a group of non shedding dog breeds

Dogs That Don't Shed -
A Guide To Hypoallergenic Breeds

Are you looking for a hypoallergenic dog? Maybe you or a family member are allergic to dogs, so finding a dog that won’t shed might sound appealing.

To make your choice easier, we’ve compiled a list with the top hypoallergenic dogs you can choose from. Maybe your next best friend is on it!


Is There Such Thing As Hypoallergenic Dogs?

The short answer is no, there aren’t.

Despite never-ending marketing, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic. Several scientific studies have researched whether or not dogs can be hypoallergenic, and they all got to the same conclusion [2]. The reason for this is the way dog allergies work.

Like all allergies, pet allergies happen when your body reacts to a foreign body [1]. According to researchers, dog allergies are caused by an immune reaction to a species-specific protein. In dogs, the main allergy-inducing protein is called can f 1 and it is found in every cell of a dog’s body. However, protein levels are higher in dog’s skin cells, saliva and urine. All dogs produce dander, drool and pee, so they all release allergens into the environment. Because of it, so-called hypoallergenic dog breeds have as much of this protein as ‘regular’ dogs.

In fact, a 2013 study performed by a research group in the Netherlands examined allergen levels in various hypoallergenic breeds [2]. These included Labradoodles, Poodles, Airedale Terriers and Spanish Waterdogs. Then, they compared their findings with ‘regular’ dogs.

When measured, they found almost no difference in allergen concentration among dog breeds. Researchers measured allergens in the dog’s coat, and in the air and floor of their households. Labradoodles showed a slightly lower allergen concentration in their household’s floors, but airborne and coat allergens were the same. All other breeds scored the same quantities as well.

So, what does this mean for you?

If you have a dog, you’ll have to deal with dog allergens regardless of the breed. For those with severe allergic reactions, you might want to forgo having a dog altogether. Dog saliva and dandruff will get to you, even after thorough cleaning. The only way around it is not allowing the dog inside the home, but we don’t think that’s fair for your pup!

So-called hypoallergenic dogs might shed a bit less hair, but their saliva and dandruff will still cause allergies. Of course, if you’re choosing a ‘hypoallergenic dog’ to avoid having dog hair everywhere, then some breeds might fit better with your needs.


Non-Shedding Dogs: Why Some Dogs Don’t Shed Hair

If you’re allergic to dogs, low-shedding dogs will still cause a reaction. However, if you’re allergic to dust and dust mites instead, a dog that sheds less hair might be a good option.

Let’s be clear: all dogs shed. Shedding is a natural process that happens to any being with skin and hair. Humans shed, and dogs shed as well. When sellers talk about hypoallergenic dogs, they’re rather talking about dog breeds that shed less hair, or show less shedding than others.

While all pups shed, those with a double coat shed significantly more hair than dogs with a single coat. A double coat is just what it sounds: it means your dog has two layers of fur that grow independently and have a different texture. Most dogs with medium to long hair have a double coat. In contrast, dogs with no undercoat have a single layer of fur and tend to shed a bit less in comparison.

However, there’s a special category of dogs that have been touted as non-shedding pups. Is this really so?

Well… not really. But some coat textures keep loose hair trapped, which might make it seem like a dog shed less.

In general, breeds with rough or curly hair are called low-shed dogs because the hair gets trapped within the curls. Of course, you’ll still have to groom and brush your dog to keep their skin healthy, but the hair won’t get on your clothes and furniture as easily.


Are Hypoallergenic & Non-Shedding Dogs The Same?

Not exactly. The American Kennel Club has a small list of ‘hypoallergenic dogs’ with breeds that might or might not shed a lot. Remember, for people with dog allergies, the hair isn’t the problem.

Real dog allergies are caused by specific reactions to proteins in dogs’ skin cells, dander and saliva. Because of it, even if a dog sheds very little, breeds that drool will spike your allergies.

In contrast, a dog with a longer coat, like a Maltese, drools very little and can be classified as ‘hypoallergenic’. To know what the best dog for you is, go to a doctor and confirm the source of your allergies. This will give you enough info to start looking for the right dog.

Now that we’ve explained the science behind non-shedding and hypoallergenic dogs, here are the most popular hypoallergenic dog breeds.


