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Hypoallergenic Dogs

Which breeds are the most suitable for people with allergies?

By Pet Lover
May 16, 2011

People often think that it is possible to determine if a dog will cause allergic reactions based on whether it has ‘hair’ or ‘fur’. This belief is in fact wrong, as hair and fur differ only in texture and length. Technically, regardless of how much hair or fur a dog has, allergies have more to do with their diet and how they are groomed.

Fur and hair are both made of keratin, the same substance as our nails and skin. In other words, fur and hair are chemically the same. Dogs’ hair has a longer growing cycle, and this is the only essential difference between the two. Phases of hair growth actually help determine whether a dog has hair or fur. The phase of growth of new hair is called ‘anagen’. Then the hair stops growing (catagen phase) and becomes resistant for a certain period (telogen phase). The phase in which the hair starts to fall out is called ‘exogen’, and is usually longer during summer months. The difference between hair and fur is that fur has a shorter anagen phase.

Another difference is the texture. Fur is shorter than hair and it sometimes appears to not shed or cause allergies. The truth is that hair is often curly and upon shedding gets trapped inside the coat. This is why some people believe that dogs with hair do not shed so much and that they are hypo-allergenic.

But, if it is not the type of the coat, what causes allergies? The answer is that dogs, just like us, secrete an oily lubricant through their sebaceous glands. It helps to keep their skin supple and their coat (or hair)  shiny. Allergens in the secretion causes the allergic reaction, and the same chemical is present in the dog’s saliva and dander. As the dog grows older and the skin dries, more sebum is produced and the scaly bits of dried skin are released, resulting in dander (or dandruff in humans). That is one of the reasons why people do not have immediate allergic reaction when buying a puppy, but as the dog gets older a reaction may appear.

Regardless of fur or hair, there are no non-allergic dogs. If you are allergic, all dogs will cause the reaction, no matter of their hair (or fur). Still, there are some breeds that shed very little, which are considered hypo-allergenic. Also there are dogs with no hair at all – perfect pets for people with allergies.

Here are some of the breeds suitable for people with allergies:

  • Basenji – This dog grooms itself like a cat! It sheds little or no hair at all. It is very easy to train.
  • Bichon Frise – Has to be groomed regularly, at least once a month. These dogs are great with children and they generally love people.
  • Chinese Crested – This dog is not prone to ticks or fleas, and sheds little or no hair. It almost never barks. This energetic and lovable pet is easily trained.
  • Poodle – Poodles shed little or no hair. They are very intelligent, but tend to bark a lot if not well trained.
  • Schnauzer – Great watchdog who sheds almost no hair. These pets love children
  • Shih Tzu – This dog is very small but also makes a great watchdog. It sheds very little hair.
  • Yorkshire Terrier – This one is a bit stubborn, and has the temperament of the Terrier breed. Great watchdog and easy to train.
  • Xoloitzcuintle – This is a hairless breed. There are three different sizes of this intelligent and trainable dog.

People with severe allergenic reactions may still not be able to tolerate even hypo-allergenic dogs. If you are allergic, it is a good idea to spend some time around the breed of your choice, just to see whether the reaction will appear. Also, different dogs (regardless of breed) cause different reactions. Generally, dogs without hair or with continuously growing hair are the most hypo-allergenic.


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  • Debbie says:

    NO!! As an owner of 4 basenjis, they DO shed just like other dogs. However, they do not have the “doggy” odor that other breeds have. And please do not say that they are easy to train. They can be quite difficult to train due to their independent nature. It is like trying to train a cat. Articles with misinformation like this one are what helps Basenjis often end up in rescue. They are actually quite high-maintenance and require lots of exercise. Otherwise they often end up being quite destructive due to boredom. They also must ALWAYS be either on a leash or safely behind a fence.

  • Zsuzsanna Blau says:

    Dear Debbie,

    Thank you for your comment and the additional information on your breed of choice.
    I am sure you have four lovely dogs, Basenjis are indeed a unique breed.
    They do require plenty of exercise, I agree.
    Of course dogs are individuals as well, some harder to train than others. However, as a very intelligent breed, if one starts to train them early enough, they learn quickly.

    Have a lovely day,

  • Tianna says:

    What kind of dog is in that picture?

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