Allergies don’t have to get in the way of you being a dog owner.
Having a four-legged friend around the house is a dream for many people. After all, both cats and dogs have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce rates of depression and improve the overall physical and emotional wellbeing of their humans. However, more than 50 million people in the US suffer with some type of allergies and around three in ten find that pets aggravate their symptoms.
If you or someone in your household is allergy-prone, you need to be careful about choosing the right dog breed. Luckily, the experts at Puppy Hero have created this extensive guide to the best dog breeds for allergies to help you find the perfect pup.
Absolutely! There’s no reason a bit of sneezing and wheezing should get in the way of welcoming a pet into your home. You just have to be smart about it.
Plenty of pet owners experience allergic reactions to their own cats and dogs. It’s possible that many more people are allergy-prone, but as they have chosen a hypoallergenic dog breed and employ allergy-reduction strategies in their home, don't experience any symptoms at all.
Of course, as with anything allergy-related, it all depends on the severity of your symptoms. If your symptoms are debilitating, there’s no point in risking your health. However, if they are fairly mild, there are a number of allergy-friendly dog breeds to choose from when it’s time to buy a puppy.
Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as ‘allergy-free dog breeds’. They’re not a pillow or a bottle of shampoo after all—they can’t be manufactured to remove all risk of an allergic reaction!
There is, however, such a thing as ‘allergy friendly dog breeds’! All dogs produce potentially allergenic proteins that end up in their skin, fur, saliva and urine. However, the term “hypoallergenic” actually means “less allergenic”, so hypoallergenic dog breeds are those that shed less fur and produce less saliva, reducing the quantity of these proteins their owner might be exposed to and therefore minimizing symptoms of an allergic reaction.
If you are prone to allergies, the best type of dog to own is a non-shedding breed that doesn’t produce large amounts of saliva. This minimizes your contact with the antigens that can cause an allergic reaction.
A common misconception about hypoallergenic dogs is that short-hair breeds are automatically better. This is not the case—there are plenty of long-hair breeds that are hypoallergenic and plenty of short-hair breeds that aren’t. It’s important to do your research so that you don’t fall in love with a pooch that you then have to rehome.
Some of the most common best dog breeds for allergies include:
These adorable little balls of fluff are one of the most hypoallergenic dogs around! Bichon Frises are a double-coated breed, meaning that they shed seasonally rather than year-round. While some double-coated dog breeds shed a lot, the Bichon’s texture means that the excess fur gets caught up in its coat, meaning less contact with problematic allergens for you, the dog owner.
All sizes of Schnauzer rarely shed and hardly drool, making them a highly hypoallergenic breed. Not to be Captain Obvious, but the smaller the dog, the less hair it produces. A Miniature Schnauzer might therefore be best for someone with stronger allergy symptoms.
The Yorkie is one of the best-loved and easiest-to-find hypoallergenic dog breeds out there. Their playful, feisty, and energetic personality in a pint-sized package has made them the most popular toy dog breed in the United States and has seen them consistently rank in the American Kennel Club’s annual Top 10.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe she’s a Lhasa Apso. These highly affectionate pups are known for their long, luscious locks that reach down to their feet—which, admittedly, is only 25cm down. This is also the quality that makes them perfect for pet owners with allergies, as their fur continuously grows rather than sheds.
While most breeds on their list boast their hypoallergenic-ness because they hardly shed their fur, the Chinese Crested doesn’t have that problem—it’s basically hairless. Chinese Crested dogs come in three varieties, all of which sound vaguely like something out of a children’s picture book: the Powderpuff, the Hairless, and the Hairy-Hairless.
What makes this dog breed so allergy-friendly? The clue is in the name. The Wire Fox Terrier’s rough, wiry coat hardly sheds, making it a perfect companion for those with hypersensitive immune systems. Fun fact: this dog has also won more top prizes at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show than any other breed—15 to be exact!
Coton de Tulears might be lesser-known than some of the breeds on this list, but if you ask us they’re wildly underrated as family pets. Like Lhasa Apsos, their continuously-growing coats make them perfect for people with allergies, but their true selling point is their doting, loyal, and affectionate personality. They’re also relatively low maintenance, which is uncommon among hypoallergenic dog breeds.
You’d know that curly tail anywhere. Basenjis are a highly distinctive short-hair hypoallergenic dog breed, known for their unusual yodel-like bark—earning them the nickname “the barkless dog”—and their tightly-curled tail. They’re great for pet owners who aren’t too jazzed about spending hours on grooming, as they have very few needs in that arena, and have little to no body odor.
It’s Toto! Despite having little name recognition, the Cairn Terrier is arguably one of the most iconic dogs in cinema history, with a Cairn by the name of Terry having played Dorothy’s fluffy companion in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Maybe Dorothy had allergies? If she did, she chose her pet wisely, as the Cairn Terrier is another breed with a low-shedding double coat.
