard, ranging from just 4 pounds all the way up to 70 pounds.

No matter the size, poodles are known for their keen intelligence, athleticism, and ease of training. Poodles are charming and affectionate family dogs that have a sense of humor.

They’re also active dogs that require both mental and physical exercise to meet their daily requirements, and because they’re eager swimmers, water sports can be a great fit.

The poodle’s low-shedding coat is a bonus, but the tight curls mean that without a close cut, the breed needs frequent grooming to prevent mats.

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

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The “Portie” is a highly trainable family dog that’s a mix of whimsy, mischief, and high intelligence.

Originally bred to work in the water alongside fishermen, the Portuguese Water Dog’s steadfast work ethic persists to this day, and they need vigorous exercise to stay happy.

They’re intelligent dogs that are easy to train, but they are prone to be independent thinkers, which means they need ongoing mental stimulation.

The dense Portie coat requires frequent grooming.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Image: iStock.com/bohemama

This blonde beauty is a working dog disguised in a glamourous coat. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers were bred to perform a variety of farm jobs, which translates to a keenly intelligent dog with a tendency to be an independent and potentially willful thinker.

The affectionate Wheaten can be an excellent family dog who forms close bonds to their people.

Their low-shedding coats require careful maintenance to prevent matting, including frequent brushing.

West Highland White Terrier

West Highland Terrier

Image: iStock.com/Salima Senyavskaya

These jovial terriers are known for their jaunty, outgoing nature. Compact and hardy, Westies have big personalities packed into little bodies. They’re intelligent enough to become easily bored, and while they’re loving dogs, they have an independent nature.

Westies are busy and playful dogs, and thanks to their ratter heritage, they’re always willing to give chase if they spot something small and fuzzy in the yard.

A low-shedding breed, the Westie’s bright white coat requires regular grooming to strip away loose hair.

By: Victoria Schade

Featured Image: iStock.com/BrianAJackson

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