Hypoallergenic Pets / Know Your Facts
This Article is Updated on – 24/01/2024, Originally posted on – 19/02/2021
Living with pet allergies can be challenging for animal lovers. Pet dander, saliva, and urine often trigger allergy symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, and skin irritation in sensitive individuals.
But those who want a furry companion are in luck – certain breeds are hypoallergenic and less likely to cause reactions.
This article will explore 10 adorable hypoallergenic pets that even allergy sufferers can enjoy. We’ll look at popular breeds of dogs, cats, and other animals that won’t aggravate allergies. Keep reading to find your perfect hypoallergenic match!
Table of Contents
What Makes a Pet Hypoallergenic?
When we say a pet is hypoallergenic, this means they produce less of the allergens that commonly trigger allergic reactions in people. The most common pet allergens come from:
- Dander – Flakes of dead skin that pets shed. Dander floats in the air and can cause allergy symptoms when inhaled.
- Saliva – Allergens in a pet’s saliva can cause issues when they lick or groom themselves. The saliva dries on their fur and becomes airborne.
- Urine – Pets that urinate indoors can cause allergens to spread on surfaces and contaminate air quality when litter isn’t cleaned.
Hypoallergenic pets have coats that produce less dander. They also groom and shed less fur so there is less saliva and dander spread in the home. Their urine may contain fewer allergens as well.
While no pet is 100% allergy-free, hypoallergenic animals have fewer of the problematic proteins that affect people with allergies. This makes them much safer and more tolerable to live with.
Dogs produce allergens primarily through their dander (dead skin cells) and saliva. Here are five hypoallergenic dog breeds that shed little and produce fewer allergens.
The intelligent, energetic poodle has a hypoallergenic coat that doesn’t shed and produces less dander. Their curly coat traps loose hairs rather than letting them float around. Poodles come in three sizes:
- Toy – Under 10 inches tall, weigh 6-9 pounds
- Miniature – 10-15 inches tall, 10-15 pounds
- Standard – Over 15 inches tall, 40-70 pounds
Many breeders specialize in standard, miniature, or toy poodles. Adopting a poodle mix from a shelter is also an option. Be prepared to brush and clip their coat every 6-8 weeks.
- Comes in standard, miniature, and toy sizes
- Considered the top hypoallergenic dog breed
- Have hair rather than fur which produces less dander
- Highly intelligent, energetic, and eager to please
- Require regular grooming and clipping
2. Portuguese Water Dog
This energetic breed has a thick, wavy hypoallergenic coat. Their “wash-and-wear” hair doesn’t shed and requires brushing weekly.
Portuguese water dogs are highly intelligent and benefit from training and lots of exercise. Grooming every 6-8 weeks is recommended. Reputable breeders can be found through the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.
- Originally bred to work on fishing boats
- Tightly curled coat doesn’t shed much
- An active and playful breed that needs daily exercise
- Loyal, loving, and highly trainable
- Fun-loving family dog
Schnauzers come in three hypoallergenic, low-shedding sizes:
- Miniature – 12-14 inches tall, 11-20 pounds
- Standard – 17-19 inches tall, 30-50 pounds
- Giant – 23-27 inches tall, 55-80 pounds
Their wiry double coats require frequent brushing and trimming. Look for breeders through the Schnauzer Club of America.
4. Bichon Frise
This fluffy white breed is beloved for its cheerful, gentle temperament. The Bichon sheds little with its curly hypoallergenic coat.
Daily brushing prevents matting and periodic trimming maintains their distinctive appearance. Bichons need lots of playtime and training. Reputable breeders can be found through the American Kennel Club.
- Small, fluffy white dog breed
- The hypoallergenic coat is thick and curly
- Shed minimally with regular grooming
- Playful, cheerful, and affectionate
- Love being around people and other pets
- Require moderate daily exercise
5. Irish Water Spaniel
An energetic hunting breed, the Irish water spaniel has a hypoallergenic double coat perfect for allergy sufferers. Their tight curls prevent dander from escaping into the air and need minimal brushing.
Provide plenty of daily exercise and training for this highly intelligent breed. Contact the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America to find breeders.
