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Did you know that around 20% of the world population is allergic to dogs? And about 10% of the U.S. population alone is allergic to them. But being allergic to dogs doesn't mean you can't have a canine companion. While there are no truly hypoallergenic dogs - because allergies are caused by allergens carried in dander (dead skin cells), saliva and urine - there are breeds that do well with allergy sufferers. This is because they have low or non-shedding coats, which produce less dander and thus less allergens. Here's a list of 21 breeds considered to be hypoallergenic:
Afghan Hounds have a regal appearance thanks to their long, silky, thick coats. But don't let their beautiful fur fool you, these dogs don't actually shed much at all and thus are considered to be hypoallergenic.
Airedales are the largest terrier out there. They have a double coat that consists of a soft undercoat and a wiry, wavy, dense and rough outer coat. They only shed lightly, which is why they are considered hypoallergenic. Their wiry coats do, however, contain pet dander but grooming them monthly can further reduce allergens.
The Barbet is a rare breed of water dog with a long, dense, curly, wooly coat that protects them in cold water. They are considered hypoallergenic because they shed very little and what they do shed, gets caught in the coat rather than falling off. Because of this, regular brushing and grooming is required to prevent too much matting. Their exact origin is unknown but the Barbet is believed to be related to the Poodle and Portuguese Water Dog, which are both also considered to be hypoallergenic breeds.
Basenjis are small dogs with soft, short coats of fur. They are a top choice for allergy sufferers because they shed very little and groom themselves, much like a cat. This means they leave less dander (and thus less irritating allergens) around the house. Bonus perk: Basenjis don't require much grooming from you since they do it themselves (sometimes for hours!).
Bedlington Terriers have wool-like coats that make them look a lot like lambs. This dog has a single coat, with tight curls and a tough texture, that doesn't shed much at all. Because of this, they are considered hypoallergenic. Bedlingtons do, however, need regular (sometimes daily) brushing to avoid matting.
The Bichon Frise is recognizable by it's soft, fluffy white coat. They have a double coat with a soft, dense undercoat and a coarse, curly outer coat. They barely shed because the tight curls of the outer coat catch dander and hair until they are brushed out. These dogs do need grooming, depending on the cut you give them. But no matter what their fur looks like, they are considered hypoallergenic.
Cairn Terriers are small, scruffy dogs that have a soft undercoat and a wiry outer coat. They are considered hypoallergenic because their wire coat doesn't shed very much at all. Plus it's water-repellant!
There are two varieties of the Chinese Crested Dog: Hairless and Powderpuff. We often think first of the hairless version of this breed and it makes perfect sense that they're considered hypoallergenic - less hair means less shedding and dander and thus less chance of triggering allergies. But even those with hair don't shed much at all, especially when groomed properly, and are considered hypoallergenic.
The Coton de Tuléar is a small breed named for its coat, which looks like cotton (Coton in French translates to cotton in English). The coat is soft, thick and quite long, growing to lengths of around four inches. But it sheds minimally and is actually considered to be hair not fur, which is less likely to trigger allergies. For these reasons, the Coton de Tuléar is considered hypoallergenic. Though they do need quite a bit of grooming to avoid matting and hair breakage.
Italian Greyhounds are small, slender dogs with a single short, glossy coat that lays flat on their body. Because their coat is short and fine, they shed minimally and their fur and dander are very manageable. They often need extra layers to keep warm in the colder months, which can also help prevent fur and dander from getting all over the place.
The Maltese is a small, fluffy dogs with a single coat of straight, silky fur. Because they don't have an undercoat, they don't shed much and are thus considered to be hypoallergenic. Much like the Coton de Tuléar, the Maltese's coat is more like hair rather than fur, which reduces the likelihood of triggering allergies.
Poodles have a dense, curly single layer coat that's considered hair, not fur, and sheds very little. Their coat also catches dead hair and dander until being brushed out, which reduces the spread of allergens. For these reasons, Poodles are considered hypoallergenic. They do need regular grooming, but you can choose a low maintenance cut for easy care. If you don't brush or clip your poodle's coat, it may start cording (forming of dreadlocks), which is also a common style for them. Cording, however, needs its own kind of care to maintain the look. Bonus perk - poodles are virtually odor free!
The Portuguese Water Dog has a single, thick curly or wavy coat made of hair, not fur. Due to its lack of undercoat and coat of hair, this is a low-shedding breed that produces less dander and so it's considered hypoallergenic. But the Portuguese Water Dog's coat needs regular grooming to keep it in top condition and from growing too long. It's important to note that although the Portuguese Water Dog sheds minimally, it does still shed.
Pro Tip: Some Portuguese Water Dogs are born with an "improper coat." This means that their coat is not consistent with the breed standard curly or wavy single coat, but is rather smooth-coated or flat-coated. In these cases, the Portuguese Water Dog is likely not hypoallergenic as they typically have a double coat that sheds more.
The Samoyed has an eye-catching appearance thanks to their long, bushy, light-colored fur. They have a medium-length double coat with a soft, warm undercoat and a tough outer coat that protrudes out from the body. They are considered hypoallergenic because they produce less dander than other breeds. But people with more sensitive dog allergies should beware, as it's near impossible to eliminate all dander from the Samoyed's fur. Daily brushing and regular grooming or bathing will help keep them clean and reduce the chances of triggering allergies.
Schnauzers (Giant, Standard and Miniature, alike) have thick double coats with a tough, wiry outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. Because they have wiry fur, Schnauzers shed minimally and, as a result, produce less dander. Regular grooming can further minimize dander. For all these reasons, Schnauzers of all sizes are considered hypoallergenic. In fact, Giant Schnauzers are one of the largest breeds considered to be hypoallergenic.
The Shih Tzu has a long, flowing double coat of hair, not fur, that doesn't shed much. They are actually born with a single, short coat and grow a second over coat as they get older. Because they shed minimally, they are considered hypoallergenic and with a coat of hair, they are even less likely to trigger allergies. Their coat does, however, need regular grooming and brushing to reduce shedding as much as possible.
Silky Terriers are named for their coat, which feels silky to touch. They have a single coat that is straight and glossy and can grow quite long. Because they have no undercoat and shed minimally, they produce little dander and are thus considered hypoallergenic. Despite their long coats, the Silky Terrier is easy to care for but requires regular brushing and grooming (sometimes as frequently as every week).
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium-large dog with a wavy and silky single coat of hair, rather than fur. Because of this and the lack of undercoat, they don't shed very much and are thus considered to be hypoallergenic. Although Wheaton Terriers have a low-shedding coat, they do need regular grooming to avoid tangles.
Tibetan Terriers have long double coats that can be either wavy or straight. Their undercoat is dense and soft, while their outer coat is fine (but not silky). Their coat is made of hair, rather than fur, which not only sheds less but also produces less dander. For these reasons, Tibetan Terriers are considered hypoallergenic. In addition, regular grooming can reduce pet dander even more.
Yorkshire Terriers (or Yorkies) have long, silky single coats made of hair, rather than fur. Because of this and the lack of an undercoat, Yorkies barely shed and are thus considered to be hypoallergenic. In addition, trimming and grooming can further reduce the likelihood of triggering allergies, so it's suggested you regularly groom your Yorkie.
West Highland White Terriers (also known as Westies) have a double coat with a soft undercoat and a stiff outer coat. But they are considered hypoallergenic because they have a coat that sheds minimally and because their dense, wiry coat doesn't catch or hold onto as much allergy-inducing dander. To make sure your Westie sheds as little as possible, keep their fur clipped.