Man has long pondered certain mysterious in life, and one of the most enduring questions is "Are there really such things as hypoallergenic dogs?" The answer seems to depend upon whom you ask since no allergist will actually commit to saying one breed or another is definitively hypoallergenic.
First Things First
Poodles, a breed that tops the list of hypoallergenic dogs, do not shed so they are easy to clean up after. However, their expensive and ongoing grooming requirements make them not so easy-to-care for. So to establish "easy to care for," the list includes dogs who do not require daily brushing or clipping, so will not include the Maltese, bichon frise or poodle. The word hypoallergenic usually refers to dogs with hair, not fur, which is what makes them less likely to aggravate those allergic to mans' best friend. Having a hypoallergenic dog may stop you from having the sniffles, but most hypoallergenic breeds require clipping, grooming, and bathing every 6 to 8 weeks. Their hair grows like people hair, so it must be cut and cleaned like people hair. Furthermore, the list only includes dogs that are relatively easy to find, not exotic or rare breeds, such as the American Hairless Terrier or Xoloitzcuintli (the what?)
Easy-to-Care for Dogs
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Known as "the Toto dog," the Cairn Terrier is one of the cutest and most recognizable dogs since a Cairn played the part of "Toto" in the 1939 movie classic The Wizard of Oz. The Cairn has a natural bedraggled look about him. With a little effort, brushing two or three times a week, trimming of the fur around the eyes and a monthly bath, the Cairn will keep his rugged good looks. Another easy-to-care for terrier is the border terrier. With just a little routine maintenance - once-a-week brushing and twice-a-year professional grooming, the border terrier will keep his natural beauty.
Easier-to-Care For Dogs
The schnauzer, a breed that also comes in three sizes: small, medium and large, is also a good dog for allergy sufferers who want a carefree lifestyle. They require clipping only twice a year, and a light daily combing will prevent mats and keep their coats looking shiny and healthy. The Airedale terrier requires hand-stripping twice a year and little else. The "Westie," or West Highland white terrier, only requires occasional brushing and a bath once in a while to keep her coat nice and white. A trip to the groomer twice a year will go a long way in keeping her looking like the diva she was born to be.
Easiest-to-Care For Dogs
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The basenji, known as the African barkless dog, is quiet as a mouse and just as easy to care for. He cannot bark, but instead uses a yodeling sound to make his point. The basenji has very short fur, does not shed, and has a feline way of bathing himself with his tongue. The wire-haired fox terrier, not to be confused with the smooth-coated fox terrier, is one of the easiest dogs to care for because you only need to attend to his coat when it's dirty or full of debris from running through the woods.
Lest We Forget
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Don't forget the all-American natural dog, the mixed breed that comes in so many sizes, colors and coat textures that many of them are bound to be unwittingly hypoallergenic. Hybrids of the dogs listed may also be both hypoallergenic and easy to care for.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.