If you’re a dog allergy sufferer and are looking for a hypoallergenic dog breed, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve always had to admire dogs from a distance because of allergy symptoms, you’re not alone.
Many of us are allergic to dogs—up to 10 percent of humans, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
As one of the unlucky sufferers, you know exactly how debilitating and frustrating an adverse allergic reaction can be.
Luckily, there is a wide variety of hypoallergenic dog breeds and mixes.
Some of these breeds shed less than others. And others don’t produce as much dander.
Also, for unknown reasons, some breeds’ allergens do not trigger the same severe reactions as others.
But keep in mind that every allergy sufferer is different.
The only way to know for sure if you can tolerate a breed on this list is to spend some time with one and gauge your reaction.
A WORD OF CAUTION:
No breed is 100% nonallergenic.
But many people with mild to moderate pet allergies can tolerate breeds on this list of hypoallergenic breeds and hypoallergenic crossbreeds.
What Causes Dog Allergies?
Potential sources of dog allergens (the particles that trigger allergies) include their fur, dead skin flakes (dander), saliva, and urine.
Many people believe that it’s the hair a dog sheds that causes their symptoms. In most cases, it’s actually a protein found in the dog’s hair, skin, saliva, and urine that causes allergic symptoms.
This protein sticks to the skin and hair that a dog sheds. It’s not the hair itself that causes the problem. This means that short-haired dogs are as likely to cause allergic symptoms as long-haired dogs.
Which is a good thing! It means that if you’re an allergy sufferer, you aren’t restricted to hypoallergenic dog breeds with short hair, as you may have heard. There is variety in the types of hypoallergenic dog breeds that you may be able to tolerate.
Following is a list of hypoallergenic dog breeds classified by size. Whether you’re looking for a lapdog, a family dog, or an adventure partner, chances are good that you’ll find a breed here that will work for you.
So let’s find you a dog!
Hypoallergenic Toy Breeds
The Chinese Crested is a toy breed that weighs about 12 pounds. Its playful and affectionate temperament make this tiny treasure an excellent choice for a companion dog or a family with children. The Crested has an unusual gene mutation that affects its hair coat. Some dogs may be completely devoid of body fur. Others have a little, and still, others have a full coat that sheds very little.
Best for: Nearly anyone who would enjoy a low-energy, devoted companion.
Cost estimate: $800 to $1000
A sense of humor and air of self-importance make this smart and comical 8- to 12-pound dog fun to live with. The Brussels Griffon forms intense bonds with its owners. There are two varieties—rough coat and smooth coat. The rough coat is better for allergy sufferers, but it must be hand-stripped every few months.
Best for: Families without young children. This guy loves attention and isn’t keen on sharing the spotlight.
Cost estimate: $800 to $1000
At 12-15 pounds, this dog is one of the classic “little dogs with a big attitude.” The Yorkie is a favorite with people who love a one-person lapdog. But they can be possessive and very protective. They don’t shed, but be forewarned: That long, silky hair requires a lot of maintenance.
Best for: Because of their tiny size, Yorkies are fragile dogs. They are best for families with no small children. Not for urine allergy sufferers, as Yorkies are notoriously hard to housetrain.
Cost estimate: $1200 to $1500
The average weight of a Lhasa Apso is 12-18 pounds. The Lhasa is an intelligent and independent breed with a sensitive nature. The Lhasa is a training challenge as the breed is prone to anxiety. It’s not a shedder, but its long hair is high-maintenance.
Best for: Experienced dog owners who can balance firm and gentle discipline; families without young children, families who can tolerate barking.
Cost estimate: $1200 to over $5000 for show-quality
Australian Silky Terrier
Often called just the Silky Terrier, this 8- to 10-pound dog is smart, feisty, very affectionate, and people-oriented. It’s prone to separation anxiety but overall is a great family pet. Their long, silky hair needs frequent brushing, but they are minimal shedders.
Best for: Families with no young children, families where someone is home during the day, households with no small pets.
Cost estimate: $1000 to $2000
Weighing about 5 pounds and known for its intelligence and playfulness, the Toy Poodle is easy to train and one of the most popular family dogs. The Toy Poodle is the smallest of three Poodle sizes, the others being the Miniature and Standard Poodles. All three share a similar temperament, and all are hypoallergenic. However, their curly coats require a lot of grooming.
