Girl hugging dog

THE 411 ON HYPOALLERGENIC DOGS

11/16/14

Who should have a hypoallergenic dog?

If you love dogs but the result of playing with them causes itchy eyes, stuffed up nose, sneezing and wheezing, the thought of being a loving dog owner may seem a very distant dream. Before losing heart, investigate adding a hypoallergenic dog to your family, as that may be the answer.

Non-hypoallergenic dogs

Non-hypoallergenic dog breeds can increase an allergy sufferers attacks due to the canine's coat. These breeds tend to have dense fur and thick undercoats that hold an excessive amount of dander. When the dog sheds its fur, the dander, which is made up of skin cells, dust, pollen, and other airborne particles (along with a healthy coating of saliva), creates allergens resulting in allergy attacks.

Some non-hypoallergenic dogs, such as the Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, and Boxer, salivate excessively and the saliva can be a major trigger factor in allergic reactions.

Benefits of hypoallergenic dogs

While all breeds create allergens through dander and saliva, “hypoallergenic” dogs cause fewer allergic reactions than non-hypoallergenic breeds.

Hypoallergenic dogs tend to have thinner or non-existent undercoats which mean fewer opportunities for allergens to accumulate and shedding is minimal. In fact, the majority of these breeds need to be shaved on a routine basis, because they shed very little.

With a hypoallergenic pet, allergy sufferers can experience the best of both worlds by having a canine companion to pamper while experiencing a decrease in allergy attacks.

Top hypoallergenic breeds

Finding the right canine companion shouldn't be difficult as there are many breeds available that are considered to be hypoallergenic. According to an article by Canadian Living, these are the best eight breeds to choose from:

  1. Yorkshire Terrier
  2. Bichon Frise
  3. Portuguese Water Dog
  4. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  5. Norwich Terrier
  6. Norfolk Terrier
  7. Italian Greyhound
  8. Airedale Terrier

Tips for choosing a hypoallergenic dog

Consider these tips when bringing a new dog into your home.

  • If you've determined you are allergic to dog dander, choose one of the hypoallergenic breeds that best suits your needs, or those of a family member, as well as your ability to provide what the dog needs.
  • If you have friends or relatives who have the same breed that you are considering, ask to “borrow” their dog for a few sleepovers to check for an allergic reaction. If that test goes well, then try to spend time with your new dog or puppy before bringing it home to determine if any signs of an allergic reaction occur.
  • Keep in mind the dog will bring outside allergens into the home such as pollen. Vacuum the home frequently and provide baths and grooming to keep the dog's fur in good condition and help decrease problems.
  • Some breeds are more family-friendly than others and prefer a lot of exercise, socialization, and activity while others prefer one-on-one interaction and a slower pace. Choosing a dog with a compatible temperament is important.