Allergic to Dogs

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi, we have been looking for a small, less-allergenic dog and I am looking for personal references to ensure that we are not buying from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.  As a former rescue dog owner, a breeder is far from my first choice, but we have been working the rescue circuit for months with no success.  We are also open to "designer dogs" like maltipoos, but would want a referral for a specific breeder from someone who has had a good experience.  Would welcome warnings about bad experiences as well.  Basically, any information or thoughts would be appreciated.  Thank you! 

    We got our mini labradoodle from Hales Labradoodles in Bakersfield. Long drive but worth it. That was three years ago so I can’t speak to how long the current waiting list, but she has a ton of dogs so the wait may not be as long as for other breeders and Hales is (or was?) the president of the national breed association and is certainly legit, and her dogs are fantastic. They are multigenerational Australian labradoodles bred for specific characteristics so you know what you are getting, which was important to us (knowing we’d be bringing a baby into the family, and I have allergies). 

    The puddles are known for been the less allergic and any other dog that has similar kind of hair
    In the AKC you can find all the breeders and the also have a quiz to find with breed will be best for you
    Good luck

    Just a note of support to say that I too spent many months trying to buy or adopt a dog throughout the pandemic - actually, even before then but my kids didn't quite seem old enough until spring, as luck would have it. Because I have tested allergic to dogs and shown extreme allergic reactions to many dogs throughout my life, I was also hyper focused on getting one that was less allergenic. I got very good at looking at new photos on Petfinder and quickly assessing if they looked shed-dy or not. I finally got a call back from a doodle breeder in Marin who kept me on the phone an hour for an unscheduled interview and honestly sounded a bit unhinged. She approved me (!) but that experience led me to fully back away from breeders. In the end, after 2-3 intense months on Petfinder, we got an appointment to meet a couple of sibling dogs in Vacaville who were tentatively ID'd as a low-shedding breed "mix" and were wire-haired/short-haired. I made sure the shelter had a no questions asked return policy for 30 days just in case my allergies were triggered (as heart breaking as that would be for the kids), and we adopted our doggy. Amazingly, I have no allergy symptoms at all unless I pet him and rub my eyes right away - but otherwise, no problems, compared to when certain breeds (ahem, goldens) just lick my hand at the dog park and I immediately break out in hives! I am so happy we didn't spend $3000 plus tax on a doodle puppy, which is the going rate in CA for a designer dog, when there is also no guarantees they won't trigger some allergies. Almost as good as the allergy situation... our dog was one year old and came housetrained! Phew.

  • Hypoallergenic dogs?

    (7 replies)

    Hi parents, 

    We would like to get a dog, mainly for our son who has some anxiety. My husband gets pretty bad asthma around dogs so I'm looking for safe breeds. Are there really any breeds that won't cause any asthma? All personal experience would be highly appreciated! Thank you in advance!

    Poodles and most doodle mixes do not shed. I have had standard poodles and cockapoos (cocker spaniel/poodle mix) for many years. One of my sons, now an adult, had severe asthma since the time he was a toddler and my husband developed asthma as an adult. Their asthma was not affected at all by these types of dogs. These dogs do not shed. You will however have to have them groomed about every 6 to 8 weeks. I currently have an almost 12-year-old cockapoo. He has a sweet and loving disposition and gets along great with kids. He is about 18 lbs so not too big as to be able to knock over a child and not so small that it would be easy for a child to trip over him. If you are considering getting a big dog standard poodles are extremely intelligent and make great companions. I remember when the Obamas were in the White House they were promised a dog and one of the daughters was allergic to dogs. Their family ended up getting a portuguese water dog who didn't present any health problems to that daughter and later they adopted another one. I do know a reputable breeder of cockapoos and labradoodles. If you are interested please contact me.

    Your husband should start the process of getting allergy shots.   This has worked incredibly well for my husband.  It is a hassle in the beginning, but it is really worth it.  He never has to worry about it in any situation, we have our own dog now, and as a bonus, he never gets hay fever anymore.   Poodle-type hair is supposedly better, but he used to react to it anyway.   You might look for a dog with this type of hair (poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Maltese, etc.) but pursue the shots at the same time.   

