Many humans look for “hypoallergenic” breeds like the Shih Tzu if they are allergic to dogs. After all, it’s difficult being allergic to dogs if you love them so much. However, there are actually many common misconceptions when it comes to the term hypoallergenic.
People commonly assume that hypoallergenic means that there is no possible way to be allergic to those breeds, but that’s not exactly the case. So, what does hypoallergenic mean and does it apply to Shih Tzus?
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean?
In an ideal world, hypoallergenic would mean that something has no chance of causing allergic reactions. In fact, that’s what many people believe, but sadly, it’s just not the case. According to WebMD, hypoallergenic just means that something causes less allergic reactions for a person. It never fully guarantees that your allergies will go away. This is true for both hypoallergenic products and hypoallergenic dogs.
Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?
While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, there are certain breeds that cause less allergies than others. Dog allergies are commonly related to dog hair getting all over the house and in the air. However, if a dog doesn’t shed much, then it’s less likely that their dander will be spreading throughout your home and making you sneeze.
Shih Tzus are one of many breeds that have hair instead of fur. You can easily notice the difference just by touching your dog. A dog with hair will have a soft, silky coat while a dog with fur will have a coat that feels thicker and less fluffy.
Shih Tzu hair is actually more similar to human hair than dog fur. Because of this, their hair isn’t constantly all over the house, so it’s less likely to cause allergic reactions. Even a human’s hair sheds, so you can’t expect your Shih Tzu to never get hair in your home. However, less hair is always a plus for allergies.
While Shih Tzus are generally a good dog breed for people with allergies, they can still cause reactions like any other dog. Their hair lessens the risk, but it’s still possible. It often has to do with each individual person’s allergies rather than the breed itself. There’s no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog, but at least Shih Tzus cause less allergies than dogs with fur.
What Causes Dog Allergies?
Most people associate dog allergies with fur. However, it’s actually what’s in the fur more than anything. The allergen is typically found in a dog’s dander, which is their dead skin cells. Additionally, allergens can also be found in their saliva and urine. When a dog sheds, their allergens are often released with the fur, especially dander. Also, dogs spend a lot of time licking themselves, so saliva can easily be found in loose hair too. This is why many people believe that fur is actually the cause.
Unfortunately, all dogs have dander, saliva, and urine. There’s no way to avoid those things when you care for a dog. So, all dogs carry allergens, but it’s just a matter of how easily those allergens can spread around your home.
How to Make Your Shih Tzu More Hypoallergenic
While every dog can provoke allergies, there are ways to lessen the risks even more. If you’re allergic to dogs, you’ll likely want to lessen the chances of allergic reactions as much as possible.
While breeders, rescues, and shelters will likely let you return your dog if they cause more allergies than expected, that should only be a last resort. No true dog lover is okay with giving up their dog, especially not without a fight. So, here are some tips to help your Shih Tzu cause less allergic reactions, making them seem more hypoallergenic.
Have Someone Else Groom Your Shih Tzu
A lot of dog parents feel more comfortable grooming their own dog. However, grooming is the part of dogs that causes the most allergic reactions. Not only are you extremely close to your dog during grooming, but their hair and dander gets everywhere when you trim them and brush them.
Luckily, there are plenty of professional groomers that will manage your dog’s grooming needs for you. They can handle all the brushing, bathing, and hair cutting all in one package. It will be more expensive than grooming them yourself, but at least it will be easier on your allergies.
Even if you take your Shih Tzu to a groomer, they will need to be brushed often in between grooming appointments to prevent their hair from getting tangled. If there’s someone else living with you who isn’t allergic to dogs, have them brush your Shih Tzu if possible. Also, if you can, only brush them outside or in an area of the house that’s far away from where you usually hang out. This can decrease the amount of dander floating around your home.
Keep Their Hair Short
The popular Shih Tzu style usually consists of long hair that drags on the floor and a bow on the top of their head. However, if you have allergies, this fancy style is not a good idea for your dog. The more hair your dog has, the more maintenance it requires. Not to mention how much more dander there will be.
Life is much easier if you keep your Shih Tzu’s hair as short as possible. Not only will it make your allergies feel so much better, but it will also help your Shih Tzu feel free and allow them to cool off easier.
Bathe Your Shih Tzu Regularly
By bathing your Shih Tzu often, you can help reduce the amount of dander, saliva, and urine that could be trapped in their coat. During their bath, make sure you use a high-quality, natural shampoo. Specialty moisturizing shampoos can help wash away your dog’s dander easier and it can keep their skin healthy.
As important as baths are, make sure you don’t bathe your dog too often. If you often bathe your dog more than once a week, this could actually irritate their skin and increase their risk of fungal infections. So, as beneficial as baths are, it is possible to be too careful.
Keep Your Home Clean
Even though Shih Tzus shed very little, you will still need to clean more than usual if you’re allergic. Sweeping and vacuuming regularly is a great place to start. Also, make sure to wash the items your dog sleeps on, such as blankets and beds, at least once a week. These extra tasks might seem tedious, but it can help you get rid of the dander before it impacts your allergies.
If you are typically allergic to dogs, make sure you’re careful before bringing a dog home. Make sure you spend plenty of time with the Shih Tzu you’re interested in before adding them to your family. Give yourself plenty of time to ensure that they don’t provoke your allergies too often. You might have to groom your dog and clean your house more if you have dog allergies, but it will be worth it if you can safely have dog, especially if that dog is a Shih Tzu!