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Are Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic? Keeping Dog Allergies At Bay

Are Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic? Keeping Dog Allergies At Bay

There is probably nothing worse for dog lovers than the thought of becoming allergic to their best friend!

However, these allergies are widespread, and many people suffer from them. One of the dogs that get recommended a lot is the Shih Tzu. So, are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic?

There is a rumor out there about Shih Tzu dogs being a breed that won’t cause you any allergies. Is there any truth to this?

Are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic dogs, and what does hypoallergenic even mean? Let’s find out!

Breed Overview

shih tzu dog walks in the garden

Before we learn if a Shih Tzu hypoallergenic, you need to know a bit more about this breed.

Although Shih Tzus are considered ‘toy breeds’ by the American Kennel Club, they aren’t demanding or overly yappy.

These small dogs (check the Shih Tzu Growth chart) are sweet-natured and happy, although a bit arrogant. Their adorable personality makes them stand out from other tiny breeds.

While Shih Tzu dogs love to play in the backyard, they don’t really need as much exercise as some other dogs do. Instead, they are true lapdogs who would rather snuggle in pillows than go for a walk.

Unlike other small dog breeds, most Shih Tzus are polite and friendly toward strangers, although they can lash out if you didn’t socialize them in time.

No dog is instinctively trusting. They are peaceful with other pets, even if you are a cat owner.

Despite their stubborn behavior and a somewhat aristocratic demeanor, your Shih Tzu isn’t likely to get in trouble.

He is simply a dog who knows what he likes and dislikes. As long as he is the center of attention, he’ll do pretty well in large groups.

These pups are easy to train and are very intelligent. If you praise them and give them treats regularly, you won’t have any issues teaching them how to behave!

In fact, housebreaking is probably the most challenging thing when it comes to training.

Overall, if you need a calm yet independent dog that won’t take up too much space due to its small size, Shih Tzus are dogs for you.

Does The Shih Tzu Breed Shed?

Shih-tzu dog standing on tree trunk in forest

Many people consider Shih Tzus to be non-shedding dogs, but this isn’t entirely accurate, although they have several characteristics that differentiate them from most other dogs.

First off, Shih Tzus are among dogs with the highest number of allowed coat colors. In fact, almost all Shih Tzu colors are approved by all the leading kennel clubs! You can find white Shih Tzus, blue Shih Tzus, even gold Shih Tzus!

They are among the very few breeds whose coat isn’t made from fur but instead from hair, just like people. Also, like humans, they’ll shed their hair every day. However, this is where the similarities stop.

Shih Tzus have a double coat. This means they have long hairs on the top, as well as a soft, thick undercoat.

Thanks to their long coat, loose hair won’t fall on the floor or stick to most furniture. Instead, loose hair will stay within the coat itself until you brush it out during daily brushing sessions.

There will be no clumps of hair on your upholstery or in the corners of the room.

With this doggie, you won’t have to worry about using a lint roller or similar tool to clean everything up. Not to mention that your clothes will look clean even after you’ve played with them for hours.

Because of this, people think Shih Tzus don’t shed. However, their coat does fall off in a small amount; you just won’t notice it.

Shih Tzu puppies, however, are a whole different story…

Why Do Shih Tzu Puppies Shed So Much?

A cute Shih Tzu dog with a bow lies on the sofa at home

Suppose you’ve just got a new Shih Tzu puppy after hearing that the breed is low-shedding. In that case, you’re probably surprised by the amount of hair that is suddenly covering your entire house.

Shih Tzu puppy’s hair is quite different from that of a fully-grown Shih Tzu. It’s thinner, more delicate, and shorter – and it falls off a lot. In fact, a pup’s hair sheds the most between 9 and 12 months of age, as the hair volume increases.

So, if you notice your Shih Tzu puppy is shedding more than you expected, don’t worry. This is only temporary, and it’s perfectly normal for a pup to have a bit more loose hair than adult dogs.

