15 Hypoallergenic Dogs and Cats
Hypoallergenic or Hype?
If you love animals but hate allergies, you may be tempted to spring for a pricey hypoallergenic pet.
Not so fast. Studies suggest hypoallergenic cats and dogs can cause just as many symptoms as the regular kind, says James Seltzer, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. That’s because skin and saliva proteins, not just hair, trigger allergy symptoms.
The only pets proven to be hypoallergenic have scaly skin—like iguanas and snakes, he says. That said, if you’re dead set on a furry pet, here are a few that are touted—but not proven—to be better for people with allergies.
That’s because it’s not the dog’s hair per se that causes allergies, it’s the saliva, skin, or other proteins. Allergens (particularly saliva proteins) can latch on to the hair, so less shedding in generalrather than the length of the hairmay be helpful.
Bedlington terriers have curly, wooly coats with an extra mop on the top of the head, and weigh 17 to 23 pounds.
These dogs weigh about 10 to 18 pounds.
In general, dog allergens are microscopic particles that can hitch a ride on other air pollutants, including cigarette smoke and particulate matter generated by traffic.
Cutting down on indoor air pollution can help stop the circulation of symptom-triggering allergens in your home, experts say.
One member of the breed, Sam, had the dubious distinction of being voted the unofficial world’s ugliest dog for three years in a row.
Chinese crested dogs comes in two versionshairless, which have hair on the head, feet, and tail; and powderpuff, which have a soft coat over the entire body.
These dogs weigh 10–13 pounds.
Devon rex cat
These cats have a "dubious" reputation for being hypoallergenic, and symptoms will vary "according to an individual's personal allergies," says the CFA.
In general, kittens shed more allergens than cats. Although the levels seem to drop at 6 to 12 months of age, "they still cause allergies," says Dr. Seltzer.
Irish Water Spaniel
The AKC says they "require brushing every few weeks and trimming every two months to neaten and shape the coat."
Regular grooming and bathing of dogs can reduce, but not eliminate, allergens, says James Sublett, MD, section chief of pediatric allergy at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. (Read more about how to reduce pet allergens.)
"If you do the grooming outside the house you're not going to stir up as much allergen."
Kerry Blue Terrier
Originally bred as hunters, they may not do well in households with cats or other small pets, according to the AKC.
Dr. Sublett notes that if "you're allergic to one dog, you're allergic to all dogs."
There's "not really any guarantee that an animal will be hypoallergenic," he says.
It is a popular choice for those with allergies, but the American Kennel Club does not recommend such "designer dogs."
“There is no way to guarantee a litter will produce puppies with equal poodle coats, making the high prices unjustifiable and the claims of these dogs being ideal misleading at best,” according to the organization.
While grooming a dog outside the home can help reduce allergens inside it, it can also help to "take a damp washcloth and wipe the animal down," says Dr. Sublett.
A simple daily wipe down with a slightly soapy cloth can remove allergens as well as commercial sprays or other products that are sold as a way to reduce allergens, he says.
While there's no rock-solid evidence that smaller dogs trigger fewer allergy symptoms than large, experts say they probably produce fewer allergens.
"Clearly a smaller dog should shed less total dog allergen than a larger dog," says Dr. Seltzer, who is an allergist-immunologist at the Fallon Clinic in Worcester, Mass.
Portuguese Water Dog
However, the high-profile poochselected because Malia Obama has allergiesmay have helped fuel the myth of the truly hypoallergenic dog.
The perception that you can side-step allergies by "something as simple as getting a shorter-haired animal or even a hairless animal is just not accurate," says Dr. Sublett.
And spending a few hours with an animal won't tell you if it will pose future problems, he says. Daily exposure can trigger a new allergy or "keep the fire stoked" on chronic problems.
Smaller dogs may be more tolerable for people with allergies because they can shed less dander than larger dogs.
Frequent baths, regular grooming outside the house, and having easy-to-clean wood floors instead of allergen-trapping rugs may help.
"At the same time, you shouldn't deceive yourself that you can completely remove your exposure," says Dr. Sublett.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
One factor to keep in mind: Dogs with longer hair may pick up other allergens, such as pollen, when outdoors.
"You may get more symptoms as a result of having a long-haired dog than a short-haired dog," says Dr. Seltzer.
In general, cat allergens tend to be more potent than dog allergens, for those who are sensitized.
The good news? Allergy shotsroutine injections of allergens that can result in tolerance over timeare more likely to be successful for those allergic to cats than those who are allergic to dogs, says Dr. Seltzer.
"Allergy shots for cat can be effective in as many as 65% of people," he says. "But it does take a year or two often to start working."
Like the poodle and schnauzer, this ancient breed comes in three sizestoy, miniature, and standard.
Allerca's GD cat
The problem is that removing these proteins from the skin, saliva, and other secretions may not be enough, says Dr. Sublett. Animals can produce other symptom-triggering allergens.
"Both dogs and cats have what we call minor allergens, so it's not only the major allergens," he says. "Most people have a sensitivity to minor allergens too."
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