Do you suffer from rhinitis or other similar allergies that make you sneeze? Don’t fancy keeping iguanas? Can’t cuddle up to a snake? Whilst no dogs (or cats for that matter) are completely hypoallergenic, there are some breeds that may be more suitable for you than others. And they are not all short hairs, either. But before buying, remember the other attributes that these breeds have and make sure you get one that best suits your – and their – needs.
Dogs that may be Suitable for Allergy Sufferers
If you are prone to allergies like rhinitis then having a dog may cause you have an attack of sneezing. Does this mean that you can never have the company of a furry friend?
If you suffer from allergies, can you have a dog that won’t make you run away sneezing as soon as he puts a paw on you?
Truthfully, it depends on you and the extent and causes of your allergies, but no furry pets will be completely free of allergens – it’s been proven that the only ones that are completely allergen free are things like iguanas or snakes; however, some animals may cause fewer problems than others.
As with cats, the main allergen is not the dander, it’s the saliva - as we know, our pets wash themselves with their own saliva, which dries and becomes readily airborne. But because the proteins (allergens) in the saliva stick to the animal’s hair, if it doesn’t shed, it is more difficult for a sensitive human nose to inhale it. Please note, I said more difficult, not impossible.
Here are twelve breeds of dog that might work for you though, but bear in mind their other needs before buying – the amount of exercise they need, what their diet is, etc.
Labradoodles and Poodles
This is a cross between the Labrador retriever and the poodle – it can be the Standard, Toy or Miniature. They were first bred commercially in 1988. The coats vary from wiry to soft, straight to curly, and come in a wide range of colours. They are generally considered to be friendly and energetic, but they can suffer from the same types of problems as the parent breeds – both types tend to suffer from hip problems, and labradoodles tend to suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause blindness.
They are believed to have originated in Germany, and were well-established in mainland Europe before being brought to the UK, probably in the 15th century. The Standard Poodle was traditionally used as a gun dog, although their use in that way declined in the nineteenth century. They have also been used with the military. They do shed their hair, but it tends to get caught up in the rest of the coat, so like the Bichon, they need regular grooming. They are intelligent, so may get bored quickly, and they need regular walks. The smaller breeds may be a bit snappy.
Schnauzers and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers
Schnauzers originated in Germany back in the 15th century, and they come in giant, standard and miniature. They were bred as rat catchers and guard dogs. They are friendly and energetic, but they do tend to bark a lot. They are very intelligent dogs, so need to be kept amused to stop them getting bored and they need regular exercise. Schnauzers' have a double coat, which means that it has a soft undercoat and a coarser top coat. Dogs that are used as show dogs tend to be shaved, leaving the hair on the legs long, and they have a beard. Schnauzers do shed their hair, although less frequently than many other breeds, but their dander can cause allergies. It may be possible to alleviate the effects of this by feeding them high quality food.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
These dogs have been bred as general purpose farm dogs in Ireland for over 200 years. They tend to be energetic and playful, and need regular, positive training. They can get overheated in hot weather. If you have cats, the Wheaten needs to be introduced to them at a young age and socialised together otherwise the Wheaten’s “prey drive” can take over. They also tend to get on well with other dogs.
Bichon Frise and Bedlington Terrier
The name is French for curly lap dog, and these lovely little dogs are descended from Standard Poodles and Water Spaniels. They were first bred in France in around 1300. They are friendly little dogs and like a lot of company, but, because they don’t moult, they do need regular grooming. It’s recommended that they are taken to a dog groomer every six to eight weeks.
The Bedlington was originally bred in the North of England to hunt vermin in the mines that used to be common there. In appearance, as you can see, they look about like lambs. They were originally known as Rothbury or Rodbury Terriers, but the name was changed to Bedlington in 1825. As a breed, they generally don’t suffer from health problems, except for their tendency to copper toxicosis, a disease in which copper accumulates in the liver. They are sometimes known as Linty-haired terriers because of the texture of their coat. They are very strong swimmers and very active dogs, but also tend to be stubborn and picky eaters.
This is an interesting breed, as both hairless and hairy dogs may be born in the same litter. The ones with hair are known as Powder Puffs. The Hairless has soft skin, with tufts of hair on its head, tail and paws, but not much else. The Powder Puff has long, soft hair, which needs regular as they don’t shed. The Hairless should be treated in much the same way as a human – and remember that they can suffer from sunburn and acne! They are intelligent and can be trained to perform tricks, and although they need regular exercise, they don’t need as much as some other breeds.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest breeds of spaniel, and one of the largest. As the name suggests, they are native to Ireland, and have a thick coat that doesn’t shed much. They are reasonably easy to maintain provided that they are groomed regularly, but it needs cutting about every six weeks. Although they are not an aggressive breed, they have a deep bark, which makes that sound a bit frightening. They do make good family dogs but need regular exercise.
Kerry Blues and Maltese
Kerry Blue Terriers
Another breed that was originally bred to hunt vermin, it has grown into a general working dog and can be used to herd cattle and sheep, as well as be trained to be a guard dog. In Ireland, they are also called Irish Blue Terriers. They have a soft single layer coat that is soft and wavy. They are gentle and affectionate and said to have a good sense of humour! Strong and intelligent, they have been used as police dogs in Ireland, and need a moderate amount of exercise. They tend to be prone to eye disorders.
A small breed of dog with a long silky coat that is generally pure white. They don’t shed. The coat can be curly although breeders consider this to be a fault. They are very likely and playful and tend to bark a lot. They can be snappy with children if they are not socialised with them from an early age. Regular grooming is essential, and, like the Bichon, they can get tear staining around the eyes, but there are products available that can deal with this. They also tend to suffer from tooth problems and may need to have their teeth cleaned regularly.
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Portuguese Water Dog and Xoloitzcuintle (Mexican Hairless Dog)
Portuguese Water Dog
These dogs were bred to herd fish into the fishermen’s nets. They don’t shed and have either curly or wavy hair, some having both. The hair keeps on growing so needs to be cut regularly, and the dogs need to be groomed regularly in between to stop the hair from matting. They are intelligent and tend to be loyal to their master, but they are working dogs and can get bored if they are left alone for long periods. They do tend to chew if they get bored or lonely. They too tend to suffer from hip problems, some eye conditions and some other genetic diseases.
Xoloitzcuintle (sho-loh-eets-kweent-lee) or Mexican Hairless Dog
This breed has existed in Mexico for over 3000 years, and was considered to be sacred by the Aztecs. It seems that the hairlessness developed from a spontaneous mutation thousands of years ago. They are intelligent and have a lot of energy, and need regular, positive training. They do like a lot of constant attention and need a lot of regular exercise. They don’t tend to suffer from particular health problems.