If you're in the market for a large, nonshedding dog -- or more accurately, one that sheds very little -- you must consider which canines suit your lifestyle. Some of these big dogs make good family pets, while others require a great deal of exercise and a job to do. A big, bored dog can cause a lot of destruction. If allergies, rather than shedding, are your primary concern, realize that while some dogs cause less of a reaction in sensitive people than others, there's no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog.
Perhaps the classic nonshedding large dog, the standard poodle doesn't have an upper height limit, but must stand at least 15 inches tall at the shoulder in adulthood. Standard poodles come in a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, gray, blue, cream and apricot. Smart and athletic, the standard poodle makes a fine companion dog. His curly coat requires regular clipping to avoid becoming an unruly mess. Standard poodle are often crossed with other large breeds to create nonshedding "designer" dogs. These include the goldendoodle, or golden retriever/poodle cross, and the Labradoodle, a cross with the Labrador retriever.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish water spaniel's coat resembles that of the standard poodle, but this largest of spaniels has a "ratty" tail. At maturity, the Irish water spaniel stands between 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 45 to 68 pounds. Males are larger than females. All Irish water spaniels are some shade of liverish brown. These are good-natured, active dogs known for their "sense of humor," according to the American Kennel Club.
Although the giant schnauzer looks like a large version of the standard and miniature schnauzer, this is a working breed. He's an energetic, territorial canine requiring a lot of exercise. The giant schnauzer's coat is wiry and dense, requiring little brushing. At maturity, these strong, powerful dogs stand between 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall, with females smaller than males. Salt and pepper or solid black are the only acceptable coat colors, according to the AKC.
Bouvier des Flandres
Bred to work on farms, the bouvier des Flandres is a tough customer. In his native Belgium, he's often used as a police dog, and makes a good family guard dog. At maturity, the bouvier des Flandres stands between 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall, with males larger than females. Acceptable colors include black, fawn, gray, salt and pepper and brindle. The later is a base color with black striping. While he doesn't shed, he does require regular brushing to keep his wiry hair from matting.
Portuguese Water Dog
The curly or wavy-haired Portuguese water dog matures between 17 to 23 inches in height, with weight ranges from 35 to 60 pounds. Males are larger than females. Portuguese water dogs boast white, black or brown coats, or combinations of white with brown or black. This dog not only doesn't shed, but his coat is waterproof, befitting a breed originating with Portuguese fishermen and spending most of their time in the water. This bright, good-natured dog requires a fair amount of exercise, and most just soak up training in various canine sports.