You can spot a Shih Tzu with its luxurious, silky coat from a distance. This Tibet-bred fluff ball translated to “lion dog” in Chinese. An age-old companion to Tibetan monks and the Chinese royalty were introduced to the general public only recently, in the 1930s.
Soon enough, this lively, feisty dog became one of the most popular dog breeds in America. You’re weighing the pros and cons of bringing home the ever-elegant Shih Tzu. Understandably, one of your primary concerns is if this fluff ball is prone to allergies or causing allergies to humans.
Some people sneeze at the sight of a dog but can’t help thinking about having a canine companion. If you’re one of them, read on, for there is hope after all.
You’re far from being alone in this; as per an estimate, about 30% of the U.S. population has allergic reactions to dogs and cats. Plus, we are with you. You will find everything you need to get started with Shih Tzus and their allergies.
What Exactly Is A Hypoallergenic Dog?
Hypoallergenic dogs are the breeds that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. The good news is that Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic or less prone to stir any allergic reactions.
It is essential to note that no dog breed is wholly hypoallergenic or allergen-free. In that sense, a hypoallergenic dog, like Shih Tzu, is comparatively safer for those with an allergic reaction to dogs.
Contrary to popular opinion, people with an allergy don’t just react to dog hair. They’re uncontrollable sneezing in reaction to the proteins found in canine saliva, urine, and dead skin flakes or dander.
Plus, shedding causes these allergens to spread throughout the house. Since all dogs, hairy or hairless, have such proteins, no dog is entirely hypoallergenic, but breed choice still matters.
Interestingly, since all dogs produce different proteins, a person may be allergic to a specific dog and not necessarily a particular breed. Ultimately, proneness to allergic reactions depends mainly on the specific person and the dog.
Nonetheless, getting a hypoallergenic dog breed minimizes your potential for allergic reactions to a considerable extent.
Typically, hypoallergenic dog breeds possess the following characteristics:
- They don’t shed, i.e., their coat is less prone to shedding and produces less dander.
- They don’t have hair, which means that dander doesn’t usually stick to them.
- They have short, mono-layered coats. Allergic dander is usually found on dog coats, and a shorter coat means less dander.
Getting familiar with Shih Tzu
There’s more to these adorable puppies than being hypoallergenic. If you’re seriously considering being friends with this miniature regal dog, you need to brush up on your Shih Tzu basics.
- Size: Without a doubt, these tiny canines are toy dogs. Adult Shih Tzus can grow up to a height of 9-10.5 inches. They generally weigh around 9-16 pounds.
- Breed Characteristics: Also known as Chrysanthemum Dog, they are likely a cross between the Lhaso Apso and Pekingese. These dark-eyed dogs have a double coat. Often mixed in white, they are found in a variety of colors. You will often see them with excess hair tied.
- Temperament: Professional people-pleasers, Shih Tzus are deeply affectionate. They love the company of children and adults alike. Being the perfect apartment dogs, short indoor walks are enough to keep them happy and active.
- Grooming and health: Maintaining their glossy coat takes some effort. Daily brushing is required to keep your Shih Tzu prim and proper. It would help if you gave them a warm bath every month. On the plus side, they do not shed.
Regular trimming may be needed to prevent their coat from blocking their vision. Improperly closed eyelids, patellar luxation, and hip dysplasia dispose them to risk for corneal inflammation.
- Training: Shih Tzus can be stubborn at times. These showstoppers often know how to get their way. Proper training, including obeying basic commands like yes, no, is necessary with this breed. A little bit of smartness is all you need to get around these people-pleasers.
- Life Span: On average, Shih Tzus live between 10-18 years.
- Allergies: Addressing the elephant in the room, despite being hypoallergenic, your Shih Tzu isn’t wholly allergy-free. They still have dander, but lesser than many dog breeds. Having hair instead of fur makes them a safer bet for people prone to allergies. If you are allergic to Shih Tzu, you may experience constant sneezing, runny nose or congestion, itchy and watery eye, and fatigue.
Are Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic?
When it comes to allergies, you are not the only one prone to them. Your Shih Tzu may also have allergies. One common side effect of which is itchy skin. Having thick hair, they’ll struggle more to reach their scan.
Some allergies like new environmental or food allergies are accompanied by several symptoms, including skin itching, vomiting after every meal, diarrhea, visible hives, skin inflammation, sneezing, and eyelid swelling, among other things.
Your Shih Tzu’s dog-tor is the best person to diagnose the allergy underlying these symptoms. Whether it is due to diet-related or the presence of individual allergy aggressors inside your home, the sooner you get the diagnosis done, the better it is.
Additionally, you can try and prevent your Shih Tzu from scratching and itching themselves by giving them regular warm baths, checking them for fleas, and going to vet appointments.
How To Minimize Allergies
Where there is a dog-lover, there is a dog. To prevent your allergies from coming between you and your Shih Tzu, you need to put in some additional work. You can keep your allergies under check and still pet your Shih Tzu by keeping the following tips in mind.
To avoid dander build-up, take your Shih Tzu to a hair salon once every month. At most, you can delay the haircut to once every six weeks, but a monthly visit will keep the dander at an all-time low. Plus, be sure to take out some time for daily brushing their shiny coat.
Vacuuming will reduce your exposure to the dander scattered around your home. Your vacuum cleaner’s air filter helps pull dander out of the air and leave clean air for you.
Regularly shampooing your Shih Tzu with good-quality shampoo will help clear their hair off most of the dander.
HEPA air filter
Known for their allergy relief benefits, HEPA filter pulls and traps pollutants like dust, hair, and dander from the air, giving you a cleaner, allergy-free experience.
It’s time to sort that pending laundry pile. It would be best if you did not keep dirty laundry around for long since the chances are that your clothes are already covered in dander. If your Shih Tzu has his bed and blanket, wash them regularly to prevent a dander and mite pile up.
Keep your room Shih Tzu-free.
This option is among our least favorite suggestions, but if you suffer from severe allergies, only a bed free from Shih Tzu dander can ensure a good night’s rest.
Lastly, you can consult your doctor to get allergy shots. Alternatively, you can use nasal sprays, bronchodilators, or antihistamine to treat the symptoms.
To Sum Up
No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic. Even hairless breeds can trigger allergies. Whether your allergies will act up or not depend not so much on the species but on the dog itself.
Being fur-less and short, Shih Tzus produce less dander than most hypoallergenic branded breeds. This feature makes them an ideal addition to your family. Plus, their regal charm and affectionate nature will win over your heart, and home too.
Even though there is no sure shot formula to magically disappear your allergies, following specific tips can keep your allergies at bay.