Are There Hypoallergenic Dogs and Cats?

No cat or dog is truly hypoallergenic—but these 15 breeds are touted as better for people with allergies.

If you love animals, but they make you sneeze, you may be tempted to spring for a pricey hypoallergenic dog or cat. Unfortunately, you'll likely only waste your money. As it turns out, all cats and dogs can trigger allergies.

Here's why there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic breed and tips for keeping your home as allergen-free as possible if you own a pet.

What Causes Pet Allergies?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, in the United States, 50 million people are allergic to something. Almost one-third of those people have pet allergies. Cat allergies are roughly twice as common as dog allergies.

Proteins in the animal’s saliva, skin cells, and urine are responsible for causing allergies. Both cats and dogs produce several different proteins. Some of those causes worse allergy symptoms than others.

One of the most common cat allergens is called Fel d 1. And Can f 1 is one of the most common dog allergens. When cats and dogs shed skin cells and fur, those allergens land on everything—including furniture, clothing, and rugs.

Why Are There No Hypoallergenic Pets?

There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat, even if the pet has hair or fur or is bald. Sphynx cats, for example, are a hairless breed. But hairless breeds groom themselves just like furry cats do, leaving a sticky saliva residue on their skin.

The idea that you can avoid allergies by getting a shorter-haired or hairless animal is "just not accurate," James Sublett, MD, section chief of pediatric allergy at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, told Health.  

That said, it is possible to be more or less allergic to a specific cat or dog of any breed than others. How allergic you are depends on how much protein the animal produces and how sensitive to that allergen you are.

What Pets Are Advertised as Hypoallergenic?

Despite the research, breeders of the following dogs and cats often claim they are hypoallergenic. Here are some of the physical characteristics of each pet.


There are several types of dogs advertised as being hypoallergenic, ranging in hair types and sizes, including:

  • Bedlington terrier: These dogs have curly, wooly coats with an extra mop on the top of the head and weigh 17–23 pounds.
  • Bichon Frisé: These dogs, known as "powder puff" dogs, have a soft silky undercoat and a more coarse and curly outer coat. Bichon Frisé dogs weigh about 10–18 pounds.
  • Chinese crested: There are two versions of these dogs. There are hairless Chinese crested dogs with hair on their heads, feet, and tails. And there are powder puff Chinese crested dogs, which have a soft coat over their entire bodies. These dogs weigh 10–13 pounds.
  • Irish water spaniel: These medium-sized dogs have a curly coat and can weigh 45–65 pounds.
  • Kerry blue terrier: These dogs have a soft, dense coat and weigh 35–45 pounds.
  • Labradoodle: These dogs are a mix between poodle and Labrador retriever. Depending on the size of the poodle that the Labrador breeds, Labradoodles can range in size.
  • Maltese: These dogs are small, generally 4–6 pounds, and have long, silky fur that you should brush daily.
  • Poodle: These dogs have curly hair and come in three sizes: toy (4–6 pounds), miniature (10–15 pounds), and standard (40–70 pounds).
  • Schnauzers: These dogs have wiry coats. Schnauzers are available in miniature (11–20 pounds) and giant (60–75 pounds) sizes.
  • Soft-coated wheaten terrier: These dogs have long, silky coats and weigh about 30–40 pounds.
  • Xoloitzcuintli: Like the poodle, this ancient breed comes in three sizes: toy (10–15 pounds), miniature (15–30 pounds), and standard (30–55 pounds). There are Xoloitzcuintli with fur or no hair.


There are several types of cats advertised as being hypoallergenic, ranging in hair types and sizes, including:

  • Devon rex: These cats have big ears, an elfin face, and a coat that can be either thin and suede-like or a mop of loose curls.
  • Cornish rex: These cats have curly coats that sit close to their bodies. Similar to the Devon Rex, these short, thin coats are low shedding – often making them more tolerable to those with allergies.
  • Sphynx: These cats can be hairless or have hair on the nose, tail, and toes. However, they still produce dander, the skin and saliva proteins that are powerful allergens.

How To Reduce Allergens and Symptoms

Even if you're allergic to furry pets, it's possible to live with them. Here are some ways to reduce the number of allergens in your home:

  • Create a pet-free zone in your home, ideally in your bedroom.
  • Use high-efficiency (HEPA) air purifiers throughout your home.
  • Avoid using curtains and lots of rugs and carpets, which are allergen magnets.
  • Wash sheets, towels, and other fabric-covered furnishings regularly.
  • Vacuum with a model designed to reduce allergens and wash floors frequently.
  • Brush and bathe dogs weekly if possible. You can use spray-on baths and wipes with cats.

"At the same time, you shouldn't deceive yourself that you can completely remove your exposure," said Dr. Sublett.

If you develop allergy symptoms while living with a pet, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines can help manage symptoms. Antihistamines come as tablets or nasal sprays.

But one of the best ways to cure allergies is subcutaneous immunotherapy, known as allergy shots. An allergist gives you injections in their office over several months. The injections contain small amounts of the allergen. Over time, your body will stop reacting to the allergen.

A Quick Review

If you can spend some time with a specific animal before you buy or adopt one (from a shelter or rescue), you may be able to tell how allergic you are to them.

If you have questions about keeping your pets without an allergic reaction, it is best to consult an allergist. OTC remedies and allergy shots can also help manage symptoms. There are also ways to reduce allergens in your home.

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  1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Pet allergies.

  2. Chan SK, Leung DYM. Dog and cat allergies: Current state of diagnostic approaches and challenges. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2018 Mar;10(2):97-105. doi: 10.4168/aair.2018.10.2.97

  3. American Kennel Club. Hypoallergenic dogs.

  4. Cat Fanciers' Association. Breeds.

  5. The Humane Society of the United States. How to live with allergies and pets.

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