    We recently found ourselves in the same situation as you. Two members of our family have asthma, and four have allergies. I researched extensively and visited lots of dogs. While there is no completely hypoallergenic dog, we decided to get a poodle (not a poodle mix), because it seemed like the closest to hypoallergenic we could get. Our dog has been absolutely wonderful for our kids; he has certainly helped with anxiety, and has also helped them think about something other then themselves. A dog is always happy to see you and doesn't care if you do your homework or have trouble at school. That being said, my asthma is worse than it was before we had a dog, and another member of the family is having some allergies. Our kids would be absolutely heartbroken if we had to give our dog away, and thankfully I think we can deal with the allergies and asthma. If your husband has severe asthma, I would really think hard before you get a dog. Imagine what it would be like for your son to have a dog for a month or two, and then have to give him away. Good luck!

    There are no guarantees about hypoallergenic dogs no matter what a dog breeder tells you. If your husband is very allergic I would suggest you not get a dog. So many dogs are given up for this reason. It’s crushing for the dogs and for the kids who have fallen in love with them. 

    Maybe a bunny or rat instead?

    Standard Poodles (as well as miniature and toy poodles) have hair, not fur, and are hypoallergenic, non-shedding, and no dog smell!  They're the 2nd smartest dog breed and love to be trained.  They also have an affectionate, empathic temperament and are often used as therapy and service dogs for that reason.  

    My son has asthma and have eczema and we both did well with my mother’s mini-schnauzer. The hair that grows and needs to be cut like humans so they don’t really shed is my understanding. I am allergic to other dogs. Perhaps this will work for you. 

    The downside was the dog barked a lot.  That may have been because her eyebrows would get overgrown and she couldn’t see so good if she didn’t get a haircut.

    They are also great hunters of small rodents, which can be a blessing or really gross, depending on your take on it. Overall, I would recommend this type of dog for allergies and rats!

    I recently worked at a humane society, and fully 25% of the dogs were purebreds — even poodles, etc. — who ended up being rehomed, often due to asthma or allergies. Please don’t contribute to this. There is no such thing as a safely hypoallergenic dog. If you do decide that you must have a dog, I recommend that you go to a rescue group or shelter rather than a breeder. They even have puppies and purebreds, if those things are important to you. 

  • Help! I'm allergic to my dog!

    (6 replies)

    I'm hoping the BPN community can help me.  We adopted a dog about 10 months ago.  She's a lovable, sweet but very, very furry rescue who sheds a lot.  A lot.  I have developed red, itchy, watery and puffy eyes and asthma.  I'm primarily home with her (I have a very part time job) so I take her for her morning walks etc.  We won't give her up; she's staying with us.  That being said, I need to minimize my allergic reaction.  Any tips for things I can do, things we can do in the house and things we can do to/for the dog?  My eyes and lungs thank you in advance...

    Take medication: Loratadine (Claritin) and Cetirizine (Zyrtec) are good options - ask your doctor for other recommendations. Eliminate all rugs / carpet in your house and limit upholstery. No dog on furniture or in the bedrooms. HEPA filter vacuum, HEPA filter on ventilation system, HEPA filter unit in sleeping rooms - confirm proper size for volume of room. Don’t touch the dog. If you accidentally touch her, wash your hands immediately. Have someone who isn’t allergic bathe the dog and brush her out outdoors frequently.

    Seriously consider rehoming the dog before you get more attached. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve had a couple of friends in this situation. For both, continued contact with the animal over 2-3 years exacerbated the asthma to the point where it was unmanageable and they had to give up the pet anyway in the end. Good Luck!

    Definitely try medication. I'm allergic to cats and with one 24-hour Zyrtec (not D) a day, I was able to own a cat and have absolutely no symptoms. This may not be the case for you, but it's worth a try. Other best practices: don't let her sleep on your bed, wash your hands after you touch her, have someone else brush her frequently outside, limit her time on furniture, clean frequently. Air purifier might help too. (And I recently stopped taking Zyrtect and my allergies are magically gone, so there's hope!)

