About 30% of people are allergic to pet animals. For them, finding a hypoallergenic dog might be of utmost importance.
Although it is impossible to find a dog that is allergen-free, certain breeds consistently cause fewer allergic reactions than others.
You certainly wonder about all kinds of dogs, especially if you are thinking about getting a new puppy. What about the two coat varieties of the Chow? Are Chow Chows hypoallergenic?
No, Chow Chows are not hypoallergenic because of the nature of their coats. Chows have a dense heavy double coat that they shed in moderate amounts year-round.
Moreover, in the spring and fall, Chows shed and replace their undercoats, releasing copious tufts of hair for a week or more.
The abundantly thick fur of both the smooth- and rough-coated Chow holds a lot of dander, considered responsible for most human allergies to pets.
Which pet allergens cause reactions in people?
According to Notabully.org, the most likely culprits in dog allergies for people are fur, urine, dander, and saliva. The article illustrates why a short-haired dog is not always hypoallergenic.
Many short-haired breeds like Pitbulls, Dobermans, and Dalmatians shed a surprising amount of fur.
Others like the Bloodhound and Mastiff not only shed a lot but also produce an above-average amount of drool.
Dogs with dry skin have the additional insult of increased dander. Larger dogs naturally produce more urine, dander, and saliva.
While you might rightfully feel you can easily avoid urine, some breeds that shed a lot are also difficult to housetrain.
A few dog breeds frequently suffer from urinary bladder stones or urinary tract infections which can cause accidents in the house.
Conditions like diabetes and Cushing’s disease (production of too many corticosteroids) will lead to increased urinary frequency and output.
If you have a large dog that becomes immobile, you may have to deal with urinary soiling or incontinence.
What are the characteristics of a Chow Chow?
The Chow has northern Asian origins which gave the breed features to cope with extremely cold weather.
Along with relatively small ears, the Chow has a dual coat. Rough-coated Chows have medium-long outer guard hairs with a dense layer of softer underfur. Smooth-coated dogs have the same abundance of fur with a thick undercoat but shorter hair.
You think of a Chow’s fur insulating her from wind, snow, ice, and cold temperatures, but the underestimated duty of the coat is to adapt to weather that can change drastically.
The woolly undercoat keeps moisture and cold away from the dog’s skin and helps trap air in numerous pockets to exchange with the outer guard hairs to create a cooling effect.
Your dog will completely replace her undercoat twice a year. In the spring and fall, underfur typically falls out in copious amounts for one or two weeks before the start of the new season. During these heavy sheds, you will witness large amounts of loose hairs and dander in the air.
In addition to the thick coat and moderate year-round shedding, Chow Chows are not small dogs.
They are 17 to 20 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 45 to 80 pounds. With their medium size, they produce moderate amounts of dander and urine.
Finally, a Chow has a broad deep muzzle with lips that are not pendulous but not tight-fitting either. Your dog will have a moderate tendency to drool. Fortunately, Chow Chows are not effusive lickers.
What is more typical of hypoallergenic breeds?
There are four major categories of dog breeds that are generally considered hypoallergenic.
Hairless breeds have no fur or may have fine sparse hairs. The Chinese Crested is a flashy exception as it has locks of hair on its head and tail. Powderpuff Chinese Cresteds have a thin single coat of hair all over their body.
Although hairless breeds produce dander, the flakes do not have any hair to stick to, and thus, theoretically, the dog releases less of it into the air.
It is certainly true that the lack of shedding means there is less hair and attached dander in the environment.
- Mexican Hairless
- Chinese Crested
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- American Hairless Terrier
Single-Coated Continuously Growing Hair
Some breeds have continuously growing hair that resembles human tresses more than fur.
Their hair tends to be much less of a trigger for allergy sufferers because it is nonshedding. Any dander that the dog produces tends to stay on the hair.
- Poodle (Standard, Miniature, and Toy), Portuguese Water Dog, Irish Water Spaniel, Doodles (Labradoodle, Goldendoodle), and Poos (Maltipoo) – curls
- Bichon family – Bichon Frise, Maltese, Havanese, Coton de Tulear, Bolognese, and others; straight, flowing silky hair
- Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier – flowing single layer of long hair
Note that not all Doodles have the continuously growing hair of their Poodle parents. Multigenerational dogs have a greater chance of having hypoallergenic hair.
Double-Coated Continuously Growing Hair
Double-coated dog breeds with continuously growing fur differ dramatically from the classic dual-layer breeds you often think of. The former is hypoallergenic while the latter is the opposite. How can you tell the difference?
Think of a dog in the Spitz family like the Chow Chow or Siberian Husky or the GSD from the herding group. Their fur grows to a set length and is often denser than it is long.
The longest hair is rarely beyond medium-long. The Bearded Collie is one exception. These types of dogs shed profusely in the autumn and spring.
Double-coated dogs with continuously growing hair have flowing locks that often reach the ground in the show ring. Pet owners typically keep their dogs in a short clip to make the fur easier to manage.
Despite the density of these dogs’ coats, they do not shed much, and you do not see seasonal “blowing” of the undercoat.
- Shih Tzu
- Lhasa Apso
This video illustrates what the long continuously growing double coat looks like. You will notice how it is longer than the Spitz, Great Pyrenees, or German Shepherd coat. It also has a lot of movement whereas the standard double-layered fur coat does not.
This Chow demonstrates why the breed is not hypoallergenic. During a short period of the spring, you can get a pile of undercoat hair, as you see, every day for a week.
Wire-haired breeds are also double-coated with continuously growing hair. However, you cannot mistake them for any other dual-coated type. They have an undercoat of short fur, and their outer guard hairs are wiry.
- Schnauzer breeds – Giant, Standard, and Miniature
- Kerry Blue Terrier
Thin and Short Hair, Single Coat
Just because a dog has short fur does not automatically make it hypoallergenic. Short-haired dogs can shed as much daily as long-haired dogs. They often shed more except during the seasonal increases of dual-coated breeds.
Short hairs can trigger a lot of irritation and allergies. However, a few dogs have very fine hair and do not shed much.
Moreover, they do not produce much saliva or dander compared to other short-haired breeds.
Short-haired hypoallergenic breeds are not very big compared to the other hair types that include larger specimens.
- Italian Greyhound
Can someone with dog allergies own a Chow Chow?
What if you have allergies to dogs, but the Chow Chow is your dream breed? There are several scenarios whereby a person with dog allergies can still own a Chow.
Many dog lovers who are allergy sufferers have mild symptoms. They may not react to every dog and are sometimes only sensitive at certain times.
It is not unusual for owners to become insensitive to dogs that live in their homes. It allows thousands of sensitive people to live with dogs not considered to be hypoallergenic.
If you cannot develop a natural immunity to your dog’s allergens, a dermatologist or allergy specialist might be able to assist you. Some owners coexist with dogs with a regimen of regular allergy shots.
If all else fails, you can take certain measures to moderate the effects of the allergens your Chow produces.
- If possible, have someone else clean water and food dishes and scoop away any fecal waste
- Have someone else in the household take over brushing your Chow Chow and have them do it outside; brushing should occur almost daily
- Do not allow your Chow to sleep where you do; keep dog-free areas in the home
- If you live in a climate that is cool year-round, your Chow can spend a good portion of his life outdoors; you can also make an outdoor environment for your dog complete with a climate-controlled doghouse; keep in mind what kind of social bonds you want with your Chow and weigh the pros and cons of having him live outdoors away from the rest of the family
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching your dog – one of the first things people tend to do after petting their dogs is to rub their eyes or touch their face
- Do not ignore excessive itching or any signs of allergies in your dog – you want to minimize the amount of dander
Common Measures Used for Dog Allergies that Don’t Help
Dog owners have come up with several ideas on how to minimize allergies with a pet in the house. Some of them persist but have little if any benefit.
- Weekly bathing – bathing your dog too frequently with shampoo will dry out her skin, leading to more dandruff, a potent allergen; the exception is medicated shampoos for a skin condition or atopy (environmental allergies) in your dog; you can try frequent shampoo less rinsing, but Chows are not usually that fond of water
- Shaving – clipping your dog’s hair will not help anything except seasonal shedding and can lead to skin problems that produce more dander; moreover, you leave your dog vulnerable to sunburn and an inability to cope with any weather conditions
- Be proactive about preventative treatments for hip dysplasia and arthritis to prevent mobility issues for as long as you can