Hypoallergenic Dogs: What Are They? Which Breeds Are Hypoallergenic?
With an estimated 10% to 20% of the global population dealing with pet allergies, it’s no surprise that online searches for what dogs don't shed continue to grow. 1 Hypoallergenic dogs offer a glimmer of hope to those who want to share their home with a dog without the watery eyes and non-stop sneezing often triggered by traditional breeds.
But as the demand for these breeds grows, it's important to understand the truth behind the hypoallergenic label.
So what dogs are hypoallergenic? No dog is truly allergy-free, as all canines produce dander, the principal culprit behind allergic reactions. Still, some breeds produce a lot less dander than the average, which means they are less likely to trigger an allergy attack.
Let’s take a deeper look into the allure of these breeds, the myths surrounding them, and what special care (and diet) they need to thrive.
Understanding Hypoallergenic Dogs
The term 'hypoallergenic' is often misunderstood. While many understand it to mean “no allergens,” it actually means the breed is less triggering for allergy sufferers. Contrary to popular belief, these breeds do shed — it's just that their shedding is not as significant, leading to a reduction in dander (the flakes of skin that carry allergenic proteins) being released into the environment.
Hypoallergenic dogs also tend to have a certain texture in their coats that doesn’t trap and spread dander as much around the home.
Proteins such as Can f 1 and Can f 2 are the primary allergens in dogs, and hypoallergenic breeds are thought to produce these in lower quantities. What makes a dog hypoallergenic is a combination of factors: a coat that sheds minimally or has hair that grows continuously like human hair, less production of saliva, and often a smaller size (simply because fewer allergens are present in a smaller dog than a large one). 2
It’s also important to keep in mind that not every person with allergies reacts the same to each breed. Some allergy sufferers might respond more to dandruff, while others have an issue with the proteins in the hair or the dander. When in doubt, make sure you spend time with a breed before bringing one into your home.
Popular Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds: What Dogs Don’t Shed?
Among the dogs that promise a life with fewer sniffles and less sneezing, 'Doodles' have gained a special status. These beloved Poodle mixes — including the Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, and others – were specifically created with allergy sufferers in mind. Their popularity comes from the Poodle's non-shedding coat, which is believed to produce less dander, the main allergen affecting dog-sensitive individuals.
Designer breeds aside, what dogs are hypoallergenic? The Poodle itself, which is the foundation of the popular doodle mixes, is at the top of the list. All three Poodle sizes—standard, miniature, and toy— have the same type of hair, but they require regular grooming to maintain their hypoallergenic qualities. 4
Other breeds that don’t shed include: 5
- Bichon Frise: Well-known for its fluffy white coat and cheery personality, the Bichon Frise is a favorite among hypoallergenic pets. This breed's hair grows continuously and sheds minimally, making it a lower allergy risk (but regular grooming is essential to prevent matting and to keep the skin healthy).
- Afghan Hound: Despite its long, elegant, and silky coat, this breed is a surprisingly hypoallergenic choice. Its luxurious fur produces less dander than expected, making it a good match for potential pet owners with allergies.
- Schnauzer: The Schnauzer, available in miniature, standard, and giant sizes, features a wiry double coat that effectively traps dander, reducing its spread. This breed's loyal and protective personality, combined with its hypoallergenic coat, makes it ideal for active families.
- Chinese Crested: The Chinese Crested is best known for its hairless body and loving and affectionate nature, but this breed is also an excellent hypoallergenic option. Because of its minimal fur, the spread of allergens is minimized.
- American Hairless Terrier: Another great hairless option with practically non-existent shedding, the American Hairless Terrier is perfect for urban living due to its minimal exercise needs.
- Giant Schnauzer: A breed known for its intelligence and protective instinct, the Giant Schnauzer has a coat that requires regular grooming. As long as owners keep up with that, this is another great choice for those with allergies.
- Maltese: Small yet brave, the Maltese is a hypoallergenic breed with long, silky hair that requires consistent grooming. Its size and coat type make it a favorable choice for those with allergies.
- Portuguese Water Dog: The Portuguese Water Dog, with its distinctive waterproof coat, is both intelligent and active. Regular grooming helps maintain its hypoallergenic coat, making it suitable for active individuals with allergies.
While no dog can be considered completely hypoallergenic, these breeds offer options that may significantly reduce allergic reactions, allowing many allergy sufferers to finally enjoy the companionship of a canine friend.
Diet for Hypoallergenic Dogs
Creating the right diet for hypoallergenic dogs involves carefully considering the unique needs of each dog. While a balanced diet rich in nutrients is important for all dogs, for hypoallergenic breeds, the focus often needs to be on identifying and avoiding potential allergens that could trigger sensitivities in both the pet and its human companions.
In addition, a poor diet can trigger extra production of dander, even in hypoallergenic dogs. For example, PetMd points out that “a vitamin deficiency (such as a lack of omega fatty acids)” could potentially lead to more dander, and so can allergies, low humidity in the home, and even a number of health conditions such as diabetes. 6 Foods rich in vitamins E and A can also promote healthier skin and coat and can benefit not only the dogs but also their owners.
The takeaway? Keeping your dog healthy with regular vet care and a well-balanced diet will keep your hypoallergenic dog in good health — and, as a result, keep you free of allergy attacks.
Hydrolyzed protein diets are often recommended for dogs with food sensitivities because they break down proteins into smaller components, which are less likely to trigger an immune response. These diets can include a variety of carbohydrate sources and are generally formulated to be complete and balanced for long-term feeding
But because of the complex dietary needs of these breeds, a fresh food diet might work especially well for them. These diets allow you to control what your dog eats, so you can cater to specific nutritional requirements while excluding common allergens. Ingredients can be carefully selected to avoid allergens common in commercial dog foods, such as beef, chicken, corn, wheat, soy, and dairy. Fresh diets can also be tailored to eliminate these ingredients, opting instead for novel proteins or a mix of fruits, vegetables, and supplements known to support canine health without worsening allergies or drying out the skin (which can cause or worsen dander).
At Cola's Kitchen, we offer an excellent range of food choices for hypoallergenic dogs, offering recipes that are not only free from common allergens but also enriched with nutrients essential for maintaining a healthy coat and skin, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These recipes ensure that dogs with unique dietary needs receive all the necessary nutrients without the extra work you would need to put in if you wanted to cook for your dog at home.
If your dog has a known health issue or his skin and coat have deteriorated recently, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian. Veterinary nutritionists in particular can offer invaluable guidance in formulating diets that are both safe and nutritious, ensuring that any fresh cooked meals meet all of a dog's dietary needs. In addition, regular veterinary check-ups can help identify skin conditions early on. A healthy hypoallergenic dog is less likely to develop skin issues that could increase dander production.
If your dog is healthy and you want to switch to fresh food prepared with whole, high-quality ingredients, Cola’s Kitchen has a great selection waiting for you. We customize your dog's food based on up to 11 data points to make sure every pooch gets the essential nutrients they need — no matter their size, exercise levels, and age!