GENERAL BREED INFO

Best Dogs for Kids with Allergies: Which Breed to Choose?

Best Dogs for Kids with Allergies
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The best dogs for kids with allergies are those which will not produce a large amount of pet dander or those which will not carry a lot of allergens in their hair or fur. Contrary to what some people think, even hairless dog breeds may not be a good option for allergic people because even their skin will produce dander which is the main cause of the allergy. But if you tend to prefer a particular breed of dog which is not normally considered to be hypoallergenic, take heart that there are still ways in which you can keep them without having to suffer a serious attack.

Allergies are not that easy to handle but the thought of having to give up a pet or give up any hope of getting a pet can be just as difficult especially for kids. We all know that having a pet dog around can mean a lot of fun and joy and they also make companions and guardians as well. Not only that, dogs help boost the immune system and help us relax which help prevent health problems which are related with stress and anxiety. These reasons alone can be sufficient for anyone to get a dog but if you have an allergy, then you definitely have to think twice about it.

What triggers allergic reactions to dogs?

Not everyone has an allergy to dogs and this is why some just don’t understand how a simple lick from a dog can produce welts in a person. In the US, about 10 to 15% suffer from allergies to dogs and this translates to several millions of people who experience such welts. So what does a dog have that triggers this type of reaction?

A protein which is known as Canis Familiaris 1 or Can F1. This protein is naturally secreted by dogs in their sebaceous glands, urine, feces, and saliva and is a non-harmful substance at all. Flakes of this protein form as these dry up and get blown away by wind. When this protein comes into contact with human skin or is inhaled by an allergic person, it causes the body to react to it as if it is a dangerous foreign material hence the allergic reaction.

But aside from this, there can also be another cause to why a child can be allergic to dogs: their ability to trap allergenic materials on their hair or fur. Sometimes you may see that your child develops symptoms just because they played with your dog at the yard but this does not automatically mean that they are allergic to dogs.

Actually, they may just be allergic to what is on their fur which they are able to inhale or come into contact with.  Allergens such as dust, ragweed, pollens, molds, and mildew can be the one causing the reaction and not Can F1. To determine whether this is the case or not, you will have to get your child to do a skin prick test.

Girl with dog

So why are only a certain percentage of people allergic to it while others are not? The answer to this question is not quite clear although there are theories that it can be inherited, caused by a poorly functioning immune system, or it can be due to a particular virus called the respiratory syncytial virus to which the body may not have been able to develop an immunity to.

Allergic reactions are also not that easy to handle since its symptoms can range from a simple sneezing and coughing to a life-threatening condition called an anaphylaxis where the airways become swollen minimizing air intake. Choosing between owning a dog and having a happy wagging pet to come home to or not having them but also not having to suffer from allergic reactions can definitely be a tough choice.

What types of dogs are good for allergic kids?

When looking for a pet dog for a kid it is important to take the dog’s physical traits and their temperament in order to arrive at a good choice. You want one that has the patience for children and one which will not pose some serious threat or risk to the child’s safety. In general, female and smaller breeds of dogs are preferable for allergic kids as they produce less dander than the larger ones.

But, you also need to take into consideration that some small dogs tend to get yappy which also means that there will be more saliva in the air and more chances for allergic reactions. Here is a list of dogs which are considered ideal for allergic children:

Poodles

The main reason why poodles are a popular option for allergic kids is that they tend to produce lesser dander than most breeds. But, some veterinarians also argue that it could be the fact that poodles are bathed more often due to their long hair which is why people think as such. Another reason why this is a good option is the fact that they shed less hair. Since dander sticks to dog fur or hair then the lesser hair that is shed, the lesser are the chances for the allergen to be flying around your home.

Poodle and kid

Caring for poodles however, can be quite time-consuming and they also require professional grooming in order to maintain their hair. This breed comes in standard, miniature, and toy sizes so you can easily choose which one can work for your child. Take note though, that smaller poodles will be much noisier as well.

Yorkshire Terriers

These dogs are highly recommended for children since they can take the brunt of playing with kids and they are also highly trainable. They also do not have an undercoat and have hair instead so there is little to no shedding. You can choose to keep their hair long, which would be fun to keep especially for girls, but you can also cut it short for lesser maintenance.

Yorkshire Terrier dog

Their barking habit can become a bit of a problem but if they are trained really well, they are good companions especially since they are more of a lap dog. So if your kid is really not that active, this breed can be a good option as well.

Chinese Crested

 If you think that lesser hair means lesser allergy, then this dog is for you. This breed comes in two types: one with no hair except on their feet, tail, and head and the other one is the Powderpuff which has a body fully covered with fluffy hair. One of the best attributes of this dog is their loyalty to their owners. In fact, these dogs can become so attached that they can suffer from anxiety if left alone or with other people.

Chinese Crested and boy

Maintaining the hairless type is done through moisturizers and sunscreen while the Powderpuffs require regular trimming and grooming. These dogs are also very playful which makes them an ideal pet for active kids.

Bichon Frise

This name can be literally translated to “curly lap dog” and this is exactly the right description for this breed. If you or your child can afford a high-maintenance dog which provides great aesthetic appeal then the Bichon Frise is highly recommended. They enjoy spending time with humans and can also get along very well with other pets.

Bichon Frise dogs

Their signature fluffy white coat is one of their best assets as it gives you the illusion of a furry ball. In terms of shedding, this breed almost does not shed at all but you need to take care of their fur very often as they easily mat which can lead to infections.

Portuguese water dog

Perhaps the best way to really get to know this dog is by looking at Bo, the Obama family’s dog. In terms of physical characteristics, this dog has short curly hair and no undercoat so there is little to no shedding. They were originally bred to herd so you can expect them to be quite active and they will need a lot of mental stimulation as well.

Portuguese water dog

But despite of that, these dogs are easy to train and are also child-friendly. You will have to cut their fur regularly as they grow indefinitely and you would also have to supply them plenty of activities so they don’t become destructive.

Miniature Schnauzer

This dog is a cross between a poodle and a schnauzer so you get the low-shedding benefits of the poodle and the guarding instinct of a schnauzer. This is a great dog if you want a pet that will alarm you of strangers while giving your child the benefits of a “hypoallergenic” dog.

They are very active dogs and due to their strong prey instinct, they may chase smaller pets around the house. This breed is ideal for children who are very playful and are very active as well.

Miniature Schnauzer

Grooming can be time-consuming since they are prone to matting but you can choose to have their coats cut short for less fuss.

Kerry Blue Terrier

This is a medium-size dog with a dense coat which is a good thing for allergic kids as it traps loose dander instead of having them floating around. This dog also produces little dander so keeping them clean is not a problem. It has a dark fluffy coat which fades into a bluish gray color as they get older hence the name. This breed was originally bred for hunting and herding so you can expect some squabbles between them and other smaller pets.

Kerry Blue Terrier

What is good about this breed is that they have a lot of energy which can match that of a kid so there will never be a boring period when your child is spending time with them.

Maltese

This is a small breed dog that is very active, brave, and playful. Their trademark look is their long silky hair which needs regularly grooming to maintain their shine and cleanliness. They are recommended for people with small living spaces and no yard since these dogs enjoy indoor activities and require little exercise.

Maltese dog

They do not have an undercoat and so shedding is really not a problem. You will have to regularly trim the hair around the eyes and the mouth in order to avoid tear staining and matting on those areas. Daily brushing can be a fun activity when you have this type of dog.

Italian Greyhound

This is a medium-size breed which enjoys warmer weather due to their short fur and thin coats. If you are looking for a low-maintenance dog which can live in small home, then this is your option. They are ideal for kids due to their playful traits and are also good for allergic people as they have little dander.

