Can I Really get a Hypoallergenic Dog?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

The answer to this question is a very qualified "yes." Hypoallergenic dogs certainly exist, but one must realize that hypoallergenic means "less allergens," not "no allergens." All dogs produce dander, the main culprit in dog allergies, to some degree, and a dog's saliva and urine can also cause allergic reactions. Dander includes shed fur, but also flakes of dried skin. It is similar to dandruff in people. People who are very allergic or who suffer from severe asthma may still be unable to coexist with hypoallergenic dogs.

Short-haired dogs like dobermans are less likely to cause allergies.
Short-haired dogs like dobermans are less likely to cause allergies.

The degree to which any dog is likely to cause allergies is a result of its coat type. In general, hypoallergenic dogs may have one of two coat types. "Single-coated" hypoallergenic dogs differ from regular dogs in that they do not feature a thick under-layer of fur, which is responsible for most of the dander that causes allergies. "Hairless" breeds produce even less dander, but it may still be enough to bother someone with intense allergies.

A Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier may make a suitable companion for individuals with allergies.
A Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier may make a suitable companion for individuals with allergies.

A few single-coated hypoallergenic dogs are the Poodle, the Powder Puff Chinese Crested, the Schnauzer, and the Bichon Frise. Recently, the Poodle has become an option for disabled people who need guide dogs but suffer from dog allergies. Hairless hypoallergenic dogs include the Xoloitzcuintle or Mexican Hairless, the Hairless Chinese Crested, and the American Hairless Terrier.

Even with hypoallergenic dogs, owners who suffer from allergies will probably benefit from reducing allergens in the home as much as possible. Keeping your dogs out of the bedroom and washing your hands after touching your pets are great ways to start. Also, avoid carpets, draperies, and Venetian blinds, as these all tend to collect dust and dander. Keep your home aired out as much as possible.

Even hypoallergenic dogs should be brushed and washed once a week or so, outside the home if possible. Feeding your dog a balanced diet with moderate natural fats can help prevent dry skin and minimize dander. Both your bedding and the dogs' bedding and toys should be washed frequently. You can further prevent dander in the bedroom by placing a cheesecloth screen over bedroom vents.

A Shih-Poo has hypoallergenic qualities.
A Shih-Poo has hypoallergenic qualities.
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a wiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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Discussion Comments


There are several kinds of dogs that will not shed too much. I don't think you will ever find one that does not shed at all unless you have a hairless dog.

One of the best miniature hypoallergenic dogs I have seen is miniature poodle. These dogs are extremely intelligent and make great companions for people in small places. My aunt has two of them in her apartment and they are with her all of the time. They don't shed much and really bring her a lot of joy.


If you are looking for a large non shedding dog, I would recommend a Labradoodle. These are a mix of Labs and Poodles and I think one of the biggest reasons they are so popular is because they don't shed very much.

I have had two labs, and even though they have short hair, they shed like crazy. Labs have such great temperaments, that I put up with all the hair because they are such great dogs with kids.

Poodles are also good dogs and extremely smart, so I have found this combination to be wonderful. You get the sweet disposition of the lab without all of the hair all over the place. I must admit I don't think they look quite as cute as a lab, but there are many advantages to them, and you will fall in love with them no matter what they look like.


One of my friends just loves dogs, but is very allergic to them. Her eyes will swell up and she is just miserable. Her kids were begging for a dog, so they ended up buying a Bichon Frise, and it has ended up being the best dog for them.

She doesn't shed and they have not had any problems with allergies since they got her. She is a well adjusted dog that does well in a family of five kids and I think it is great there are small hypoallergenic dogs that you can get for people who are very allergic to them.

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