- Rare, hypoallergenic hunting dog breed
- Have curly coats that shed minimally
- Energetic, intelligent, eager to please
- Need plenty of daily exercise and stimulation
- Affectionate family dogs that love to swim
- Require thorough brushing and grooming
Allergens in cats come mainly from saliva, skin dander, and a protein called Fel-D1 found in skin, saliva, and urine. Certain cat breeds produce lower levels of Fel-D1:
This nearly hairless breed lacks the underlying protein that causes allergies in most people. Their skin produces less dander.
While hairless, Sphynx cats require frequent bathing and moisturizing due to skin sensitivity. Their active, silly personality makes them a delight. Contact the Sphynx Breed Club for breeders.
- Striking hairless cat breed
- Lack of fur means no fur allergens
- Needs regular bathing to prevent skin oil buildup
- Extremely affectionate and cuddly
- Thrives on being with owners
With a long, silky coat, the Balinese sheds less than other cats. Their dander contains lower Fel-D1 levels. This chatty, affectionate breed needs lots of playtimes and brushing to prevent mats.
Contact the Balinese Breed Council for reputable breeders.
- Long-haired cat breeds that shed minimally
- Vocal, communicative, and seeks attention
- Playful and thrives in companionship
- Soft, silky fur requires daily grooming
- Intelligent and easily trained
An outgoing and social breed, the Burmese produces less Fel-D1 protein according to studies. Their short, silky coat needs weekly brushing and creates little mess.
Breeders can be found through The International Cat Association.
- Short-haired hypoallergenic cat breed
- Known for being very social and affectionate
- Athletic, playful, thrives on interaction
- Minimal shedding with weekly brushing
- Chatty, love being held and cuddled
- Loyal, form close bonds with owners
4. Devon Rex
The Devon Rex’s curly, wool-like coat sheds minimally. Their loose curls allow less dander to become airborne. Devon Rexes has an impish personality and thrives on interaction.
- Wavy, low-shedding fur like a poodle
- Quirky, mischievous, and fun-loving
- Thrives when it has company and toys
- Needs minimal grooming
- Intelligent and easy to train
5. Oriental Shorthair
Orientals have a fine, glossy coat that doesn’t require much grooming. They produce lower Fel-D1 levels, meaning less allergy risk. Intelligent and vocal, Orientals need interactive toys and playtime.
- Shorthaired hypoallergenic cat breed
- Known to be social, affectionate, clingy
- Adaptable to new environments
- Minimal grooming required
- Famously vocal cat breed
Other Hypoallergenic Pets
Beyond dogs and cats, here are two other great hypoallergenic pet options:
Guinea pigs are a popular hypoallergenic choice perfect for kids. They’re gentle, low-maintenance, and live 5-7 years. Their hay-based diet produces fewer allergens than cat and dog foods.
Provide a large cage with hiding spots. Adopt guinea pigs from shelters and rescue groups.
- Fun, vocal creatures full of personality
- No fur allergens since they have hair, not fur
- Need a large cage and regular nail trims
- Generally gentle, may take time to warm up to handling
- Live 5-7 years on average
Fish don’t produce dander and are completely hypoallergenic. Nearly any species – goldfish, betta, guppies – make excellent starter pets.
Make sure aquarium tanks are properly filtered and heated. Research needs for specific fish species. Adopt fish locally from pet stores or breeders.
