Why Hypoallergenic Dogs Make Great Pets
Think you can never own a dog due to your pet allergy? Think again. A hypoallergenic dog may be just the ticket.
If you or a family member have pet allergies, you may have resigned yourself to a dog-less life. But thanks to hypoallergenic dogs, this problem can be solved. After all, these pooches are touted as the best of both worlds -- adorably fluffy and allergy-free -- right?
Well, yes and no. "Alas, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog," says veterinarian Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz, host of "The Pet Doctor" on Pet Life Radio. "However, some dog breeds shed less and therefore produce less dander. Think of dander as 'pet pollen.' Breeds with continually growing coats typically shed less and are often better tolerated by allergic people," she says. Hypoallergenic dogs produce less pet dander, which means fewer sneezes and watery eyes. Here's a deeper look at what makes a dog hypoallergenic and seven recommendations of the best breeds for those with allergies.
Hypoallergenic vs. Other Dogs
- Hypoallergenic Dogs Have Hair Instead of Fur
Dogs with fur -- like your average Reservoir or Doberman -- constantly shed as newer shorter hairs grow in. Dogs with hair, on the other hand, have a coat that grows continuously longer and longer, much like human hair.
- They Won't Shower You With Dust and Dander
As Dr. Cruz explains, most people with pet allergies aren't allergic to dog hair. They're allergic to pet dander -- a.k.a. dandruff. What makes hypoallergenic dogs better for people with allergies? "Because they shed less, dogs with hair spread less dander around your home," says Christa Holmans, founder of the dog training center Central Texas Balanced Dogs. You can even further reduce dander by having your pet groomed regularly.
- There's Less Dog Hair to Clean Up
Even those who aren't allergic to dogs can appreciate this benefit. Because a hypoallergenic dog sheds less, you don't have to spend so much time cleaning dog hair off your couches and floor. "If you want a clean house, a shed-free dog may be for you," says Holmans.
- They Require Regular Grooming
"However, be ready to take them out for regular haircuts, just like you would a human child," warns Holmans. The cost of regular grooming can add up quickly, depending on how fast your dog's hair grows, so this is an important factor to consider.
- There's a Hypoallergenic Dog For Everyone
There are more than 20 hypoallergenic dog breeds -- and even more that are considered "low shedding" dogs. "With the complete variation in size, temperament, coat type and color, there is a dog for everyone," says Dr. Cruz.
Here are 7 of the Best Hypoallergenic Dogs
These pooches come in three sizes -- standard, miniature and toy. Their trademark thick, curly hair never stops growing and produces far less dander than your standard dog. Poodles are smart and active and require regular exercise.
- Portuguese Water Dog
These dogs have a thick, wavy waterproof coat that produces very little dander. They love water and are very adventurous -- great for an active family. Portuguese water dogs are loyal and devoted, making them a perfect family pet.
The Maltese is tiny but pretty fearless. This breed is loyal and playful, sporting a long, silky white coat. If kept long, this coat must be brushed daily to prevent mats, but it's perfect for allergy sufferers.
- Bichon Frise
These pooches have cheerful, happy personalities and a cream-colored, marshmallow-like coat. The Bichon's hair is always growing, but it produces less dander than that of other pooches.
All sizes of Schnauzers -- miniature, standard and giant -- are hypoallergenic. Schnauzers are highly intelligent and great family watchdogs. Their two-layer coat is coarse and wiry and sheds less than typical breeds, so long as the undercoat is periodically clipped.
- Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested is the perfect hypoallergenic dog because it has very little hair. These adorable creatures have just a plume of hair on their heads, tails and feet. They are extremely gentle and are playful companions.
- Irish Water Spaniel
The hypoallergenic coat of the Irish Water Spaniel is dense, double-coated and repels water. These pooches are intelligent, playful and excellent swimmers.
If you're a sufferer of allergies (and even if you're not), look into buying or adopting one of these hypoallergenic dogs. However, before settling in on a your new best friend, spend time with the pup first to see if triggers your sneezing, coughing or other allergy symptoms.
Also interested in cats? Check out the 10 Top Non-Shedding Cats.
Rebecca Desfosse is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and family topics.
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