Looking for a dog, but worried about allergies in your household? Don’t worry, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, as many as three in 10 people in the U.S. have allergic reactions to cats and dogs, so you’re not alone.
And, better yet — there are a variety of hypoallergenic dog breeds out there that are well-suited for dog lovers with existing allergies. Your allergies do not have to exclude you from dog ownership, in fact, much the opposite — some of the most popular breeds are hypoallergenic, including different dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Wondering where to start? Read on and explore our list of the 22 best hypoallergenic dog breeds to find the dog that’s right for you. Let’s dig in…
What Are Hypoallergenic Dogs?
If you or someone in your family is an allergy sufferer and you’re looking for a canine companion, you might be wondering: what exactly is a hypoallergenic dog?
The phrase “hypoallergenic dog breeds” is thrown around a lot — but if you’re trying to find a dog that’s the right fit for your restrictions, you’ll want to understand exactly what this means.
So, first and foremost, it’s important to establish that no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic or allergen-free. Instead, as Dr. Lynn Buzhardt writes for VCA Hospitals, the term hypoallergenic is used to refer to “breeds that are less likely to stimulate allergies in people.”
Therefore, even if you have a hypoallergenic breed, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog won’t cause an allergic reaction for someone in your household who has allergies — it just means the dog is much more unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in comparison to other breeds.
Interestingly enough, according to Dr. Buzhardt, what constitutes a “hypoallergenic dog breed” is often debated in research studies and amongst experts. She suggests that although some dog breeds are often considered hypoallergenic due to specific characteristics they possess (which we’ll discuss shortly!), the truth may be that how hypoallergenic a dog is may depend on the individual dog and person.
She continues on to say that not all dogs produce the same proteins, so some people are allergic to a specific dog and not a specific breed. Therefore, a person could react to one Maltese and live allergy-free with another. Ultimately, things largely depend on the dog and the person.
With this understanding in mind,if you’re looking for a dog to minimize the potential for an allergic reaction, you’re going to want to start with those that are considered hypoallergenic.
Overall, hypoallergenic dog breeds are those that:
- Don’t shed — in other words, they have a non-shedding coat that produces less dander
- Don’t have hair — and therefore, it’s less likely that dander clings to the dog
- Have short, single-layered coats — meaning that without an undercoat to shed, there is dander coming off the dog and sticking around in your home
Based on these characteristics, you might notice a theme: dander. Although you might think that allergies are caused by a dog’s fur or hair itself, they actually are caused by the dander that’s found on a dog’s skin or coat.
Therefore, if you have a dog with a double-coat, thick fur, and sheds a lot, you’re more likely to have dander floating around, meaning greater chances for an allergic reaction.
22 Best Hypoallergenic Dogs For Allergy Sufferers
So, now that you have a better understanding of what types of dogs are considered hypoallergenic, let’s talk about some of the best breeds for allergy sufferers. As you’ll see below, hypoallergenic dogs are normally on the small-to-medium size, but range in terms of history, appearance, and temperament.
This being said, we’ve listed these hypoallergenic dogs alphabetically.Each one falls into one of the three categories we listed above — they’re either dogs that don’t shed, hairless dogs, or dogs with manageable coats that minimize dander.
Like many of the wiry-haired dogs on this list, Affenpinschers are great for allergy sufferers because of their low-maintenance coats. Affenpinscher’s wiry coats do not grow quickly and they’re not big shedders.
These dogs are known as confident, funny, and great toy-sized companion dogs.
2. Afghan Hound
Although Afghan Hounds might not seem like the best hypoallergenic dogs at first glance, they’re silky coats actually shed very infrequently. As puppies, these dogs have short, fuzzy coats, and as they get older, they have longer, silky coats that require regular grooming.
If you don’t mind grooming, however, these dogs can be a great option for those with allergies.
Afghan Hounds are known for their dignified and regal appearance. They’re also incredibly devoted and loyal to the people they call their own.
3. American Hairless Terrier
As you may have guessed based on their name, American Hairless Terriers are typically hairless — although there is also a coated variety. In any case, these are dogs that don’t shed, or at least, if they do, shed very little.
You’ll need to make sure to care for their ears and protect them from sunburn, but these dogs are an excellent hypoallergenic breed.
Plus, although they’re not as well-known as some of the other dogs on our list, American Hairless Terriers are native to Louisiana and known for their playful terrier attitude.
Also known as the “barkless dog,” Basenjis are independent, smart, and easily recognizable by their curly tails.
These are great hypoallergenic dogs because of their short coat, limited grooming needs, and only occasional shedding. Additionally, Basenjis don’t have a typical “dog” smell and only need to be bathed if they get into something dirty.
Plus, the sound they make is often considered something between a chortle and yodel, which is how they’ve earned the nickname the barkless dog.
5. Bedlington Terrier
Another hypoallergenic dog with a recognizable appearance, the Bedlington Terrier’s coat is reminiscent of a sheep. These dogs are known for their liveliness and desire to be the center of attention.