    I would try putting you dog on a raw diet. They shed a lot less and seem to cause less reactions when they're on it. 

    I’ve been living with a furry dog and my allergies for ten years now. These are some of the things I do to minimize my reactions (itchy eyes, runny nose, red bumps on my skin where the dog has licked me): 

    1. Don’t let the dog in your bedroom. And be diligent about maintaining your bedroom as a dander-free zone: I try not to sit on my bed when wearing street clothes, and I make my husband put on a clean T-shirt at bedtime (since he hangs out on the couch before coming to bed).

    2. Invest in a HEPA air purifier for any rooms that your dog is allowed in, plus one for your bedroom (because dander will travel)  Check Consumer Reports for latest recommendations  

    3. Don’t sit on upholstered furniture in the dog’s area. I finally spent some $ on a leather couch, but before then I had fabric and just avoided the couch in favor of a plain dining room chair. 

    4. Try to minimize rugs and anything else that holds dander. Obviously difficult if you have wall-to-wall carpeting. 

    5. Buy HEPA bags for your vacuum. 

    6. Wash your hands every single time you’ve touched the dog or anything that might have allergens on it. 

    Hope some of this helps!


    I’m so happy you’re committed to keeping your dog! People with allergies live with pets all the time. It’s totally doable. 

    1. Talk to an allergist about getting desensitization shots. 

    2. In the meantime take Claritin or similar. 

    3. Even though sleeping with your beloved dog is one of the best parts of having a dog don’t do it. Keep your entire bedroom a dog-free room. 

    4. Get rid of everything you can that collects dog hair (rugs,drapes, etc) in favor of wood or vinyl floors, blinds, etc.  If you can afford it replace cloth upholstered furniture with leather or artificial leather type surface. 

    5. If you literally cannot touch your dog, as another parent suggested, of course you should re-home it. But there’s absolutely no reason to jump to that conclusion until you’ve tried some basic steps to deal with the allergy. 

    Sorry to hear about your problem. I know of someone who was allergic to dogs, and medication helped her a lot.

    We use a dog grooming tool called the Furminator. We have the original version of the deshedding tool. It's gotten quite fancy over the years, but we like our Furminator b/c it does a great job of getting rid of excess fur in the undercoat as well as the overcoat. It's not 100%, but it's better than other brushes that we've used.

    Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Non-allergenic dog

Feb 2007

I would like to buy a dog for our family, but my daughter has an allergy to dogs. We thought about buying a hybrid breed, but after reading the ''designer dog fight'' article in the New York times we are against it. We logged on to Puppy Haven's website and could not believe our eyes. How terrible! Any suggestions for a non allergenic pure bred dog other than a poodle or bichon? anon

My wife is allergic to many kinds of dogs. We got a Westie (West Highland White Terrier) and she did fine with it. Another terrier breed that is supposed to be hypo-allergenic is the soft- coated wheaten terrier. When we were looking for a dog, I found a couple of websites that helped identify which breeds were hypo- allergenic. Terrier fan

Tibetan Terriers are great non-allergenic dogs! They do not shed, and their fur is more like hair. They are 25-30 lbs, very smart and loving. They do need alot of grooming. Deirdre

You might try a small whippet or a large, muscular Italian Greyhound (at least 15 pounds-the smaller ones might be too delicate for some children). These dogs have very little hair and do not get dry skin easily, so there is little dander from dead skin. Also, because their coats have little natural oil, they can take frequent baths, which makes them even more hypo-allergenic. They love the warm water, and my sons always loved bathing them. They dry quickly. They also have very little odor and are super-loving. DuBose

I would also consider if your daughter has allergies to pollens, grasses, etc (or the severity of her allergies) because dogs manage to bring in much of that other stuff after a romp at the park. That NY Times article was insane indeed! always vacuuming

There is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog! This website explains the situation best, and has good advice about breeds. It's a very short article--just a couple of paragraphs--but very important to read, because unfortunantly many people give up new dogs that they had thought would not be a problem, allergy-wise.

