Non Shedding Dogs | The Hypoallergenic Breeds
Non shedding canines actually do not exist if you want to be a purist. In fact, all mammals shed to some extent, including humans. However, there is a difference between fur and hair in regards to the amount of shedding.
The Truth... Low Shedding Dogs
Although fur and hair both grow from follicles and are both made of the same materials, fur tends to have an ideal length, at which point it stops growing then eventually drops out (sheds) to allow for a new strand of fur to replace it.
In dogs that have such “short-cycle” fur, they will shed year-round. In addition, seasonal shedding of fur happens with breeds that grow special coats for the colder months and then shed all at once in the spring.
Shedding canines tend to have this kind of “short-cycle” fur that is shedding constantly and in some cases also a seasonal massive shed.
Some dogs, however, have a coat that is more hair like, with a “long-cycle” growth pattern. Like human hair (on the head), this hair will just keep growing until it is cut. Although dogs with such coats still do shed some of the hair, it is not as profuse as that of short-cycle fur. (Humans also shed hair from time to time.)
If your reasoning for a non shedding dog is for the sake of keeping your house easier to clean, then you have good reasons to be looking in the non shedding category.
If, however, you think that a non shedding pup is a solution for your allergies, read on.
Non Shedding Dogs And The Hypoallergenic Myth
As we already learned, all dogs shed. Although it is true that there are some canines that do not shed anywhere near as much as other breeds, they still lose hairs as part of their natural condition.
Furthermore, it is not the fur or hair that most people with dog allergies are actually reactive to: It is canine dander and saliva that are the culprits.
Dogs that don't shed are sometimes referred to as “hypoallergenic” which is just not true. What is true is that the non shedding breeds in general produce much less dander, which means some people with dog allergies tend to find them to be much less triggering for their allergic reactions. In fact, some people with allergies to dogs are able to live with dogs that don't shed.
If you have an allergy to dogs, don’t assume a non shedding, or so-called “hypoallergenic” dog will be okay in your house. Try to get some exposure to the breed you are interested in by spending time at the breeder’s home before making a purchase to be on the safe side. Or, ask if you can foster a dog of the breed you are interested to give them a test run in your home.
Dogs That Don't Shed
On to the fun stuff!
Our guide below covers 15 of the most popular non shedding breeds, organized by small, medium and large dogs.
We have included a pro and con list for each breed as well so you can have a quick reference as you learn more about the many minimal shedding dogs to choose from.
Small Non Shedding Dogs
Australian Silky Terrier
The Australian Silky Terrier is a little breed full of sass and personality. It is an old breed that has been around since the end of 19th century, bred primarily as a companion dog. They made it to the United States when GIs brought them home from WWII, and where an instant sensation.
These canines are very intelligent. Their temperament is alert but they are not high strung. They can get plenty of exercise in a small apartment due to their size, but vigorous games of fetch are recommended daily.
They will enjoy a lap or a brisk walk in the park. Cheerful, curious and energetic are their main characteristics. They can be a little nippy and moody, particularly if not well socialized. Supervise them with small children.
You will find Australian Silky Terriers to be a bit of a handful with grooming. Their long silky hair needs regular shampooing, grooming, and trimming. Their maintenance can be time consuming and expensive.
- Great for apartments and city dwelling.
- Super smart and full of personality.
- Great lap dogs, but also great rough and tumble playmates.
- Can be yappy and/or nippy; socialize early and often.
- Not great with small children.
- High maintenance grooming.
The Affenpinscher goes all the way back to 17th century breeders in Germany. It is a non shedding breed developed for being a good rat catcher, hence their tenacious personality and high prey drive.
One of the nicknames for this adorable breed is “Monkey Terrier” because of their curiously monkey like faces. Although black is the most common color, you can also find the Affenpinscher in silver, red, grey, beige and black and tan.
Although may people think the Affenpinscher is a terrier, it is actually more closely related to pinscher-schnauzer. This is great news for folks with multiple dog households as terriers have a tendency to be on the snarky side when it comes to sharing their people with other pets.
- Playful personalities with plenty of brave, bold character.
- Easy maintenance coat, although they need a haircut from time to time.
- Apartment friendly, as long as they get exercise.
- Not a great choice with small children.
- Although they can be trained, they are stubborn so obeying is sometimes “optional.”
- Can be noisy barkers, especially if allowed to get bored.