Once your pooch grows up, the shedding will stop, and their fur will be long, fluffy, and entirely glorious, as you’ve seen in his parents.

Is A Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic?

Shih Tzu is sitting in the kitchen

Considering Shih Tzus don’t shed as much, many dog owners believe this makes them hypoallergenic.

You’ve probably heard the term “hypoallergenic” before. For example, people say the Poodle is a hypoallergenic breed.

But do you know what “hypoallergenic” actually means in this case?

For a breed to be considered hypoallergenic, it would mean it is free of allergens. As a result, allergy sufferers would be able to keep them without any allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, coughing, or trouble breathing.

As most allergy sufferers react to dog hair, it is believed that dogs who don’t shed are hypoallergenic. Still, there is one crucial issue.

Dog hair doesn’t cause the allergy. Instead, the primary allergen is a specific protein that dogs secrete in their saliva and dander.

This protein is then spread around via dog hair, as the dander gets stuck in it and then reaches your furniture or clothes.

Because of this, dogs that shed a lot cause plenty of issues for people who have allergic reactions to canines. But this doesn’t mean that dogs who don’t shed are free of allergens.

So if you’ve wondered if your Shih Tzu is hypoallergenic – no, he isn’t.

In fact, there is one huge problem when it comes to this small breed and allergies.

One of the Shih Tzus’s health issues is dry skin, and as you probably know, dry skin becomes flaky. This means that the Shih Tzu actually produces more allergenic pet dander than most other breeds!

When a Shih Tzu shakes, he’ll spread dander – or dead skin cells – all around him, causing issues for anyone suffering from allergies. This dander will fall directly onto furniture or the floor, making it very difficult to clean.

Before this dissuades you from getting a Shih Tzu, you need to listen to one disclaimer:

Every dog breed can suffer from dry skin.

This isn’t something typical of just Shih Tzus. However, you need to take extra care when grooming your pooch to ensure his skin and coat are healthy and moisturized.

Skin Care

Shih tzu dog eating food

If your Shih Tzu’s skin is in good condition, he will create less dander that can cause allergies in sensitive people. Because of this, you should monitor your pooch carefully, so you can notice the problem as soon as it occurs.

You can tell when a Shih Tzu’s skin is dry because your pup will scratch more than usual. This will also cause the hair to lose its shine, and you will notice small flakes or dandruff on it.

You may even see dandruff on your furniture, especially if your upholstery is dark in color.

The best way to keep his skin from drying out and his coat shiny and luscious is to feed your four-legged friend with high-quality dog food that is very nutritious.

Look for foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These improve the quality of your dog’s skin and coat, which will start moisturizing itself from the inside.

If food isn’t enough, try adding omega oil supplements to his diet. Don’t forget to consult with your veterinarian first, as diet changes can stress out your dog’s stomach.

You can find these supplements in several flavors, so look for one that your dog will love the best. The salmon one is said to be the most effective.

adorable Shih Tzu dog outdoors

Photo from:@bellinhalessi

However, not all dogs like it, and it can smell. Luckily, you can also find ones that taste like chicken, beef, or liver.

A good idea is to avoid giving your Shih Tzu unhealthy treats. Replace expensive, store-bought ones with some heavy alternatives, such as Brussels sprouts or plantains.

Don’t forget regular grooming! Brushing your pup’s hair will help you get rid of any dander build-up that might be on the coat.

Also, it will stimulate oil glands, keeping the skin fresh and less dry.

While you should bathe your Shih Tzu once a month, don’t go overboard. Too much bathing can increase the amount of dander, and this isn’t something you want. Not to mention it will cause itchiness for your pup.

You may even want to buy a good dog conditioner for itchy skin. If your local pet store doesn’t have one, you can look it up on Amazon.

These conditioners work like anti-dandruff shampoos for humans, keeping their skin dander-free.

Don’t forget to check for fleas and parasites, as well! They can make your dog’s skin itch, causing him to scratch and to spread dander around.

