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Most popular small dog breeds that won't make you sneeze

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December 10, 2020

Most popular small dog breeds that won't make you sneeze

A long time ago—somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 years—a group of hunter-gatherers in continental Europe began a symbiotic relationship with a group of wolves that gathered at the edge of their camp. This relationship eventually became a sort of domestication, and this pack of wolves began acting like modern-day village dogs: friendly with people but not living in specific households or acting very “pet-like.” Eventually, ancient peoples began breeding these semi-domesticated dogs for certain skills, like hunting, herding, and guarding. The rest is history.

Throughout the years, dogs have more than earned their title as man’s best friend. Loyal, hard-working, and lovable, dogs are the most popular pet in the United States. As of 2020, some 50 million households owned at least one dog. That said, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that an estimated three in 10 people with allergies are allergic to dogs and cats. For many, this sensitivity to dander and other pet allergens keep them from getting a pup, regardless of how much they may want one.

Here’s some good news for those allergy-prone would-be owners: There are a handful of dog breeds that are actually hypoallergenic. Low-shedding or with a coat that more closely mirrors human hair than dog fur, these breeds are suitable for those with animal sensitivities, and their presence won’t leave you sneezing or with watery eyes.

In the following slides, Nom Nom has determined the most popular small hypoallergenic dogs using 2019 data (released on May 1, 2020) from the American Kennel Club dog breed popularity rankings and dog breed characteristics. Each dog breed on this list is registered by the American Kennel Club, is small in size, and does minimal shedding—a common cause of allergies in pet owners. Click through to find your new, sneeze-free, furry best friend.


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#12. Löwchen

- 2019 popularity rank: #158 (out of 193)
- Height: 11-13 inches
- Weight: 10-15 pounds
- Life expectancy: 15+ years
- Temperament: affectionate, outgoing, positive

Löwchen have been a favorite breed among Europeans since at least the 15th century, thanks to their lively and affectionate personalities and portable size. German for “little lion,” these dogs earn their name thanks to their distinctive haircuts, which are clipped through the hindquarters and tail with a full mane. The breed is a descendant of the same ancient line that produced bichon frise and Maltese pups.

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#11. Affenpinscher

- 2019 popularity rank: #150 (out of 193)
- Height: 9-11.5 inches
- Weight: 7-10 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years
- Temperament: confident, famously funny, fearless

Affenpinschers are unique in both looks and temperament. Short, with a wiry coat, the terrier-like breed, whose name means “monkey dog” or “ape terrier” in German, was allegedly the inspiration for the teddy bear-like Ewoks in “Star Wars.” Confident, willful, and entertaining, affenpinschers are more human-like than many other breeds, and so require a different approach when it comes to training.

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#10. Bedlington terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #151 (out of 193)
- Height: 15-17.5 inches
- Weight: 17-23 pounds
- Life expectancy: 11-16 years
- Temperament: loyal, charming, frollicking

An active family is a requirement for Bedlington terriers, who need plenty of regular exercise to be happy. Initially bred to be a rodent-catching working dog, the modern iteration of the breed is lithe, charming, and full of life. While they resemble little lambs with their white curly fur, Bedlingtons are known to be fiercely protective and very loyal and require early socialization to help curb these more aggressive instincts.

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#9. American hairless terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #124 (out of 193)
- Height: 12-16 inches
- Weight: 12-16 pounds
- Life expectancy: 14-16 years
- Temperament: energetic, alert, curious

Although the name might imply otherwise, some American hairless terriers can have a short, wiry coat—though some are truly, completely hairless. Easy to train, eager to please, and requiring minimal exercise, the breed makes for a low-key pet that is just as happy to go on long walks as it is to cuddle up on the couch.

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#8. Coton de tulear

- 2019 popularity rank: #81 (out of 193)
- Height: 10-11 inches (male), 9-10 inches (female)
- Weight: 9-15 pounds (male), 8-13 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 15-19 years
- Temperament: charming, bright, happy-go-lucky

Once the official dog of Madagascar's noble class, Coton de Tulear were discovered by continental Europeans in the 1960s and have been internationally beloved ever since. Known for their clownish and playful personalities, the breed develops incredibly close bonds with their humans, and make excellent companions. Their soft white coat is hypoallergenic but requires consistent grooming in order to avoid matting and excessive shedding.


