Sneezing, runny nose, and frequent itching are signs that you may have an allergy to dogs. Having an allergy to man’s best friend is a very unpleasant matter. Not only can the symptoms go from mild itching to severe reactions such as hives or asthma attacks, but it also means that those allergic to dogs may never know the pleasure of owning one.
What causes dog allergies? Most people think that it is the fur itself that causes the allergy, but this has been proven false by consistent lab tests. Fur, in and of itself is not the problem. The problem comes when allergens such as pollen, dust and chemicals become attached to the dogs fur. When you hug the dog, you will have a reaction, not to the fur, but to the allergens the dog picked up while outside.
The main causes of dog allergies are dander, saliva and urine. Dander refers to the dry skin cells that slough off the skin’s surface. If you have a breed with a dense, double coat such as a Newfoundland, dander can get caught in the fur. When the dog sheds, or when you hug your dog, the dander is further spread through the house wherever fur is left behind. One again, the fur is not making you sneeze, it’s the dander and allergens attached to the fur. The other two main culprits are saliva and urine. Saliva and urine contain proteins that cause the itchy skin, sneezing and respiratory allergies in people. So, are you ready to see which dogs can really be a problem for your allergies? Here are the 20 worst dogs for allergies.
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The Akita is a fiercely devoted, brave working breed that originated in the cold, mountainous regions of northern Japan. This beautiful, stately and strong dog has spent much of its history as a working breed, a guard dog and general overall companion. Surprisingly, the Akita is quite a good swimmer due to its webbed feet and great stamina. Many are familiar with the Akita due to the fame generated by Hachikō, the famous Akita of Japan who waited at a train station for years for his deceased owners return, and in 2009, Richard Gere starred in a well received film adaptation of the life of Hachikō. Akita’s are not only gorgeous dogs, but they are also dogs that tend to cause a bit of an allergic reaction. This is due to the allergens and dander that stick to their thick, double coats. They usually shed continuously in a 6 month cycle where they shed or ‘blow’ their coat. It is during this time especially, if there are any allergic individuals in the household, to make sure the hair is quickly swept and vacuumed.
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German Shepherds are working dogs who have a stellar reputation with regards to their loyalty to their owners, train-ability and all around companionship. Due to their great intelligence and stamina, they have often been seen on the silver screen, from impersonating wolves to screen stars in their own regard. For instance, there once was a time when a German Shepherd named Rin Tin Tin dominated the hearts and minds of film goers throughout the world. These dogs are not only imposing, talented and grand, but are also huge on shedding, and have garnered the nick name of ‘German Shedders’. This agile and strong breed has no main shedding season, so sheds constantly throughout the year. The German Shepherd has two coats, and outer coat and a heavy under coat. Both coats are dense and thick are require daily brushing with a shedding rake. They are extremely allergic dogs due to the high slough rate of their skin cells. While the fur itself it not an issue, the fact that it holds so many dead skin cells and other allergens, is.
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Often mistaken for the Alaskan Malamute, the hard-working, friendly and loving Siberian Husky emerged from the cold depths of Siberia. This breed worked hard during its early history, helping to herd livestock, guarding homes, and pulling sleds for the Chukchi people. This robust dog of dense bone and muscle, has a lush, thick double coat designed to protect it from the frozen Siberian landscape. Unlike the German Shepherd that sheds year round, the Husky blows the majority of its fur in the fall and spring seasons. When A Siberian Husky, or any dog ‘blows’ their coat, this means that they will undergo a massive shedding during these periods. Owners of the Siberian Husky often describe them as having the temperament of a cat, independent, cautious of strangers and will clean themselves if they get a bit dirty.
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The Alaskan Malamute is a clever, powerful working breed that has its origins in the western regions of Alaska. Known as one of the few breeds who has remained unaltered by breeding, the Malamute spent much of its early history as a draught dog for the Mahlemut Tribe, hauling sleds full of people, equipment and supplies. As you would expect, they are extremely energetic and quite intelligent dogs that require exercise as well as frequent mental stimulation. They a thick double coat and will completely shed, or blow their coats twice a year, in spring and fall, or more if they are in a hot area. Since their coat is so thick, if you reside in a warmer climate, it is wise to find a way to keep them cool during warm spells. Though they love their families, the independent Alaskan Malamute does have a reputation for simply leaving the yard to go exploring, which can be a problem so it is good for owners to invest in a strong fence.
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Originating in Siberia approximately 2,000 years ago, with canine historians actually believing that the breed is actually much older. The Chow Chow was born into a cold, hostile climate, and in order to survive and thrive, this independent, cat-like breed naturally developed an extremely thick, heavy double coat. There are some Chow Chow experts that believe this breed is the result of Tibetan Mastiff and Samoyed cross, and has been used as a faithful working dog in Asia for thousands of years, pulling sleds and wagons to guarding the family and their possessions and livestock. Chow Chows are not exactly known for their friendly demeanor towards strangers, and their forward set eyes mean that they lack good peripheral vision, so it is strongly suggested that you never approach a Chow Chow from behind, as they don’t take to surprises very well. A final fun fact is that the Chow Chows are also known for their distinct black tongues.