Best Small Hypoallergenic Dogs That Don’t Shed

Toy Poodle

White toy poodle

This is the star of non-shedding dogs, and the one that started it all. Toy poodles are a smaller version of their standard counterparts, and they are famous for shedding very little hair.

In reality, poodles shed as much as any dog with no undercoat. The difference lies in their curly coat: the pattern keeps loose hair trapped so it doesn’t get on your furniture. Toy poodles are also a favourite because they are small and easy to bathe frequently, which might help keep your allergies under control.

American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terrie

While it seems obvious, choosing a hairless dog is a great option if you’re concerned about excessive shedding. The American hairless terrier is a relatively new breed that is getting more and more popular. They have two varieties, one hairless and the other with some fur.

Before adopting a hairless dog like this one, take into account the time and effort you’ll spend caring for their skin. Just like with other hairless breeds, this terrier needs consistent sunscreen and you’ll probably have to keep an eye out for sunburn. On the other hand, these feisty dogs behave like a traditional terrier, so you’ll need to train them for a strong recall. In general, this breed is better suited for active families.

Bichon Frise

Bichon frise

If you’re looking for a cuddly lap dog, this might be the best choice. Bichon frises are fluffy, smart and love to be around people. This is a playful little dog that enjoys spending time with you and being part of your day to day.

On the flip side, this breed loves to bark so take that into account before adopting one. Luckily, they tend to be friendly and aren’t at all aggressive. They're somewhat curly, frizzy coat is considered ‘hypoallergenic’ since shed hair gets trapped in there. However, to prevent matting, a thorough brushing a couple of times a week is a must. Overall, this is a breed that will need a pro groomer to keep up with haircuts and general maintenance.

Chinese Crested

Hairless Chinese Crested Dog

This is another hairless dog that you might want to consider. These small pups have huge, butterfly-like ears covered in straight fur, fluffy ‘socks’ and nothing else. This is an ancient breed, and Chinese emperors already favoured their royal looks.

As a pet, Chinese crested dogs are fiercely loyal. They love being close to their owners and denying them a spot on the bed is near impossible. These small and agile pups are great for apartment living and households with older kids.

Maltese

maltese dog

The Maltese is also a classic when it comes to hypoallergenic dogs. This is one of the most popular toy breeds because of its playful and gentle nature. Maltese have been a lap dog for centuries, and that’s what they enjoy doing.

Since they are so small, their exercise needs are minimal and fit well with older households where they’d rather cuddle than go out.

Despite their long, silky coat, this breed is considered ‘hypoallergenic’. Maltese have no undercoat and their fine hair sheds infrequently. However, they do need consistent grooming to prevent matting, as well as regular conditioning. If you want a cuddly dog and don’t mind the extra work, this might be the breed for you!


Medium Dog Breeds That Don’t Shed

Standard Poodles

standard poodle

Poodles need to be on this list as one of the most famous ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds. Of course, they aren’t actually hypoallergenic, but they don’t have an undercoat and their curl pattern keeps shed hair trapped.

In spite of the low amount of hair on your furniture, poodles still need a consistent grooming schedule to keep their skin healthy.  This breed also needs a lot of exercise, particularly if you adopt a standard poodle. They are a great fit for active families with kids, or as working dogs.

Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier

The Airedale is on this list because of its hard, wiry coat. While these dogs have a double coat, the harsh, curlier texture of the outer layer traps shed hair in. Similar to how poodle coats don’t shed a lot, this is a bred that won’t get hair on your furniture.

This is a versatile and smart farm dog that fits well with active households. Because of their strong prey drive and signature terrier personality, they’re better suited for owners with some kind of dog training experience.

Labradoodles & Poodle Mixes

Labradoodle and Cavoodle

These poodle mixes are the most iconic hypoallergenic dogs you can find. In fact, most people get a labradoodle because of their touted hypoallergenic properties. While these can be great family dogs, keep in mind there’s no guarantee of hair texture when choosing a crossbreed puppy. This is especially concerning when dealing with so-called ‘hypoallergenic’ designer dogs like labradoodles and goldendoodles. Since one of the parent breeds is a heavy shedder -golden retrievers- and has a double coat, you won’t be sure whether your pup takes after those traits or the poodle side.

