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photo of a shih tzu laying on a brown carpet in the living room

Are Shih Tzus Truly Hypoallergenic?

Are you an indoor pet allergy sufferer considering getting a Shih Tzu as a furry companion? Have you heard that Shih Tzus are truly hypoallergenic? Are they, or is this too good to be true?

Many people believe that Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic because of their long, luxurious coats and the fact that they shed less than other breeds. However, the reality is a bit more complex. While Shih Tzus may seem like the perfect choice for pet lovers who are looking for a hypoallergenic dog breed, the truth is more complicated. 

As you might be aware, individual reactions to allergens can vary. Some people may be perfectly fine with a Shih Tzu, while others may experience significant discomfort. If you're considering bringing a Shih Tzu into your home, by all means, spend significant time with the breed and observe your allergic reactions before making a final decision.


What makes Shih Tzus a popular choice for allergy sufferers?

Shih Tzus have gained popularity among allergy sufferers due to their reputation as a "hypoallergenic" breed. While they might shed less than some other breeds, no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, as shedding is only part of the problem.

A common misconception

Shih Tzus have certain characteristics that make them potentially more suitable for individuals with allergies. Their low shedding coats mean that less hair is released into the environment, reducing the spread of allergens. Additionally, Shih Tzus have hair instead of fur, which some believe can be less likely to cause allergic reactions, but these are both common misconceptions. Shih Tzus do look pretty cute if freshly groomed -although this an another topic :)


Debunking the myth: Are Shih Tzus truly hypoallergenic?

Despite their reputation as a "hypoallergenic dog", Shih Tzus can still trigger allergic reactions in some people. The truth is all dogs produce dander, which is a common allergen. No dog breed is completely free of allergens, even cute Shih Tzus.

The role of dander in allergies

Dander is a major contributor to allergic reactions in individuals with pet allergies. It contains proteins that can trigger an immune response in sensitive individuals, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and skin rashes.  

Dander is the dead skin cells of the dog which is just one allergens among many, including allergens in their urine, saliva and blood. When dogs groom themselves, they spread dander throughout their fur, which can then be released into the environment. As you might know, you are not allergic to the hair or fur directly, but the allergen (protein) that is on the hair or fur.


Common allergens found in Shih Tzus

In addition to dander, Shih Tzus can carry other allergens that can make allergies worse. Their long hair can trap pollen, dust, and other irritants, making them more likely to trigger allergic reaction.These allergens can cling to the dog's coat, (when you take them for a walk outside for example) and be brought into the home. 

How to manage allergies if you own a Shih Tzu

If you're an allergy sufferer who already owns or is considering getting a Shih Tzu, here are steps you can take to manage your allergies and minimize exposure to allergens:

  1. Keep your home clean: Regularly vacuum, dust, and clean surfaces to reduce the presence of dog allergens in your living space. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to effectively capture pet dander and other allergens.
  2. Create pet-free zones: Designate specific areas in your home where your Shih Tzu is not allowed, such as your bedroom, this creates a safe space for you. Keep the door closed and change into clean clothes before entering. 
  3. Bathe your Shih Tzu regularly: Regular baths can temporarily reduce allergens from your dog's coat. Use a hypoallergenic shampoo recommended by your veterinarian to minimize skin irritation. While grooming and regular bathing can help reduce the amount of allergens on a Shih Tzu's coat, allergenlevels in the home will return back to normal within two days!
  4. Just spray & enjoy: It's as easy as just liberally spraying in every room of your home. We like to say "spray and step away" (for about 10 min.). Using Allergen Spray in the air and on surfaces throughout your home is lab verified to reduce up to 99% of major allergens on surfaces and 95% in the air.
  5. Wash your hands & face after interacting with your Shih Tzu: This helps remove any allergens that may have come into contact with your skin. Washing your face can also help. Learn about how your mucus membranes and allergies are connected.
  6. Wash bedding regularly: Wash your bedding, including blankets and sheets, in hot water (130 degrees or more) at least once a week. And don't forget the dog's bed.
  7. Minimize carpeting: Carpets can trap allergens, so consider using hardwood or tile flooring in your home. If you have carpets, vacuum them regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner.
  8. Clean air vents and filters: Regularly clean and replace air filters to reduce the circulation of airborne allergens.


Are alternative hypoallergenic dog breeds considered real?

If you find that you are highly sensitive to allergens and cannot tolerate a Shih Tzu, other "hypoallergenic" dog breeds could be an option for you but remember all dogs produce allergens.

  1. Poodles: Poodles are often considered one of the most "hypoallergenic" breeds due to their low shedding. They have a curly coat that claim to trap allergens.
  2. Bichon Frise: Bichon Frises have a dense, curly coat that sheds minimally. They are known for producing "less" dander compared to some other breeds.
  3. Yorkshire Terriers: Yorkshire Terriers have a silky, "hypoallergenic" coat that sheds minimally. 
  4. Maltese: Maltese dogs have a long, silky coat that sheds little. They are often considered "hypoallergenic" due to their low dander levels.

While Shih Tzus are not truly hypoallergenic, there are many ways you can manage your allergies and still enjoy your best furry friend. However, individual reactions to allergens can vary, and spending time with the breed before making a final decision is crucial!