Pet allergies are typically caused by a reaction to dander (skin flakes in a dog's fur or hair), but pet saliva, feces, and a special protein in the dog's system can also cause allergic reactions. Although invisible, dander travels through the air and sticks to surfaces, and it can remain there for a long time. Fortunately, low-allergen dog breeds have low-shedding coats, making them a good choice for people allergic to dog dander.
Coat Types Matter
Low-allergen dogs typically have coats that minimize dander. Very curly dogs—poodles, Portuguese water dogs, Bedlington terriers, bichon frises—are good choices, as are hairless breeds like the American crested and the Chinese crested hairless. Corded-coated dogs, like the puli and the Komondor, are also recommended. Wirehaired dogs—such as wirehaired fox terriers, Jack Russell terriers, wirehaired dachshunds and rough-coat Brussels griffons—are likewise good choices for allergy sufferers.
Very Curly Bichons
A white puffball with tons of personality and a loving nature—that's the bichon frise. Although this breed has thick, curly hair, the bichon does not shed, making it the perfect dog for those allergic to pet dander. However, due to its heavy coat, owners will need to provide the bichon with regular groomings (trimming, brushing and bathing) every four to eight weeks to keep loose hair and dander from contaminating the environment.
Hairless Chinese Crested Hairless
The Chinese crested comes in two varieties: hairless, hairy hairless, and powderpuff. In all cases the Chinese crested sheds little to no hair. The hairless variety has soft, smooth skin, but the head, tail and feet may still have some hair. The hairy hairless is completely hairy except for its stomach, which is hairless. The powderpuff is covered with a soft, straight double coat, but its skin is very soft so it produces little dander.
Corded-Coats: The Puli
Pulis are distinctive dogs because of their corded coats—many people think they look like dogs with dreadlocks! This breed sheds very little, which makes it a good choice for allergy sufferers. As the coat mats in a controllable manner, rope-like cords form that are either thin or thick. Pulis need considerable grooming to keep them clean and neat, but their coats will grow out again after trimming.
Wirehaired Fox Terrier
The Wirehaired fox terrier has dense, twisted hairs and is known to shed very little, if at all. Therefore it is an excellent breed choice for allergy sufferers. However, it is also a smart choice for families, since these dogs are playful and loving, and they are good with children. Often exhibiting a strong urge to hunt small animals, wirehaired fox terriers should always be leashed to keep them from running off.