CBS New York: The Best Hypoallergenic Pets

May 5, 2015 3:20 PM

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you suffer from allergies that prevent you from owning a cat or dog, you might have heard about certain pets that don’t trigger the misery. Are hypoallergenic pets real or just hype?

Less Shedding and Less Dander Are Key

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), some dogs are better for people with allergies than others. While no breed is completely allergen-free, those with non-shedding coats produce less dander, which in turn means less allergy triggers.

One of the best hypoallergenic dogs is the Chinese Crested. These small, playful dogs are very people-oriented, and the AKC says they shed virtually no hair, with low maintenance coats. Because of their size, they should only be around gentle children.

Hypoallergenic Doesn’t Mean No Grooming

On the flipside, while dogs like the Bichon Frise and Maltese also won’t cause many sniffles, they have longer coats that need regular grooming to prevent mats. Irish Water Spaniels fall into the hypoallergenic category, too, but they have a water-repellant double coat that requires a good brushing every few weeks to keep it in tip-top condition.

Perhaps the most famous hypoallergenic dog is the Portuguese Water Dog, a breed made famous when First Dog Bo joined the Obama family in the White House. These dogs have water-proof coats, too, meaning that regular brushing is a necessity.

Other hypoallergenic dogs include Poodles, all sizes of Schnauzer, Aghan Hounds, and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers. You might be tempted to buy one of these dogs from a breeder, but looking for a breed-specific rescue group saves you money and allows you to save a life.

Saliva is the Culprit With Cats

If you’re a cat person, you have options too. Petfinder says that hypoallergenic cats work in a slightly different way than their canine counterparts. A protein in a cat’s saliva is what triggers most allergies. Being fastidious groomers, felines spread the protein all over their coats. The saliva goes airborne when it dries, meaning your sinuses get attacked as you breathe.

Some cat breeds produce less of the protein than others. Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Balinese, Javanese, Oriental Shorthair, Siberian, and Sphinx cats are all good options in allergy plagued households.

No matter what the breed, male cats produce less of the protein than females, especially if they’re not neutered, and cats with dark coats product more than their lighter-colored kin.

No Guarantees

Before you go through the trouble of finding a hypoallergenic breed, consider that a 2011 studyshowed no differences in allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic dogs vs. those with other breeds. If you want to add a dog or cat to your home, have a plan to deal with the possibility that family members might still tear up, sniffle, and sneeze when they’re around Fluffy or Fido.

No matter what type of cat or dog you add to your family, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says certain steps will lessen your symptoms. These include washing your hands after contact with your pet, keeping it out of the bedroom when you’re sleeping, bathing it regularly, using a high efficiency vacuum cleaner, and getting an air cleaner with a HEPA filter for your home.

Barbara Nefer is a freelance writer covering all things Orlando Her work can be found on Examiner.com.