When people want to welcome a new dog into their family, they usually try to find more information about his breed, general characteristics and health, since taking care of a dog with underlying health issues is rather tricky. One of these problems is that dogs can become allergic to different substances and that’s the reason for which many of you may think of allergy free dogs as a better adoption choice. Conversely, some of you may already have a hyper-allergenic dog and want to know how you can solve his problems.
That’s why in this article we’ll give you a quick review of the most common allergies dog can develop, as well as a look at 5 breeds who aren’t prone to allergies at all.
What are dogs allergic to?
There are some substances which trigger an allergic reaction in dogs, called allergens. These can be found in basically anything from food, to air or even plants, and after they get into your dog’s skin, lungs or belly they cause an inflammation, which occurs with the increase of histamine production.
The most common dog allergies are airborne ones and food-related ones.
Although less than 10% of dogs have a genetic inclination to allergies, some of them tend to be very sensitive to airborne allergens especially when they’re between 6 months and 3 years of age, like the following breeds:
- Boston Terrier
- Chinese Shar-Pei
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Lhasa Apso
- Scottish Terrier
- Shih Tzu West Highland White Terrier
- Wirehaired Fox Terrier
Even though these are the genetically predisposed breeds to developing an airborne allergy – which is called atopy – that doesn’t mean dogs from other breeds will never suffer from atopy.
The symptoms are:
- Hair loss
- Itchy feet, face, ears, legs, and abdomen
- Tendency to rub their eyes
Itchiness and sneezing appears because of the histamine acceleration, which produces inflammation, and if the dog doesn’t stop scratching, sooner or later he will wound himself. That’s how the scabbing, infection, scaling and hair loss are explained.
On the other hand, these above listed symptoms may not be noticed at all or may be confused with other afflictions, and that’s why diagnosing a potential allergy has to be made with extensive tests. Besides, identifying the allergen can be even more difficult, but once it’s properly established, the immunotherapy treatment can be outlined.
So how does this work? Well, immunotherapy basically means rising your dog’s tolerance level to negative stimuli from the environment, and that can be done through vaccination. A vaccine will need to be based on the airborne substances that develop your dog’s allergy, which means they have to be sought by extensive testing which should match the most poignant allergens from a specific season. Conclusively, immunotherapy is the treatment of choice for dogs that have recurring symptoms during the same periods of the year.
As such, the main options a dog owner has for treating his dog’s atopy are:
- Controlling the environment, which means avoiding the allergic substances
- Giving the dog a vaccine for his allergy
- Managing his tendency to scratch
However, that doesn’t mean your dog can’t use all these treatments simultaneously. In fact, it could help him even more if his allergy is really pushing the limits. Further testing and attentive monitoring are primary conditions for keeping his atopy under control.
After you get the vaccine, you may even have to be the one responsible for giving your dog some shots at the appointed times and with the needed dosage, but you’ll most likely be instructed by the vet on the proper procedure. The reason is that you won’t solve your dog’s atopy with just one shot, but you’ll need to invest a lot of time and patience in his treatments. The best solution is to get all the info from your vet and do what he says to the letter.
Even though it generally takes about 6 months to a year for improvements to be seen, you can see that the immunotherapy program is working by comparing how your dog feels during different seasons. Since it takes so long for actual progress to be seen, it’s wise to also avoid the trouble-making allergens and soothe your dog’s itchiness with an anti-scratch cream.
Another type of allergies are the ones to food, which have similar symptoms to the airborne allergies. The only difference is that the itchiness doesn’t depend on the season, and your dog’s age doesn’t matter that much, but he’ll be more at risk to food allergies once he gets older. As such, dogs are most allergic to:
Moreover, these allergies are very difficult to be diagnosed with any kinds of testing, except the “guessing by elimination” option. As such, you’ll have to remove your dog’s food items one by one to see which one he doesn’t tolerate. However, you should be careful to still giving him nourishing and balanced meals. Besides this, you’ll have to completely cut out any ingredients he’s used to eating and give him only new food items. Otherwise, it will be impossible to tell which ingredient is the actual cause of your dog’s food allergies.
If in 3 months time of keeping this diet you see an improvement, then you can suspect a food allergy. To ascertain your suspicions, you have to feed your dog the problem-ingredient again and see if he starts feeling any worse in the following couple of weeks. After that, completely remove the food item which was making him allergic and start re-introducing the other neutral foods you previously cut out of his diet.
Which are the breeds less prone to allergies?
If you’re looking for a dog breed which is less at risk for developing allergies, the best thing you could do is choose a dog pertaining to a working breed. Having a job made these dogs more resistant to dangerous environmental stimuli, and strengthened their immune systems for generations to come. That’s why their puppies are less likely to be sensitive to allergens.
Conversely, if we’re talking about dogs at risk for airborne allergies, the breeds who had to use their sense of smell for hunting or tracking are more prone to atopy. Their noses being so sensitive to odors and substances found in the air, the dogs’ airwaves can immediately get inflamed.
Taking all that into account, we’ve developed a list of dogs who are strong and will not give you any headaches about developing allergic reactions. That doesn’t mean they don’t have other health or training issues though, but hey, nobody’s perfect!
This dog is one curious fellow, that’s always interested in the new things which may appear around him. He’s almost never still, but his inquisitive personality will most surely delight you because he’ll take the same high interest in the toys you give him. Basically you get yourself a personal buffoon, that’ll give you novel representations daily.
Conversely, the playful Affenpinscher doesn’t take too fondly of strangers, which makes him a perfect watchdog. His protective instincts make him take very good care of his personal space and of his family, whom he’ll become very fond of.