Bedlington Terriers have crisp and curly coats that are a mix of soft and harsh, but not wiry, unlike many other terrier breeds. These are dogs that don’t shed, despite their unique coat.
Although Bedlington Terriers don’t shed, their coats do grow quickly and require regular clipping.
6. Bichon Frise
A dog full of personality and charm, the Bichon Frise is easily identifiable by his pure white coat. With their energy, bichons are excellent companion dogs, getting along with children, other dogs, and excelling in larger cities — they’re also great lap dogs.
As a hypoallergenic breed, bichons shed very infrequently, and according to the AKC, when they do shed, the shed hair is caught up in their undercoat. Bichons will need to be brushed and groomed, but generally, they’re a great dog for allergy sufferers.
7. Chinese Crested
Similar to the American Hairless Terrier, Chinese Cresteds come in both a hairless and coated variety (called Powderpuffs). As you might expect, the hairless dogs do not shed — and even the coated dogs shed very little.
Both types of Chinese Crested, however, will require grooming care—skincare for the hairless and regular brushing for the coated dogs. Overall, though, these dogs are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a hypoallergenic dog.
Chinese Cresteds are fun, playful, and known for their appearances in movies like Cats & Dogs, Marmaduke, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
8. Coton de Tulear
Although Coton de Tulears may not be as well known as some of the other hypoallergenic dogs on our list, you’ll know one when you see him. These dogs have soft, cotton-like white coats that can grow long unless they’re kept in a short “puppy clip.”
Despite the flowing appearance of their coats, Coton de Tulears are only occasional shedders and require minimal grooming, especially if their coats are kept short.
If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic breed that’s a true companion, the Coton de Tulear will definitely be the dog for you. These dogs are fun, happy, and perfectly content to follow you around the house all day.
9. Giant Schnauzer
One of the biggest breeds on our list of the best hypoallergenic dogs, Giant Schnauzers are just one of three types of Schnauzer. As their name suggests, these are big dogs who make great workers and companions.
Giant Schnauzers are also intelligent, loyal, and very trainable.
In terms of allergies, these dogs shed, but not in large amounts at a time. For mild allergy sufferers, dander can be minimized by regular grooming and brushing.
Without a doubt, if you’re looking for a hardworking, active hypoallergenic dog, the Giant Schnauzer will be your best bet.
10. Irish Water Spaniel
Like the Giant Schnauzer, the Irish Water Spaniel is one of the largest hypoallergenic dogs — standing tallest amongst all the AKC spaniels. Additionally, Irish Water Spaniels are very active, hardworking, and as their name suggests, lovers of water.
These dogs are recognizable by their curled coats and tapering “rat tail.” Although Irish Water Spaniels will shed seasonally, their coats themselves are relatively hypoallergenic — but will require regular brushing and trimming.
11. Kerry Blue Terrier
With one of the most unique coat colors in the dog world, Kerry Blue Terriers are known as alert and adaptable family companions. Kerry Blues have coats that come in a shade of blue — ranging from deep slate to light-blue gray.
These are dogs that don’t shed, but they should receive regular brushing as well as scheduled trimming. Of all of the hypoallergenic dogs out there, Kerry Blues are also one of the larger breeds, making them greater workers and watchdogs.
12. Lagotto Romagnolo
Adorable, teddy-bear looking dogs, Lagotto Romagnolos have a fascinating history — as they’re traditionally bred to search for truffles — earning them the nickname “truffle dog.”
These dogs are hardworking and strong, with excellent noses.
As a hypoallergenic breed, the Lagotto has thick, curled hair — with a double coat of hair as opposed to fur. Lagottos shed very minimally, but their coats do require regular trimming to avoid matting.
If you’re an allergy sufferer looking for an adorable dog with incredible endurance, the Lagotto Romagnolo might very well be the breed for you.
One of the smaller hypoallergenic dogs, Maltese, like Bichons and Coton de Tulears, are known for their white coats. These dogs are low-shedding, but will require brushing and grooming if their coats are kept long.
Maltese are true companion dogs — they’re extremely affectionate, happy, and love to sit in the laps of their family members.
14. Miniature Schnauzer
The second schnauzer on our list of the best hypoallergenic dogs, the Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest of the schnauzers — but don’t let their size fool you.
These dogs are outgoing and energetic and make great guard dogs.
Like the Giant Schnauzer, Miniature Schnauzers shed very little — despite their double coat. Brushing and grooming will help keep the coat of the Miniature Schnauzer clean, but those with allergies will be unlikely to experience a reaction from these fearless dogs.
15. Peruvian Inca Orchid
Perhaps one of the rarest hypoallergenic dogs on our list, the Peruvian Inca Orchid has a name that sounds like a flower — but this breed couldn’t be more different.
Originating in Peru, Peruvian Inca Orchids are sighthounds, similar to Greyhounds or Whippets. These dogs are very loyal and protective — making good watchdogs.
In addition to coming in three sizes, Peruvian Inca Orchids are available in hairless or coated varieties. In either case, allergy sufferers do not have to worry about large amounts of hair or fur with these dogs, though they will require skincare, especially when they’re out in the sun.