- Fully enclosed in the tank so no airborne allergens
- Variety of freshwater and saltwater fish options
- Requires setup and maintenance of aquarium
- Feed fish food flakes or pellets 1-2x daily
- Clean tank and change water monthly
- Fun to watch their behaviors and movements
Exotic Hypoallergenic Pets
Looking for a more unique hypoallergenic pet? Some exotic pets produce fewer allergens and can be a good fit for allergy sufferers:
- Adorable marsupial related to the possum
- Have fur-less skin so no fur allergens
- Need a large cage and lots of bonding time
- Omnivores that eat insects, fruit, meat
- Social, smart, can be trained to do tricks
- Don’t have fur/dander, make great reptile pet
- Docile temperament good for beginners
- Eat live insects and occasional veggies
- Need heat lamp and tank habitat
- Fun to watch and handle occasionally
- Virtually no risk of triggering allergy symptoms
- Contained in a tank or cage
- Minimal care needed – mainly for feeding
- Slow moving, not prone to biting
- Great small pet for calm observation
- Housed in the tank so no airborne allergens
- Low maintenance, perfect for kids
- Dig in sand, need both land and water areas
- Will outgrow shell and need larger ones
- Enjoy climbing on toys and tunnels
Finding Your Match
When choosing a pet, focus first on finding a breed suitable for your lifestyle and living environment. Then, consider adopting an adult animal who is already trained. Shelters and breed-specific rescues offer a range of ages.
Meet potential pets before adopting to see if they trigger allergies. Try visiting their home or having a trial sleepover. Prepare your home with air purifiers and plan to clean frequently. Medications can also help when introduced properly.
With the right preparations and hypoallergenic breed, even allergy sufferers can find the perfect compatible furry friend! Don’t let allergies prevent you from the joys of pet ownership.
Tips for Living with Hypoallergenic Pets
Here are some tips to minimize allergies when bringing home a hypoallergenic pet:
1. Set up pet-free zones
Keep your hypoallergenic pet out of the bedrooms and limit them to non-carpeted areas of the home. This prevents dander from accumulating in allergy hot spots.
2. Clean frequently
Vacuum carpets and mop hard floors at least twice a week. Change HVAC filters monthly. Wash all pet bedding weekly.
3. Bathe your pet
Bathing your dog or cat once a week or every other week will wash away dander and allergens on their fur. Use a hypoallergenic shampoo.
4. Groom regularly
Brush your pet frequently to remove loose hair before it scatters. Trim fur short to minimize what can become airborne.
5. Try air purifiers
HEPA air purifiers actively remove dander and allergens. Put them in rooms where your pet spends time.
6. Take medication
Talk to your doctor about taking allergy medication when first bringing home your pet. Some become less necessary as you adjust.
7. Get allergy shots
Allergy shots introduce small allergen amounts to gradually desensitize your immune response over time. They can enable living with a pet you’re allergic to.
8. Limit human allergens
Since people are often allergic to more than one thing, also reducing dust mites, pollen, and mold can help.
9. See an allergist
Allergy testing can identify exactly what you’re allergic to – the specific protein. Custom medication or allergy shots can then be prescribed.
With some planning and preparation, those with allergies can successfully share their home with a hypoallergenic furry friend. Don’t let pet allergies stop you from owning one of these adorable companions.
Despite common allergies to cats and dogs, a wide variety of hypoallergenic pets are available for allergy sufferers. Certain breeds of dogs, cats, and small pets shed less dander and produce fewer allergens. With breeds like the poodle, sphynx, guinea pig, and others outlined here, even sensitive people can experience the joys of pet ownership.
Prepare your home, find a compatible breed, adopt an adult, and take any necessary allergy precautions. Meeting potential pets first is also wise to see if they aggravate your allergies.
With the right hypoallergenic match, you’ll be snuggling and playing with your new furry, scaly, or feathered friend in no time. Don’t let allergies keep you from the companionship pets provide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What makes a pet hypoallergenic?
A: Hypoallergenic pets produce lower levels of the proteins that commonly cause allergic reactions – dander, saliva, urine, and Fel D1 protein. They also tend to shed less hair and skin cells.
Q: What is the most hypoallergenic dog breed?
A: Poodles are generally considered the most hypoallergenic dog breed. Their tight curly coats trap dander and shed little. Breeds like Portuguese Water Dogs and Schnauzers are also excellent choices.
Q: Are any cats truly hypoallergenic?
A: No cat is 100% non-allergenic, but breeds like the Sphynx, Balinese, and Oriental Shorthair are less likely to cause reactions for many individuals.
Q: Should I adopt a puppy or older hypoallergenic dog?
A: Adopting an adult dog can help prevent allergies, as breed characteristics are already established. Puppies of hypoallergenic breeds can sometimes still trigger aller