Rottweilers, or Rotties, are the eighth most popular dog breed in America. These intelligent guard dogs are gentle with their family members and make excellent cuddle companions. But, should you be cuddling up to a Rottweiler pup if you have allergies? Are Rottweilers hypoallergenic?
The Rottweiler is not a hypoallergenic dog. But, pet allergies affect different people in different ways. Your tolerance to different dogs will depend on the severity of your allergy symptoms.
We'll take a look at what causes an allergic reaction to dogs, why Rottweilers aren't good for allergy sufferers, and what you can do to welcome a furry friend into your home.
Why Do People Develop Dog Allergies?
Many people with dog allergies believe they're allergic to dog fur, but according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, that's not typically the case. Most people with pet allergies are actually allergic to a protein found in pet dander, saliva, and urine.
However, pet fur is full of dander and saliva, so when a dog sheds, it essentially spreads the allergens all over your house, clothes, and furniture. This is why heavy-shedding dogs can cause a worse allergic reaction than non-shedding dogs.
The most common allergy symptoms in people with pet allergies are sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. If a dog licks you or drools on you, you may also experience itchiness where your skin comes into contact with the dog's saliva.
In severe cases, exposure to dogs can cause a person's throat to itch, swell, and potentially close. If you ever have trouble breathing when you're around pets, move to a pet-free environment and call your doctor immediately.
Are Rottweilers Hypoallergenic?
Rottweilers are not hypoallergenic. Rottweilers shed, which spreads dander throughout your house and triggers allergy symptoms. But these dogs are only considered moderate shedders. They shed minimally for most of the year. Then, they have two periods during the year when they lose their undercoat and shed more heavily.
Some dog owners who only have mild allergies find the Rottweiler's coat less triggering than that of dogs like German shepherds and Labrador retrievers, which have a dense double coat that sheds year-round. Still, these dog lovers represent a minority of allergy sufferers. Most people with moderate to severe dog allergies will be allergic to Rottweilers.
What Can You Do if You Have Allergies and Want a Rottweiler?
If you have allergies, the best thing you can do is choose a more hypoallergenic dog. We'll cover some of the options for hypoallergenic large dog breeds below. But, if your heart is set on a Rottweiler, there are some steps you can take to make sure you're making the best choice for you and your future best friend.
Step 1: Test the Waters
Before you commit to owning a Rottweiler, try pet sitting or fostering a Rottie in your house. There are Rottweiler rescue organizations across the country. You can volunteer to foster a rescue Rottie in your home and see if allergy symptoms develop when your foster friend moves in.
You can also offer to pet sit a friend's Rottweiler or another dog with a smooth coat, like a bulldog or a Doberman. If you don't have a friend with one of these dog breeds, try signing up for a pet sitting site, like Rover or Care.com. You may even be able to make a few bucks in your quest to test your dog allergies.
Step 2: Ask About Allergy Shots
Allergy shots have helped many allergy sufferers find relief. In this therapy, you're given a small shot of the allergen that triggers your symptoms. Gradually, the dose of allergen in the shot increases until your body builds up a tolerance.
This process is very involved and requires many shots over a long period of time, but it can be quite effective. Interestingly, while this treatment started in human allergy practices, veterinarians now use it to treat dogs with environmental allergies, as well. Talk to an allergy doctor to decide if it's right for you.
Step 3: Dander-Proof Your Home
If you choose to get a dog that sheds, you won't be able to completely remove allergens from your home, but you can reduce your exposure to pet dander with a few cleaning strategies. Here's what the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends:
- Choose tile or wood over carpet. Pet hair and dander collect in carpet fibers. If you remove the carpet from your house it will be easier to eliminate allergens when you clean.
- Keep Fido off furniture. Much like carpet, the upholstery on furniture holds onto pet dander. Give your best friend their own bed instead of inviting them up on furniture.
- Don't let your dog in your bedroom. You spend a third of your day or more in your bedroom. Keeping your dog out will help reduce your exposure to pet dander.
- Change your clothes regularly. If you notice your dog has shed on your shirt, it's time for a quick change. Also, change your clothes when you enter the bedroom to avoid tracking dander into this safe zone.
- Put filters on your air vents. Your AC can spread pet hair throughout your house. Add filters over the vents in your bedroom to keep this space allergen-free.
- Wear a dust mask when you vacuum. Vacuuming kicks up dust, dirt, and dander. Wear a mask to avoid breathing it in and triggering allergy symptoms when you clean.
- Give your dog a fish oil supplement. An omega-3 fish oil supplement promotes healthy skin and coat in your dog, which can help reduce dandruff and shedding.
The Best Large Breed Dogs for Allergy Sufferers
If your allergies won't allow you to get a Rottweiler, you can make room for a furry friend by choosing a no- or low-shedding dog. While there are no completely hypoallergenic dog breeds, curly and wiry-coated types of dogs don't shed like traditional dog breeds, which means less dander around your home.
Whichever breed you choose, make sure to test the waters, like we described above, before you adopt so that you and your new friend will be able to live comfortably together.
Because the Rottweiler is a big dog, we've rounded up a list of medium and large dogs that are good for allergy sufferers. For comparison's sake, the AKC (American Kennel Club) standard for Rottweilers has them weighing in at 60-100 pounds. While most of the dogs on this list aren't quite that big, we'll let you know how they compare.
- Giant schnauzer: Weighing 55-85 pounds, the schnauzer is an intelligent guard dog that’s easy to train. This breed would be our top pick for anyone looking for a hypoallergenic breed with similar attributes to a Rottie.
- Poodle: Considered the most hypoallergenic of all the dog breeds, the standard poodle weighs 40-70 pounds (though there are many sizes and types of poodles). It's a great family dog that's polite with kids and other pets, but it makes a better watchdog than guard dog.
- Afghan hound: One of the only silky-haired dogs on this list, the Afghan hound loses its hair similarly to how people lose their hair rather than shedding. These dogs are more sensitive and independent than Rottweilers. They're sweet-natured dogs and make good running companions. They weigh 50-60 pounds.
- Irish water spaniel: These courageous, curly-coated dogs weigh 55-68 pounds. They're easy to train but are very playful and require a lot of mental stimulation.
- Airedale terrier: A brave guard dog, the Airedale terrier needs early socialization with children and may not get along with smaller pets. But, as long as they get early socialization, this sturdy and clever terrier will love to play with the whole family. They weigh in at 50-70 pounds.
- Kerry blue terrier: A more compact terrier, the Kerry blue weighs 30-40 pounds. It's an intelligent, people-oriented breed, but like most terriers, this pup has a mind of its own and may not play well with smaller pets.
- Portuguese water dog: These lovable clowns weigh in at 35-60 pounds. They are athletic and social pups who also make good watchdogs, but they will require more exercise than a Rottie.
- Soft-coated Wheaten terrier: Among the most laid-back of terriers, the Wheaten is a lovable family dog. It gets along better with other dogs and small pets than most terriers, and it's friendly with children. But, weighing just 30-40 pounds, this pup makes a better watchdog than guard dog.
There are also several small breeds of dogs that are considered good for people with pet allergies, including bichon frises, Malteses, wire-haired fox terriers, West Highland white terriers, Scottish terriers, and border terriers.
Even Allergy Sufferers Need a Furry Friend
So, are Rottweilers hypoallergenic? Unfortunately, the answer is no. While Rotties aren't the worst dog for allergy sufferers, they aren't the best either. You'd be much better off with a non-shedding dog because it will spread less dander throughout your house.
Our top pick for allergy sufferers who love Rottweilers is the Giant Schnauzer because these two breeds have similar working-dog backgrounds. They're both intelligent guard dogs who are easy to train and good with their families.
But, if you still have your heart set on a Rottie, you can talk to your allergist about allergy shots and other options. Whichever breed you choose, try fostering or pet sitting a dog of the same breed before you commit to adoption so you can make sure your new best friend won't trigger allergy symptoms.
For more information on dog breeds, dog food, and your pet's overall health and wellness, check out our Native Pet blog.