Contrary to popular belief, it is not dogs' fur that usually causes allergies in people; it is the dander. And no matter how short a dog's fur may be, he may still produce enough dander to set of fits of sneezing, wheezing and coughing among those who are sensitive to it. Fortunately for allergy-prone dog lovers, there are several breeds that produce very little dander.
The lovable, gentle Bedlington terrier is best known for a curly, woolly, lamb-like appearance. Its coat starts out dark and fades to light gray or white in adulthood. Bedlingtons are energetic, but not overly so, and are good dogs for children.
The cheerful, gentle bichon frise is a popular -- and puffy -- small breed. It's white, cottony appearance is due to its curled double coat comprised of a textured outer coat and a silky undercoat. Bichons require regular grooming because their hair grows continually, though the breed does not shed.
The elegant, fine-boned, Chinese crested is a toy breed that loves people. Hairless cresteds have soft, silky hair only on the head, tail and feet. Powderpuff cresteds are covered with a soft, straight double coat. Ironically, though cresteds are ideal pets for allergy sufferers, the breed is more prone to allergies than many dogs. The hairless also is prone to skin irritations and sunburn.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish water spaniel is the tallest spaniel breed and is known for its spirited intelligence as well as its curly, water-repellent brown coat and signature "rat tail." Easy to train and energetic, its coat requires brushing every few weeks and trimming every two months to keep its shape.
Kerry Blue Terrier
Another intelligent Ireland native, the Kerry blue terrier has a signature soft, wavy coat that can range from a deep slate to light blue-gray. Puppies actually are born black and should fade to gray by 18 months. Kerries are energetic and great for families, but they are natural hunters and may not do well in a home with smaller pets. Their coats are largely hypoallergenic, but still need regular brushing and trimming.
A popular toy show dog, the sweet, affectionate Maltese has a luxuriant coat of long, silky white hair. Its small size, intelligence and refined appearance belie a legendary fearlessness in the face of danger. Maltese should be brushed daily, and groomed often to prevent matting.
Poodles may be known for the haircuts their owners give them, but the breed is among the most intelligent and loyal in the dog world. Poodles come in three sizes, from large to miniature, and are always solid-colored. Their curly coats require regular professional grooming.
Portuguese Water Dog
Made popular in America when President Barack Obama and his family adopted one, the Portuguese water dog is a loyal worker and companion. The breed possesses a curly, waterproof coat and has the ability to swim all day. Though good for people with allergies, this is a highly intelligent and athletic dog that needs vigorous daily exercise.
The mustachioed schnauzer has a thick, wiry double coat that can be salt and pepper, black and silver or solid black. Schnauzers come in a variety of sizes, from miniature to giant. All are smart, easy to train, and shed very little.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The soft coated wheaten terrier is prized for its silky, wavy, amber coat. Wheatens tend to be less scrappy than other terriers but are more active than many other breeds and relate well to children. The breed sheds very little, but needs regular grooming to prevent matting.
The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-QUEEN-tlee), is a native of Mexico that comes in three sizes and two varieties. "Xolos," as they are often called, can be toy, miniature or standard and can be coated or hairless. All varieties and sizes are calm, aloof and make excellent companion dogs with moderate exercise and grooming needs.