Living with an allergy can be really tough and pet allergies are common, affecting up to 20% of people around the world. So, many people look for hypoallergenic dog breeds so they can still have the joy of welcoming a dog into their home.
Let’s face it, Chihuahuas are incredibly cute and if you love small dogs, they could be a fantastic breed for you. If you live with allergies, however, Chihuahuas may not be ideal.
We’ll look at whether Chihuahuas are hypoallergenic together, as well as what you can do to reduce pet allergy symptoms if you do want to live with a furry friend.
- Are Chihuahuas Hypoallergenic?
- What is a Hypoallergenic Dog?
- Do Chihuahuas Shed a Lot?
- Signs of a Pet Allergy
- How to Reduce Allergy Symptoms
- Can You Have a Chihuahua if You Have Allergies?
Are Chihuahuas Hypoallergenic?
The short answer is no, Chihuahuas are not hypoallergenic. They shed and produce as much pet dander as many other breeds.
I’d say their shedding is average or moderate, but certainly a fair amount. It’s important to note that no dog is truly and completely ‘hypoallergenic’, but there are dogs that shed minimally or don’t produce as much pet dander.
However, if you feel a Chihuahua is the right dog for you, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. We’ll talk more about that later in this article.
What is a Hypoallergenic Dog?
The word hypoallergenic means something that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
For most people with pet allergies, it’s not a dog’s fur that is the cause of the allergic reaction – it’s pet dander. Pet dander is the dead skin cells that are shed from the dog. This dander can mix with other allergens and is spread all over your home when your pet sheds their fur.
Hypoallergenic dogs are simply breeds that shed less or are hairless. Since they aren’t shedding as much, the pet dander doesn’t get spread everywhere which reduces allergy reactions.
No dog is truly ‘hypoallergenic’, but this term indicates that they are less likely than other breeds to cause issues for allergy sufferers.
The American Kennel Club recommends the following breeds for allergy sufferers:
- Afghan Hound
- American Hairless Terrier
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Coton de Tulear
- Giant Schnauzer
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lagotto Romagnolo
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Shih Tzu
- Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Spanish Water Dog
- Standard Schnauzer
- Yorkshire Terrier
Do Chihuahuas Shed a Lot?
Chihuahuas are moderate shedders. Most Chis have a double coat (meaning two layers). They will shed a fair amount twice a year – once in spring ready for summer and once in fall ready for their winter coat.
Chihuahuas also tend to shed minimally throughout the year. If your Chihuahua has a single-layered coat, it may shed less but this varies.
Chihuahuas can have either a short or long coat. Both short-coated and long-coated Chis tend to shed the same amount, although it may be more noticeable in long-haired Chihuahuas since they have more fur!
Many people think short-haired Chis don’t shed much but I can tell you this isn’t true – my girl has a short, double coat and sheds a lot!
It’s important to take into account that even though they shed a decent amount, Chihuahuas are tiny so the impact of their shedding is far less than that of a bigger dog. For example, my Chihuahua sheds just as much as my Springer Spaniel, but we barely notice my Chi’s fur around the house compared to my Spaniel’s, which we find everywhere!
Signs of a Pet Allergy
A pet allergy causes the nasal passages to become swollen and inflamed, and your body’s immune system to react excessively.
Signs of a pet allergy include:
- A runny, blocked, or ‘stuffy’ nose
- Watery, itchy, or irritated eyes
- Shortness of breath or chest tightness
- Blocked sinuses
- Itchy skin, rashes, and hives
If you think you may have a pet allergy, the first thing you should do is visit your doctor. They can do some tests, rule out other potential issues, and give you further guidance.
How to Reduce Allergy Symptoms
For some people, the benefits of owning a Chihuahua despite their allergy outweigh the negatives.
If you decide to bring a Chihuahua into your life despite your allergies, there are some ways you can reduce the risk and lessen the impact of your symptoms.
Regularly brushing and bathing your Chihuahua can help to minimize allergens. I recommend brushing them two or three times a week, possibly more if they are long-haired.