He’ll even enjoy the company of your other pets, especially if he’s known them from puppy-hood, but he can still at times become a little too aggressive with them, even if he doesn’t aim specifically to hurt them. That’s why you’ll also have to keep an eye of your very young children around the Affenpinscher, since they can more easily get into his personal space and bother him.
Therefore, this dog needs an authoritative owner who can put their foot down and never spoil the dog, nor accept his temper tantrums. However, positive reinforcement is key and you’ll need to give him a training that isn’t based on punishments, but on rewards. He’s very smart and he can pick up new tricks and commands almost instantly, but you’ll have to remain calm and ignore his fits.
Other advantages of the Affenpinscher are that he’s pretty small and he doesn’t need constant exercising. He’s pretty happy with his toys and he can entertain himself very well. Of course, he’s not prone to allergies either, but he’ll need regular brushing because he has a wiry coat. You’ll also have to be patient when it comes to his housebreaking and very understanding of his barking. However, these problems are easily solved through diligent training unlike negative reactions to allergens.
Do you want an allergy free dog that can double as a cat? The Borzoi is independent, quiet and calm — you won’t even hear him enter the room.
However, if you allow him to walk without his leash he will burst into an energetic sprint from which there are slim chances you could ever catch him again. That’s why it’s better to take him to a park with high fences, or otherwise he could even jump over them and escape. If you let him run free in your own yard, make sure you’ve taken all the necessary measures to prevent him running away and getting into a car accident, as they most often do, unfortunately.
If you have company over, you don’t need to be afraid that the Borzoi will scare them off with a belligerent demeanor. On the other hand, he won’t be too happy either to see his home invaded by strangers. Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe then sorry since he’s a pretty huge dog and try to socialize him from when he’s a puppy. That way he won’t be neither too timid, neither too rampant with the people you invite home.
Since he has a hunter’s past and instincts, the Borzoi is not very good with other small pets you may have. He’ll get a strong urge to chase them around and scare them, even if he doesn’t do anything more serious than that. However, if you’re a fan of bigger-sized dogs, you can rest assured that the Borzoi will make friends with them really fast.
Moreover, being a sight-hound, he’ll tend to be more on the independent side and less obedient than other dogs, so his training might take a while, as well as his housebreaking.
The Cane Corso
If you’re one of the adventure-types sort of person, you absolutely must get a Cane Corso! You’ll soon find he’s your kindred spirit when it comes to exciting explorations, running and energy.
Of course, that means the Cane Corso should be given enough daily exercise along with your friendship. That’s because his pack instincts are really strong and he can’t thrive on his own. He’s not very independent and really cherishes his human’s constant presence and love. If left to fend for his own, he’ll become aggressive and exhibit destructive tendencies like chewing, digging, barking and countless escape attempts.
Make him one of the family and there’s nothing he won’t do to protect you. At least when he’s over puppy-hood, because at that stage they’ll adore everyone. That’s where you come in: giving him the proper training and socialization limits, he’ll turn out to be more aware of himself and strangers, and he’ll develop the protective instinct for what’s his, without becoming too raucous.
As such, if you show confidence and assertiveness, your Cane Corso will be easily trained, and his proneness to dominance will soon be inhibited. Besides, having a dog like this has other advantages except his not being at risk for allergies, since he’s easily groomed and doesn’t drool as much as other mastiffs.
If you’re in the market for a toy dog that’s also very smart, apart from being playful and life-loving, get a Havanese that’ll give you the chance to even enjoy some logical puzzle solving with him.
He’s also perfect for those of us who are dog people for a reason: we love the little pooches who get attached to us and aren’t particularly too independent. The Havanese is one of the dogs who can spend endless hours sitting besides you on the couch, and enjoying a good belly-rub while you watch TV.
If you deprive him of your companionship for hours at a time, he’ll become bored, unhappy and destructive. That means he’ll most surely develop separation anxiety barking and will chew through all your furniture as a punishment for leaving him alone.
So he’ll adore you like there’s no tomorrow, but he probably won’t feel as close to other people who aren’t members of your family. He won’t bite them either, but he’ll just tend to be more reserved around them. The same thing goes for other animals, so it’s quite a good idea to socialize him early with both people and other dogs – possibly at the dog park.
Since they’re so smart and think so highly of their owners, the Havanese is one of the best breeds when it comes to obedience and agility training. He’ll learn very fast and really enjoy his treats, the sign that he’s doing a good job.
The Swedish Vallhund
This dog is very attentive with his environment and his energy levels are also through the roof. His countenance is athletic and strong, although he’s pretty short, but that won’t deter him from running at an incredible speed after the ball you throw him.
He was originally bred for herding, which makes him really docile as well as agile. After all, he must know how to respect commands in order to be a dependable help for his owners. Having a deep sense of duty and loving to work aren’t his only advantages, because the Swedish Vallhund can be a really fun companion for the sports you’re into, especially jogging and hiking.
That’s why you’ll have to keep him permanently employed with an activity or other, as well as keeping him close to you. His herding instincts make him a great watchdog, and bring out his protective nature, as well as his love for other animals.
He’s also able to undergo obedience training with flying colors, but he’ll at times try to get his own way, especially if his “sheep” – or family members – aren’t sitting together in the same place. Except this, his only problems are that he can be a little too talkative, as well as more difficult to groom.
All that being said, if you’re set on getting a dog with a low-risk allergy-wise, and if we know that scent hounds tend to be more prone to airborne allergies, but working dogs are more resistant, you could try adopting a sight hound, a herder or even a smaller breed which was developed as an indoor companion.
On the other hand, if your dog already has problems with his allergies you can try fortifying his immune system not only through vaccination, but also through exercise, work and sense of purpose. If your dog is happy and active, then he’ll be able to fight infections and allergies faster and won’t even get sick as much. Try it, what have you got to lose?