The Bichon Frise is a cheerful breed with a merry disposition sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. The breed was developed specifically as a companion animal. It was used for centuries on Spanish and French sailing ships to keep sailor’s spirits up on long voyages, and later became a favorite among Italian nobility.
This bright white, curly haired charmer will stay under 20 pounds. They are bouncy yet gentle, playful, very affectionate and are great with other dogs and kids. As an extremely social breed, the Bichon Frise is not a great choice to be left alone for long periods of time.
Their hair will become matted and tangled if not brushed and bathed regularly. They need professional grooming and trimming every month to two months, a definite downside of the breed.
- Very gentle with children.
- Energetic but persistently up-beat character.
- Excellent apartment dwellers.
- High maintenance grooming needs.
- Skin problems and allergies are a common health problem for this breed.
Chinese Crested Dog
The Chinese Crested Dog is a love-it or hate-it breed. Although there are actually Chinese Crested Dogs with a coat, the breed is most famous for the nearly naked variety. It is true that Chinese Crested Dogs (and mixes with CCD in them) are over-represented in the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest.
Although the breed was used by Chinese sailors to help keep rat populations under control at sea, it is unlikely the breed actually originated in China. More likely the breed has African origins, potentially with some Mexican Hairless Dog in the bloodline as well.
Despite missing-out on traditional beauty standards, this breed is much beloved by their owners. They are quite loyal to their people, usually developing a deep bond with their primary care giver. They are always seeking a warm lap and some tenderness.
- Affectionate disposition, although they can get possessive about their primary lap.
- Very easy maintenance with grooming.
- VERY fashion forward. Plan on buying or making lots of cute outfits for these pups.
- Very little exercise requirements.
- They can get dangerously cold very easily. Not suited for cold climates.
The Maltese has existed for centuries and its origins are not well known. Its ancestors were in Asia, the Mediterranean, and across the Middle East. The breed standard was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888.
Fun Fact: The characteristic black button nose on this adorable pup can change to pink during the winter and then return to black with exposure to the summer sun.
The Maltese is a very social breed with a playful attitude and friendly disposition. They can, however, be snappy with small children.
The grooming requirements for this non shedding breed are high. Bright white fur stains easily and eyes must be wiped daily to prevent an unsightly mess near their eyes.
Although the show dogs often have long flowing straight hair down to the floor, most owners keep a tighter trim for easier maintenance. Still, expect daily brushing and frequent trips to the groomer.
- Great lap dogs with cheerful dispositions.
- Excellent for apartments or small yards.
- Often barky when excited, or when someone comes to the door, or when the wind blows.
- Very little exercise requirements.
- Medium to high maintenance coats.
- Not terribly intelligent, but very lovable none-the-less.
Non Shedding Medium Dogs
This breed has ancient African roots, originally kept and bred by the Azande and Mangbetu people from the Congo. They made it to Europe in the late 1800’s but the breed struggled to take off until the 1930’s when the Basenjis were established in England.
There is some debate about how intelligent this breed actually is. They rank #78 (out of 79!) on the Coren Dog Intelligence ranking. However, lovers of the breed insist that this is not because they are dumb, rather, it is because they are not terribly interested in pleasing people.
Their cat-like nature extends beyond being aloof with people, especially strangers. They love to climb, hunt, pounce and preen themselves. If you are a cat lover at heart, the Basenji may be the pup for you.
- Very quiet dogs.
- Very low maintenance grooming wise.
- Cute cat-like entertainment value.
- Stubborn and aloof, not great for the lap dog seeker.
- Escape artists. Don’t think a chain link fence will hold this pup.
- The breed has several potential health problems.
The Irish Terrier is a non shedding breed with a double coat: A top wire coat over a softer under coat. Easy to train, especially for a Terrier, and fairly even tempered, this is one of the more popular Terrier breeds in Europe.
Like many of the terrier breeds having roots in Ireland, Scotland and England, the exact origin of the breed is not fully known. They were bred for their hard work ethic and excellent vermin hunting skills. Expect a high prey drive in this breed. The first breed club to recognize and protect the breed was in Ireland in 1879.
Wire coat dogs do require semi-annual “stripping” best done by a professional. In addition, you will want to have this pup trimmed regularly at the groomer to maintain a neat appearance as their hair grows continuously and can mat and tangle if allowed to get long.
The Irish Terrier is fantastic with kids and is a popular family dog as a result. Do keep in mind this breed needs a good deal of exercise so they require a large yard or access to regular off leash exercise.
- Great family dog.
- Smart and trainable.
- Few health problems.
- Coat requires brushing, grooming, trimming.
