Do you dream of having a big, fluffy companion to cuddle up in front of the TV with and take on hikes with you, but suffer from allergies? You’re not alone. More than 50 million people in the US suffer from some type of allergy. There's no doubt that many of these are dog lovers like you!
Your allergies don’t have to doom you to a pup-less existence. There are many large hypoallergenic dog breeds, each with unique personalities, so there’s a perfect fit for every household if you’re wanting to buy a puppy. It’s all about choosing the right dog breed for your needs. You never know—your future best four-legged friend could be on Puppy Hero’s list of the best large hypoallergenic dogs.
There are really two parts to this question. The first: is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog? Technically no. You can’t expect the same level of allergy protection from a dog that you would get from a pillow, which has been manufactured to be “100% hypoallergenic”. Dogs are living beings and all breeds produce proteins in their fur, saliva, and urine that can trigger allergy symptoms.
However, if we’re going to get technical about things, the term “hypoallergenic” as it was originally coined means “less allergenic”, rather than “not allergenic at all”. Under this definition, there are dog breeds out there that produce fewer allergens and are therefore considered to be hypoallergenic pets.
The second part of the question is: does size matter? There’s a common misconception among people who know anything about dogs and allergies that owning a big dog is a no-no for allergy sufferers.
The bigger they are, the harder they shed.
While we’d recommend a smaller breed for someone with moderate allergies, there are definitely larger breeds that are suitable for people with milder allergy symptoms.
As with anything allergy-related, the first priority should always be your health. If you have severe pet allergies, it’s not worth risking your wellbeing to become a dog owner.
The best dog breeds for people with allergies are those that don’t drool a lot and shed relatively little. This limits the amount of dander scattered through the air and around your house, easing allergy symptoms. The best hypoallergenic large dog breeds are, therefore:
Height: 40–60 cm
The Standard Poodle is probably the most well-known hypoallergenic dog breed in the world. In fact, many allergy sufferers believe that owning a Poodle is their only option. While that isn’t the case, it would hardly mean drawing the short straw—Poodles are amazing! In many ways, they’re the best of everything: highly intelligent and therefore easy to train, but with a delightfully silly and fun personality.
As notorious show dogs, Poodles are fairly high maintenance in terms of grooming. It doesn’t need to be competition-standard, but a Poodle’s naturally thick and curly coat will need daily brushing to prevent matting and monthly bathing with a specially formulated shampoo, if possible. Alternatively, you can shave a Poodle’s coat every six to eight weeks to cut down on maintenance, either at home or at the groomers. If you’re doing this at home, it’s probably best to get someone who isn’t allergic to do the shaving.
Height: 60–70 cm
These ruggedly handsome fellas—or fellerinas, of course—were originally bred as working dogs, and they’ve got the personality to show for it. They’re renowned for their dominant, independent personalities—proving a challenge even for experienced dog owners—but are also incredibly loyal companions.
Raising a Schnauzer of any size isn’t for the faint of heart (or the inexperienced). Schnauzers require strong owners that can earn their respect without resorting to physical violence. The responsibility and challenge of owning a Schnauzer is only matched by the reward: an absolutely unbreakable bond with a dog that is as warm and gentle as it is energetic.
The Giant Schnauzer has a dense, hypoallergenic coat that hardly sheds, but requires regular grooming—albeit less than the Poodle. Weekly brushing helps prevent its dashing beard from getting tangled and, for the best results, its coat should be clipped or stripped every 8-10 weeks.
Height: 56–61 cm
The Terrier personality, but super-size it. The Airedale is known as “The King of The Terriers” for being the largest Terrier breed, reaching up to 61 cm tall. Unsurprisingly, more size means more energy. Terriers are notoriously feisty, energetic, and playful, and the Airedale is no exception. For this reason, they thrive best with experienced owners who have both the time and the space to entertain it.
Like the Schnauzer, the Airedale has a dense, wiry double coat that rarely sheds, making it a great choice for pet owners with allergies. You’ll want to get to know a good groomer, however, as the Airedale requires the full whammy of coat maintenance every three to four months: stripping away the old coat and trimming the outer layer. On top of this, you’ll want to brush it weekly and bathe your pup approximately every eight weeks.
Height: 60–74 cm
Instantly recognisable by their tall, slender frame and long, regal locks, the Afghan Hound is a truly striking breed. In terms of personality, Afghan Hounds are like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get. They can be aloof, but silly; independent, yet playful; elegant, but clownish. Sometimes, they are all of the above all at once! This makes them exciting companions and perfect for similarly temperamental owners.
It’s crucial that Afghan Hounds are properly socialized from an early age, as they can become stand-offish if not feral. However, with proper training, they make excellent family pets and are wonderful around children.
Now, as for that coat. It probably won’t come as a shock that Afghan Hounds are fairly high maintenance. Beauty doesn’t come cheap, after all. They require weekly baths as well as several hours of brushing per week to stay looking their best.
