While there's no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, certain dogs tend to cause greater allergic reactions in susceptible people than others. It's not necessarily dog hair causing the reaction, but also canine saliva and dander. The worst dogs for allergy sufferers include double-coated breeds, excessive droolers and animals with a particularly strong odor.
Some of America's best known breeds are among the worst in the shedding department, so allergy sufferers should avoid them. These include the Labrador retriever, the Dalmatian, the Siberian husky, the golden retriever, the chow chow and the German shepherd -- referred to by some as "the German shedder." If you have your heart set on a Lab or golden retriever -- perennially in the top 10 of the American Kennel Club's top registrations -- consider a Labradoodle or goldendoodle. These "designer dogs" result from crossing a Lab or golden with a standard poodle, with the purpose of creating a canine with the poodle's low-shedding coat and the golden or Lab's personality.
Developed and still used as hunting dogs, hounds have an exceptional sense of smell. They also have an exceptional odor, not often found in healthy, non-hound breeds. Since hounds hunt in packs, pack members must know where each and every member is, and what a particular dog is doing during the hunt. The hound odor helped pack members accomplish that task. Dogs with strong, natural odor include the beagle, various types of coonhound, bloodhound, basset hound and foxhound.
Double-coated breeds generally have a soft undercoat and a top coat of harsher texture. These dogs don't necessarily shed more than other dogs -- although some do -- but they "blow" their coats twice a year, usually in fall and spring. During that time, the owner's house can look like Dog Hair City. Many of the Northern breeds -- those originally bred to live outside -- fall into this category. These include the Akita, American Eskimo, keeshond, malamute, Great Pyrenees, samoyed, Norwegian elkhound and the tiny Pomeranian.
In its ways, excessive drooling is as bad as heavy shedding. That saliva manages to get all over the place, carrying its allergens with it. Most mastiffs and mastiff crosses drool, as do Newfoundlands and bulldogs. The bloodhound, already not a good choice for allergy sufferers, is nicknamed the "droolhound" or "slobberhound." Saint Bernards, who also shed like crazy, drool a lot.