- This breed needs a good deal of exercise and mental stimulation.
- High prey drive means this is not a great choice for multi-pet households.
The distinctive and regal moustache wielding look of the Schnauzer is unmistakable. All three Schnauzer sizes, standard, miniature and giant, are all non shedding, but the standard is the original breed. You can expect a fully-grown Schnauzer to reach 30-45 pounds.
The original breed was developed in southwestern Germany as far back as the 17th century. Both rat catching and guarding were characteristics fostered in the breed. They were popular military and police dogs historically as well.
Independent and intelligent, this breed can be challenging to train. Barking can be a problem with these alert guarding canines, so plan to keep them occupied and well exercised.
Although docking ears and tails were the standard for centuries because of the dog’s roll as a ratter, it is now less fashionable, and in some countries, illegal. Like other wire coated breeds, semi-annual stripping is suggested as well as trips the groomer for clipping.
- Friendly disposition and good with kids.
- Eye-turning good looks.
- Playful and gentle nature with strong family loyalty.
- Needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation.
- They can be barky, especially when bored.
Although the Tibetan Terrier did originate in Tibet, it is not classified as a true Terrier. It is a breed that is thousands of years old. They were bred for a variety of uses including working as herders and watchdogs, as well as for playful companions.
Tibetan Terriers were considered good luck by Tibetan monks, who often gave them as gifts. This breed did not make it to Europe until 1922.
The shaggy coat of this dog may seem like a nightmare for people looking for a pup that won't shed. However, the long strands that make up the top coat are hair, not fur, so they do not shed. They are known for having long hair over their faces, but surprisingly have excellent eyesight.
In terms of temperament, Tibetan Terriers have lots of personality and are loyal and affectionate with their owners. They make very good family pets, although they do best with an active lifestyle. A dog sport to consider with this bread is herding trails as they tend to have strong herding instincts.
- Winning personality and very good with children.
- Okay as an apartment dog, but train games like fetch and other tricks to keep them stimulated.
- Goofy and playful, this breed makes an excellent companion dog.
- High maintenance coat. Regular brushing and trims are required.
- Can be stubborn to train.
Large Non Shedding Dogs
The Airedale Terrier is the largest among the terrier breeds, averaging around 35-55 pounds. Their distinctive black and tan course coat and bearded face make them an unmistakable and unforgettable dog, leading to deep loyalty to the breed for their owners.
The breed has its origins in the Aire River valley in England. It was used for hunting rats in an unusual way: first ferrets were sent into rat burrows and when the rats scurried out, the Airedale’s would then take up the chase.
These minimal shedding dogs are very intelligent and require vigorous exercise. They excel at canine sports such as agility and flyball. Good with children and other pets if well socialized, this is an all-around great family dog.
- Extremely intelligent and trainable.
- Brave and courageous, these pups bring plenty of personality to the table.
- Excellent choice as a family dog for active families.
- Not well suited for apartment living. This breed can become neurotic without enough mental and physical stimulation.
- Can be prone to separation anxiety and often struggles with long periods alone.
- High prey drive can make them sketchy off leash and with small animals.
Bouvier Des Flandres
The Bouvier Des Flandres is a large working canine that has its origins in the Flandres region of Belgium. It was originally bred as a herding dog for large cattle, hence its considerable size and characteristic bravery. Some Flandres reach up to 100 pounds!
Likely having their breed origins in Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds, this giant breed is powerful and sturdy. It requires a great deal of exercise to stay balanced and does best on large properties or where outdoor off-leash adventures can be had on a regular basis.
They have strong guarding instincts and are gentle with kids (although huge, so be careful with small children). They are very responsive to training, and are quite emotionally complex dogs. The intimidating look of this dog stands in contrast with a strong, steady, and obedient pup that truly wants to please.
The coat on Flandres is a constant upkeep. They require daily brushing made worse by the fact they have no fear of getting dirty on nature romps. Regular trimmings at the groomer are recommended.
- Outstanding temperament and highly intelligent.
- Despite their large size, this dog is very gentle and sensitive.
- This is an excellent choice for a family dog if you have room and time to devote to exercising them.
- High maintenance coats require regular attention to stay in top condition.
- This large breed is prone to a variety of health problems and has a relative short lifespan of 10-12 years.
Like the standard and miniature varieties of this breed, the Giant Schnauzer is a dog breed that doesn't shed. Unlike other Schnauzers, the Giant Schnauzer includes Great Danes, German Pinschers and Bouvier des Flandres in its ancestral bloodline.
