As a dog owner, you want your pet to leave a good impression, but not on your sweater, your couch, your car seat, and on your bed — the list goes on.
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Finding a large-breed dog that fits your requirements can mean doing a little research that includes learning the size and breed, but also finding out about behavior tendencies and genetic issues that can lead to specific medical issues in large, non-shedding dogs.
While you'll be hard-pressed to find a dog that leaves zero hair behind, you'll be pleased to know there are a number of dog breeds that don't shed much and wonderful options for adopting a large dog with minimal shedding issues. Talk to your vet before you adopt any pet to review behavioral and medical issues that you'll need to deal with from puppyhood to your dog's geriatric years.
What causes shedding?
Certain breeds shed and re-grow hair based on the coming season. When it's hot, their body starts dropping hair so the dog doesn't overheat. When winter comes, certain dogs start retaining more body fat and growing thicker coats. Based on the climates in which certain breeds evolved and other genetic factors, some dogs didn't develop the need for the natural process of shedding.
Long-haired Afghan hounds
These dogs might look like Euro-hippies with their long bangs and coats that look like ball gowns, but that doesn't mean they shed. Afghan hounds have been considered so beautiful for so long, they were often the choice of the nobility. Even though these are attractive medium dogs that don't shed, they do still need regular grooming.
Afghan puppies have short, fuzzy coats and facial hair that is called "monkey whiskers". In puppyhood they don't need much grooming, but as adults their long silky hair requires regular brushing each day. Without this daily grooming and weekly bathing, your Afghan will get debris stuck in their fur, and it won't look silky like it should.
Keep a standard poodle clipped
These beautiful dogs are one of the top 10 most popular breeds of any dog, according to the American Kennel Club. Standard poodle males outdo females in height and weight, with boys weighing in around 60 to 70 pounds and girls coming in at 40 to 50 pounds. Standard poodles are the largest of the three poodle breeds (including miniatures and toys) and have a life expectancy of 10 to 18 years. Goldendoodles and Labradoodles are poodles crossed with other breeds (golden retrievers and Labradors).
Although they have lots of hair that lets their owners create fun (and sometimes funny) haircuts, these dogs don't shed. Their curly hair mats fast, so a poodle needs daily grooming. Their hair tends to develop mats near the skin, which might have to be shaved if they get too matted. A short trimmed haircut alleviates most of this need. Despite the need for haircuts, the breed's relatively nonshedding coat makes poodles a good choice for people with allergies.
You may have never heard of a Vizsla, but these Hungarian sporting dogs were bred to be family and household dogs. These lean, long-eared dogs feature golden-rust coats that aren't apt to shed except at the change of seasons. But Vizslas have a short, sleek coat with no undercoat, so they don't require much grooming other than occasional brushing with a rubber brush.
Bred to work with their hunter-owners, Vizslas can get lonely when they're left alone too long, according to the AKC, which states that these dogs reach a height of 21 to 24 inches, with females just a bit larger than the males. These dogs weigh in on the lighter side of large-breed dogs, with males maxing out around 55 pounds and females tipping the scales around 60 pounds.
Irish water spaniel
The Irish water spaniel is one of the best large non-shedding dogs. Not as large as some other large-breed dogs, the Irish water spaniel is a sporting dog, with females (55 to 68 pounds) weighing more than males (45 to 58 pounds). Irish water spaniels look somewhat like poodles, sharing similar curly hair and long ears, but the Irish water spaniel doesn't need as much grooming as the poodles do. Gentle brushing is the norm, along with brushing at least weekly and trimming every two months to neaten and shape it. The breed's coat is also suitable for those with allergies.
Clip your giant schnauzer
Like poodles, schnauzers come in three sizes: miniature, standard, and giant. Giant is a bit of exaggeration based on this dog's comparison to other large-breed dogs, but next to its cousins, it's big. Males weigh up to 85 pounds, while females tip the scales up to 95 pounds. With either black or salt-and-pepper fur, these bearded dogs with bushy eyebrows are muscular and athletic and quite capable of knocking over a piece of furniture or two. The giant schnauzer has a double coat. The underneath fur is soft while the outer fur is dense and wiry. The giant must be brushed weekly, and clipped or stripped regularly.
Brush your bouvier des flandres
Weighing in at more than 100 pounds, this European herding dog has a heavy coat and big bones. They reach almost 28 inches high at the shoulder, but have longer lifespans, averaging 10 to 12 years, according to the AKC. These dogs love to work and make great choices if you own a farm. They also make excellent watch dogs. These dogs do shed seasonally, and their coat needs brushing once or twice a week. Their beard also occasionally needs cleaning.
If you're set on a large-breed male dog, a Saluki might be a good choice. Considerably larger than females, male Salukis can reach heights up to 28 inches and grow to 65 pounds. With life expectancies up to 17 years, you'll find companionship for many years. The AKC compares these dogs to graceful dancers because of their slim, leggy proportions. Unlike some other breeds, Salukis (the mascot of Southern Illinois University) do well in a variety of climates and come in a variety of colors.
The Saluki does shed a little bit during the change of seasons, but they only need occasionally baths and brushing. The Saluki coat has two facets—feathered and smooth—and both are easily groomed with weekly brushing. Their ear feathers may need to be kept out of the food bowl. Many Saluki owners use a hood to keep ears pinned back. Salukis only need to be bathed if they become dirty.
The hypoallergenic Portuguese water dog
Portuguese water dogs are affectionate, adventurous, and athletic, according to the AKC, which rates them as a top 50 dog breed in popularity. Males (20 to 23 inches) grow taller than females (17 to 21 inches), and weigh more on average (42 to 60 pounds compared to 35 to 50 pounds). These pets fall into the working group of dog breed, originally helping fisherman herd fish into nets and carry messages between boats. This makes them great pets for owners who love to hit the beach or head out onto the lake.
The Portuguese water dog is one of the largest dog breeds that don't shed. The Portuguese water dog has a dense, thick coat that doesn't ignite allergies but does require regular grooming. Many owners like to keep their dog in a lion clip, which clips the hindquarters and muzzle areas close to the skin, or the retriever clip, in which the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length. These dogs need regular weekly grooming and an occasional bath.
- American Kennel Club: Poodle Breed Standard
- American Kennel Club: Portuguese Water Dog Breed Standard
- American Kennel Club: Giant Schnauzer Breed Standard
- American Kennel Club: Irish Water Spaniel Breed Standard
- American Kennel Club: Bouvier des Flandres Breed Standard
- Seven Hills Veterinary Hospital: Large Breed Puppies
- American Kennel Club: Vizsla Dog Breed
- American Kennel Club: Saluki Dog Breed
- Dogsense: 12 Big Dogs That Don’t Shed (Much).