You should also take into account the problems with puppy mills and irresponsible ‘breeders’ that take up the majority of the poodle crossbreed market. When choosing such a popular crossbreed, it’s essential to pick a registered, reputable breeder that considers their dog’s health. This will up your chances of getting a healthy pup and avoid supporting unethical breeding practices.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

This Irish farm dog needs consistent grooming but sheds very little. Standing at around 20 inches tall, they are on the smaller side of medium.

Their signature silky, fluffy coat in pale gold is very different from other terriers, but they share the same zest for life and personality. These pups are full of energy and have a very strong prey drive, so they’re better for active families with experience training terriers.


Large Dogs That Don’t Shed

Giant Schnauzer

Giant Schnauzer

All size of schnauzers could be included within the ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘low shedding’ category, but giant schnauzers are one of the few large dogs that don’t shed. These huge pups have a dense, wiry coat meant to handle harsh weather. Their coat also traps shed hair so they won’t cover your sofa.

Because of their size, this is an imposing breed, and they make great all-around working dogs. Schnauzers are smart, dedicated and loyal, needing daily exercise to be happy. In fact, this breed needs so much exercise that you can even take them skiing, hiking and swimming. In general, Giants need company and will fit better in a household that can give them the attention and training they demand.

Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel

This breed looks similar to a curly-haired cocker spaniel. They have those classic spaniel eyes, and a curly coat that’s fluffy and dense. Water spaniels are a classic when it comes to low-shedding dogs. Their curly coat forms coils that keep shed hair from falling all over your home.

Of course, like with other curly pups we’ve mentioned, this breed also needs consistent grooming to keep them happy. They’ll need a trim once a month to keep them from looking too dishevelled. While they are smart and playful, this breed has a lot of energy. They fit better with a very active family that will provide companionship and everyday activity.

Portuguese Water Dog

Portuguese Water Dog

This is another curly pup that has been called hypoallergenic for a very long time. They were used by Portuguese fishermen to retrieve gear lost at sea. They are an extremely gentle, affectionate breed that fits great with children of all ages.

They can reach up to 60 pounds, so this is a large dog! Keep this in mind when considering this breed. While they don’t shed, they need monthly clipping to feel and look their best. Plus, they also need weekly brushing.

As for exercise, this breed is active and will happily go out on long walks, but they’d rather spend time on the water.

Samoyed

Samoyed Dog

This large, gentle giant looks like a big white teddy bear. Samoyeds are classified as ‘hypoallergenic’ because they don’t drool, and they tend to have slightly different proteins to other breeds which might lower your allergy chances. However, these dogs shed a lot, so if dog hair and dust is the cause of your allergies, this isn’t the breed for you.

Of course, also keep in mind this is a cold-weather dog, so don’t choose it if you live in warmer climates.

Where to find a hypoallergenic dog

We’ve covered some of the most common non shedding dog breeds, but where can you find some any of these dogs? While registered breeders are an option, we recommend going to your local RSPCA or rescue before buying.

Adopting is a better choice both for your allergies, and because many of these breeds are very frequent in shelters. When it comes to allergies, we’ve already mentioned some dogs fit better with specific people. The only way to really know is meeting prospective pups and testing your allergic reaction. With some luck, you’ll find a dog that won’t trigger your immune system!

On the other hand, many of these breeds are consistently abandoned at shelters. Because of their popularity, many households have jumped in and gotten poodle crossbreeds and other ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs. Then, when it turns out these aren’t fully ‘non-shedding dogs’ they get thrown out. Lack of proper research and irresponsible dog ownership have filled Australian rescues with popular dog breeds. You can give a second chance to a loving pup, without feeding the harmful puppy mill system.

To adopt a hypoallergenic dog, check out your local RSPCA as well as breed-specific rescues based on your interests. There, you’ll be able to meet adoptable dogs that might fit your needs:


Pro tips - How To Live With Dog Allergies

If you’re allergic but still want a pup, there are some easy changes that could improve your allergy symptoms. While nothing will be as effective as completely avoiding contact with the allergen, the same Dutch group we mentioned before also found some ways to lower allergens in the home. Here’s what you should know:

PRO TIP:  Wash the covers: thoroughly washing your dog’s bedding lowers dander in the air and surfaces by as much as 86%! For best results, wash everything twice a week. Researchers discovered that after several weeks, airborne allergens were up to 60% lower.

