Dr. Dolittler

No such thing as ‘non-shedding,’ ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs

Presidential pooches: Bo, left, and his new 'little sister,' Sunny.
Presidential pooches: Bo, left, and his new 'little sister,' Sunny.
SOUZA / Washington Post


Q. I can’t stand pet hair and my husband is allergic, so we’re looking for a non-shedding, hypoallergenic dog. I’ve been reading about the Portuguese water dogs President Obama’s family has. Do you recommend them?

Every time the Obamas get a new dog, the Internet goes wild with advice on miraculously non-shedding dogs. The fact is that some dogs shed more and some less, but all dogs shed.

Furthermore, among certain “low-shedding” breeds such as Yorkies, Bischons and Portuguese water dogs, some individuals may shed copiously. Apparently, not every dog reads its breed’s press releases.

Moreover, just because a dog sheds less than most doesn’t mean it won’t require a lot of maintenance — an important point for prospective owners with a serious bias against pet hair who will likely be disgruntled with a “no-shedder” that requires daily brushing and frequent trips to the groomer.

Then there’s the issue of allergies. Low-shedders aren’t always less allergenic. And while some breeds are better suited to those who suffer from allergies, no breed of dog (or cat) is guaranteed to offer you an allergy-free existence. Indeed, within the so-called “hypoallergenic” breeds are plenty of individuals who may trigger your allergies even more profoundly than certain members of other breeds.

In other words, breed alone is not an effective criteria. If you want to be sure your husband won’t have an allergic reaction to an individual animal, he should enclose himself in a room with the candidate for a few hours. Only then will he know whether he’s likely to react adversely.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Read more Pets stories from the Miami Herald

  • Pet Vet: Lab's problem may begin with his hips

    Alan writes in about his 3-year old Labrador retriever named Scout who has been having trouble jumping up into his seat in Alan's truck and, at times, trouble getting up after lying down for a while. Alan has heard about big dogs having problems with their hips and wants to know if Scout might have such a problem.

  • Animal Island: Mystery bird is likely a lost falcon

    Q: I'm trying to identify a bird that I spotted yesterday in my Lloyd Harbor backyard. I've attached a photo for your reference. As you may be able to tell, the bird has a band on its leg. The consensus of my Facebook friends is that it's most likely either an immature red-tailed hawk or Cooper's hawk. Can you confirm whether either guess is correct?

  • Miami Beach

    Miami Beach tentatively approves dog beach

    Dogs may soon be allowed on the sand in a designated area of North Beach.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category