You and your family really want to have a dog, but your child has asthma, and your husband suffers from allergies. What breeds can you get without putting their health at risk? Can you even consider getting a dog at all? Find the facts here.
First of all, you have to get the facts straight. Many people think that dog fur causes asthma or allergy attacks, and then veer away from long-haired varieties. Actually, the fur isn’t the problem—it’s dander. Some breeds produce less dander than others, and the length of the fur has nothing to do with that. In fact, dander is not just found in fur but skin, urine and saliva.
Second of all, there’s no such thing as a completely dander-free dog. So you have to look at the severity of your family’s asthma or allergy, plus how frequently you’ll be able to vacuum the home and where the dog will stay (indoors or outdoors). If you can, do a “trial run” by visiting the breeder and spending at least half an hour in an enclosed space with the dog. Now, see which of these breeds you’d like to bring home.
1. Shih Tzu
The shih tzu is very friendly, and is very gentle with young children. It’s small and requires very little exercise, so it’s ideal for families who don’t have big homes or yards. However, its long fur requires daily brushing (you will also need to wipe the mouth area, which can get caked with food and dirt). It is quite sensitive to heat.
Toy and Miniature poodles are great for people who live in small apartments, but a Standard poodle is best if you have a young child. They are all intelligent and can be trained to do tricks. The breed doesn’t shed, but you will need to do grooming every six weeks.
3. Yorkshire Terrier
It sheds very little fur and has no undercoat, and you can choose to clip the hair short to minimize grooming. It is quite intelligent and can be trained to do cute tricks. It’s a very spirited dog, and even if it’s small, will bravely bark at strangers and even bigger dogs.
This dog has a gorgeous white coat (you can imagine, though, the kind of grooming it requires to keep it that way). It is very active and playful, and perfect for children who want a pet to run around with.
5. Bichon Frisé
This small dog practically never sheds, but it requires a lot of grooming (the white curly coats can tangle and mat, and the breed tends to have skin problems). However, it is one of the friendliest and most playful dogs. It gets along with everybody—kids, strangers, other dogs, even cats.
6. Lagotto Romagnolo
Do you live near a lake or own a pool? Then this dog will be very happy with your family. It was traditionally bred to be a water retriever. It loves to swim, and like all hunting dogs, play fetch and run. It is ideal for older, active kids who seek rough and tumble play. It is very smart and can be trained to do a number of tricks. It can get large (30 pounds) so it needs plenty of space.
7. Miniature Schnauzer
This dog was a cross-bred from Standard Schnauzers and Poodles. It doesn’t shed much, and is one of the most popular choices of people with allergies. It is very playful and alert, and will require exercise to expend its great energy. It is a wonderful guard dog and won’t stop barking at a stranger unless the owner assures it that he is a harmless and welcome guest.
8. Coton de Tulear
This breed is excellent for children. It is quite affectionate, and will do anything to please its owners. It also likes to bark when it plays, giving the impression that it is trying to “communicate.” It is relatively easy to train. It does need daily grooming to keep its fluffy coat looking its best.
This is a very big dog that can grow up to 85 lbs. Its coat is very unique, and (in its original habitat, the Italian Alps) helped protect it from the elements and even attacks from other animals. It requires very little grooming—just a few baths a year! It is friendly with children and also makes a fantastic guard dog. However, it requires a lot of exercise.
10. Irish Water Spaniel
This is a rare variety of spaniel. It has a tight curly coat and a hairless tail. It requires minimal grooming (some brushing and a monthly haircut) and is known to be very friendly with kids and other animals. However, this breed requires a lot of exercise and active play.