If nothing else works, take your dog to the vet. Maybe there is an underlying issue that is ruining the quality of your Shih Tzu’s skin.

Food allergies are quite a common problem in dogs. If your pooch is allergic to a specific food, his skin will start itching, making him scratch.

This will make him spread more dander, which will result in the worsening of your dog allergy.

Another health problem that can cause itchy skin is thyroid disease, which can be dangerous. It’s always best to have a vet check your dog out and rule out the possibility of any severe health issue.

Can Brushing Help With Allergies?

Female groomer brushing Shih Tzu at grooming salon

As we’ve mentioned above, regular grooming is an excellent method to decrease allergens, especially for dogs with sensitive, dry skin.

Brushing will help you remove the build-up of dead skin cells while stimulating natural oils that keep his skin moisturized and dander-free.

Since Shih Tzus keep all their loose hair on themselves, you need to brush them daily. Otherwise, not only you’ll leave the allergens inside his fur, but you’re risking knots and matting, which you can’t easily remove from such long hair.

Not just that, but matted hair will pull on your pups’ skin, causing discomfort, pain, and itchiness. This will cause them to scratch more, and it might even turn them aggressive.

Matted hair is a paradise for parasites, as well. Both fleas and ticks can go unnoticed for days in tangled fur!

You may try to use a good slicker brush to get the matted hair out. However, they are usually so bad that nothing but a good shave will help.

If you shave a Shih Tzu, his sensitive skin will be exposed, so you’ll have to take good care of it. Otherwise, it will dry out quickly and itch, causing your dog to scratch, causing dander… You can see where this is going.

Symptoms Of Dog Allergies

Shih tzu is lying on the floor

Even if you’re not someone that usually suffers from dog allergies, you may have an allergic reaction to your Shih Tzu. In fact, some people are allergic to just one dog breed, sometimes even to only one specific dog!

While not many people have reported experiencing issues with their Shih Tzus, you should still be aware that this might happen.

If you aren’t feeling that well but aren’t sure whether it’s an allergy or not, try determining if you have most of these symptoms:

• Sneezing. This is the most common symptom of most allergies. Even if you don’t really sneeze but feel it coming all the time, this might still mean that you’re reacting to a dog’s dander.

• Runny nose. Suppose you suddenly have a runny nose but are entirely confident this isn’t a cold or seasonal and dust allergies. In that case, chances are it’s your Shih Tzu causing you breathing problems.

• Congestion. When you have congestion that dissipates once you get outside, there is an allergen inside your house. If you’re sure it isn’t dust, it might be an allergy to your pet.

• Itchy or watery eyes. Having itchy or watery eyes is an indicator that our body is trying to get rid of something. It’s also a common allergy symptom.

• Fatigue. Believe it or not, allergies can make you feel fatigued.

How To Reduce Allergens In Your Home

Shih Tzu is lying on his pillow

If you experience an allergic reaction to your Shih Tzu, don’t panic. This doesn‘t mean you have to get rid of your dog – in fact, we urge you not to do so.

All you need to do is to put in some work and make your home dog dander-free!

Vacuum your home daily, or at least as often as you can. This will help you eliminate any dander and loose hair on the floor and your carpet.

The air filter in the vacuum will trap all the tiny specks, keeping them trapped and your home clean. Just make sure to clean and replace it often, so it doesn’t get stuck and lose its functionality.

Get a professional air filtering system that will help your regular HVAC system keep the air fresh. It will keep the dander from flying in the air. Since it gets rid of dust, pollen, and other allergens, it will benefit you in more ways than one.

Do your laundry as regularly as possible. While this probably isn’t your favorite chore, it can help you clean the dander from your clothes.

Also, if your pooch has a dog bed, clean it as well. As soon as your Shih Tzu jumps happily on it, the dander will fly everywhere, getting inside your nose and eyes.

Don’t keep dirty piles of laundry lying around for more than you absolutely must. Dog dander is probably all over them, and this can worsen your allergy symptoms. Any accumulations of clothes need to be cleaned as soon as possible.

