The Siberian husky is a team player. This sled dog gets along well with other dogs, children, friends, family members, and strangers. On top of its amiable personality, the husky has a striking white coat with gray, black, or sable markings, which is often paired with piercing blue eyes. But beyond beauty, what can you expect from the husky’s coat? Are huskies hypoallergenic and do they shed?
Unfortunately, huskies are NOT hypoallergenic. This breed sheds a lot and is one of the worst dogs for allergy sufferers.
Below, we’ll look at what causes dog allergies, why huskies are a bad choice for allergy sufferers, and what options you have if you’re allergic to huskies.
So, Are Huskies Hypoallergenic? Here’s Why the Answer Is No
Are huskies hypoallergenic? Actually, huskies are some of the heaviest shedders in the entire canine kingdom, which is why they’re one of the worst dog breeds for allergy sufferers. The breed’s thick coat, which is essential for pulling sleds in harsh winter climates, is also responsible for husky shedding.
Huskies have what’s known as a double coat. It’s one of the nine coat types recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). German shepherds, Australian shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and many of the heaviest shedding breeds also have this type of coat.
As the name implies, a double coat consists of two layers. There’s a weather-resistant top coat that sheds a moderate amount all year round, and there’s a dense undercoat that sheds heavily twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall.
This heavy shedding season is known as blowing their coat, and during this time of year, you will find tumbleweeds of dog fur blowing around your house (and blowing allergens around with them).
What Causes Dog Allergies?
Many people who suffer from dog allergies believe they’re allergic to dog hair, but that’s not typically what triggers allergy symptoms. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), pet allergies are triggered by a protein found in pets’ dander and saliva. However, dog hair can spread those allergens around your house.
Here’s how it works: Dogs lick their fur, which coats their hair in saliva, and dead skin cells and dander stick their fur. So, when a dog sheds, it spreads the allergens around your environment, which can trigger an allergic reaction. If you have dog allergies, you’re more likely to experience a stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy skin, and red, itchy, or watery eyes whenever you’re around a dog or in an environment where a dog has been.
In severe cases, dog allergies can cause shortness of breath and may cause your throat to swell and close. If you experience these symptoms, remove yourself from the environment immediately and contact a medical professional.
What Makes a Dog Hypoallergenic?
While there are some dog breeds that are better for allergy sufferers and some breeds that are worse, there’s actually no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog breed. People with severe dog allergies may even be allergic to poodles — the breed that is least likely to trigger allergies.
Even poodles and other low-allergy dog breeds still produce saliva and dander. However, they don’t shed loose hair in the way that most dogs do. Instead, their hair simply falls out similar to human hair. This leads to less dander around your home, which leads to a lower risk of the dog triggering allergy symptoms.
Many curly coated, wire coated, and hairless breeds of dog are considered good for allergy sufferers. But, the amount the dog sheds is more important than the type of coat.
Even if that dog is considered good for allergy sufferers, before you adopt, try pet sitting or fostering a dog of the same breed to see if it triggers allergy symptoms.
What Can Husky-Loving Allergy Sufferers Do?
If you have your heart set on a Siberian husky, but allergies are standing in your way, we’ll share our favorite allergy-friendly husky alternatives.
But, if you’ve already adopted a husky and only discovered your allergies after you discovered your best friend, there are some ways to live more comfortably together. Here’s what to do:
- Try immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, expose your immune system to small doses of an allergen, retraining your body not to overreact to the stimuli and easing your allergy symptoms over time. This same therapy is used by allergists treating human patients and veterinarians treating dogs with seasonal allergies.
- Train your dog to stay out of the bedroom and off the furniture: By keeping your dog out of the bedroom (and off the bed!), you’ll reduce your exposure to allergens.
- Add filters over your vents: The AAFA recommends covering the AC filters in your bedroom with a filtering material like cheesecloth. That helps keep your AC system from spreading allergens throughout your house.
- Invest in a robot vacuum: More frequent vacuuming will keep allergens at bay. You can set a robo-vac to run automatically each day.
