If you or someone in your family is allergic to dogs, you may have given up hope on ever bringing one home. But some canine breeds are less troublesome to allergy sufferers than others, so there's some hope. Although all dogs can cause allergic attacks, smaller specimens who shed less and produce less dander are likely to be better choices than larger, furrier friends.
The main cause of dog-related allergies in humans is dander, microscopic skin flakes that are a lot like dandruff from human scalps. These flakes carry with them particles of saliva and urine, which according to CNN can set off allergies and cause asthma attacks in more severe sufferers. Dander gets lodged all over the place in homes with dogs, including in carpets or drapes, on bedclothes and in dog beds, and in furniture with heavy upholstery. Ungroomed dogs are more likely to be a bother than groomed dogs, as their dander is not regularly removed by washing and brushing.
Dander is particularly troublesome because instead of settling to the ground, it floats around in the air for hours after released from a pet’s fur. Oftentimes the dander comes off attached to the base of fur from dogs that shed a lot, so choose dogs that shed less. Poodles shed very little hair -- not fur -- and are therefore a good choice for allergic people. Although poodles and other breeds are routinely touted as being hypoallergenic, there's no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. They're simply less allergenic than other breeds. Bichon frises also shed very little, though you must groom their coats regularly to keep them from matting.
Maltese are relatively clean little dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. They are quite small, which reduces the sheer amount of dander they can produce. Other small dogs that produce relatively little dander include the schnauzer. Poodles, meanwhile, come in “toy” sizes, which are about the size of cats. The toy poodle, logically produces less dander than the miniature or the standard breed.
Dogs that lack hair are good choices for people with allergies, so if you like the hairless look, opt for a dog such as the Mexican hairless, more properly labeled the Xloloitzcuintli. Pronounced "show-low-eats-queen-tlee," this breed needs almost no grooming and is a low-maintenance hypoallergenic choice. Or you could go for the Chinese crested, a breed that comes in haired and hairless varieties. The hairless varieties do have long hair on their feet, tails and heads.
Sarah Moore has been a writer, editor and blogger since 2006. She holds a master's degree in journalism.