Don’t be fooled by those who claim that their dog never sheds. All dogs lose fur or hair at some point, just as we do. However, you can find many small dog breeds that shed very little and don’t leave a trail of fur behind them.
Ask your veterinarian to recommend a few small dog breeds that are non- or low-shedders so you can narrow down your choices based on other factors, such as personality traits and energy levels. If you watch dog shows, you know the American Kennel Club sets breed standards. The AKC is a great resource for dog breed information, both through their website and printed material. Of course, the dog shows are fun to watch and give a concentrated look and a little information on a lot of breeds.
Get referrals for reputable and responsible breeders from the AKC or the national organizations of breeds that attract you. Every breed has its fans and accompanying group of enthusiasts, such as the American Maltese Association, and a lot of those fans are experts and happy to talk about the dogs they love. Ask them and breeders how much vacuuming you might be doing. Also ask how big their dogs get and you'll get an idea whether the breed is the right match for you. Reputable breeders care about placing their dogs with knowledgeable fur parents and are happy to educate prospective owners.
Look for dogs by breed, size, location and age on websites such as Petfinder and AdoptAPet.com. You might be surprised by how many dogs in shelters and rescues will fit your no-shedding and small size criteria. With mixed breeds you can't guarantee low shedding or a small dog, but the folks working at rescues and shelters will have an educated idea about both for various dogs in their charge. Also, you'll be rescuing a dog from shelter life or worse, and that is so rewarding.
Visit local animal shelters to check out available puppies. Purebred puppies do end up in shelters, too. It might take several visits and time; let the adoption coordinators know you want a small puppy that barely sheds. They'll take your information and be on the lookout for dogs that might fit your life.
Contact breed-specific rescue groups of the dog breeds you’re considering. These rescues focus on one breed and their members will assist you in locating dogs in need of adoption, including puppies. They also will have tons of information -- including that all important shed factor and size estimates -- about their favorite breed.
- If you go the shelter or rescue route, don't overlook a fully grown but small older dog who doesn't shed. Bonus: He might be already housebroken.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.