With their abundant wrinkles, roly-poly bodies, and smushed faces, the pug is an instantly recognizable dog breed. Their unique appearance and laid back temperament has captured the heart of dog lovers across the world, including some dog lovers with allergies. If you have allergies but adore this breed, you need to know: Are pugs hypoallergenic?
Unfortunately, no. Pugs are not hypoallergenic dogs, and they’re not a good choice for families with dog allergies. But pug owners who are experiencing allergy symptoms can minimize their exposure. If you’re seeking to adopt a small dog breed that’s less likely to trigger an allergic reaction, you have options.
We’ll explain why pugs aren’t hypoallergenic, what you can do to reduce your allergy symptoms, and which dog breeds make a better choice for allergy sufferers.
What Causes Dog Allergies?
Many people with pet allergies think they’re allergic to pet hair, but most allergies are actually caused by proteins. In the case of pet allergies, a protein found in pet dander, saliva, and urine triggers allergy symptoms, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
And yet, the fact remains: Dogs that shed less are less likely to trigger allergy symptoms. So, what’s going on?
That protein found in dog dander and saliva gets on a dog’s fur when they lose dead skin cells or lick their coats. Then, when the dog sheds, those allergens cling to your floors, clothes, and furniture, triggering an allergic reaction that could include a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, skin rashes, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.
Dogs that don’t shed will spread fewer allergens throughout your home, which makes them less likely to trigger your dog allergies. But, there are no 100% hypoallergenic dog breeds.
Even though a non-shedding dog leaves less dander lying around your house, they may still trigger an allergic reaction in people with the most severe pet allergies.
Why Aren’t Pugs Hypoallergenic?
While pug dogs have low-maintenance short coats, shorter hair does not mean less shedding. This breed of dog sheds moderately all year round, which means it will spread allergens throughout your home — all year round.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), pugs have smooth coats. It‘s the same type of coat as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers, and Rottweilers. A dog with a smooth coat won’t shed as much as those with a double coat — the type that German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and many of the heaviest shedders have — but it will still shed enough to trigger symptoms in most allergy sufferers.
The AKC ranks the pug’s shedding as a four on a scale of one to five, with five being the heaviest shedding. So, make no mistake: Pugs shed a lot.
What Can You Do If You Have Allergies and Have a Pug?
If you wish you’d asked “Are pugs hypoallergenic?” before you took home your furry friend and started noticing allergy symptoms, don‘t lose hope. Pet parents can take steps to reduce the allergens around their home and live more comfortably with their pug.
- Invest in a robot vacuum: A robot vacuum cleaner will help keep hair off your floors and reduce the amount of dander floating around your environment. Use gloves and a mask when you empty the dustbin to minimize your exposure.
- Train your pug to stay off the furniture: This can keep allergens off your furniture so you don’t inhale pet dander every time you sit on the sofa. Give your pug a comfortable dog bed where it can lounge.
- Set room boundaries: You spend one-third of your time in the bedroom. If you train your dog to stay out of this room, you’ll reduce your exposure to allergens for a large portion of your day.
- Cover your vents: If you have a central AC unit, it can carry pet hair throughout your house. The AAFA recommends covering your bedroom vents with cheesecloth to keep dog hair from drifting in.
- Try an air purifier: This device can help remove dander and other allergens from the air around your home. Add one in every room where you spend a lot of time.
- Provide regular grooming: Bathing your pug with a deshedding shampoo and brushing them with a soft-bristle brush will help remove loose hair from their coat so it doesn’t end up around your house.
- Change your clothes after you cuddle: After you spend time playing with or cuddling your pup, your clothes will be covered in fur. Change into a clean set to reduce your exposure.
- Use a fish oil supplement: An all-natural fish oil supplement for dogs can help keep your pug‘s coat healthy and prevent excessive shedding, which means there will be less fur floating around your house.
- Consider immunotherapy: If your allergies are still bothering you after you‘ve reduced your exposure to your dog‘s dander, then it‘s time to consider a medical intervention. Talk to your allergy doctor about whether immunotherapy allergy shots could work for you.
Small Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers
If you have allergies but still want to bring home a furry friend, there are plenty of lovable breeds that will be a better fit for your home. Here are some of our favorite non-shedding small dog breeds that make great alternatives for people who love pugs.
- Affenpinscher: If you love the look of black pugs, then this flat-faced black dog could be right for you. The affenpinscher is slightly smaller than the pug and shares a similar sense of humor.
- American hairless terrier: The hairless terrier is ideal for allergy sufferers who don’t want to deal with expensive dog grooming. This dog loves to cuddle with its family and is great with kids.
- Bichon frise: Like the pug, the bichon is small but sturdy. It’s a similarly playful and happy pet that gets along with most people.
- Chinese crested: Another hairless breed, the Chinese crested typically only has hair around its head and paws. But even the powder puff version (which has hair over its full body) is non-shedding. This breed is a good choice for anyone who wants a dignified dog that likes to cuddle.
- Maltese: This tiny toy breed is about half the size of a pug. It’s an extremely affectionate dog that shares the pug’s ability to charm everyone it meets.
- Miniature poodle: While the poodle has a very different build from the pug, the two breeds are about the same height and weight. Regardless of the type of poodle, these dogs are considered the most hypoallergenic of all dog breeds. So, this is the best choice for anyone with moderate to severe allergies.
- Miniature schnauzer: Once used as circus dogs, mini schnauzers are eager to please and easy to train. Like pugs, they‘re friendly, affectionate, and playful.
- Yorkshire terrier: These playful little dogs are smaller than pugs but have big, spunky personalities that will keep you entertained.
In addition to these non-shedding small dogs, there are also many non-shedding medium and large breed dogs that make a great option for people with pet allergies. If you’re not set on the pug‘s small size, you might consider the Afghan hound, giant schnauzer, Irish water spaniel, Kerry blue terrier, Portuguese water dog, or soft-coated wheaten terrier.
So, Are Pugs Hypoallergenic?
Pugs are not hypoallergenic dogs. This breed sheds all year, and as it sheds, it will release dander and saliva into your home, triggering allergy symptoms.
We don’t recommend adopting a pug if you or a family member has dog allergies, but if you already have a pug, you can minimize your exposure to dander. Train your dog to stay off your furniture and out of your bedroom. Invest in a robot vacuum to reduce fur around your home. And talk to an allergist about immunotherapy allergy shots to treat your pet allergies.
If you‘re an allergy sufferer who loves pugs but needs a more allergy-friendly companion, consider an affenpinscher, bichon frise, or miniature schnauzer. These breeds are non-shedding so they‘re less likely to trigger allergies. Plus, they all share the pug‘s convenient size and comic sense of humor.
For more information on your favorite dog breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.