Best Dogs For Those With Allergies
Over the years, there has been much research done on why some people are allergic reactions any time they are within patting distance – or further – from a cat, dog, horse or other animal.
Not all sufferers react to all animals or to all individuals of a species. Because dogs are such popular pets, there has probably been more research done on this species than on others. For instance, we now know that people having allergic reactions are actually reacting to proteins found in the saliva, urine or dander of dogs. Generally dogs that shed less, release fewer proteins but this does not always mean that a dog is hypoallergenic. Human individuals may be tolerant of some proteins and not others so reactions will vary from person to person depending on their make-up and tolerance.
Factors that affect allergic reactions
It may seem surprising but the size of the dog will have a bearing on well it is tolerated by sufferers. With a small dog, there is less surface area so less dander particles will be released. They do not excrete as much urine or produce as much saliva. Hairless dogs have the least release of offending proteins because of less hair and less dander.
Barking releases proteins into the air (through saliva) so any benefit gained by having a little dog may be lost if it is continually yapping.
As a general rule, dogs which shed less release less dander so there is less danger of an allergic reaction.
There are quite a few breeds which seem to elicit less reaction from people sensitive to dander. These can generally be grouped according to coat type. Very curly-coated dogs (poodle, Portuguese water dog, bichon frise), hairless dogs (Chinese crested hairless), corded dogs (Puli, Komondor) and wire-haired dogs (wire-haired terriers, rough coated Brussels Griffon) all tend to have less fur, therefore less dander, than other breeds.
The curly-coated and corded dogs can be challenging. Many are high energy, all need a strong commitment as regards grooming
Ten of the more common ones are: Havanese, Affenpinscher, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, West Highland, Portuguese Water Dog, Yorkshire, and Basenji.
These are all pure breeds. There are a number of hybrids which have been developed in an effort to reduce the impact of allergens. For a while, it seemed anything crossed with a poodle was being touted as hypoallergenic and so there were labradoodles, peekapoos, cockapoos, schnoodles, malti-poos and others being bred and put up for sale as safe for people with allergies. These crossbreds do not always inherit the better qualities (or any qualities) of their parents. If you are considering a hybrid breed, and you have allergy problems, try to spend some time with the actual dog you are considering as a companion. This will give you a better idea of whether you are suited to each other.
The Havanese is a gentle, affectionate little dog. The Bichon Havanese is the national dog of Cuba and its only native breed. The unique coat is like raw silk, very soft and light and has developed in response to the tropical heat. Although they have double coat, there is not the usually woolly undercoat and coarser guard hairs. The coat is profuse, long and wavy. Because it doesn't shed, it needs brushing daily.
Affenpinscher translates as 'monkey terrier' and with its snub nose, quaint expression and shaggy coat, it is easy to see why. It is fun-loving and mischievous with dense, wiry hair that is softer and longer on the head, stomach, chest and legs. The affenpinscher has a mane of stronger hair which blends into the withers. The coat needs little maintenance – a brush once a week and an occasional trim will suffice.
The Bichon Frise is small, white and fluffy – like a puffball in fact. They have wool rather than fur and have a well-deserved reputation as being suitable for many with allergies. They reach a maximum of twelve inches at the shoulder. Apart from needing clipping and trimming on a regular basis, they are low maintenance and easily trained. They are great for families, singles and apartments.
The Poodle comes in three sizes so if you're after a bigger dog, the standard or miniature poodle might suit you. The toy is around 11 inches high, the miniature 11 to 15 inches and the standard over 15 inches. Poodles are very intelligent and quick to learn. They are ideal as family pets but their curly coats require regular grooming and clipping.
Schnauzers also come in three sizes. These bearded dogs have bushy eyebrows and are often salt-and-pepper coloured. They need daily brushing and are great watchdogs although some are inclined to bark.
The Shih Tzu is friendly, loyal and not as inclined to barking as some of the small breeds. They are suited to apartment living but need a fair amount of grooming. Their ancestors were bred by Asian royalty and they remain brave little dogs with a regal air. The face is flat with large expressive eyes and the tail curls over the back.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier is a golden wheat colour. Being a terrier, it needs daily exercise and daily brushing. It is a good watchdog and stands 17 to 19 inches high. It is intelligent, affectionate and very people-oriented. They can be headstrong and inclined to pull on the leash but careful training will result in a well-behaved, lovely dog.
West Highland White Terrier
The West Highland terrier is a great companion. It is intelligent and hardy and needs regular brushing. It will cope with apartment living but needs regular exercise to get rid of excess energy otherwise it may bark. It grows to 10 or 12 inches and weigh 15 to 18 pounds.
The Yorkshire terrier, despite its small size (9 to 10 inches), needs plenty of exercise. It is generally regarded as a 'toy' dog rather than a terrier although they were bred to work as ratters in the coalmines of their native Yorkshire. They can be independent, stubborn and aggressive and need safeguarding from larger dogs which they may want take on when out walking. The hair is soft and fine and needs regular brushing.
The basenji is small and short-haired. It is a very old breed and often thought of as mute. Although it doesn't back much, it has a variety of vocalisations with which it communicates. It always looks worried as its forehead is very wrinkled. The tail is curled tightly over the back. The basenji is fastidious in its grooming and feeding habits. Because of this, it doesn't need harsh shampoos and flea preparations which are inclined to cause skin reactions.
Somewhere out there is a dog that will be compatible with virtually anyone who has allergic reactions to most dogs. Spend some time with your choice of dog before committing to ownership. If you start to sneeze and your eyes start to water and redden, then move on to another dog. Be patient and it is almost certain that at some stage you will find a dog that suits you.