What Are the Best Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers in the UK?

Nothing can warm a house or a heart quite like a dog. Their loyal companionship and lively antics make them one of the most beloved pets worldwide. However, for those of you who suffer from allergies, the joy of owning a dog can be marred by sneezes, watery eyes, and discomfort. But do not despair just yet. You might be surprised to learn that certain dog breeds are hypoallergenic, significantly reducing your chances of an allergic reaction. This comprehensive guide will help you discover the best hypoallergenic dog breeds for UK residents who love dogs but also grapple with allergies.

The Science Behind the Allergic Reaction

Before discussing the breeds of dogs that are hypoallergenic, it’s crucial to understand why some of you might be allergic to dogs in the first place. When people with allergies interact with dogs, their immune system reacts to certain proteins on the dog’s skin cells, saliva, or urine, known as allergens. The most common allergen is dander, which is dead skin cells that all dogs, irrespective of breed, regularly shed.

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The allergens can stick to the dog’s hair, which is then dispersed into the environment during regular grooming or simply when the dog shakes itself. Once airborne, the allergens can be inhaled, leading to the familiar symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and in severe cases, asthma attacks.

The Deception of Hypoallergenic Dogs

The term "hypoallergenic" may be misleading. No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. Instead, hypoallergenic breeds are those that tend to produce fewer allergens. Consequently, they are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.

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Hypoallergenic dogs usually have a particular type of coat that reduces dander dispersion. For instance, breeds with hair rather than fur, like the Poodle, are considered hypoallergenic because hair grows continuously and falls out less, reducing dander spread. Similarly, breeds that shed less or require regular grooming can also limit the amount of dander in the environment.

Best Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds

Now that we’ve unveiled the science behind the allergy and the deception of hypoallergenic dogs, let’s delve into the breeds that are best suited for those of you with allergies.

Irish Water Spaniel: With its curly coat and a height of up to 24 inches, the Irish Water Spaniel is one of the tallest spaniels. This breed has a double coat that repels water, meaning it doesn’t shed as much, thereby reducing the spread of dander.

Maltese Terrier: Despite its long hair that requires regular grooming, the Maltese Terrier doesn’t shed much. Its small size, not exceeding 10 inches in height, also means it has less skin to shed dander from.

Shih Tzu: This breed has a double coat that needs daily grooming. The regular grooming limits the spread of allergens, making the Shih Tzu a good option for those with allergies.

Poodle: Available in toy, miniature, and standard sizes, the Poodle is renowned for its hypoallergenic properties. Its curly hair grows continuously and falls out less, which limits dander spread.

Bichon Frise: This breed has a curly double coat that traps dander, preventing it from becoming airborne. Regular grooming is required to remove the trapped dander.

Living With Dogs When You Have Allergies

Even when opting for a hypoallergenic breed, there are further measures you can take to limit your exposure to allergens. Regular grooming of your pet, irrespective of its breed, can significantly reduce the amount of dander in your environment.

You should also create dog-free zones in your home, particularly where you sleep, and use air purifiers to catch airborne dander. Regularly washing your pet’s bedding can also limit the spread of allergens.

Remember that the notion of hypoallergenic dogs is not a guarantee. Allergens vary between individual dogs within a breed, and every person’s allergic response is different. It’s always advisable to spend time with a dog before deciding to bring it home permanently.

Having allergies shouldn’t restrict you from enjoying the companionship of a dog. By understanding the dynamics of hypoallergenic breeds and implementing measures to manage allergens, you can experience the joy of pet ownership while maintaining your health and comfort.

Hypoallergenic Dogs – More Than Just Less Sneezing

Now that we have a clear understanding of the concept of hypoallergenic dogs and some of the best breeds in this category, it’s important to note that owning a hypoallergenic dog is about more than just less sneezing and itching. Owning a hypoallergenic dog can significantly improve the quality of life for allergy sufferers.

Firstly, they allow allergy sufferers to enjoy the companionship and emotional benefits of dog ownership without the constant discomfort that comes with traditional breeds. Dogs are known for their therapeutic effects, which include reducing stress levels and promoting a more active lifestyle. With a hypoallergenic dog, you don’t have to miss out on these benefits because of your allergies.

Additionally, hypoallergenic dogs usually require regular grooming, which can lead to a stronger bond between you and your pet. Regular grooming sessions offer an opportunity for you to spend quality time with your dog, strengthening your emotional connection and understanding of your pet.

Some hypoallergenic breeds are also known for their high intelligence and trainability. For example, Poodles are known for their intelligence, making them excellent pets for families and individuals who enjoy training and stimulating their dogs mentally.

Finally, the size of hypoallergenic breeds is also a factor that can make them suitable for different lifestyles. Breeds like the Maltese Terrier and Shih Tzu, which usually weigh less than ten pounds and have a height of less than ten inches, are ideal for apartment living or for those who prefer smaller dogs.


In conclusion, if you are an allergy sufferer who has always dreamt of owning a dog, hypoallergenic dogs provide an excellent solution. Breeds like the Irish Water Spaniel, Maltese Terrier, Shih Tzu, Poodle, and Bichon Frise can offer you companionship without the discomfort of allergic reactions.

However, remember that no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. The amount of allergens produced varies from one individual dog to another, and the severity of allergic reactions can differ from person to person. Therefore, it is essential to spend time with a dog before making a commitment.

In addition to selecting a hypoallergenic breed, implementing measures to manage allergens, such as regular grooming, creating dog-free zones in your home, and washing your pet’s bedding regularly, can further reduce your exposure to allergens.

Owning a dog can bring immense joy, companionship, and emotional benefits. With the right breed and adequate allergen management, your allergies shouldn’t stop you from experiencing these joys.

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