Height: 64–76 cm
The Komondor is the largest hypoallergenic dog breed on average, measuring between 64 and 76 cm tall. Combined with their fiercely protective personality, honed through their history as protectors of livestock, the Komondor is an imposing presence in the home and makes a fantastic guard dog. It is also a deeply loving and affectionate pet, with a tendency to follow its owners around the house to keep an eye on them. It is also fantastic with children, who are drawn to its almost cartoonish mop-like appearance.
Unlike other distinctive breeds on this list, the Komondor requires fairly little maintenance. You never brush a Komondor’s coat. This would make it impossible for its distinctive cords—the non-shedding element that makes this particular large dog breed so hypoallergenic—to form. Bathing and drying your Komondor is, on the other hand, an all-day affair, and the cords need to be carefully separated every few months to allow for new growth.
Height: 53–61 cm
The Poodle-iest potential Poodle descendant that isn’t a Poodle: The Irish Water Spaniel. Often mistaken for its alleged ancestor, with its tightly-curled ringlet coat, the Irish Water Spaniel is in fact the largest of the typically small-to-medium sized Spaniels, measuring up to 61 cm tall. Like the Poodle, the Irish Water Spaniel is also a highly hypoallergenic breed, rarely shedding or drooling and therefore producing little potentially allergenic proteins.
It is also known as the clown of the Spaniel family, with a playful, goofy, and energetic personality that makes it a hoot of a companion to have around the house. Like all Spaniels, this large hypoallergenic breed is a devoted and affectionate pet, too.
Compared to other breeds on this list, the Irish Water Spaniel is relatively low-maintenance, requiring brushing just two to three times per week and a monthly wash with the right shampoo. Again, it’s best if a non-allergic member of the household takes over these duties!
Height: 50–65 cm
The Large Peruvian Inca Orchid is not only one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, it is also the only hairless breed to make our list of the best large hypoallergenic dogs. The Peruvian Inca Orchid comes in three sizes—small, medium, and large—all of which share the same characteristics. Though some are coated, they are most commonly bred to be hairless. For pet owners with allergies, that can only mean one thing: no hair = no shedding.
These lively and affectionate pups remain quite rare outside of their native country, but due to growing interest in them—in part, no doubt, due to being hypoallergenic—they are becoming easier to find in the US.
Obviously, no hair means that there is nothing to brush, so Peruvian Inca Orchids are a relatively low-maintenance breed. Their hairlessness does, however, mean that there is nothing to protect their skin from UV rays, so they need daily moisturizing and suncare instead.
Height: 61–76 cm
Originating from the sunny Algarve region, the Portuguese Water Dog is one of the largest hypoallergenic dog breeds you can have, measuring up to 76 cm. They gained notoriety as a hypoallergenic breed after being chosen by one of the most famous allergy-prone families in the world: the Obamas. The former first family had two Portuguese Water Dogs—Bo and Sunny—in an effort to avoid triggering eldest daughter Malia’s pet allergies.
These friendly, outgoing, and playful pups make wonderful pets, and they respond well to obedience training, even if some are more strong-willed than others. However, as is the case with most large dogs, they can become destructive if they feel too fenced-in, so they need lots of activity and preferably a large garden to run around in.
The ‘Portie’ has a single coat that grows continuously, rather than shedding, and therefore is considered to have hair, rather than fur. They require routine grooming and maintenance, including tri-weekly brushing, regular bathing, and a full coat trim once a month.
Height: 48–60 cm
If you want a puffy white cloud of loveable goodness bouncing around your house, boy do we have the dog for you. The Samoyed is a Siberian herding and sled-pulling breed and one of the 14 ancient breeds most genetically similar to wolves. As former pack animals, it makes sense that the Samoyed is an intensely loyal and devoted companion that makes an ideal family dog.
Its glorious white fluffy coat has low dander levels, earning this breed its hypoallergenic credentials. However, it should be noted that of the large hypoallergenic breeds, the Samoyed sheds quite a lot and is therefore the most likely to trigger allergy symptoms. We’d therefore recommend this breed for people with low allergy levels and advise spending a bit of time visiting your Samoyed pup before committing to taking it home, just to make sure.
The Samoyed requires a fair amount of grooming to keep its signature coat in the best possible shape. It requires brushing approximately twice a week, up to once a day during shedding season, as well as bathing every six to eight weeks. Many pet owners, especially those with allergies, opt to take their Samoyed to a groomer if they can afford it.
No matter which breed of large hypoallergenic dog you opt for, there is always a risk that having a dog in the house will aggravate your allergy symptoms. For some people, it may be too late—maybe you’ve committed to keeping your dog around, your children have fallen in love with it, or perhaps you’re moving with a partner who has a large dog.
As long as your allergies aren’t severe and don’t pose a risk to your overall health, it is possible to curb your symptoms with a few allergy-reduction strategies, including: