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Dogs That Don’t Shed: Separating Fact from Fiction

It's a biological fact that there are no non-shedding dog breeds, but some shed less than others.

Melvin Peña  |  Jan 28th 2014

People seek out dogs who don’t shed for a wide range of reasons. Some folks are looking for the mythical allergy-free dog; others want a companion that is compatible with the allergies they do have. Others seek low-maintenance dogs with wiry or shorter hair, or even hairless dogs, who are easier to manage, groom, and clean up after in the home. This may sound counterintuitive, but hairless dogs do have hair.

All dogs shed at one time or another. It’s an inescapable biological fact that there are no non-shedding dog breeds. Here at Dogster, we want to clarify what you can expect from “dogs that don’t shed” and illustrate that hair length, maintenance, and allergens are not necessarily or causally linked.

The art I’ve selected is obviously not comprehensive in terms of the number of dog breeds that don’t shed, but it is a representative sample. These photos show that dogs that don’t shed come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and coat lengths. Short hair doesn’t necessarily indicate no-shed dogs, and long or thick hair doesn’t mean a dog is prone to shedding. There is also plenty of lived experience and evidence to prove that even dogs who supposedly don’t shed much somehow manage to leave quite enough hair behind them around the house.

Dogs 101: Why do dogs shed?

Depending on the breed or the particular mix that constitutes a given dog, shedding is a natural and normal part of a dog’s life. In the main, dogs that shed often, frequently, or voluminously do so for a variety of reasons. Natural shedding is linked to season, health, diet, temperature, and exposure to sunlight. Shedding is also a consequence of completely natural, if irregular, stresses such as giving birth to puppies, travel, illness, and allergies. Lower-frequency and less common reasons for shedding include injury, trauma, and malnutrition.

Dogs that don’t shed are not the same as hypoallergenic dogs. Certainly, if you were to fashion a Venn diagram of dogs that don’t shed and so-called hypoallergenic dogs, there are a number of breeds that would overlap. Don’t mistake a low-shedding dog for a hypoallergenic dog. By the same token, it is important to remember that low-shedding dogs are not the same as low-maintenance dogs. Each dog, and every dog breed, is distinct with regard to size, temperament, disposition, and activity level. Dogs that don’t shed, or shed much, likewise run the gamut when you consider maintenance and grooming needs that vary based on coat consistency and thickness.

Small dogs that don’t shed

All dogs that don’t shed should be reclassified as dogs that don’t shed much, or dogs that shed less than others. Just as hypoallergenic dogs still produce allergens, including dander, which increases as a dog ages, shedding, even among non-shedding dog breeds, is situation and lifestyle dependent. Non-shedding small dogs are not simply those with short, wiry, or little hair; many have long, thick, or double coats.

Small dogs that don’t shed much include, but are not limited to, the Basenji, Chihuahua, Coton de Tuléar, Dachshund, Bichon Frisé, Chinese Crested, Havanese, Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer, Lhasa Apso, Puli, many varieties of Terrier (Boston, Jack Russell, Scottish, Yorkshire), along with the Shih Tzu and Xoloitzcuintli.

Big dogs that don’t shed

Under the category of “big dogs that don’t shed,” we’re including medium, large, and extra-large dogs; in other words, dogs that are anything but small, though many have small or toy mixes. These larger dogs that don’t shed much vary greatly in terms of their coat length, energy levels, and grooming needs.

Large dogs that don’t shed much include, but are not limited to, the Boxer, Bullmastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Greyhound, Komondor, Old English Sheepdog, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, and Schnauzer.

Dogs that don’t shed much can still be high-maintenance

These lists of non-shedding dog breeds, or dogs that don’t shed much, are useful whether you’re looking for a companion that you can tolerate from the point of view of allergies or home cleaning. However, these dogs come in a variety of hair lengths and hair consistencies, and many dogs that don’t shed require regular grooming and maintenance to prevent problems like matted hair and infectious agents that can get trapped in short but thick coats.

The amount that a dog sheds isn’t equivalent to the amount of work, maintenance, and care a dog requires. Whether allergies, cleaning, or other reasons factor into choosing a low-shedding dog, due diligence is always recommended. Whatever reason we seek out dogs that don’t shed, as dog owners we need to keep in mind that the onus for controlling or managing dog hair in the house is as much our responsibility as it is a factor of dog genetics.

Share your experiences with low-shedding dogs!

Grooming and maintenance on a regular basis is vital for all dogs — with long, short, or no hair — and that includes bathing and brushing. You should regularly clean and disinfect all parts and rooms of your home where your dog spends time, including the dog’s bed. If you have hardwood or tiled floors, regular sweeping, swiffering, or mopping will help; for those with carpets or rugs, regular vacuuming is the order of the day.

Do you own one of the dogs who don’t shed much featured in our lists? What have your real-world experiences with low-shedding dogs been? What are the challenges and joys associated with each of the breeds? Do you have a mix that sheds less than you imagined? Share your stories with us in the comments!

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