Italian Greyhound dog

Cleaning and grooming them is a breeze as they rarely need a bath as their coat does not trap a lot of dust and other allergens. They are very loyal to their owners and are good companions for moderately active children.

How can you lessen the risk of allergens if you choose to keep a dog?

Since there is no dog which is completely allergen-free, you have to employ ways with which you can keep the allergens at their minimum amount on your pets. This way, the chances of getting allergic reactions will be reduced to a minimum and your child’s immune system may also be able to handle it as well. Since allergens are either carried by your dog in their body (dander) or on their coats (dust, molds, mildew, pollens) the main idea is to keep them as clean as possible.

The next step would be to keep their health at optimum so there is lesser shedding of coats and of dander as well.

Bathing a dog

The first and most important step, in keeping your dog “hypoallergenic” is to bath them at least weekly. This is to wash away the dead skin flakes (dander) that they shed throughout the week and to help eliminate a large number of it from flying all over your house.

By washing them over with water, the dander will go down the drain instead of being blown by the wind as they come off your pet’s skin. You have to be careful though that you only use dog shampoos which do not dry up their skin or it could turn out worse. Bathing your dog will also effectively get rid of any allergens which may have gotten on your dog’s hair or fur.

Next, you would have to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet that will provide for a healthy coat and body. Dogs need essential fatty acids to help maintain a strong and shiny coat that will be resistant to shedding. They also need it to maintain the integrity and suppleness of their skin.

A diet which is high in grains and carbohydrates can contribute to a poor and dull coat and an allergic dog as well. If your dog is allergic, chances are they will be producing more dander and shedding a lot of fur. A good source of essential fatty acids is olive oil and fish oils. Make sure to give your dog a sufficient of high quality protein as well as it provides integrity to their skin.

Cleaning air filters

Aside from this, you also need to implement cleanliness in your home as well. This means installing screens and using air filters as necessary. Wash your bedding and your dog’s as well with hot water in order to eliminate allergenic proteins that may have been transferred to them.

Try to get rid of carpets, wall hangings, and rugs that can trap dust and pet dander. Keep your dog away from your bed and the children’s bed to prevent an overload of allergens in these areas where people spend time the most. Lastly, instruct family members to wash their hands or take a shower right after handling the dog.

Conclusion

Having an allergic kid at home does not automatically mean that you can’t have a pet dog around. There are certain breeds which are ideal for these types of children due to their lesser dander and shedding which is one of the main causes of allergy.

With the proper maintenance around the house and regular grooming of your dog, you can easily provide your child with a good pet and companion that they can cherish despite their condition. As studies have also shown, allowing children to own pets can have a positive impact on their health especially when done during the early stages of childhood.

You can choose from a wide range of dogs when looking for a pet that will suit an allergic child. There are long-haired and fluffy ones and there are hairless ones as well so whichever you think is appropriate, there will always be an option for you. But, choosing to care for a dog also means a lot of responsibility not only in terms of physical needs but of emotional needs as well.

Dogs form an attachment with their owners and deciding to put them away can be a very stressful event for them. So before you decide to own one knowing that you have an allergic child, make sure that you can dedicate yourself to caring for them.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Albert Dorell

    I read some articles about schnauzers. They are wonderful! They are good around people with pet dander allergies. Samoyed has been known to be hypoallergenic to some people too, but it’s not a breed that fits everyone, though, especially when you are living in a hot climate.

    • Samoyed is a great dog but special considerations must be in order because they tend to overheat easily.

  • Robin James

    I always thought, that dogs with short hair are more comfortable for kids with allergies, but it turns out, it’s not always true. Sometimes dogs like Bichon Frise are more hypoallergenic, than any other small dog breed.

  • The length of a dog’s hair should not be the basis whether it can be a good dog for children with allergies. There are longhaired dogs that are hypoallergenic. In fact, there are more hypoallergenic dogs with long hair than dogs with short hair.

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