While there are no absolutely nonshedding or nonallergenic dogs, the primary problem is dog dander -- shedding is more of an aesthetic and housekeeping problem. Human allergies are aggravated by dog dander or dog saliva rather than by shed hair, but according to a recent study of 80 dog breeds, none produced more dander than any other, including 11 designated as "hypoallergenic" by the American Kennel Club.
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Breeds most popularly recommended for allergy sufferers are the bichon frise, the schnauzer and the Chinese crested. The bichon is small, fluffy and white. The schnauzer comes in three sizes -- miniature, standard and giant -- and has a short, thick coat. The rare Chinese crested is lapdog size and comes in two coat types -- hairless and powderpuff. The hairless has long hair only on the head, feet and tail and is otherwise bald or nearly so, while the powderpuff has fine silky hair all over in addition to the longer portions. The bichon has curly hair, while the schnauzer needs stripping like a terrier, but frequent and regular brushing at home and monthly professional grooming will help keep them free of loose hair and dander. The hairless Chinese crested can be bathed at home but needs special skin care to avoid dryness and sunburn, both of which produce increased dander.
Breeds also thought of as good for allergic humans are the basenji, the Maltese and the poodle. The basenji is a medium-size scent hound of African origin with a short, sleek coat, which he grooms meticulously with his tongue and teeth, as a cat does. He's clean, but those allergic to dog saliva might want to consider another breed. The Maltese is small, with long, straight, silky hair that requires daily brushing unless clipped short. The poodle is intelligent and multitalented. He also comes in three sizes -- toy, miniature and standard, differentiated by height -- and in a rainbow of colors. He has a tightly curly coat that captures dander and shed hair, so he mats easily and needs frequent brushing, even if clipped short all over. For lower maintenance, try a crossbred “designer dog,” such as the labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle or goldendoodle, a mix of a golden retriever and poodle. These hybrids tend to have a short but naturally curly or wavy coat.
Though not necessarily more allergen-free than any other breeds, some long-coated dogs such as the tiny Yorkshire terrier and the larger Shih Tzu are frequently described as hypoallergenic. These breeds usually are kept clipped short unless preparing for the show ring. At the other end of the coat spectrum, the dachshund and the Italian greyhound, with coats that are both short and thin, require almost no grooming other than a wipe down with a cloth to remove any loose hairs or dander, making them popular as both low-allergenic and light shedders.
Many other breeds appear less frequently as suitable for the allergic, including the long-coated Havanese, the curly coated Bedlington terrier, Portuguese water dog and Irish water spaniel and the rare American hairless terrier. The exotic hairless or nearly hairless breeds include such skin-baring breeds as the Peruvian Inca Orchid and the Xoloitzcuintle, known as the Xolo or “show-low” for short.