Like a lot of terriers, Westies are big personalities contained in adorable little bodies. They have bundles of energy and are quick to snap if they feel threatened, but are loyal and loving to their humans. The West Highland Terrier’s low-shedding coat is a bit like its personality, a little rough on the outside—to protect itself from harsh weather—but soft on the inside to keep itself cozy.
No, not the pasta dish, but just as delightful! The Bolognese is a fluffy ball of low-maintenance, hypoallergenic goodness, requiring just a few brushes a week to keep its long, flocked coat under control. They’re also a great fit for couch potato owners, as they don’t require a lot of exercise.
Can you guess why this dog is hypoallergenic? Well, it’s hard to shed when you haven’t got any hair. According to the American Kennel Club, they’re “as hypoallergenic as a dog can get”—what more do you need? Remember, though: with no fur, these dogs have nothing to protect themselves from harsh weather, so it’s up to you to take care of their skin in colder months.
You might think your dog is special, but are they sacred? Shih Tzus are. These “lion dogs” are, well… lionized in Buddhist mythology as sacred beasts of Gautama Buddha and are marked with “Buddha’s kiss”—the white patch of hair in between their eyebrows. Thought to have been bred from Lhasa Apsos and Pekingese, Shih Tzus have inherited their supposed ancestors’ low-shedding hypoallergenic qualities. Blessed, indeed.
Distant cousins of the Bolognese, the Bichon Frise and the Havanese (which we’ll get to in just a minute), the Maltese shares its relatives’ suitability for allergy-prone pet owners. Maltese dogs have been around since antiquity and, having seen it all, are more than content to cuddle up on their owners’ laps for hours on end. Expect to earn those cuddles with a lot of grooming, however, as the Maltese’s coat needs to be brushed daily.
Despite being originally bred as hunting dogs, the Border Terrier is a perfect pet for the laid-back allergy-prone pet owner. They retain their characteristic boisterous Terrier personality and energy, but are extremely low-maintenance in terms of grooming—you just need to get to know a good groomer and take your pet along twice a year to get their coat stripped and keep them looking sharp.
Havana, ooh na na. The only dog breed in the world native to Cuba, the Havanese is another small, long-haired hypoallergenic Bichon breed that would make a welcome addition to any allergy-prone home. Their silky, non-shedding coats can be clipped short for easier maintenance or grown long for that regal look that made them so popular with the Cuban aristocracy.
Instantly recognizable by their arched, almost lamb-like backs and tasseled ears, the Bedlington Terrier is another classic show dog that would make an ideal companion for any pet owner with allergy problems, due to their characteristic wiry, low-shedding coat.
If you’ve ever wondered what a pug might look like if they grew a beard, meet the Brussels Griffon. The Griffon makes an ideal alternative for the allergen nightmare that pugs, unfortunately, are due to its low-shedding coat, which can be easily stripped at the groomers’ to further minimize any risk of allergy symptoms being aggravated.
Who among us can resist that face? This iconic breed, famously owned by Franklin D Roosevelt, was feared to be at risk of dying out a few years ago, but has experienced a surge in popularity. And rightfully so! The Scottish Terrier’s playful, bold, and feisty personality is just the start of their many qualities: they’re also a highly hypoallergenic breed, rarely shedding if at all. They do, however, require quite a lot of maintenance, so if you enjoy grooming, this could be the dog for you.
Once the rarest dogs in the world, the Lowchen is also known as the “Little Lion Dog”. Yet another low-shedding, low-drool member of the Bichon family, this hypoallergenic breed is party in the front, business in the back in terms of hairstyle, with its lion-esque mane stopping entirely at its hips and leaving its legs completely bare.
If you’re a Star Wars fan with allergies, look no further—this is the dog for you. The Affenpinscher, a toy breed with a low-shedding coat, has acquired many nicknames throughout history, including ‘The Monkey Terrier’, but its most famous moniker is still a subject of hot debate among wannabe Jedis. What do you think: does the Affenpinscher look more like a tiny Ewok or a tiny Wookie?
If you’ve seen a Puli before, you certainly won't forget it. The Puli looks unlike any other dog breed—hypoallergenic or otherwise—with a coat made of naturally occurring cords that look like the canine equivalent of dreadlocks. Its unique coat makes it one of the best dog breeds for allergies, as there is no brushing and even minimal bathing required.
It’s okay, we tried to pronounce it too. More commonly known as a ‘Xolo’, this handsome hairless breed originates in Mexico, and in 2016 was named a “cultural heritage and symbol” of the capital, Mexico City. Although some varieties of Xolo have fur, its usual lack thereof makes it an ideal companion for people with allergies.
From the bare-skinned Xolo to the positively puffy Barbet. Its name is even derived from the French word for ‘beard’! This wooly breed is ideal if you have children with allergies, as it has that classic wiry fur texture that is non-shedding, as well as a loving personality that makes it one of the best dog breeds for families.