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This large and imposing dog stands at about 32 inches at the shoulder and often weighs in at a hefty 100 pounds or more. The Great Pyrenees is a steady, calm breed that takes its job very seriously and can go from sittings quietly, musing, to quickly rise on the attack if threatened in earnest. This breed has its origins in France, and takes its name from the Great Pyrenees mountains. Early fossil records suggest that the breed has been around since 1800 – 1000 years B.C. Its coat is moderate, with a course, straight outer coat and dense undercoat. When this breed blows its coat, beware that the amount of fur will be prodigious indeed, so keep a broom and vacuum handy to prevent any dander ridden fur from coming in contact with susceptible individuals. This fearless breed is affectionate, sweet-natured, tough and is known to enjoy barking on occasion. The Great Pyrenees has been used extensively to guard sheep, is an excellent guard dog, and has even been known to stand guard over family pets.
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One of the most famous dog poems was about a Newfoundland dog, called ‘Ode to a Newfoundland Dog’, by Lord Byron, who wrote it upon the passing of his beloved Newfoundland dog, Boatswain. Steadfast, tough and known for their great kindness, this breed of working dog saw its beginnings in the region of Newfoundland. They were specifically built and bred for the water, and as a result, have webbed feet and a massive, dense coat that sheds constantly. If you are near one, you’d best carry a towel, as they are huge on drooling. Because they are built for water, like almost all water dogs, they have a high skill cell turnover, so dander, along with the saliva from the drooling will be an issue with allergy sufferers. Those who own Newfoundlands have stated that their dogs enjoy carrying backpacks and hauling small carts. Those who enjoy camping up north and swimming in the lakes should look into this breed as a possible camping buddy.
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Labrador Retriever or ‘labs’, as they are affectionately known, are pleasant, sociable members of the sporting group, and one of the most favored of family dogs in the world. Not to be confused with the Golden Retriever, which has a long, wavy coat, the Labrador Retriever’s coat is sleek, short with a dense undercoat to help insulate it while swimming in cold waters. This is a highly energetic dog so be prepared if you want to own one, as it will require frequent physical and mental stimulation to be happy. For allergy sufferers, be warned that they do shed quite a bit of dander, as well as drool, though not as much as a St. Bernard it can still play havoc with allergy sufferers. Developed in Newfoundland, this breed got his name from Earl of Malmesbury in 1887. The Labrador Retriever also excels as a service dog for the handicapped and blind. They also work well within law enforcement in narcotics divisions as detection dogs.
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During the 1970’s one dog commanded the big screen: The Doberman Pinscher, or ‘dobe’. In such films such as “The Boys from Brazil”, “The Doberman Gang”, “The Daring Doberman’s” and “The Amazing Doberman’s”, this breed was seeing the height of its popularity. This smart, streamlined and reliable breed was developed in Germany by Louis Dobermann in the late 1800’s. He required a tough watchdog, and finding nothing to suit his particular needs, he decided to breed his own, and the result was the Doberman. The Doberman is a highly energetic, smart and powerful dog that requires mental stimulation and frequent exercise. Its smooth, short coat has been reported as causing allergic reactions in people due to an excess of dander.
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The beloved Basset Hound is a strong, slow-moving, sweet-tempered and gentle dog. Indeed, those who love the Basset Hound comment on its tolerance, and good nature. The Basset is also a bit of walking canine history, as it remains the only breed of scent hound in existence that is descended from the original scent hounds. While the Basset Hounds coat is short and smooth, they have been known to shed quite a lot of dander. This breed is also hard to house train for some owners, and may have a few accidents in the home. The dander, along with their propensity to drool and make occasional messes in the home, makes them highly allergic dogs for those sensitive individual. An excellent dog for apartment or small home living as it does not require much in way of exercise. They are good with children, other pets and are easy to train. A quiet breed who will only bark when it is required.
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Most people know the bloodhound as the dog that was used to track criminals overland many years ago. With an excellent sense of smell, these dogs are known as one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world. Records of their breeding can be found as far back as 1000 AD. Their coat is short, dense and waterproof, which makes them a perfect candidate for tracking a scent in damp, wet and wooded areas. This old and noble breed also sheds, and sheds a lot. Their excess shedding of dander is accentuated by their drooling, which cancels them out as a good choice for those with allergies. Their sense of smell is so acute, and their success rate so high, that the bloodhound is the only animal in the world, whose evidence is admissible in a United States court of law. Indeed, one of the worlds most famous Bloodhounds was Nick Carter and is known for 650 accurate finds.
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The English Bulldog has been personified in advertisements, cartoons and film as a tough, no-nonsense dog. In reality this breed is a sweet, kind companion animal who loves to play and cuddle. Indeed, those gentle brown eyes, soft wrinkly skin and calm demeanor warmly welcome hugs from well-meaning individuals. This breed emerged from a dark and violent history as it was used extensively in the vicious practice of bull and bear-baiting. He was purposefully bred to have a flat muzzle so he could clamp down hard with a tenacious grip, and still be able to breathe. The English Bulldog has a short, smooth coat, and sheds a good amount of dander. This, along with his drooling issue, makes this a tough dog to be around for people with allergies.
