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Ask AKC: Hypoallergenic Dogs

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: I would like to get a dog, however my mom is allergic to the dander, so I am trying to find a breed that is more "hypoallergenic" so she doesn't have a reaction when she visits. I know that no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, but after looking through the AKC's website, I'm seeing a lot of small breeds that come up as being hypoallergenic. Are there any larger dogs, more specifically hunting-type dogs, who would be less likely to cause an allergic reaction? --Searching for Sneeze-Free Breeds
I see you've done your homework on the AKC web site and found the information on the hypoallergenic breeds. My two choices for larger hunting/working dogs from the list would be the Standard Poodle and the Portuguese Water Dog.

Portuguese Water Dog
This breed from the Working Group was nearly extinct in the 1970s. Originally he once worked with fisherman along Portugal's coast herding fish into the nets and retrieving lost tackle. These hardy dogs also swam from ship to ship, or ship to shore as a courier.

According to the breed description it's a "calm, intelligent breed of fine temperament, rugged and robust, with a pro-fuse non-allergenic, non-shedding, waterproof coat and webbed feet; he is an ideal outdoor dog, capable of limitless work." Go to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America web site to find an event or breeder in your area to learn more about this fascinating breed including all the wonderful water work they excel at.

Standard Poodle
Another favorite of mine off this list would be the Standard Poodle. The Standard variety of this breed (the other varieties being the Miniature and Toy) is more than 15 inches tall at the top of the shoulders. Most Standards I know are between 21 and 27 inches tall, so you will get a good-sized dog with the Standard.

At the Poodle Club of America web site, there is a fabulous picture of the most recent dogs that passed their AKC hunt tests at the National Specialty, which goes to show you what a great hunting dog the Poodle is. Hunting Tests evaluate a dog's hunting abilities and Standard Poodles are eligible for AKC retriever hunting tests.

I'm sure between these two breeds you will find an active companion for you and a dog your Mom can breathe easy about.

Readers' Suggestions
We have a 9-month-old Havanese. They are smart, non-shedding, medium sized and cute! --G.A.

When talking about larger hypoallergenic breeds, why didn't you include the Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers? They don't shed and their hair is less curly than the two you mentioned. It just seemed like it was a choice I would have included. Of course I have one and love it, but that isn't the only reason I would recommend it. --Anonymous

I read your advice on hunting/sporting breeds that are hypoallergenic. I just wanted to add one to your list. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a virtually shed-free dog that is great around allergy sufferers. This is our breed of choice, and we tend to think that it doesn't get near the recognition that it deserves. Thanks for your time! --D.H.

You didn't mention the German Wirehaired Pointer. My husband has severe allergies. We'd always raised Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers. When our pets died of old age I was devastated not to be able to have another dog in the Sporting Group class (I dislike Poodles). I called AKC and they mentioned I should check out the Wirehaired Pointers. I did. We have two now (one is four and one is two). They're wonderful and my husband hasn't had an allergy attack from them since they joined our family! --S.B.

You missed the best breed on the list -- the Irish Water Spaniel! --P.C.

Thanks readers for the great suggestions! There are a variety of breeds that work well for those with allergies. As you can see many are included in our list. It's important to remember that a person's allergic response is individual to each dog regardless of breed. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.