Are There Really Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?

poodle puppy lying in grass chewing on a stick

Looking for a puppy to add to your family is an exciting time, but it can be complicated if you suffer from allergies. Several dog breeds, designer breeds, and mixed breeds are tagged as hypoallergenic, but are there really hypoallergenic dog breeds?

What Does “Hypoallergenic” Mean?

Hypoallergenic is a term that is normally applied to makeup, lotions, and fabrics to indicate that they are not likely to cause an allergic reaction. Now, it is a term that is applied to almost anything, including cat and dog breeds. Although many people believe it means something does not cause an allergic reaction at all, it actually means that something is “slightly allergenic” or “below normal” for an allergic reaction.

Essentially, hypoallergenic means something is not likely or is less likely to cause an allergic reaction not that it doesn’t cause a reaction at all. Since allergies vary so widely from person to person, this definition makes sense. Something that does not cause an allergic reaction in a majority of people may be hypoallergenic, but will still cause an allergic reaction for some people. This is important to keep in mind regardless, but especially important when it comes to dog breeds.

Are There Really Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?

Technically, the answer is yes. The broader answer is that it depends. When hypoallergenic is applied to dogs, it is used to refer to a dog breed that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction in people than other dog breeds. Using the definition of hypoallergenic, yes, there are some dog breeds that are less likely to cause allergic reactions than others. However, it is important to note that there is no such thing as a “no-allergen” or “non-allergic” dog.

It Depends on the Type and Intensity of the Allergy

Whether a dog could be considered hypoallergenic, also depends on the type of allergy and the most common intensity of the allergy.

Allergy to Dog Fur

Some people are allergic to a dog’s fur, in which case a low-shedding dog would be considered hypoallergenic for them. A dog that sheds less produces less of the allergen that causes their allergic reactions; so, they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, which makes them hypoallergenic.

However, if someone is intensely allergic to dog fur, then even a low-shedding dog would be likely to cause an allergic reaction for them, which would not make them hypoallergenic for that person. For someone with an intense dog fur allergy who wishes to have a dog, there are “hairless” dog breeds available, which would be considered hypoallergenic for them.

Allergy to Dog Dander

Some people are allergic to dog dander, which are the tiny, sometimes microscopic, flecks of skin shed by dogs. Humans and other animals with fur, hair, or feathers all have dander as well. Someone may be allergic to the type from one animal, but not others. Also, if someone is allergic to pet dander, they will likely be allergic to that animal’s saliva and urine as well because the protein that causes the allergic reaction is present in those substances as well.

In this case, a dog breed would not be considered hypoallergenic because all dog breeds produce dander, but there would be things the person could do to reduce the pet dander in their home and decrease the risk of an allergic reaction. Dander can be reduced with regular grooming and care as well as air filters, frequent vacuuming, anti-allergen sprays, and more.

What to do When Looking for a Puppy When You Have Allergies?

When it comes to whether there are really hypoallergenic dog breeds, the answer is that there are, but how accurate the label is really depends on the person, their type of allergy, and the intensity of their allergy. So, although there are dog breeds that are considered hypoallergenic, there is no guarantee that they will not cause an allergic reaction for you.

Spending time with them as a puppy and around their parents can often give you a good idea of how well your allergies might hold up to them. This is an important consideration when you have allergies. You want to make sure that you’ll be able to care for your new puppy and give them a forever home without causing health issues for yourself.

How Can You Reduce Allergens in the Home?

There are also a few things you can do to help reduce potential allergens in your home when you are planning to add a puppy to your family.

Choose a Dog That is Likely to Produce Fewer Allergens

Choosing a hypoallergenic dog breed for you is a good start as that will often result in fewer allergens around your home. A dog with a non- or low-shedding coat makes it harder for allergens to become airborne or circulate around your home. A smaller dog breed is sometimes better for allergy-sufferers than larger dogs. Because smaller dogs have a smaller surface area from which to produce allergens, they will often produce less than a larger animal. Plus, they don’t take up as much space, so it takes longer for them to spread allergens around the house. Shorter coats tend to be easier to manage, which will make grooming easier. Plus, if you suffer from outdoor allergies too, shorter coats won’t bring in as many outdoor allergens after a walk as longer coats might.

Keep Up with Grooming and Cleaning

Once you have your dog home, there are a few more things you can do to help reduce and control the amount of allergens inside your home. Regular grooming, maintenance, and care for the dog and frequently cleaning the home can help manage fur and dander to reduce allergens in the home. When it comes time to bathe your dog, do it outside of the house so loose fur and excess dander stay outside.

You can also consider using an air filter to improve air quality and circulation, which can help. Restricting your dog’s access to certain areas of the home can also help. For example, keeping your dog out of your bedroom and off of your bed can help ensure your bed does not become covered in allergens. Also, consider removing carpets and replacing them with wood floors. Carpets are notorious for trapping allergens and can be difficult to get fully clean while wood floors are easier to clean and do not keep allergens trapped deep inside.

There are plenty of things you can to help manage dog-related allergens in your home. Going with a dog breed that is hypoallergenic for you is a good start. If your allergies to dogs are teetering on the intense side, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor first to undergo some allergy testing and potential allergy treatments before bringing a puppy into your life.