Anyone with allergies or has a family member with allergies, knows exactly how miserable it can be to be stuffy, snotty, and just feeling downright ill all the time. It's even worse when you are unable to enjoy the love and companionship of a furry friend because of them.
But don't worry, there are several dog breeds that are considered hypoallergenic and work well for families with allergies!
What Causes Allergies to Dogs?
Dogs secrete proteins that end up in their dander (dead skin), saliva, and urine. An allergic reaction occurs when a sensitive person’s immune system reacts abnormally to the usually harmless proteins. Different breeds produce different dander, so it’s possible to be more allergic to some dogs than others.
The allergen eventually finds its way into the animal’s fur. From there, it collects in carpets, on clothing, on walls, and between couch cushions. The pet hair itself is not an allergen, but the hair can hold dust and dander.
Pet dander can remain airborne for long periods of time as well. It can eventually find its way into your eyes or lungs. When this happens, symptoms of a dog allergy may range from mild to severe and may not appear for several days after exposure in people with low sensitivity.
People with allergies may suffer:
- Swelling and itching in the membranes of the nose or around the eyes
- Redness of the skin after being licked by a dog
- Coughing, shortness of breath, or wheezing within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to allergens
- Rash on the face, neck, or chest
- A severe asthma attack (in someone with asthma)
- Children with dog allergies will often develop eczema in addition to the above symptoms. Eczema is a painful inflammation of the skin.
People used to believe that exposing a newborn to the family dog could cause a child to develop a pet allergy. Thankfully for dog owners, the opposite appears to be true. Several studies in the past few years — including one published in the Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology — have found that exposing a baby to a pet doesn’t increase the risk of developing allergies or asthma. It may actually protect the child from developing them in the future.
What Breeds Are Good For People With Allergies?
When it comes to dogs that are more hypoallergenic than others, DNA takes a huge role. Some breeds will produce less allergy causing proteins and some fur types will hold less dander than others. It's important to know all the information about a particular breed before getting a new family pet.
One thing you can look for in a breed is the shedding factor. While it's not exactly the hair that causes an allergic reaction for owners, the loose hair floating in the air, around the room, and on your clothes can carry reaction causing dander on it. So breeds with a low shedding factor can help significantly reduce allergy symptoms.
The Chinese Crested usually presents with little hair on its body except for its head and tail. And what hair it does have is longer and sheds very little.
Even though the Bichon Frise has a lot of hair, it doesn't shed much and it requires regular grooming which helps lessen the allergens caught in the fur.
You can't mention hypoallergenic dogs without bringing up the poodle. They are often referred to as the top hypoallergenic breed not only because they shed very little, but because they have a tendency to produce less dander than others.
The Bedlington Terrier isn't as well known as other breeds, but it is still pretty high up on the list for hypoallergenic dog breeds. They have thick wooly fur, but very little to no undercoat, which means they produce less dander and are a great choice for allergy sufferers.
Low-Shedding Designer Breeds
If you want a breed that has a certain look, but is also low shedding, you might be interested in what is known as a designer breed. This simply means that they are an intentional mixed breed for the benefits of either parent.
Poodle mixes like labradoodles (Labrador Retriever and Poodle) and goldendoodles (Golden Retriever and Poodle) are becoming increasingly popular for their hypoallergenic coats, fun and playful personalities, as well as their intelligence.
Other Ways to Reduce Allergic Reactions