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#7. Chinese crested

- 2019 popularity rank: #80 (out of 193)
- Height: 11-13 inches
- Weight: 8-12 pounds
- Life expectancy: 13-18 years
- Temperament: affectionate, alert, lively

Chinese crested dogs have existed for so long, experts have no idea where, or how, they were first bred. Typically hairless except for tufts on the head, ankles, and tail, the dogs are fine-boned, graceful, and odorless. An excellent family pet, they are in-tune with their owner's emotions and rhythms and are known to make excellent therapy dogs.

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#6. Bichon frise

- 2019 popularity rank: #43 (out of 193)
- Height: 9.5-11.5 inches
- Weight: 12-18 pounds
- Life expectancy: 14-15 years
- Temperament: playful, curious, peppy

Despite being beloved by European nobles and enjoying successful careers as circus and showbiz performers, bichon frise have faced near extinction a number of times. Fortunately for modern dog owners, the comical, loyal, and happy-go-lucky breed fought on and is one of the most popular small dog breeds today. Their hallmark white coat requires frequent professional grooming, but when cared for properly rarely sheds—making them fairly hypoallergenic.

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#5. Maltese

- 2019 popularity rank: #36 (out of 193)
- Height: 7-9 inches
- Weight: under 7 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years
- Temperament: gentle, playful, charming

Since the 4th and 5th centuries B.C., Maltese have been among the most popular dog breeds in the world. Well-proportioned, athletic, and praised for their loyal and playful personalities, the dogs had admirers in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. With a long lifespan and an easy to train personality, Maltese are sure to earn new fans in those lucky enough to own one.

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#4. Miniature schnauzer

- 2019 popularity rank: #18 (out of 193)
- Height: 12-14 inches
- Weight: 11-20 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years
- Temperament: friendly, smart, obedient

Miniature schnauzers were once employed as farm dogs, responsible for catching rodents and keeping their owners company throughout a long day’s work. Today, these pups make ideal family dogs, thanks to their friendly and intelligent personalities. The modern iteration of the low-shed dog is also as equally suited to apartment life as it once was to rural farm life, requiring only moderate exercise.

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#3. Yorkshire terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #12 (out of 193)
- Height: 7-8 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Life expectancy: 11-15 years
- Temperament: affectionate, sprightly, tomboyish

A true personality breed, Yorkshire terriers are feisty, fierce, and friendly despite their delicate appearance. Their signature long coat is more akin to human hair than dog fur, which makes them low-allergen (albeit high-maintenance). With long life spans, these pups are favorites among city dwellers thanks to their compact size and low exercise requirements.


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#1. Toy poodle (tie)

- 2019 popularity rank: #6 (out of 193)
- Height: no more than 10 inches
- Weight: 4-6 pounds
- Life expectancy: 10-18 years
- Temperament: agile, intelligent, self-confident

The smallest iteration of the poodle, toy poodles were first bred in America in the 20th century for city dwellers. Smart, athletic, and outgoing, these dogs have human-like personalities and are very people-oriented, making them easy to train. An active dog, toy poodles require plenty of exercise and enjoy outdoor activities like swimming, jogging, and playing games with their people.


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#1. Miniature poodle (tie)

- 2019 popularity rank: #6 (out of 193)
- Height: 10-15 inches
- Weight: 10-15 pounds
- Life expectancy: 10-18 years
- Temperament: active, proud, very smart

The national dog of France, miniature poodles were bred down from their standard cousins several hundred years ago. Similar in personality to toy poodles, miniatures also share the same low-shed coat. Whether the owner chooses to keep them in a Continental clip or a sporting clip, the dogs require daily grooming and frequent trips to a professional to avoid matting and excess fur loss.


This story originally appeared on Nom Nom and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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