Can certain breeds of dog really be suitable for people who are allergic to dogs? The answer is yes...and no. Adopt-a-Pet.com sets the record straight.
To begin with, it helps to have a little background on dog allergy. Contrary to popular belief, dogs' fur is actually not much of an allergen on its own. Rather, the skin cells (called dander), dust and pollen that collect in the fur are what can trigger allergic reactions. Some people are allergic to dander, while others are allergic to dogs' saliva, or even their urine. If you're allergic to dog urine, as long as the dog urinates outdoors, it's not usually much of a problem; but if you're allergic to saliva, one lick may be enough to trigger a severe reaction.
Therefore being "allergic to dogs" is actually a very general term. Before you consider adopting a dog, find out if your allergy is to pet dander, saliva or urine. If you're allergic to saliva and your doctor approves of you adding a canine family member, you can ask your local rescue groups to keep an eye out for an adult dog that doesn't lick people. You need a mature pooch, because you'll be able to tell exactly what the dog's licking behavior is—unlike with a puppy whose behavior has yet to become permanent. Make sure to wash your hands after playing with or petting your dog, especially if your hands come in contact with toys that have been in your dog's mouth.
While no dog is 100 percent nonallergenic, if you're allergic to dander, you may be able to tolerate a so-called "low-dander" dog. Several breeds are known as low-dander dogs. These types of dogs have coats that are more like hair than fur, and they tend not to shed much. They also usually require a lot of brushing and grooming, due to their constantly growing hair.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier (commonly called a Wheaten)
Many mixed-breeds involving one of these low-dander breeds will also be appropriate for dander-allergic people. For instance, most poodle mixes are low-dander. Many people with allergies also do well with hairless breeds like the American Hairless Terrier or the Chinese Crested Hairless. If you want a low-dander dog, you can find lots of options in shelters and from rescue groups.
If you do adopt a dog, it's important to make sure you keep his or her skin as healthy as possible, whether he or she has hair or not. Dogs with dry skin tend to scratch a lot, which causes their dander to be released into the environment around you. Also, consider fostering a dog for a rescue group or animal shelter before adopting. This will give you time to make sure your allergies will tolerate the specific dog before you permanently add him or her to your family.
There are a few methods you can use to try to neutralize pet allergens. Look for a cleanser that you can wipe on your dog's coat once a week to fight allergens. Make sure you wash your bedding, your dog's bedding, rugs and curtains often to rid them of dander, saliva and dust. Give your dog a bath as often as his or her skin will tolerate. Some allergic dog owners have their dogs groomed once a week.
Above all, keep yourself healthy and consult your doctor before adopting.