Best for: Families without small children (because of the Toy Poodle’s size), families who can commit to firm obedience training.
Cost estimate: $750 to $1200
Best for: People looking for the “perfect” lapdog. The Maltese is a fragile dog, so families without small children are best.
Cost estimate: $500 to $1000
Hypoallergenic Small Breeds
The Bichon Frise weighs around 15 pounds. It is active, highly intelligent, and can do well in most environments. Can be prone to separation anxiety or fear aggression. The Bichon sheds very little but requires a vigorous daily brushing.
Best for: Homes where someone is home during the day, first-time dog owners, families with kids, city or apartment dwellers.
Cost estimate: $600 to $2500
The Miniature Poodle is one of the three sizes of Poodle that are considered one breed. The only difference between the three Poodles is their size; the Miniature weighs 15-17 pounds. See Toy Poodle above for a full description.
Best for: Families who can commit to firm obedience training. Otherwise great family dogs.
Cost estimate: $2000 to $8000
The Shih Tzu, the “lion dog of China,” weighs in at 8-16 pounds. It’s a happy, spunky, and loyal lapdog that loves to cuddle. It’s also a low shedder. However, its hair grows very long, so it needs a lot of maintenance or regular trips to the groomer.
Best for: Those who would enjoy a “Velcro” dog, those who have patience with housetraining and occasional stubbornness. Especially good companion for the elderly.
Cost estimate: Anywhere from $500 to $1000 for pet-quality, up to $2000 to even $10,000 for show-quality.
West Highland White Terrier
Weighing from 16 to 20 pounds, the Westie is cheerful, comical, and friendly. It’s also independent and self-confident, which can make training a bit challenging. Some are good with kids, and some are not. Minimal shedding.
Best for: Dog owners with some experience to deal with their independence. Those who enjoy small dogs with lots of personality. Some individuals are best for families without small children.
Cost estimate: $900 to $1200
The Havanese (7-13 pounds) is a comical, outgoing, and affectionate dog that loves to play. They need to be near their people and shouldn’t be left alone for long. They have nonshedding coats.
Best for: Nearly any household where someone is home during the day. Especially suitable for young families and people who live alone. Excellent companions for seniors.
Cost estimate: $1000 to $1500
The Scottie weighs 18-22 pounds. It’s very independent, even for a terrier. They’re high-spirited with loads of personality but also have a dignified air that some call aloof. Many are one-person dogs.
Best for: People who can be firm with training, homes with no small pets.
Cost estimate: $800 to $1400
The Cairn Terrier weighs in at 13-14 pounds. The Cairn is an affectionate breed that loves kids and is friendly to people and other dogs. He’s on the independent side, but with proper training, it’s an excellent family companion. As a wiry-coated terrier, it sheds less than other breeds.
Best for: Nearly anyone who can commit to firm training.
Cost estimate: $700 to $1000
The slight and fragile Italian Greyhound weighs from 8 to 15 pounds. Its temperament is affectionate, playful, and intelligent. It tends to be submissive, sensitive, and eager to please.
Best for: Families without small children, quiet households, families who can commit to firm but gentle training.
Cost estimate: $500 to $1000
The intelligent, lean, and athletic Basenji weighs about 23 pounds. They’re affectionate and friendly but independent. As a bonus, the Basenji is the only hypoallergenic dog breed that doesn’t bark. Basenji are minimal shedders, and they’re even self-grooming!
Best for: Active families, for a Basenji is no couch potato. Excellent for apartment dwellers and very good with kids.
Cost estimate: $800 to $1750, or as high as $4500 for a show-quality pup.
At about 20 pounds and sporting very curly fur, the Bedlington looks a lot like a small lamb. This is a smart, energetic, exceedingly brave breed that has hardly any health problems. Its curly fur sheds minimally, but daily brushing is required to prevent matting.
Best for: His sweet, gentle nature makes him a good choice for most families, including first-time dog owners. He’s even suitable for apartment living.
