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Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

shih tzu puppy sitting on a couch

The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed that makes a great pet, especially if you live in a small apartment.  However, the enclosed space can make allergies worse. If you have them, you will need a dog that doesn’t trigger them. The good news is that the Shih Tzu is considered to be hypoallergenic and produces very little dander, so it should not bother your allergies. However, keep reading while we look at some other factors that can contribute to allergic reactions and ways you and your dog can avoid them.

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Can Shih Tzus affect my allergies?

Your Shih Tzu grows hair that is closer to human hair than the fur produced by most dog breeds. These long strands of hair do not produce the same amount of dander that fur does, so your allergies are not affected in the same way. However, there is still dander present, so you may still experience some symptoms if you are especially sensitive.

shih tzu lying outdoor
Image Credit: minimomo, Pixabay

What is dander?

Dander is tiny pieces of skin that fall off nearly every animal. These often-microscopic skin pieces can cause allergic reactions in many people because they contain proteins called the Can f I, Can f II in dogs, and Fel d I in cats. You can also find these proteins in the animal’s saliva, urine, and feces. Its presence in the saliva is a big part of why more people seem to be allergic to cats. Cats continuously groom themselves, and the saliva dries and becomes airborne, triggering an allergic reaction. Since dogs don’t usually participate in this behavior, they don’t release as much dander into the air, and fewer people have an allergic reaction around them.

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The 6 Ways to Reduce Shih Tzu Dander:

Yes, even though your Shih Tzu produces very little dander, you can still have an allergic reaction to the small amount in their hair, saliva, and urine, and there are steps you can take to help eliminate any problems.

1. Brush

The best way to reduce dander is to brush your dog frequently using a soft-bristled brush or a fine-tooth comb. If you have the long hair version of the Shih Tzu, you will need to brush them often to keep the hair from becoming tangled but doing so on the short hair can help reduce the build-up of dander.

Grooming the Shih Tzu dog
Image Credit: siamionau pavel, Shutterstock

2. Bath

You can also help to reduce the dander in your home by bathing your dog every few weeks.  The water will wash away dander that gets trapped in the hair or clings to the skin. However, you will need to be careful not to dry out your dog’s skin with too many baths. One every 6 to 8 weeks (about 2 months) should be sufficient.

3. Dander Remover

To help reduce the number of baths you need to give, you can use a commercial dander remover like Allerpet Dog Allergy Relief. You usually spray or rub this non-toxic product into the fur and use a hand mitt or cloth to wipe it off along with the dander. Many of these products also help to condition the skin to slow the creation of new dander.

4. Vacuum

Once the dander falls off our Shih Tzu, it can land on the floor and furniture. It can pile up considerably in areas that the dog spends a lot of time and might trigger your allergies if you are nearby. Vacuuming these areas can often help reduce the build-up, but you will need to make sure to use one with a heap filter or risk blowing the contaminants into the air. Many vacuum brands use a heap filter, and you can even find handheld models that will work.

5. Wash

As we mentioned earlier, one place where you can contact some of the proteins that cause allergic reactions is in their saliva. Dogs are fond of licking their owners, and many people may not realize this is a source of their allergies. If you suffer when you are around dogs, you must frequently wash your hands, especially if it licks you. You can also pick up the dander on your hands by touching the furniture because the tiny particles are often microscopic. If you then rub your eyes, nose, or mouth, it can lead to irritation.

woman washing hands
Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay

6. Seal Off Certain Rooms

You can also try to seal off certain rooms, so your dog does not visit them. Closing doors is the best way to prevent the spread of dander in these areas and should be enough to get a good night’s sleep unless your puppy demand to come into the room. You will also need to make sure you don’t contaminate your space with dirty clothes or towels that may spread dander and cause you to react negatively.

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Shih Tzus & Allergies: Summary

If you suffer from allergies when you are around dogs or cats, a Shih Tzu may be just the puppy you need. Shih Tzus are often considered hypoallergenic. This breed produces very little dander, and it won’t trigger allergies in most people. However, it’s important to remember that there is still some dander produced. This small amount may cause a reaction in hypersensitive people, so we recommend a short trial run with the puppy before you purchase it. The other tips in this guide can also help reduce the ability of the proteins to build up to the point of becoming a problem.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and learned some new ways to control your allergies and feel better about being around these fun little dogs. If we have convinced you to get one for your home, please share our answer to if Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Pattarit S_Shutterstock

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