Likely the most recognizable of all the hypoallergenic dogs, the Poodle continues to make the top 10 of the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds year after year. Poodles are available in Standard, Miniature, and Toy varieties — but regardless of size, these dogs are incredibly smart, versatile, and excellent family dogs.
In terms of their coats, poodles shed very little and many owners choose to keep their coats cut simply and short to make maintenance easier. If you let their coats grow, however, you’ll need to keep up with brushing in order to avoid mats.
Without a doubt, poodles are one of the most common and popular hypoallergenic dogs.
17. Portuguese Water Dog
Made famous by former White House dogs, Sunny and Bo, the Portuguese Water Dog is a smart, athletic, and water-loving companion.
These medium-sized dogs are also very easily trainable — with curly coats similar to some of the other breeds on our list.
Although the Portuguese Water Dog’s coat is hypoallergenic, it is thick and will shed seasonally. Therefore, in order to minimize allergic reactions, you’ll want to take care to regularly groom your Portuguese Water Dog.
To make this process easier, many owners choose to keep the coat cut simple and short — but these dogs can be groomed in a variety of different ways.
18. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Whereas most terriers are known for their firm, wiry coats, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier has a soft, silky coat. These dogs are low-shedding, but do need frequent brushing to avoid mats and to remove excess loose hair.
Soft Coated Wheatens are active, energetic, and friendly. These dogs definitely require exercise and training, as they do have the stubbornness of a terrier. That said, they are incredibly devoted and loyal companions.
19. Spanish Water Dog
Of the best hypoallergenic dogs, Spanish Water Dogs have one of the most unique coats. These dogs have curly and wooly coats, which, when grown out, can form tight cords — similar to a Komondor or Bergamasco AKA “Mop Dogs.”
Most dog owners choose to keep the coat of the Spanish Water Dog short, as the longer, corded coat requires much more maintenance and expertise. That said, these dogs shed very minimally — making them great for allergy sufferers.
With a history of herding and retrieving, the Spanish Water Dog is an active, playful companion as well as an industrious watchdog.
20. Standard Schnauzer
The last of the schnauzers on our list of the best hypoallergenic dogs, the Standard Schnauzer stands between the Miniature and the Giant Schnauzer in terms of size.
In terms of personality, these dogs are active, willful, and very trainable. Standard Schnauzers are excellent companions and guard dogs — they’re great with kids and very protective of their family.
Like the other schnauzers, this dog has a double coat, but sheds very infrequently. The Standard Schnauzer’s coat is stripped instead of clipped, as clipping results in more dirt and shedding.
21. Wire Fox Terrier
The breed with the most historical wins at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City, the Wire Fox Terrier is both hypoallergenic and a friendly family companion.
These dogs are smart, independent, and full of energy.
Wire Fox Terriers have rough, wiry coats — characteristic of many terriers. These coats do not shed very much and are very low maintenance, especially when kept short.
The last dog on our list of the best hypoallergenic dogs has a name that’s difficult to pronounce, so they’re often called Xolo (“Show-low”) for short.
Originally from Mexico, these dogs resemble the American Hairless Terrier and the Peruvian Inca Orchid. Xolos, however, are known for their wrinkled foreheads and are both loving companions and excellent watchdogs.
Again, similar to the Peruvian Inca Orchid, xolos come in three sizes and two varieties, hairless and coated. The hairless dogs don’t shed and the coated dogs shed very little, requiring occasional brushing.Like the other hairless dog breeds, xolos require special skincare, especially when out in the sun.
What About Doodles?
If you’re wondering where mixed breeds — like Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever + Poodle), Goldendoodles (Golden Retriever + Poodle), and others — fall in terms of the best hypoallergenic dog breeds, the answer is a little less clear cut (no pun intended).
Although doodles are often touted as hypoallergenic because poodles are known as such, it’s much more difficult to determine what kind of coats these dogs will have and how their fur will affect allergy sufferers.
With Goldendoodles, for example, although half of their gene pool comes from the Poodle, the other half comes from a Golden Retriever — a breed known for its dense, double coat. As Golden Retrievers are frequent shedding dogs, it’s uncertain whether the puppies that result from this cross will have a hypoallergenic coat, a full, shedding coat, or somewhere in between.
Generally, it’s safe to assume that these mixed breeds will have coats that fall somewhere in the middle — but ultimately, it’s hard to tell for sure. Therefore, as Dr. Buzhardt explained in our example above, although one doodle may not cause an allergic reaction for you or your family member, the same thing may not be true of another dog, even within the same litter.
Choosing The Right Hypoallergenic Dog For You
As you can see, there are a variety of different hypoallergenic dog breeds available out there. Whether you’re looking for a bigger dog that sheds occasionally or a dog with no hair at all to minimize the potential for an allergic reaction, there are many breeds you can consider.
At the end of the day, only you can determine which hypoallergenic breed is right for you. Your decision will depend on what kind of dog you’re looking for — not only in terms of coat and grooming, but also size, personality, and more.
Ultimately, whichever breed is right for you, learn how Pumpkin can help keep your pup healthy.