Is someone in your household allergic to dogs? With somewhere between 15 and 30 percent of the US population allergic to either cats or dogs, many people would like to add a dog to their household but they’re concerned about allergies. The recently-released Allergen All-Star Pet Awards have been announced recognizing the top 11 animals that produce lower allergen levels. (And it’s not just that fur that causes the potential problem–allergens can often be found in pet dander, saliva and urine.)
The winners list was compiled by a team of independent researchers and scientists with Environmental Health & Engineering and is sponsored by the makers of the new Honeywell Doctor’s Choice True HEPA Air Purifier.
“Exposure to pet allergens typically occurs in the home when fur, dander or dried saliva become airborne and are inhaled. Activities like jumping on a couch or running around a room can stir up these allergens and exacerbate the issue for families,” said Dr. Ted Myatt, ScD, a senior scientist at Environmental Health & Engineering. “It’s important to note that no breed of dogs or cats has been proven to be truly hypo-allergenic, but studies suggest that some may be more allergen-friendly than others.”
Here are the top dog breeds for people with allergies according to the Allergen All-Star Pet Awards:
- Bedlington Terrier – a breed of small dog with curly, woolly coats named after the mining town of Bedlington in North East England. It is known to be allergen-friendly because, like other terriers, the Bedlington does not shed.
- Irish Water Spaniel – a breed of dog that is the largest and one of the oldest of spaniels with a water-repellant curly coat and signature “rat tail.” Their coats are similar to poodles, which have less hair and dander.
- Italian Greyhound – a very old European breed with long, powerful legs and a slim build. This breed is on the American Kennel Club’s suggested list for allergy sufferers due to their thin coats, which makes them easier to keep clean with baths.
- Labradoodle – a crossbred dog with wiry to soft and straight, wavy, or curly hair created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard or Miniature Poodle. In a 2012 study of allergen levels in homes, homes with Labradoodles had the lowest allergen levels in floor dust compared to homes with other dogs.
- Labrador Retriever – one of several kinds of retriever that is athletic and playful, and is the most popular breed registered in the United States. Studies have shown that Labradors have lower allergen levels than other breeds. Dogs that swim frequently, like Labradors, also have lower allergen concentrations in their hair.
- Maltese – a small breed of dog (photo, above) originating in the central Mediterranean area with a long and silky coat and no undercoat. Small dogs are likely to generate less allergens due to their size. The Maltese is listed on the American Kennel Club’s list of breeds suggested for allergy sufferers.
- Schnauzer – a dog breed that originated in Germany with a distinctively bearded snout. Their top coat is wiry, while the undercoat is soft. While this breed does shed, it has been touted by many as a good breed for people concerned about allergens.
- Yorkshire Terrier – a small dog breed of terrier type with glossy, fine, straight, and silky hair. Yorkies are small and do not shed much and therefore are less likely to produce large amounts of allergens. Terriers do require frequent grooming, so family members who are sensitive to allergens should allow someone that is not sensitive to groom the dog.
The list also included two cat breeds for people with allergies as well as one more choice: the iguana. “If you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t produce any allergens, try one with scaly skin, like an iguana,” says Dr. Myatt. Animals with scaly skin, like iguanas or other lizards, are truly hypoallergenic.