Thanks to careful canine breeding over centuries, those of us with allergies can experience the joys of canine companionship! And the best news is that they come in small sizes — a smaller dog means less dander. This is especially good for pet lovers with children and those who live in a condo or apartment. So who are these Hypoallergenic Small Dogs? A select group of small dog breeds is considered “hypoallergenic.” These small dog breeds range from hairless to furry with minimal shedding, and while each breed involves some grooming maintenance, there will be a breed to suit your lifestyle and health needs.
What does “hypoallergenic” mean?
While it is impossible for any dog breed to shed no allergens at all, there are many that do not shed their hair, or shed very minimally, and those breeds are named “hypoallergenic”, or unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. Small hypoallergenic dog breeds vary; they can have one or two coats of hair — or no hair at all. If your allergies are mild, there is an additional range of breeds with short, dense coats of fur and minimal shedding to make your life easier. The added bonus to all of these breeds is that there is less doggy odor associated with them.
Allergies may not only arise from pet dander, but also from dog saliva. Each individual is different, so you will want to determine what triggers your own allergies before selecting your canine companion.
What are the best small hypoallergenic dog breeds?
Wiry-coated terrier breeds and soft-haired poodle breeds are optimal for those with allergies as both produce less dander.
The American Kennel Club (akc.org) takes a stricter view, naming seven specific small dog breeds as truly hypoallergenic.
Hypoallergenic Small Dogs are:
- Toy Poodle
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Toy Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo)
- Chinese Crested
- Bichon Frise
- Bolognese; and
- American Hairless Terrier.
Let’s look at the line-up of hypoallergenic breeds; all of them have benefits and challenges, depending on your needs.
The popular Maltese, Toy Poodle and Miniature Schnauzer, and Bichon Frise all appear on lists of kid-friendly small dog breeds as well as ideal lapdog breeds. The Maltese and Poodle have no undercoat, but they need regular brushing, bathing and clipping (as their hair continually grows) to stay healthy and allergy-free.
The Miniature Schnauzer has a wiry outer coat with a soft, tight undercoat, and requires a regular brushing and a 4 – 6 week grooming cycle. The Bichon Frise also has an adorable, soft and curly double coat, and any loose undercoat hairs get trapped, making shedding rare. That also means they also need daily brushing and frequent grooming. If allergies are a priority, though, these breeds make the best small hypoallergenic dogs for kids.
Also on the hypoallergenic small dog list are two hairless breeds. The graceful Hairless Chinese Crested can have almost human-like skin with a single coat of soft hair on the head, paws and tail.
The amount of hair on the body does vary, so if you prefer the aesthetic look of a purebred Hairless Chinese Crested, you will want to get some guidance. This breed is easy to maintain, but with so little hair, you will need to protect this pooch from excess sun, dryness and frigid temperatures. A sibling to the Hairless Chinese Crested is the “Powderpuff” Chinese Crested, with a beautiful, full double coat of hair requiring a consistent grooming schedule.
Two small dog breeds also on the hypoallergenic list are not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, but they are worth mentioning. The Bolognese is rare and can be expensive, but this breed is a darling, more docile member of the Bichon family. Its dense, cottony coat makes it allergy-free — but without constant grooming, the coat will easily mat.
The American Hairless Terrier, an up-and-coming new breed, ranges from completely hairless to coated with a smooth, shiny surface of dense hair. These dogs are very active, kid-friendly, and a breeze to maintain. They are, however, rare and expensive like the Bolognese, and hopefully they will become more abundant.
What small dog breeds have minimal shedding?
There are a number of small-to-medium dog breeds that require less maintenance and are minimal shedders, for those with mild allergies. The Basenji is recommended by the American Kennel Club as a more medium-sized, active breed with a short, fine coat requiring little maintenance beyond occasional brushing.
They are ideal for apartments as long as they get exercise. Also recommended are the small Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon and Lhasa Apso breeds. With regular brushing, their undercoats will catch loose hair. For allergy-sufferers the Havanese and the Coton de Tulear, a sweet relation to the Bichon Frise and Maltese. Both are soft, silky and robust, and are not as active as other breeds.