Earlier this year, President Obama and the first family welcomed Bo the Portuguese Water Dog into their family, particularly for his hypoallergenic coat, since their daughter Malia has allergies. She is not alone in her plight, as approximately 10 percent of Americans are allergic to dog dander ... including yours truly, which I discovered just a few months ago. With a household and office full of pets, this explains why I’ve pretty much sneezed my way through life.
While no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, there are many non-shedding breeds that the American Kennel Club suggests for allergy sufferers, as they produce less dander. As well, many mixed breeds found in shelters can quite possibly be a mash-up of some of these hypoallergenic breeds (such as my very own rescue mutt Lulu Schmoo, who was found wandering homeless in the streets of Mexico) and be just hypoallergenic enough for you. So if you are specifically looking for a hypoallergenic dog to add to your family, consider your local shelter or peruse Petfinder.com for candidates!
In no particular order, the top eight hypoallergenic breeds according to the AKC are:
1. Portuguese Water Dog
An athletic and active breed, the Portuguese water dog requires daily vigorous exercise. Very intelligent and responsive to obedience training, their profuse coat requires regular maintenance. It may be kept in the lion clip (the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle are clipped to the skin) or the retriever clip (the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length and follows the outline of the dog).
2. Bichon Frise
A naturally gentle and playful dog, they love activity and require regular exercise. Their hair grows continually and does not shed, so extensive grooming is a must to prevent mats.
3. Chinese Crested
Cresteds make alert and playful companions and do well in families with gentle children. However, they are prone to more frequent skin irritations, allergies, and sunburn than a coated dog would experience, so owners should take appropriate precautions.
4. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish water spaniel is an active and energetic companion and possesses the natural instinct to please, making them elatively easy to train, but regular exercise is important. Their hypoallergenic coats require brushing every few weeks and trimming every two months to neaten and shape the coat.
Despite their diminutive size, the Maltese tends to be brave and without fear. They are one of the most gentle of all little dogs, but are also full of energy and very playful, making them great family dogs. Maltese should be brushed daily, and groomed often to prevent mats from forming in their long, white coat.
Exceptionally smart and active, the Poodle is the only breed that comes in three size varieties, and so can accommodate nearly any size living quarters. Their hypoallergenic coat requires regular professional grooming.
7. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Wheatens tend to be less scrappy than other terriers but they are true terriers and will be more active than many other breeds, enjoying plenty of exercise every day. They relate well to children and can adapt to city, country, and suburban life. The Wheaten is single coated and sheds minimally, but it needs regular grooming to keep its coat mat-free.
8. Miniature Schnauzer
While all schnauzers have hypoallergenic coats, the miniature in particular adapts easily to any living situation and loves children if the two are introduced while the dog is under a year of age. Despite their small stature, the miniature schnauzer can give an alarm just as well as a larger dog, which makes them excellent watchdogs. They shed very little, but require grooming every few months.
Did we forget anyone? Goldendoodles and Labradoodles are definitely gaining in popularity as are other breeds. Feel free to share which other breeds might be considered hypoallergenic in the comments section below!