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This tough, powerful breed is part of the Molosser family of dogs, which include Great Danes, Boxers, English Bulldogs, and Mastiffs. Like all breeds in the Molosser family, they are loyal, attentive to duty and unfortunately for those with dog allergies, tend to drool quite a bit. Descended from the Tibetan Mastiff and specifically bred to fill a function of search and rescue, this breed can traverse snow and ice with ease. Canine historians believe that the St. Bernard is a mix of the Great Pyrenees and Great Dane, though know one knows for certain. This diligent, large breed looks even more massive due to its dense coat. With the drooling and dander issue, it is not a good match for some people. The St. Bernard is also known for its uncanny ability to sense oncoming storms, as many of their owners can attest.
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The Boston Terrier is an American original, having originated solely in the United States, becoming an officially recognized breed in 1893. This non-sporting breed has markings which compare it to a tuxedo, white and black. As a result, he has been known as the “American Gentleman”. These dogs are small, with compact, strong, muscular bodies. Intelligent and sometimes full of sass, they are easy to train and equally easy to love. The allergy issue emerges due to their excess shedding of dander. This, along with their drooling do not make them an ideal pet for individuals with allergies. Quite simply a dog built for pleasure, companionship and cuddles.
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The boxer is an amazing breed to own. Highly intelligent, extremely energetic, with a sly, trickster personality, this breed can keep you entertained for hours. This is a strong, kind-hearted, good-natured dog that is excellent with small children and always seems to know how to play gently with them. However, because of its active, ‘trickster’ personality, it’s not a good match for sedentary, serious people. Boxers have a short, sleek coat that sheds constantly, as well as a high skin cell slough rate, which makes them very allergic. They not only drool, but are highly attentive to their own cleanliness and will lick themselves clean like a cat. This makes the boxer a highly allergic dog, as you are dealing with dander, drool as well as dried saliva on its coat.
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This beautiful, long coated breed carries with it a classic silhouette, long pendulous ears and sweet, soft brown eyes. Originally bred as a sporting dog , the American Cocker Spaniel is now a treasured family companion, more fit to snooze that the foot of their owners bed. As Disney fans well know, the adorable character Lady, from the animated film, “The Lady and the Tramp”, was based on the Cocker Spaniel. This gentle, lovely and sensitive breed is known to produce a nice amount of dander, as well as some slight drooling. This breed is also given to having skin allergies themselves, which will result in even more dander being spread throughout the house as they scratch to relieve their itch.
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The Springer Spaniel was developed to be a top-notch sporting breed, hitting both the cold waters and lush woodlands with equal and unparalleled zeal. This breed is known for its adaptability, endurance and ability to navigate not only water, but also woodland areas and rocky terrain. As for temperament, the Springer Spaniel is a fun and jovial sort of breed, intelligent and quite easy to train. If you are looking for the perfect, outdoors buddy breed, then check out the Springer Spaniel, as they are great companions for hiking, camping and swimming. Though they shed fur, it is the fact that they shed a bit more dander than more hypoallergenic breeds which can cause issues with allergy sufferers.
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Known to slough off quite a bit of dry skin, the Dachshund is not very well suited for allergy sufferers. The Dachshund is affectionately called the ‘Weiner Dog’, due to its elongated body and short, stout legs. This breed has three different and quite distinct variations in coat texture: Smooth-coated, wire-haired-coat and long-haired coat. Developed in Germany as a sporting breed, the Dachshund is a smart, energetic and loyal dog. Alert and diligent, they are known to be extremely protective of their owners, as well as a bit standoffish with strangers, so it is wise to socialize them early on as puppies. If you do decide to own one, be warned that they have a habit of digging, so make sure that your fencing is secure, and that they cannot dig out under and wander off.
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Don’t let the Pomeranians diminutive size fool you, this is one vivacious, energetic and brave breed. This breed is the descendant of the ancient Spitz dogs found in Iceland and Lapland regions, and have a heavy double coat, with a thick plumed tail. They are not only a joy to own as a companion, but are a great breed to have as a small watchdog for apartments, as they are alert, quick to sense an intruder and their ‘yappy’ bark will have residents up in no time. Famous owners of Pomeranians include Mozart, Michelangelo, and Emile Zola. Though the breed does not drool, it does have a high rate of skin sloughing. Some Pomeranians have also been known urinate on the floor when excited, so to prevent an allergic reaction, be prepared to clean it up immediately.
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The Pekingese, or ‘Little Lion Dog’, originated in China and were the beloved and cherished dogs of Chinese royalty. The Pekingese dogs you see at dog shows and in homes today, are all descended from five Pekingese dogs who arrived in Great Britain in the 1860s, and lived with the British Royal family. The Pekingese, with its elegant fur and adorable face is not exactly the best choice for those who suffer from dog allergies. The Pekingese is among the toy breeds that are rather difficult to house train properly, and may make a few accidents in the home. If you cannot get to the urine immediately, you risk it drying and turning into an allergen. Known for being slightly stubborn, and quite adorable while doing it, the ‘Peke’ has gained many followers.