And the saddest suggestion of them all is:

Don’t allow your Shih Tzu inside your room.

As much as we love sharing the bed with our pups, it isn’t a good idea to get all that dander all over your bed. Actually, this is probably the worst thing you can do, as when you sleep, the allergens will go straight up your nose.

Give your dog a good pet bed and keep it in a separate room. Train him to use it as his sleeping spot. If he prefers sleeping in a kennel, buy him one.

While this can be heartbreaking, you don’t want your allergies to become so bad that you find spending time with your pup unbearable.

Finally, visit your doctor and see if you can get some allergy medication to help with your condition. Don’t give up if the first one doesn’t work. There are many types of antihistamines out there, and some will undoubtedly work for you.

Are There More Suitable Breeds For People With Dog Allergies?

Shih Tzu outdoor portrait walking on beach

No matter what a breeder might tell you, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic breed.

Despite this, some breeds are more suitable for people who tend to have allergic reactions to dogs. If you fear that a Shih Tzu might give you breathing problems, here are some dog breeds you might want to check out.


Poodles are probably the most famous dog breed that is advertised as being hypoallergenic. The same goes for any poodle hybrid, including the Goldendoodle, Cavapoo, Labradoodle, and especially the Schnoodle.

Poodles don’t shed too much, and they don’t produce too much dander. This makes them an excellent choice for people allergic to dogs.


The Schnauzer is another dog breed that doesn’t shed too much and doesn’t produce a significant amount of dander. No matter its size, a Schnauzer is always a good option for sensitive people.

Portuguese Water Dog

This breed is the Poodle’s close relative. It has the same fur type as a Poodle, so it’s easy to see why it’s a good choice. It won’t shed too much, and it doesn’t secrete a high amount of allergens.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Another long-haired breed, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, doesn’t shed too much, and its skin isn’t too dry. In other words, this dog doesn’t produce as much dander, and that dander isn’t easily spread around.

All varieties of this breed are a good choice for people with dog allergies, including the Traditional Irish, Heavy Irish, American, and English types.


This cute toy dog is a favorite choice among many families. It is one of the most popular house pets, and you can easily recognize it on the street.

However, there is some dispute whether this dog indeed produces a minor amount of allergens.

Most people bathe and brush their Maltese several times a day to keep their fur a pure white color. Regular grooming might be the main reason why there is such a small number of reported allergies in Maltese owners.

Lhasa Apso

When you look at this dog, you probably think that it sheds like crazy – but the truth is, this breed is an excellent choice for people with allergies.

Not only does it not have an issue with loose hair, but you are also advised to groom it regularly. The reason behind such a small amount of reported allergies could be the same as with Malteses.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are another toy-sized dog breed that won’t cause you too many issues. While it does produce the same amount of dander as other dogs, its small size means there won’t be too many dry skin flakes falling on your furniture.

There You Have It…

Shih tzu relaxing on the sofa in the living room

Now you’ve learned if the Shih Tzu is hypoallergenic and why there is a problem with this term.

No, the Shih Tzu isn’t a hypoallergenic breed.

However, not a single breed is truly hypoallergenic. It all comes down to how much a dog sheds and if its skin dries out quickly.

Allergies are caused by proteins located in dog dander and saliva. Considering that all dogs have both, every dog can cause you issues.

Still, the Shih Tzu is an excellent choice for allergic people, considering that it sheds very little. The only thing you need to be mindful of is that this breed can have issues with dry skin and excessive dander secretion.

If you take good care of your Shih Tzu’s coat, chances of developing an allergic reaction are very slim. It’s essential to brush your pup daily and to give him monthly baths.

Dog owners who regularly groom their Shih Tzus rarely report any dog allergies, as this is a great way to control the allergens instead of allowing them to fly everywhere.

And in case nothing else helps, contact your doctor. He might have some good advice on keeping you allergy-free.

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Are Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic? Keeping Dog Allergies At Bay