It can be exhilarating to bring home a new dog. But it can be just as devastating if you have to give up that dog because you or someone else in your home is allergic to it. In some cases, severely allergic.

But what is it exactly that triggers an animal allergy? And, if someone in your household is allergic to dogs, can’t you just choose an hypoallergenic dog instead?

Well, it’s unfortunately not always that simple. Let’s take a closer look.

Pet Allergies

Animal allergies can be triggered by several factors: dander, fur, saliva, and even urine.

Dander is the very tiny particles of skin that your pet sheds – just as humans shed their skin cells. But animal dander contains a protein that has proven to be a major allergen. To make things worse, this same protein can be found in your dog’s saliva and urine. So, for example, when a dog licks their fur, the fur then also takes on this protein.1

Fur itself doesn’t contain this protein but when fur is shed it takes the dander with it, as well as any fur that’s been contaminated by the dog licking itself. Fur can also trigger allergies because it holds onto environmental allergens like pollens, grasses, and molds.

Which brings us to one very misunderstood term…

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Usually, dogs with very short coats, those who shed minimally, or those that are hairless are viewed as hypoallergenic. But, unfortunately, most experts agree that no dog is completely hypoallergenic.

This is because it’s not really about the fur. All dogs contain this protein in their dander and their saliva whether they’re low-shedding dogs or non-shedding dog breeds.

However, there is some good news: non-shedding dog breeds (or low-shedding dogs) often produce less dander in general. They’re also not shedding the protein-contaminated hair as much. This means that the chances of an allergic reaction with dog breeds that don’t shed can be less for some people.2

So these dogs can be a great choice if you’re concerned about allergies. However, everybody’s immune system is different so the best thing you can do is spend some time with that breed of dog you’re looking at before you take it home for good. It would be a great idea to foster the breed of pup that you’re interested in for a short time.

Some also believe that size can play a factor in whether a dog is more of an allergy risk or not. The idea is that a smaller surface area (a smaller pup) may leave behind less fur and dander. A larger dog, aside from having more dander to lose, may also trek more environmental allergens into the house. Larger dogs are often more likely to play outside and they have a greater surface area.

Non-shedding Dog Breeds

Here are eleven of the most popular non-shedding dog breeds that you might want to consider if you suffer from allergies – or just hate picking dog hair off everything in your wardrobe!

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty1. Portuguese Water Dog

These mid-sized dogs are fun-loving and energetic. Their curly coats are waterproof and hypoallergenic. Not only is the coat of the Portuguese Water Dog soft, but the dogs are excellent companions, loving, smart, and easily trained.1 And while you won’t find these lovable pups shedding, regular grooming ensures that their coat stays soft and under control.3

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty2. Standard Schnauzer

These beautiful and fearless dogs are hypoallergenic, non-shedding, sweet, and amazingly trainable.4 While it is important to groom their coat weekly, these affectionate dogs make wonderful companions. And since the Standard Schnauzer lives between 13 and 16 years, you know they’ll be around for a while.5

Dog Breeds That Don't Shed | Dr Marty3. Poodle

This pooch needs no introduction! Poodles are well-known for their fluffy coats and sometimes artistic haircuts. While the height and weight of various poodles vary, they all love regular walks or runs and swimming. Their famous coats are also hypoallergenic and they almost never shed.6

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty4. Maltese

Part of the “toy” group of dogs, the Maltese is petite. In fact, dogs from this breed typically weigh in at just under seven pounds. Its white coat is smooth and long, making it look like canine royalty. Such a long coat requires weekly grooming, but the good news is that this pup is gentle and affectionate. These “lap dogs” won’t be shedding on your slacks or dresses. Not only that, these lovable pups are keen to train and love learning new tricks!7,8

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty5. Logotto Romagnolo

This curly bundle of joy has a laid back personality and an innate desire to please everyone she meets. A member of the “Sporting Group,” the Lagotto Romagnolo hails from Italy where it was used to hunt game such as ducks. The Lagotto Romagnolo does best when intellectually stimulated and well-exercised. Their attractive, curly coat isn’t prone to shedding and is considered hypoallergenic.9,10

Dog Breeds That Don't Shed | Dr Marty

6. Kerry Blue Terrier

This short dog has a playful demeanor and is one smart cookie. Originally from Ireland, these pups held jobs around the farm and were excellent herders and retrievers. Patient with children, this stunning dog doesn’t make a habit of shedding her hair. And dogs from this breed coat will continue looking regal with weekly grooming and upkeep.11,12

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty7. Irish Water Spaniel

Another pup originally from the Emerald Isle, the Irish Water Spaniel is a curious, hardworking, and loving dog who (surprise!) loves the water! The largest of the Spaniel family, their waterproof coat is hypoallergenic, and while they still shed hair, it’s only seasonal… so with a bit of attention their coat will stay fluffy and full of cascading curls.13,14

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty8. Coton de Tulear

Another pooch with an interesting name (pronounced “coTAWN day two-LEE are”), these miniature pups shed just slightly and are hypoallergenic. Small enough to sit on your lap or in the front seat on a road trip, the Coton de Tulear is a pint-sized companion who used to call Madagascar home, though now they’re adored pets all over the world. These dogs are extremely loyal and love playing with their favorite humans around the house.15

Dog Breeds That Don't Shed | Dr Marty9. Chinese Crested

These tiny, dapper little dogs are unique in appearance and personality. They’re considered hypoallergenic and only shed rarely since there are just a couple spots they’ve got hair — their head, tail, and feet. The rest of their body is hairless, which means they need to be well-cared for in extreme temperatures: sunscreen when it’s hot and coats and booties when it’s cold. Eager to please and graceful, the Chinese Crested loves to shadow its humans around the house.16,17

Dogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty10. Bichon Frise

Full of energy, the Bichon Frise is a cuddly little pup who is great with kids and other dogs. Its fluffy white coat is hypoallergenic, but the soft hairs need daily grooming to keep up its elegant appearance. They love being doted on, which may date back to their days of being “pampered by French royalty.”18

11. Scottish TerrierDogs That Don't Shed | Dr Marty

Scottish Terriers or “Scotties” are known for their confidence and strong personalities. They have a wiry coat that’s not prone to shedding. Like most other breeds, though, Scottish terriers need to be brushed regularly to keep their coat as healthy as possible. It’s important you also know that the Scottish terrier has a strong hunting instinct. If you have small animals in the house or in the yard, you’ll need to watch them closely when they’re near this breed.19

Signs You Might Be Allergic to Your Pet

If you notice itching or swelling of the nose or eyes, or you see red patches of skin, these are signs that you might be having an allergic reaction. Some people will notice a skin reaction immediately after a dog licks them. Allergies can lead to itchy rashes on the face, neck, and chest. In some severe instances, they can cause major problems such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.20

Some people turn to frequently washing their pet if they feel they’re having allergy symptoms. However, this can make the situation worse as it dries out your pup’s skin. As we all know, dry skin tends to flake. So, you’ll be ending up with more dander. Instead, wipe your pet down with pet grooming wipes to try to remove any loose dander.

The Last Word

If you bring home one of these dog breeds that don’t shed and you or someone in your home still shows the signs of an allergy, don’t panic. The last thing you should do is immediately give up your beloved pet. Take the time to speak with your doctor or allergist, as well as your veterinarian so that they can recommend the best course of action.

Updated 12th June 2018

For more health tips about man’s best friend, keep reading on the Dr. Marty Pets blog here:
7 Fun Dog Exercises (simple idea to get your dog to move!)
6 Tips for Summertime Dog Safety (paws included!)
Have a Fat Dog? (what causes obesity in dogs and how to fix it)