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Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic? 6 Tips to Reduce Shih Tzu Dander

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By Nicole Cosgrove

shih tzu puppy sitting on a couch

The Shih Tzu is a toy dog that makes a great pet, especially if you live in a small apartment.  However, the enclosed space can make your 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 other factors contributing 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 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, dander is still present, so you may experience some symptoms if you are especially sensitive.

shih tzu lying outdoor
Photo Credit minimomo, Pixabay

What is dander?

Dander is tiny pieces of skin that fall off every animal. These often microscopic skin can cause allergic reactions because they contain proteins called the Can f I, Can f II in dogs, and Fel d I in cats. You can also find the proteins in the animal’s saliva, urine, and feces. Its presence in the saliva is a big part of why more people seem 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
Photo Credit: siamionau pavel, Shutterstock

2. Bath

You can also reduce the dander in your home by bathing your dog every few weeks.  The water will wash away dander trapped in the hair or clinging to the skin. However, you must 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. It can also condition the skin to disrupt 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 where the dog spends a lot of time and might trigger your allergies if you are nearby.

Vacuuming these areas can reduce the build-up, but you will need to use a model 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.

a woman vacuuming furniture in a house with a hand-held portable vacuum cleaner
Photo Credit: Den Rozhnovsky, Shutterstock

5. Wash

As we mentioned, one place 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 it is a source of their allergies.

If you suffer around dogs, you must frequently wash your hands, especially if they lick 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.

6. Seal Off Certain Rooms

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

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Shih Tzus & Allergies: Summary

If you suffer from allergies around dogs, a Shih Tzu may be just the puppy you need. Shih Tzus are often considered hypoallergenic, and since they produce very little dander, they won’t trigger allergies in most people. However, it’s important to remember that some dander is still produced.

This small amount may cause a reaction in hypersensitive people, so we recommend a short trial run with the puppy before you purchase them. The other tips in this guide can also reduce the ability of the proteins to build up to the point of becoming a problem.

We hope you have enjoyed learning 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.

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Featured Image Credit: Pattarit S_Shutterstock

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