- Wear a mask when you vacuum: When you vacuum yourself, it kicks up dust and dander. And whenever you empty your vacuum or robo-vac, you’ll be exposed to all the dander your vacuum sucked up. Wear a face mask to cover your nose and mouth and reduce your exposure.
- Use a deshedding dog shampoo: Remove loose hair at bath time with a deshedding shampoo so there’s less hair to spread around your house.
- Brush your dog frequently: Frequent brushing allows you to dispose of loose hair before it’s shed all over your home. This task is best for a non-allergic person, though you can also wear a mask to protect yourself from loose hair.
- Use a fish oil supplement: A fish oil supplement can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and reduce shedding. Give your dog a fish oil supplement every day to see a healthier coat.
Best Allergy-Friendly Dog Breeds for Husky Lovers
If you love the husky’s look, size, or personality, but you can’t have a husky because of your allergies, consider one of these lovable low-shedding breeds instead.
- Portuguese water dog: This breed shares the husky’s high-energy level and good-natured-with-everyone attitude. It’s also the exact same size as the husky (both range from 30-60 pounds, depending on gender), but it has a low-shedding curly coat. This breed is our top pick for husky lovers who need a low-allergy dog breed.
- Standard schnauzer: Weighing 30-50 pounds, the standard schnauzer is an extremely intelligent breed. Schnauzers are slightly more reserved with strangers and other dogs than huskies, but they’re also more trainable and make good watch dogs.
- Standard poodle: The standard poodle is one of five types of poodles, and poodles are great for dog allergies. Poodles do not shed and are polite with everyone. They're slightly bigger than huskies at 40-70 pounds and are typically easier to train.
- Irish water spaniel: Also slightly bigger than huskies at 45-68 pounds, the Irish water spaniel is a playful pup that’s fiercely devoted to its family. However, it’s often more reserved with other dogs and strangers than the husky. It also has a lower energy level.
- Afghan hound: This breed shares the husky’s dignified appearance and comes in at a similar size of 50-60 pounds. Afghan hounds can be more introverted than the husky, and they’re a good choice for dog owners who love routine. Unlike the other breeds on this list, Afghans have a luxurious silky coat, rather than a curly or wiry coat.
- Kerry blue terrier: Loving with its family and good with children, the Kerry blue doesn’t always get along with other dogs as well as the husky does. But like the Siberian husky, this dog is independent yet open to training. It has a wiry coat and weighs in at 33-40 pounds.
- Soft-coated wheaten terrier: As the name implies, this dog is one of the softest on the list. Wheatens are famous for looking like teddy bears when they’re puppies, and they share the husky’s love of family, children, and other dogs. They also require a similar amount of training as the husky, and weigh a similar amount at 30-40 pounds.
All of these breeds have a similar size and life expectancy to the husky, but there are also many allergy-friendly small breed dogs. If you’re looking for a more compact canine companion, consider the Maltese, Bichon Frise, Bedlington terrier, miniature schnauzer, Chinese Crested, and Coton de Tulear.
There Are So Many Breeds to Love
Are huskies hypoallergenic? Not at all. Because of their dense double coat, this breed sheds year round with two heavy shedding seasons in the fall and spring. All this shedding adds up to lots of dander around your home, which will trigger allergies — making the husky one of the worst dog breeds for allergy sufferers.
If you already have a husky and are trying to live comfortably with your furry friend in spite of your allergies, try immunotherapy shots. Also, train your dog to stay off furniture and out of the bedroom, use a robot vacuum to clean up shed fur, and try giving your dog a fish oil supplement to reduce shedding.
But, if you don’t own a husky and you have dog allergies, the best thing you can do for yourself and your future canine companion is to get an allergy-friendly dog breed instead. Our top pick for allergy sufferers who love huskies is the Portuguese water dog because it is the same size as the husky, has a similar energy level, and loves everyone. But schnauzers, poodles, Irish water spaniels, Afghan hounds, Kerry blue terriers, and soft-coated wheaten terriers are also wonderful companions.
For more information on your favorite dog breeds, check out the Native Pet blog.