Chihuahuas only need a bath around once a month (I only bathe mine when she gets very dirty). However, if you have allergies you could bathe them every couple of weeks. It’s important not to bathe them too frequently as this can dry out their skin and cause skin issues. Plus, if they’re like my Chi, they may not enjoy baths very much!
If possible, try to get someone else in the home to do the grooming or take your dog to a professional groomer. If you need to do it yourself, try wearing a disposable face mask during grooming. Wash your clothes, vacuum, and take a shower straight afterward.
Keep Them Out of Your Bedroom
Although many of us love to cuddle up with our dogs in bed, if you have allergies it’s best to avoid this. Since you spend around eight hours in there every night, the last thing you want is to be breathing in allergens the whole time you’re resting.
Make your bedroom a ‘no go’ zone for dogs so they aren’t spreading allergens all over your bedding.
Use an Air Purifier
If you can, installing air purifiers in your home can be incredibly helpful for allergy sufferers. Research shows that they can improve symptoms for people with allergies and other respiratory concerns.
HEPA filters (meaning high-efficiency particulate air filters) are best. They help to trap particles like pet dander in the air and make the air you breathe cleaner.
Make sure you clean and change the filters in your air purifiers regularly for the best results.
Keep Your Home Clean
Keeping your home as clean as possible can help to get rid of pet dander that may be clinging to soft surfaces.
Vacuum or wash your floors regularly and dust often. Vacuum or wash soft surfaces like curtains, throws, rugs, your dog’s bed, and your clothes as much as possible. It might be useful to ask someone else to handle your dog’s bedding to reduce your contact with allergens.
Since dander tends to cling to softer fabrics, some people choose to replace them. For example, you might replace carpets with wooden flooring. Of course, this depends on your resources and housing situation.
Some owners choose to keep their dogs off the furniture altogether to reduce the spread of allergens, but this is a personal decision.
Keep Your Chihuahuas Skin and Coat Healthy
Keeping your Chihuahua’s skin and coat in top condition can help to reduce shedding a little bit (although it won’t stop it). Some people use coat conditioners and moisturizing shampoos during bathing.
Some owners find giving their dog supplements to improve skin and coat health useful. For example, salmon oil can be added to their meals and is quite affordable.
Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor may be able to prescribe you medication to help reduce your allergy symptoms. For example, there are many antihistamines that can be taken as tablets and nasal sprays that can help to reduce inflammation. Chat with your doctor to find out what could work for you.
Can You Have a Chihuahua if You Have Allergies?
Although Chihuahuas aren’t classed as hypoallergenic dogs, there are ways you can lessen the impact of allergies if you want to live with this adorable tiny dog breed!
Chihuahuas are amazing companions and bring so much joy into any home. It’s all about figuring out what’s right for you and your health.
What dog is truly hypoallergenic?
No dog is 100% hypoallergenic. However, there are breeds that are more allergy-friendly such as Poodles, Bichon Frise, Yorkshire Terriers, and Shih Tzus. Any dog breed that is low-shedding or hairless is best for someone with allergies.
Should you get a dog if you are allergic to dogs?
This is a very personal decision and depends on how bad your allergy is, and whether the benefits of a dog outweigh the cons of your allergies.
There are hypoallergenic breeds you can choose from, as well as ways that you can reduce allergy symptoms while living with a dog.
Do Chihuahuas produce a lot of dander?
No, Chihuahuas produce an average amount of dander similar to other dogs. However, because their bodies are so small, the impact of their dander is less than that of a larger dog.
Are Chihuahua mixes hypoallergenic?
Since Chihuahuas themselves aren’t hypoallergenic, a Chihuahua mix won’t be either.
However, if they are crossed with a hypoallergenic breed like a Poodle they may inherit genes that mean they shed less. This could make them more allergy friendly, but this isn’t guaranteed and there’s no way to tell how ‘much’ of each dog breed a mix will inherit.