Can You Be Allergic to Different Dog Breeds?

Some people's allergies may differ based on dog breed

I counsel my patients every day regarding allergic reactions to different dog breeds. Oftentimes my patient will tell me their dog doesn't trigger their allergy symptoms, but exposure to another person's dog does. 

A dog licking the face of a woman at work
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It seems strange, but it is possible for a person to be allergic to one breed of dog and not another. Some breeds of dogs are hypoallergenic, meaning they produce less dander and therefore cause fewer symptoms in those allergic to dogs. The main allergens people are sensitive to come from dog saliva, known as Can f 1, and dog albumin, a protein found in their blood. 

But there's more to it than that; there are differences in the characteristics of the dog allergens between breeds, and these differences may result in people developing allergies to some breeds of dogs and not others. This is a completely different concept than a hypoallergenic dog, which relates to the actual amount of dog allergen produced by certain dog breeds.

In fact, the variety is so great that allergy tests must test for dog allergens associated with at least five different breeds in order to accurately deliver a diagnosis. It is entirely possible that your neighbor's Labrador Retriever makes you sneeze uncontrollably, but your German Shepard fails to induce even a sniffle. 

Allergy-Friendly Dog Breeds

If you have a dog allergy and are looking to adopt, you may want to consider a dog with less fur or a dog that produces less saliva. Some allergy-friendly dog breeds include: 

  • Poodles and Miniature Poodles 
  • Schnauzers 
  • Portuguese Water Dog 
  • Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier 
  • Maltese 
  • Lhasa Apso 
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Shih Tzu 
  • Irish Water Spaniel 
  • Kerry Blue Terrier 

It may be important to note that not all experts agree on whether there are truly any hypoallergenic breeds. For example, a study published in 2012 couldn't find enough evidence to classify any of these dogs as hypoallergenic.

Ways to Reduce Allergens in Dogs 

If you have dog allergies and have a dog or plan on visiting a dog that you may be allergic to, there are ways to reduce your risk of having an allergic reaction. Allergy shots and medications can help control symptoms, but there are proactive measures you can take as well. To lower the amount of dander a pet carries, bathe the dog once or twice a week and wipe the dog down with a wet wipe daily. If your allergies persist, try doing a deep clean of your home to clear out any allergens that your dog may have shed. You can also buy HEPA filters to help trap allergens. 

Dog Allergies Versus Cat Allergies 

While allergens can differ based on dog breeds, those differences do not exist between different breeds of cats. The major cat allergen, Fel d 1, is the same regardless of cat breed and is even the same for other members of the feline family such as lions and tigers.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chan SK, Leung DYM. Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and ChallengesAllergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2018;10(2):97-105. doi:10.4168/aair.2018.10.2.97

  2. Vredegoor DW, Willemse T, Chapman MD, Heederik DJ, Krop EJ. Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012;130(4):904-9.e7. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.05.013

  3. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Pet Allergy.

By Daniel More, MD
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.