Dog allergies are triggered by proteins in the animal's dander, which is essentially dandruff and shed hair. All dogs generate dander, but it's the hair that causes the real problem. Some breeds are better for those with allergies not because they produce less dander, but because they don't shed much.
Even those with dog allergies would like to hear the pitter-patter of little paws in their homes, but the prolific shedding in many dog breeds seem to make this impossible. While researching for allergy friendly breeds, the word hypoallergenic appears again and again. Contrary to what some breeders claim, this term doesn't mean that a certain dog breed definitely will not cause allergic reactions, but that it is less likely to do so. They still produce dander, but without heavy shedding it doesn't get everywhere and can be easy to control.
Since shed hair is what causes the most problem with allergies, the most logical solution is to find a dog without it. Although this seems odd, there are a few hairless dog breeds. The Chinese crested breed has a completely hairless body, with only little tufts on his head and feet. The Xoloitzcuintli is completely bald, with nary a wisp of hair anywhere. Being hairless won't eliminate the dander they produce, but no hair means no shedding, which translates to no allergy triggers floating freely about your home.
Non- and Low-Shedding Breeds
Ironically, dogs with the most hair are some of the best breeds for allergy sufferers. Breeds with hair that grows constantly and must be cut regularly typically don't shed much, if at all. The hair that does fall out doesn't explode into the air with every shake, and instead stays mingled within the coat until it's brushed out. Shih tzus, poodles and Maltese are easy on allergies, because their hair doesn't end up everywhere to spread their dander.
Proceed with Caution
Just because a breed is supposed to kick less dander into the air and be safe for your allergies doesn't mean it is. That depends on the severity of the allergy and the genes and coat of the individual dog. Visit a breeder for the particular breed you're interested in and spend some time mingling with the pooches. Poodles may still send you into an allergic fit, but shih tzus may pose no problems. Dealing with dander may require more frequent hand-washing or professional grooming for your future dog, allowing you to share a home with a furry friend.
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