Last month we offered a list of the 11 best hypoallergenic pets we think you might like to own. But cats and dogs were notably absent from the list. Not because we don’t like them, but because there are so many cat and dog breeds to choose from ̶ and an equally complex range of allergy-related issues to consider ̶ that we decided to dedicate an entire article to selecting the dogs and cats that will serve your best (allergenic) interests.
8 Best Hypoallergenic Dogs to Own
So, dogs first! Now, this was harder than it sounds. There are many dog breeds we could’ve chosen, and making the final choice was, well, tough. But the following 8 breeds, in no particular order, are our favorites:
1. Bichon Frise
French for ‘fluffy white dog’, the Bichon Frise was actually bred to be hypoallergenic, and is among some of the American Kennel Club’s top picks for allergy sufferers. Not only are these cute doggies very good companions, they are perfect for those who live in apartments or small houses.
2. Miniature Schnauzer
I’m told that this is, hands down, the most stylish of the Schnauzer breeds now on the market. Style aside, these ‘pocket’ versions of the Schnauzer shed little, and, maybe more important, they love playing. What’s not to like?
Say ‘poodle’ and most people think of the miniature version. Think big, instead: Larger standard poodles are tres chic and tres intelligente. Bottom line: They’re very, very smart; very easy to train; they love the water; and they’re good companions.
4. Portuguese Water Dog
Water-wise, let’s not forget the Portuguese Water Dog! In addition to being hypoallergenic, this breed is playful, laid-back, and can adapt to virtually any kind of living space ̶ from small apartments to . . . the White House. President Obama had two of them while he was president!
5. Scottish Terrier
Do you remember the Scottie dog from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp? No? Well, take it from me that they make great pets! Originally bred as hunters, their wiry, weather-resistant coats keep them protected in all climates. And they make for great chums! Oh yes, and they tend to be stubborn and of an ‘independent’ cast of mind.
6. Afghan Hound
These elegant dogs really were bred in the mountains in Afghanistan, and they are renowned for their long, shiny hair. Even better ̶ for those of you with allergies ̶ these good-natured, sweet hounds don't shed, although their long, luxurious coats mean that you have to keep up with their grooming. In fact, Afghan Hounds love to be groomed.
Like their Afghan compatriots, Basenjis were originally used for hunting in Africa, where they proved their mettle. Hunters liked them because, unlike other breeds of dog, they don't howl and yap and give away their presence ̶ or the hunting party! Known for their catlike demeanor, Basenjis have short hair and they barely shed. And, like cats, they even groom themselves!
8. Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso’s are one of the better-known small breeds, but in fact they were bred in the Himalayas as guard dogs for monasteries and palaces. Not surprising then, that they love walks and extended play times. More to our point, if you keep them well-trimmed, you won’t have any problems with shedding.
8 Best Hypoallergenic Cats to Own
Now it’s the turn of the cats. I have to confess, I’m a cat man. Always have been, but that doesn’t mean I lack objectivity. I really am unbiased. I’ve owned six breeds of cat, but I’ve done a lot of research about all of them. So, here is our list of 8 cat breeds that are kind to those of you with allergies.
1. Oriental Shorthair
Closely related to the Siamese, Oriental Shorthairs have triangular heads, large ears, and shed very little. Also, like Siamese, they’re very social, highly intelligent, and love to ‘talk’. They tend to thrive as pairs or in groups, and like being with humans. That, and their tendency to minimally shed makes them excellent buddies.
2. Cornish Rex
With their large ears, big eyes, and lithe, streamlined bodies, the Cornish Rex is the perfect cat for those suffering from allergies: They don’t shed very much at all, simply because they possess very short coats, that are remarkably soft to the touch. The Rex is a very study breed. They also like to play ‘catch’ and toss toys around.
3. Russian Blue
Admission: The Russian Blue is my favorite breed, hands down. And not just because they require minimal grooming, and, as such, are surprisingly a hypoallergenic. Very devoted and very affectionate, their behaviour is often reminiscent of dogs: They’ll greet you at the door, snuggle up to you on the couch, and nudge you with their heads when they want petting. They just love to sit by the window and watch the birds and squirrels.
Cat. Small. Not the larger, jungle version! Okay? My vet tells me that Bengal’s are hypoallergenic because their coats require less maintenance, and so aren’t replete with very much saliva. And it is their saliva that makes people allergic to cats. With their tabby facial markings and large oval, eyes, Bengals, say the Cat Fanciers’ Association love to “engage their owners in play, learn tricks, learn house-rules, or just . . . be close.”
Don’t be put off by the fact that this breed is actually a purebred long-haired Siamese. They actually pose less of a threat to owners with allergies than many other breeds. According to one source, “While strict scientific evidence . . . is lacking . . . in comparison to most cats, the Balinese produces very low amounts of the Fel d1 and Fel d4 protein allergens.” They are also a lot of fun to be around. They love to play.
Siamese cats are considered to be one of the most hypoallergenic breeds known. They are also the most vocal, ‘talkative’ cats that I (and lots of other people) have encountered. But make no mistake, a Siamese will shed a little, and trigger allergic reactions in those who are very, very sensitive. But, they’re still a good bet for allergy sufferers, especially those who like to have long, involved conversations with their pets!
Burmese cats have short, silky hair, which is often described as ‘sandy’, but I prefer the term ‘tan’. But this is just hair-splitting, so to speak. However, this breed can come in other colours as well. Regardless, the Burmese doesn’t pose much of a problem for allergy sufferers, since its shed rate is low. They are extremely intelligent and make for very loving companions. I know. One of my best friends was a Burmese by the name of Beauregard!
For those of you who know anything about cat breeds, this last entry may be controversial. Not because there is any debate about their being hypoallergenic. They are. But some people have a problem with this kitty because it’s, well, naked! It simply doesn’t have any fur! According to the experts, “In 1966 a domestic cat gave birth to a hairless kitten in Toronto, Canada. It was discovered to be a natural genetic mutation and the Sphynx cat, as we know it today, came into existence.” Me? I’m not a fan. But there are many that are!
As I said earlier, creating a list of dog and cat breeds that are friendly to allergy sufferers is more difficult than you might think. For every cat and dog breed excluded I can imagine the howls (and meows) of protest. Likewise, for all the breeds included I can also picture those who (vehemently, no doubt) object. If you feel sufficiently moved to send us your choices, please feel free to email us with your selections.
But Wait….Do No Allergies Mean No Fleas?
It’s easy enough to choose a dog or cat (or even both) that best fits your specific allergenic needs. But keep in mind that regardless of which pet you opt for, you will probably still have to deal, sooner or later, with every pet-owner’s scourge: Fleas! If your brand new pet does bring fleas into the house, don’t stress. You can get rid of fleas relatively easily, particularly if you catch them early.
Here’s our in-depth advice on how to get rid of fleas.
Pssst...Don’t miss Part 1: 11 Hypoallergenic Pets to Own - our list of non-furry friends that won’t make you sneeze!