Out of all the dogs on this list, the Peruvian Inca Orchid has the best names. Yes, we said names—plural. Its official name was coined when Spanish settlers first encountered the breed in caves around wild orchids, which also gives them the nickname “flower dogs”. This hairless hypoallergenic breed is also known by the moniker “moon dog”, as it has a distaste for sunshine.
A low-maintenance dog for low-maintenance people with allergies, the Spanish Water Dog boasts a coat that neither sheds nor needs brushing. Left to its own devices, its naturally wooly fur will grow into dreadlocks, meaning that aside from the occasional wash, there’s very little you need to do to keep this dog in top condition.
It’s a bit like the miniature one, only bigger. The Standard Schnauzer was the original of the three main schnauzer breeds—Miniature, Standard, and Giant—and originated in Germany somewhere between the 14th and 15th centuries. It’s thought to share ancestry with other hypoallergenic dog breeds, including the Poodle and the Bolognese.
Who’d have thunk it… an easygoing Terrier. Compared to its yappier, more rambunctious counterparts, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is pretty laid-back. Don’t be mistaken, it still has some bite to its bark, but only a little. In terms of allergies, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier doesn’t shed very much, but it requires some level of upkeep.
Meet Italy’s “truffle dog”. This wiry mid-sized Italian breed hardly molts, making it a great fit for pet owners with allergies. In terms of maintenance, it does not require daily attention like some hypoallergenic dog breeds, but you might want to run a comb through its fur every once in a while to prevent matting.
Silky by name, silky by nature. There really are two extremes when it comes to the best dog breeds for allergies: their coat either grows continuously without shedding or it has none to begin with. The Australian Silky Terrier falls into the first camp. A close cousin of the Yorkshire Terrier—albeit cousins from the opposite side of the globe—this breed requires no extra care than the average dog, just regular brushing and combing.
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a striking choice for a hypoallergenic dog, but you can expect to earn that striking appearance with a lot of grooming. Known for its stunning blue coat and prominent whiskers and beard—the kind that makes you think: “how on earth do they see?” —is a wonderful companion if you’re willing to put in the effort. Maintenance needs include daily brushing, plus trimming and bathing every couple of weeks. Got to keep those whiskers looking sharp!
The Poodle is almost definitely the most well-known hypoallergenic dog breed. In fact, some of you are likely reading this article because you have allergies, but you’re simply not a “Poodle person”. That’s fair enough, but you’re missing out! Poodles are famous for a reason: they are champions at pretty much everything they do, highly intelligent, and have brilliant personalities to boot.
Our final Schnauzer, ladies and gentleman! This Schnauzer may be giant, but still isn’t the biggest player in our large hypoallergenic dog list, measuring around 60–70cm. Giant Schnauzers are challenging but rewarding pets, requiring a lot of regular grooming and a healthy supply of patience to boot, its stubborn Schnauzer nature only being amplified by its stature.
Roll out the red carpet for The King of The Terriers. The Airedale holds the distinction of being the largest terrier breed, and not inconsequentially, one of the largest hypoallergenic dog breeds. If you love that trademark terrier personality just as much as we do and want a large dog to go on hikes with, the Airedale Terrier is probably your perfect match.
Is there a more striking dog breed out there? The Afghan Hound is an incredibly elegant breed: tall, slender, and eye-catching… the supermodel of the canine world. It’s not just their appearance that makes them unique, but their personalities. Sometimes known as the “cats of dogs”, Afghan Hounds are far more independent and aloof than the average hound. Unsurprisingly, this dog’s long, non-shedding hypoallergenic coat requires a lot of combing to keep them looking their best.
The canine mop. The kind of dog that makes you go: “who the hell is under there?”. The Hungarian Komondor’s allergy-friendly coat grows from soft puppy fur into long, dreadlock-like cords. While you never need to brush or comb a Komondor, it is vital that you keep its coat freshly washed and regularly separate new hair growth so that new cords can form.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Golden Retrievers are a bit of a problem for pet owners with allergies. They shed enormous amounts, maximizing the risk of their owners coming into contact with allergenic proteins. Luckily, allergy-prone pet owners can have the best of both worlds with a rare crossbreed—the Goldendoodle. Expertly bred to have the wiry, non-shedding coat of the Poodle, the coloring of a Golden Retriever and a personality that combines the best qualities of both, the Goldendoodle is a great choice for a hypoallergenic pet.
No matter what breed you choose, owning a dog may aggravate your allergy symptoms. After all, as we said, no dog is completely hypoallergenic. It may therefore be useful to employ some allergy reduction strategies around your home, such as:
Ready to welcome your new pet, even if you have allergies? Puppy Hero is ready to help you find your perfect pooch, no matter what your needs are. You can browse by breed or state to match with a dog that won’t have you sneezing!