Who wouldn’t want a dog? They’re the best. Emotional support and a best friend all rolled into one. Obvious bias aside, dogs are great. Most people would want one.
But what happens when you want a dog but you’re allergic? Does this mean you have to suffer a sad, dogless existence, or are some dogs, say… the Shih Tzu, better suited for the sneezy masses?
Well, I’m happy to report that with some research and planning, it’s possible to find a hypoallergenic breed of dog that will be just as loving and loyal as any other dog. But how do you know which breeds are hypoallergenic?
And more importantly, what does hypoallergenic even mean?
Let’s start with the basics:
What Is An Allergy?
An allergy is an abnormal immune response in your body. Your immune system reacts by producing antibodies against something foreign (like pollen or dust mites) that enters your body.
These antibodies cause inflammation and swelling around the area where they were produced.
This can lead to symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, skin rashes, hives, and/or itching.
The most common allergies are caused by inhalation – things we breathe in such as pollen, mold spores, animal dander, dust mites, pet hair, etc.
The second most common type of allergy is a food allergy. It occurs when the immune system produces antibodies against foods that enter your body through ingestion.
What Is Hypoallergenic?
When something is hypoallergenic that means it has lower levels of allergens than others. When you say “hypoallergenic” you’re talking about two different types of allergens. There are protein allergens and non-protein allergens.
Protein allergens are found in animals, plants, insects, and fungi. Non-protein allergens come from pollens, dust mites, cockroaches, and cats.
Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids. They are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are responsible for many important functions in our bodies including blood clotting, muscle contraction, cell division, and hormone production.
Some proteins also trigger an immune response. In fact, if you eat a protein that triggers an immune response, your body will produce antibodies against that particular protein.
Non-proteins are smaller molecules that don’t contain amino acids. They include things like pollen, dust mite feces, cat fur, cockroach droppings, and cat saliva. Pollen is the main source of non-protein allergens because it contains high amounts of these small particles.
Dust mites live on dead skin cells and excrete tiny bits of their own skin. Cockroaches leave behind fecal matter that contains high concentrations of bacteria. Cat saliva contains enzymes that break down proteins.
So What Are Hypoallergenic Dogs?
A dog is considered hypoallergenic if its proteins don’t trigger an allergic reaction in someone who has been sensitized to those same proteins. In other words, a dog that doesn’t make you sneeze isn’t necessarily hypoallergenic.
A dog that makes you sneeze may still not be hypoallergenic because there could be another reason for your allergy.
For example, a dog that triggers an allergy in you might also be shedding too much fur. If a dog sheds excessively, it can aggravate allergies. So while a dog may be allergy friendly, it still might not be good for everyone.
Are Purebreds Hypoallergenic?
Purebred dogs are those bred specifically for show purposes. They are often very expensive and are only available at specific shows. Many purebred dogs are not suitable for people who are allergic to them.
Are Crossbreeds Hypoallergenic?
Crossbreed dogs are dogs that are the result of breeding two different breeds together. For example, a golden retriever and a poodle might be called a crossbreed.
While there are no guarantees that a crossbreed won’t be allergic, they usually aren’t bred for show purposes so they may be less likely to carry certain genetic traits associated with allergies.
Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?
Shih Tzus are a small breed of dog that originated in China. The name “Shih Tzu” means “little lion.” Shih Tzus were originally bred to hunt birds. Today, they’re most commonly used as companion animals.
They were introduced to America in the late 1930s and exploded in popularity. Everyone wanted a cute little Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzus are considered hypoallergenic dogs. This is because they have low levels of non-protein allergens. Shih Tzus are specially bred to be hypoallergenic. They do shed hair but this is minimal compared to other breeds.
In fact, Shih Tzus are bred to be low-shedding dogs as well.
However, Shih Tzu owners should keep in mind that just because a dog is hypoallergenic doesn’t mean it will always be safe for you. Allergies vary from person to person. Some people react strongly to one type of protein while others react more strongly to another.
Your body reacts differently to each allergen. You may find that a hypoallergenic dog causes you to become ill when exposed to something else. It’s best to test your tolerance before bringing home any new pet.
Which Other Dogs Are Considered Hypoallergenic?
There are actually several different types of dogs that are considered hypoallergenic. Here’s a list of some of them:
- Airedale Terrier
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- Tibetan Terrier
- Coton de Tulear
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Owning a dog can be a great experience. Not only does having a dog provide companionship, but it also provides exercise, protection, and emotional support. However, owning a dog comes with many responsibilities.
Before you bring home a puppy, you’ll want to consider what kind of lifestyle you can offer him, especially if you suffer from allergies.
No dog wants an owner that sneezes their way every time they want to be petted. That’s why Shih Tzus are a great option for people who want a dog but suffer from allergies.
Shih Tzus are a fantastic breed of dog that makes a wonderful addition to anyone’s life.
They’re playful, clever, spunky, loyal, and lively little dogs. If you want a canine friend that’s fun and full of energy, then you’ve found the right companion in a furry, funny Shih Tzu.