Cost estimate: $1000 to $3000
Coton de Tulear
The Coton is a smart little 8- to 13-pound dog with a happy, fun-loving personality. It’s friendly, affectionate, and playful, loves kids, and is a good apartment dog.
Best for: Nearly anyone who would enjoy a bright and fiercely devoted small dog with a cheerful disposition. Cotons also make excellent therapy dogs.
Cost estimate: $2000 to $4000 for a puppy.
The Miniature Schnauzer, at about 11 to 20 pounds, combines high activity with high intelligence. It is outgoing, playful, and smart but can be stubborn. It sheds very little but needs daily brushing to prevent matting.
Best for: Active families. Families with some training experience and no young children or small pets. Families who can tolerate barking.
Cost estimate: $500 to $2700.
Hypoallergenic Medium-Sized Breeds
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog averages 50-60 pounds. They were the “first dog” of the Obamas’ White House and one-time fisherman’s helper. These dogs are friendly, affectionate, obedient, and athletic. Their curly coats are nonshedding.
Best for: Active families who can give an energetic and intelligent dog the attention it needs.
Cost estimate: Expect to pay a lot for a PWD puppy; anywhere from $2000 to $6000.
The Tibetan Terrier (20-24 pounds) is not an actual terrier, but it has the hypoallergenic features that many terriers are known for. This breed is gentle and affectionate and enjoys children but can also be anxious and independent.
Best for: Owners who can commit to firm training, families where someone is home during the day, families with children, apartment dwellers.
Cost Estimate: $700 to $1000
Weighing 35-45 pounds, the Standard Schnauzer is devoted, good-natured, and playful. It’s intelligent, so it’s easy to train, but independent.
Best for: Families who can commit to firm but gentle training, families with no small pets in the home.
Cost estimate: $400 to $1500
Best for: Great family dog for those who can commit to firm obedience training.
Cost estimate: $2000 to $5000
Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
The Wheaten, which weighs about 40 pounds, has a temperament that’s hard to beat—gentle, friendly, affectionate, and playful—but can be prone to separation anxiety. They shed minimally but do need a lot of grooming.
Best for: Active families with kids, families where someone is home during the day.
Cost estimate: $800 to $1000
This 25- to 30-pound Italian breed has an endearingly sweet and loving personality. The Lagotto is intensely loyal, eager to please, and easy to train but can be shy and sensitive. It’s curly hair sheds minimally but needs regular brushing.
Best for: Active families with children, families with time to properly socialize to strangers and young children.
Cost estimate: $1500 to $2000
The Airedale weighs 50-70 pounds. It’s an intelligent, independent, and outgoing dog that’s not easy to train. He is friendly and enjoys kids but can be stubborn.
Best for: Experienced dog owners, active families, OK with kids.
Cost Estimate: $1800 for pet-quality, up to $5000 for show-quality.
The Samoyed (40-55 pounds) is social, playful, and very friendly. It can be independent and stubborn. It sheds a lot but produces very little dander.
Best for: Active families, families who can commit to obedience training and firm boundaries.
Cost estimate: $600 to $1500
Hypoallergenic Large Breeds
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel weighs in at around 60 pounds. This breed is affectionate and good with children. It is relatively easy to train and, while energetic, has a strong instinct to please. It hardly sheds. Surprisingly, brushing and grooming requirements are not very high.
Best for: Families who are willing to socialize well, as this breed is prone to anxiety. Families who can tolerate a barker.
Cost estimate: $800 to $1000
These silky beauties weigh 50-60 pounds. The elegant and dignified Afghan has a sweet and loyal temperament. They are affectionate, playful, and kid-friendly. But they can also be independent and stubborn. They don’t shed, but not surprisingly, they need a lot of grooming.
Best for: Dog owners with some training experience, as they are sensitive and can be challenging. Families with time to spend with their dog. Homes with no small pets. Despite its size, the Afghan is perfectly happy to live in an apartment.
Cost estimate: Around $1350
These 75-pound dogs are dominant, smart, and independent. They have a strong protective instinct and need a lot of socialization. They shed minimally but need regular brushing.
Best for: Families with some dog training experience, families with no young children. Families with time for proper socialization.
Cost estimate: $1800 to $5500.