In short: ''What does ''hypoallergenic'' really mean? To be hypoallergenic is to have a decreased tendency to cause allergies. Hypo means less, not none. Hypoallergenic dog breeds will still produce allergens, but because of their coat type, will typically produce less than others. People with severe allergies and asthma will still be affected by a hypoallergenic dog.'' If the allergies are mild, many breeds are suggested on the website. Please research carefully

My allergic (but rich) friend has a French bulldog. Short fur or hair, low sneeze factor, but very expensive since they are an unusual breed. Very loving, sweet, don't need huge runs or exercise needs, stay under 25 pounds generally. In later age, or if you have stairs, lower back problems can develop since these dogs are short-legged. Frenchies can be overbred and you could get a really dumb one, but my friend's dog was wily and darn funny, trainable, and they are eye-catching/odd/handsome dogs. No dog in my life now though

We have a wire haired fox terrier because of my husband's allergies. They are so cute but hard to train! Crazy about my allergin free pooch

Some dogs have ''hair'' not ''fur''. Consider a Portguese Water Dog (curly or wavy hair) - very active. Poodle (toy, miniture or standard) - very gentle with kids or Bichon Frise. Hair continues to grow like hair on your head. Will knot if not combed or brushed, but does not have the same alergy components as fur. We have a toy poodle and she is just great! Lots of fun and no shedding. Also hair dogs don't have such a ''dog smell'' as other dogs. Poodle Mom

I just wanted to give my two cents regarding ''non allergic'' dogs. My daughter was at a home and was playing with a poodle. Her skin became very red and itchy. Of course, everyone looked at me and said ''what food did you give to her?'' When I mentioned it may be the dog, the owner was rather insulted and the response was...NO...people are not allergic to this type of dog because it does not have fur. Well, another episode (much worse) and emergency room WAS the ''non allergic'' dog. The doctor told me that it is not hair or fur, but the dandruff from the skin and to keep her away from all dogs at that point. She is allergic to most animals, some more than others. So, something to keep in mind when told that an animal is ''non allergic.''

Hello! Sorry for the delay, I didn't see the post until today. Years ago I did some research on ''hypo-allergenic'' dogs. But what makes you allergic, might not make the next person allergic. After visiting with a few different breeds, we fell in love with border terriers. Their coats did not set off my husband's allergies. I don't have a problem with their coats either, but their salivia makes my skin itchy and red. So I don't let the dogs lick me and I'm fine too. The best thing to do is find families with a few breeds that interest you and see if they'll let you spend some play time with their dog. Hope that helps, Robin Robin

Dog breeds that are hypo-allergenic?

July 1999

I've heard that schnauzers, Westies, and poodles are hypo-allergenic dogs.

We have friends who are allergic to dogs and cats but did some research and found that standard poodles (the big ones!) are the best/most non allergenic type of dog. Standards are also very intelligent and probably great with kids. Our friends finally found one and now have a terrific pet and no problems with allergies. I think standard poodles can be quite expensive though. Good luck! -- Lisa

If you are thinking of a dog for a asthmatic child w/acute allergies to fur there are only two breeds to consider -- Poodles being one of these. My extended family acquired one over a year and a half ago and have not experienced any of the asthma/allergy problems they had experienced previously with other furry animals. If acquired from a reputable breeder, you may be surprised to find that they do not necessarily fit the sterotype they've been given as yapping, puffballs of hair. And if you don't cut/groom your poodle as a show dog they look like anyother cute hairy dog. One other great thing about poodles (bred in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard) is that they do not shed (they do need to be brushed daily, etc.). Consult your Allergist; and for info on poodles, see the American Kennel Club website, -- Eleanor

This is in response to Melinda who asked about pets for her daughter. I have a friend who has had forever had allergies to dogs. About 5 years ago, my friend bought a Portugese Water Dog--it kind of looks like a hairy version of a standard poodle. I don't know a lot about them, but Portugese Water Dogs apparently have hair instead of fur. So, they don't shed like most dogs. And my friend had no allergic reaction to them. I understand there are several similar breeds that do not cause allergic reactions in people who are severely allergic to dogs. Good luck. --Diana