PRO TIP: Use an air filter: airborne allergens are the cause of the majority of symptoms for people with sensitive immune systems. Use HEPA (high efficiency particulate arresting) filters, which are the only ones with pores small enough to trap dust and dander.

PRO TIP: Don’t bathe too often: it might sound counterintuitive but giving too-frequent baths to your dog might do more harm than good. Baths tend to dry your dog’s skin and irritate it, so they’ll tend to produce even more dander. In general, giving a bath once every two months, or once a month at most, will be enough.

PRO TIP: Brush 3x week: brushing removes dead cells and loose hair from your dog’s coat, keeping it out of your furniture and helping to lower allergies. It will also keep their skin healthy and evenly distribute sebum which in turn will keep dander to a healthy level. Doctors recommend getting someone else to brush your dog if you’re the one with allergies.

PRO TIP: Avoid using harsh chemicals on your dog or their bedding: as we’ve already mentioned, irritation can make dander worse. To keep your dog’s skin healthy, use mild soap and detergent when washing their bedding and bathing.

PRO TIP: Wipe your dog: use a damp cloth to take extra dust and pollen off your dog before going into your home. Get into the habit of doing this after every walk and before going through the door. This will get rid of most of the allergens that might be sticking to your dog’s coat and lower your symptoms from other foreign particles.

PRO TIP: Keep your dog off the bed: sharing a bed with your pooch is a no-no for allergic people. Researchers know that allergen concentration is higher wherever your dog sleeps or lays, so keep your bed a dog-free zone.

PRO TIP: Rinse your nose: this one’s more for you than your pup, but rinsing your sinuses helps with allergy symptoms.

PRO TIP: Vacuum frequently: this will depend on your schedule, but daily vacuuming is the best to handle dog allergies. However, even twice a week will improve your symptoms. If you can, invest in a robot vacuum: it will make the process pain-free. Remember to switch your vacuum filter frequently, and only use HEPA filters.


Final Thoughts

While hypoallergenic dogs don’t exist, with the right breed and grooming schedule you could lower your chances at getting dog allergies.

If you really want a dog regardless of your sneezing, following a tight grooming and cleaning schedule will make it easier.

Look over our recommended breeds and make a tour of your local rescues: maybe your dream, low-shedding dog is waiting for you!

FAQ

Will shaving my dog make it hypoallergenic?

No. if you’re allergic to dogs, it means your body reacts to a protein found in every cell of a dog’s body, with higher concentrations in skin cells, saliva and urine. This means shaving has no effect on your allergic reactions.

Shaving a dog won’t lower their shedding rate either, so you’ll still have dog hair around the house. Instead, the loose hair will only be shorter.

Can I be allergic to some dog breeds and not others?

Considering dog allergies involve a strong immune reaction to one or more proteins found in dogs, the answer is no. Since all dog breeds are the same species, they have the same biological composition.

However, allergies are complex, and you can be more allergic to specific dogs and not others. This doesn’t have to do with the breed but with that dog’s genetics. You might have experience with some dogs that have never given you allergies, but others have. This is because allergen concentration in dogs can vary greatly within the same breed. Plus, you might be allergic to different molecules found in dogs, that haven’t been thoroughly studied by researchers.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a pet allergy but have had a good experience with a specific dog, try to get a dog related to that one. Or get to know a dog by fostering before fully committing to adoption.

References
  1. Mayo clinic. Pet allergies. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pet-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352192
  2. Doris W. Vredegoor, Ton Willemse, Martin D. Chapman, Dick J.J. Heederik, Esmeralda J.M. Krop. Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: Lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Volume 130, Issue 4. 2012. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091674912007932?casa_token=OAFrSMnDcwAAAAAA:_mLJrOPB_bfCe0hXp3fYe1BziPmmvnKlFuEZFPdxxXvRM8Jb3svkB1hMa3MhESvDOnXfmM2HW1M6
Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is a dog lover & anthropologist. She enjoys writing content that will actually help people understand their dogs better. Eloisa is able to use her expertise to write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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