The Poodle may well be the hero of the hypoallergenic dog world. Breeds like the Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, Bichpoo, Yorkie Poo, and a host of others, share many poodle traits—intelligence, friendliness, and to some degree, hypoallergenicity.
Because the Poodle comes in three sizes, many of the Poodle crossbreeds come in several sizes, as well. The Poodle is also considered to be the second most intelligent breed (second only to the Border Collie).
Add to that the Poodle’s excellent all-around temperament and many Poodle mixes make great hypoallergenic dog breeds for families. It’s hard to go wrong with a Poodle mixed with nearly any breed.
However, because they are mixes, individual dogs will inherit the Poodle’s hypoallergenicity in different measures. Some will be hypoallergenic and others not so much. Even if both parent breeds are hypoallergenic, you will need to test individual dogs.
But there’s something for nearly everyone in this group. You’ll find many Poodle Mixes in our breed articles. You may very well find your perfect hypoallergenic breed here.
Worst Dogs for People with Allergies
There are different types of pet allergies, and everyone reacts differently to allergens. But some breeds are known to exacerbate sensitivities to specific allergens more than others.
For dander sensitivities, the worst breeds are those that shed heavily or have short coats that don’t trap dander as longer coats do (which allows dander to float in the air more freely).
These include the following breeds:
- German Shepherd
- Basset Hound
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamute
- Springer Spaniel
- Great Pyrenees
- Chow Chow
- Labrador Retriever
- Boston Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- St. Bernard
- Doberman Pinscher
If you suffer from a saliva allergy, you will want to avoid dogs that drool heavily:
If you react to allergens in dog urine, dogs that are hard to housetrain are likely to cause you problems. These include:
Hypoallergenic Dog Breed Test
Unfortunately, when it comes to dog allergies, there is no magic bullet. No breed is 100% hypoallergenic. The breed that works well for you may trigger symptoms in another family member.
The best way to find out if a particular breed is compatible with your family is to test it by spending some time with one if at all possible.
If you don’t know someone who has the breed you’re considering, bring all family members with you when you visit a breeder. You will need to judge everyone’s reaction to the dog.
If you adopt from a shelter, it may be harder to judge potential symptoms when there are many breeds in the same space. If possible, separate the dog you’re interested in from the other dogs in the shelter while you test for symptoms. Have a family member not known to be allergic bring the dog to you while you remain outside.
This is not a foolproof method, as the dog may be carrying allergens from other dogs in the shelter. But if you don’t experience a reaction, you’ll know you’ve found your breed.
Tips for Controlling Allergen Exposure in Your Home
So, you’ve found a breed you think your family can live with, and you’ve brought it home. But even with a hypoallergenic dog breed, you or a family member may still be triggered.
Depending on how severe those symptoms are, your family may decide to try to control symptoms rather than rehome the dog.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are five steps you can take that may make living with a dog comfortable for all family members.
- Restrict the dog’s access. If one person in the family has symptoms, make that person’s room a “dog-free” zone. Use allergy-resistant pillow and mattress covers and a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner.
- Use HEPA air cleaners in the rest of the house also. Avoiding or removing rugs, carpets, curtains, etc., can be helpful, as these tend to capture dander from the air. Frequent vacuuming of surfaces that can’t be replaced will also help.
- See that your pet gets weekly baths to remove old skin cells (dander). Ask your vet to recommend a safe and effective shampoo. Quality matters here.
- Don’t assume the dog is the source of the allergic symptoms. See an allergist to get tested specifically for dog dander. There could be other allergens in your home causing or contributing to, the allergic reaction.
- Consider allergy treatment. There are several options available that can relieve allergy symptoms. They include allergy shots (immunotherapy), nasal inhalers (steroids and antihistamines), and antihistamine pills (such as Benadryl).
A Final Word About Hypoalle
Most dog lovers can’t imagine life without them. It’s heartbreaking when allergies force you to live without the unparalleled love and companionship that dogs offer to the humans who care for them.
With any luck, you’ll find at least one breed on our list that might work for you and your family. And when you do, you will no longer have to keep your distance because of sneezing and watering eyes.
And one more lucky dog will have found its forever home—with you!