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Are Shelties Hypoallergenic? Vet-Approved Facts & Tips


Jun 2, 2023
Shetland Sheepdog


Shetland Sheepdog
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For dog lovers with allergies, the search for a dog breed that won’t cause their allergies to flare up is unending. While no dogs or cats are truly hypoallergenic, there are dog breeds out there that produce fewer allergens, making them ideal for suffering pet lovers.

One popular pet breed that is highly trainable, loving, and people-pleasing is the Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie. It’s easy to see why so many dog lovers want to bring this dog breed into their homes. This leaves allergy sufferers asking whether Shelties are hypoallergenic or are one of the breeds less likely to stir up a person’s allergies. Unfortunately, Shelties are far from hypoallergenic. They are a double-coated dog breed that is known for their shedding.

If you’re a fan of Shelties but have allergies, read on below. We’ll explain a bit about dog allergies, what causes them, and ways you can help control the allergens in your home. Hopefully, this will help you decide whether a Sheltie is still the dog breed for you.


Are Shelties Hypoallergenic?

While they make great dogs for families, Shelties are not what is considered a hypoallergenic dog breed. No dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, but some breeds such as Poodles are known for producing less fur which can cause allergies to ensue. Shetland Sheepdogs are a small dog breed with big hair. Their fur is a double-coat which means they have an upper layer of protective hair and an under layer of softer, thick fur.

Most dog breeds with a double coat are known for the amount of hair they shed. Shelties are no exception and blow their coats twice per year but can shed year-round. The main difference that comes into play is size. Shelties are considered medium-sized dog breeds weighing around 25 pounds. Other breeds known for shedding, like the Husky or Golden Retriever, grow to be much larger than a Sheltie which means they will lose more hair during shedding season.

shetland sheepdog lying on log
Image Credit: K E Walker, Shutterstock

Is Hair the Real Problem?

When people talk about dog allergies, they immediately talk about how much hair a dog sheds. Yes, a shedding dog can be annoying when you’re trying to clean around the house, but the hair isn’t the true issue when it comes to allergies. The main problem is dander. Dander is dead skin cells from your dog that contain allergy-inducing proteins.

The reason shedding is often regarded as the culprit for allergies is due to dander getting trapped in the hair. When a dog sheds, the dander hitches a ride into the atmosphere and surfaces of the home. Dogs, like Shelties, that are heavy shedders logically release more dander into the air due to the hair they leave behind. This makes it difficult for people with allergies to make heavy-shedding dogs household pets.

Drool Isn’t Cool for Allergy Sufferers

One area where Shelties have an advantage over many dog breeds is the drool department. Sure, it’s not unusual for a pet owner to allow their best friend to kiss them now and then. That doesn’t mean we are fans of drool or the mess it causes. Drool is also another way to stir up a person’s allergies. Your dog’s drool contains a lot of allergens and proteins. Just like shedding, drooling can leave traces of these proteins on several surfaces in your home. Shelties may not be hypoallergenic or ideal for pet lovers with allergies, but at least they are a low-drooling breed that won’t be stirring up allergies in such a messy way.

Shetland Sheepdog_Lisjatina_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock

Can I Own a Sheltie If I Have Allergies?

Dog allergies aren’t all the same. For some people, there is no way they can own a dog without itching, sneezing, or swelling becoming a huge issue. However, not every allergy sufferer deals with such extreme situations. People who suffer with mild allergies may still be able to have their dream dog breed in their lives, including Shelties. Here are a few tips to help make having your dream dog possible even if you have allergies.

  • After petting or interacting with your Sheltie thoroughly wash your hands.
  • Practicing good grooming for your Sheltie can help control the amount of hair it sheds.
  • For heavy shedding dogs like Shelties, regular vacuuming of floors and furniture is a must.
  • Keeping your home clean can help reduce allergens from hair and drool.
  • Using a HEPA air purifier can help filter the airborne dander.
  • Have pet-free areas in your home (especially your bedroom so you can sleep comfortably at night).
  • Do not allow your Sheltie on furniture or beds to help reduce allergens.
  • Clean any couch covers, blankets, draperies, and bedding in your house regularly to reduce allergens.
  • Feed your Sheltie a healthy diet to reduce the potential of skin issues that can make shedding worse.
  • Consult with your doctor, there are many medications available that can help ease your allergic symptoms.

Grooming a Sheltie

As we mentioned, good grooming practices can help make keeping a Sheltie possible for people with mild allergies. Shelties are amazing dogs that will make your family more complete. However, with their long hair, grooming can become a chore. These dogs need to be brushed at least once or twice a week. If you deal with dog allergies, it may be best to brush your Sheltie daily to help deal with the loose hair and attached pet dander. If possible get a non-allergic family member to undertake the grooming and ideally brush outside.

You’ll also need to remember that spring and fall are seasons when these dogs shed the most. Brushing and grooming will need to be stepped up at these points or your allergies could be in for it. Other than lots of brushing and vacuuming, you’ll also need to bathe your Sheltie every 1 to 2 months. Before the bath, however, make sure to brush them thoroughly. Whenever you finish any grooming of your Sheltie, make sure to thoroughly clean and vacuum the area, wash your hands, and change your clothes. This will help keep allergies at bay.

close up of a sheltie or shetland sheepdog
Image Credit: Barcs Tamás, Unsplash


Final Thoughts

Shetland Sheepdogs or Shelties are amazing pets to have as part of the family. It’s easy to understand why this charming, loving, and loyal dog breed is a dream breed for many dog lovers. People with allergies, however, find themselves wishing Shelties were hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, they aren’t. However, being a shedding dog breed doesn’t mean you can never have one. If you suffer from mild allergies, the tips discussed above such as proper grooming, cleaning, and using HEPA filters can make it possible to have one of these amazing dogs in your home.

Featured Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

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