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Are West Highland White Terriers Hypoallergenic? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Scruffy dirty west highland white terrier westie dog on grooming table with scissors

Are West Highland White Terriers Hypoallergenic? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lorna Whittemore  Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Allergies can be miserable, especially if you love dogs but suffer from severe dog allergies. Many breeds are touted as being “hypoallergenic”, including the West Highland White Terrier, but is it really? The answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no.

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What Are Hypoallergenic Breeds?

A hypoallergenic dog breed is a breed that’s promoted as less likely to produce an allergic reaction than other breeds, making it ideal for people with dog allergies. Generally, these dogs are low shedding.

A dog being truly hypoallergenic is mostly a myth, unfortunately. They don’t exist, but there is a possibility that an individual dog produces less allergy-inducing proteins, thus limiting the allergic response.

Unfortunately, all dogs produce proteins that can trigger allergies, and they are not just found in the coat. There are so far 7 canine allergens described, Can f1 to Can f7. Dog allergens exist in the dander, saliva, and urine. Comparatively, fewer proteins are actually found in the fur, so there’s not always much of a difference with a low-shedding dog.

Contact with any of these substances can cause reactions in people with allergies. Based on a study from 2012, there was actually higher production of allergens from so-called hypoallergenic dogs than normal dogs.1

One thing that we do know, however, is that people with allergies can have different reactions to individual dogs.

West Highland White Terrier - Westie, Westy Barking Outdoor
Image By: Grisha Bruev.Shutterstock

Is the West Highland White Terrier a Good Choice for Allergies?

West Highland White Terriers, also known as “Westies”, are often marketed as hypoallergenic dogs. They are a low-shedding breed, but like others, they’re not truly hypoallergenic. Their coats are medium length, so they have moderate grooming needs to remove loose hair and prevent mats.

If you groom your dog regularly, you can keep the dander low and reduce their shedding frequency. These dogs don’t blow their coats as the seasons change, either, which is helpful for controlling loose hair and the dander that goes with it.

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Are Westies Good Pets?

Though they’re not hypoallergenic, the allergy concerns aren’t the only reason to love a Westie. With their bright white coats, small black eyes, button noses, and fox-like appearance, Westies are adorable companions that can work well in many different households. They’re confident, independent dogs with strong protective instincts and a ton of energy.

a westie sitting on grass outdoors
Image By: xkacha, Pixabay

How to Live with Pet Allergies

For people who love them, living without a pet is unimaginable. If you have a pet allergy, there are ways you can control them without suffering or avoiding pets altogether. Your first stop should be with your doctor or allergist.

They may recommend getting an allergy test. As mentioned, there are multiple allergy-triggering proteins that dogs can carry. If you know what you’re dealing with, that can help you choose the best dog for your needs.

In addition, sometimes it may seem like you’re allergic to the dog when you’re actually allergic to something on the dog, such as pollen spores, dust mites, or other environmental allergens. If this is the case, you can speak to your doctor about medication to curb your allergy symptoms.

You should also pay attention to your allergy symptoms. The way allergies present can be wildly different from person to person, ranging from a bit of sneezing to life-threatening asthma.

Some other tips to control allergies in your home include:
  • Making certain rooms “allergy-free” and have areas that are off-limits to your dog
  • Using HEPA air filters and vacuumsin the high-traffic areas of your home
  • Cleaning upholstery, curtains, blinds, carpets, and dog bedding regularly
  • Bathing and grooming your dog regularly

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Conclusion

Hypoallergenic dogs don’t really exist, however, Westie’s are a low-shedding breed that may be ideal for people with dog allergies. There are many factors that contribute to allergies, but some lifestyle changes can help you manage your allergies while enjoying your life with a loving companion like a Westie. Always consult with your doctor for the best advice on safely and comfortably living with a pet if you have allergies.

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Featured Image Credit: corners74, Shutterstock

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