You might think that with her beautiful hair, the shih tzu would bring major trouble for allergy sufferers. However, this breed, which has hair rather than fur, is actually a good bet for humans who have allergies yet desire a dog's companionship.
Perhaps because she has hair rather than fur, does not shed much and produces less dander than other dogs, the shih tzu is one of the most popular dogs in the United States. Some of the most common allergy symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, congested nose, coughing, itchy eyes, watery eyes, itchy skin and fatigue. You might experience some or all of these within minutes of being around a shih tzu, or the symptoms may develop over time. If you are thinking about getting a shih tzu, spend some time around one before you make the leap.
Grooming and Bathing
To minimize potential allergic symptoms, keep the shih tzu's hair trimmed as short as possible. This helps you keep her hair and body clean, and a cleaner dog tends to mean fewer allergies. Also brush your shih tzu frequently. Bathe your dog about once per week using a shampoo and conditioner containing ingredients that do not cause allergies to flare up. Thoroughly read ingredient labels. Preferably have someone other than the person with allergies do the bathing and grooming.
Home Cleaning and Maintenance
Keeping your home clean is a must if you suffer from allergies. Opt for wood or tile floors, rather than carpet, because carpet traps dog dander and other allergens. This leads to more allergy symptoms. Vacuum, sweep and dust your home, including curtains and window treatments, thoroughly and frequently. Wash your bed linens and your shih tzu's bedding weekly in hot water. Also run an air purifier in your home, especially in the areas where your shih tzu spends her time. Use allergen filters in your heating and cooling system and allergen bags in your vacuum cleaner. Do not allow your shih tzu to come into your bedroom or get onto your bed.
Options for Allergy Sufferers
If keeping your home and dog clean don't resolve allergy symptoms, you might need to consider finding a different home for your shih tzu. This is definitely a difficult decision when you and your family members have gotten attached to your dog. Another possibility is to pursue medical treatments. A family doctor or allergist might suggest prescription medications or allergy shots. However, allergy shots work over time and do not provide immediate allergy symptom relief. Consult with a qualified health professional to get individualized care for your allergic symptoms.
- AKC: Get to Know the Shih Tzu
- AKC: Dogs and Allergies
- AKC: Hypoallergenic Breeds
- The Humane Society of the United States: Allergies to Pets
- American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: Pet Allergy Overview
- Woman's Day: 10 Best Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers
- American Shih Tzu Club: Allergies to Dogs...Is the Shih Tzu the Breed for You?
Judy Wilson has writing and editing expertise in health, technology, pets, business and travel. She has contributed to USAToday.com, SFGate.com and numerous other publications. Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she completed Mini Medical School.