When you're introducing a canine companion into your home, it's important to know what you're looking for. After all, you'll be living with your new housemate for many years. If your ideal is medium-sized dogs that don't shed and stay laid-back, you have a few choices. If you're willing to go up or down a few pounds in size, you'll have even more options.
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Know that shed happens
If you want a mellow dog who doesn't shed at all, you'll have to stick to a play toy. All dogs shed. It's how they lose their old, damaged hair. The amount they shed depends largely on their breed.
Shedding also depends on a dog's health. Allergies and parasites can cause shedding in dogs, as can diseases of the kidneys, adrenal glands, liver, immune system, and thyroid.
It's important to note that just as there are no dogs who don't shed, there also are no "hypoallergenic" dogs. Dander attached to pet hair is the primary trigger for people with pet allergies, and there's no way to eliminate it completely. Although some dogs are worse for allergy sufferers than others, any dog can cause irritation if your allergies are severe. Fortunately, however, dog lovers with an allergy often find that they can live comfortably with a low-shedding dog.
Just call him show low
If you're looking for medium-sized dogs that don't shed much, the Xoloitzcuintli is probably the perfect dog for you. Although the name is a mouthful — pronounce it show-low-eats-queent-lee — they are one of the oldest dog breeds around. This dog doesn't have much hair at all, is intelligent, affectionate, easy to train, and calm. The Xoloitzcuintli may just be your dream dog and comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard, ranging from nine to 30 pounds.
Other calm non-shedding dogs
Maxing out at about 23 pounds, the Bedlington terrier just makes it into the medium-sized category. Though it's part of the active terrier group, Bedlingtons are a little more low-key than their busy cousins. The Boston Terrier, weighing up to 25 pounds, has a similar personality.
The Chinese Shar-Pei comes in at the other end of the medium range, weighing between 40-and-55 pounds. Known for their wrinkly skin, Shar-Peis are independent but devoted to their people.
Low-key, medium-sized, or low-shed?
Getting all three things on your wish list may be difficult, meaning you may have to compromise on something. If you're most interested in finding a low-key companion to stretch out on the couch with you, the English bulldog and Skye terrier are mellow, medium-sized dogs, though they aren't low-shedders.
If calm dogs that don't shed are more important than size, consider the little Affenpinscher who is generally a quiet, playful guy. The Komondor is a big guy, and with proper training will be a calm, protective family member. If you're up for a bit more activity, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier or Standard Schnauzer make nice medium-sized dogs with low shedding coats. Both make great family members, but require some exercise and training to channel their energy positively.
Living with compromise
If you're having a tough time finding the dog that hits all the marks, consider what you're willing to live with. You can find the right size and activity level and cope with shedding by brushing your dog regularly — weekly if he's a short-haired dog and more often if he has long or curly hair. Get on friendly terms with your vacuum cleaner, and keep a room designated as a dog-free zone so you have one fur-less space.
If you decide less hair is more important than more calm, spend time training your dog and giving him ample exercise. A tired dog is a calm dog, less apt to get into trouble.