It was used for both guarding and herding large livestock originally. However, it has also been used extensively as a military and police canine due to its strong guarding instincts and fearless disposition.
Where it is still legal, cropping the ears and docking the tails of these dogs is still common. However, as more and more countries are banning the practice, we are learning that this distinctive looking breed is just as attractive with natural ears and tails.
Their beards need daily cleaning and a quick brush to keep from getting unsightly and dirty. They have double coats which are non shedding, but like most coarsely coated canines, they do require regular trimming at the groomer to keep from getting too shaggy looking.
- Good with children and other pets, showing an ability to be extra gentle when warranted.
- They take very well to positive training techniques with a high drive to please.
- These dogs can be trained to tolerate time alone as long as they are well stimulated to keep them from getting bored.
- Significant health problems like hip dysplasia, certain cancers as well as serious eye problems are not uncommon for this breed.
- High exercise needs.
- Significant grooming required.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest of the spaniel breeds, as well as one of the oldest. It is an active working breed with over 1000 years of history, much of it a mystery. The bloodlines were closed in the 1830’s when the breed was officially recognized in Ireland.
These pups have a curly haired coat which is surprisingly easy to maintain. Since they do not have a thick undercoat, brushing a few times a week, and clipping the coat down a few times a year is enough. On the other hand, they do usually need a little extra attention paid to keeping their ears cleaned.
Irish Water Spaniels do thrive in water, and it is a great way to make sure they are getting the exercise they need. They tend to do well with children and other animals, and take to training easily.
This is one of the rarer breeds of dogs so be sure you buy from a reputable breeder registered with one of the national clubs concerned with preserving the breed.
- Great family dog for the active family with access to the outdoors.
- Fairly easy coat maintenance.
- Friendly with other pups and good with kids.
- Easy to train.
- Ears will need to be cleaned quite regularly as they are prone to matting and infection.
- Rare and expensive breed.
The most graceful and elegant of the lesser shedding canines is certainly the Saluki, which also goes by the name of Persian Greyhound. Although only weighing 40-60 pounds, this lightly framed pup makes up for it with long legs and a tall, statuesque frame.
The Saluki is one of the oldest dog breeds known and has roots in the nomadic tribes of Persia who used it for hunting.
This breed is a sight-hound with a strong prey drive. If a squirrel runs by while your Saluki is off-leash, they will give chase no matter what you do, including right into busy traffic. Lure courses are a great choice to keep this dog in top condition safely.
Both the smooth and feathered coats come in a large range of colors, and are very easy to maintain. It is probably the most low maintenance coat of the non shedding large breed dogs.
In terms of temperament, this is a shy and aloof breed that is slow to trust strangers. They have a very gentle disposition, but can be difficult to train.
- The gentle nature of this pup makes it a good choice for families with small children.
- They will generally socialize well with other dogs, but be careful with small animals like cats or ferrets as the prey drive of this breed may kick in.
- Very easy coat maintenance.
- Difficult to train.
- Somewhat aloof.
- Needs to run regularly, but a flight risk off leash. Dog sports like lure coursing or large fenced properties are ideal.
The Standard Poodle is the second smartest dog breed, following the Border Collie. The breed is an old one, and the origins are a matter of controversy. The AKC recognized the breed in 1887, and maintains that the miniature and toy versions of the breed are derivative of the Standard Poodle, selectively bred for smaller size.
The Standard Poodle was used in hunting, generally as a retriever for small game and ducks in particular. Their thick coat and webbed feet are superior attributes for swimming in cold water. Historically they have also been prized for their trainability to do complex tricks in circuses and other entertainment venues.
The ridiculous haircuts of Standard Poodles in the show ring have led some to dismiss this regal, intelligent, and athletic breed. Lovers of the breed know otherwise, and it is a non shedding pup prized for a wonderful temperament and desire to please.
- Extremely intelligent and strong drive to please makes this pup a pleasure to train.
- Very athletic canine well suited for a variety of dog sports from agility to duck hunting.
- Great temperament for a family dog as long as they have an active lifestyle.
- Moderately high maintenance coat requires frequent brushing and trips to the groomer or you can clip poodles yourself.
- This dog must have regular exercise and mental stimulation or it can become high strung, nervous, or destructive.
There are also many other non shedding dogs in existence, so if you haven't found what you're looking from in this list then keep looking, you'll be sure to find one that's perfect for you.
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.
For more info on Sharon click here