Dog lovers can easily identify a Shih Tzu by its luxurious, silky coat and pug-like face. Native to Tibet, this fluff ball translated to “lion dog” in Chinese. An age-old companion to Tibetan monks and Chinese royalty, this breed was introduced to the public in the 1930s.
Soon enough, this lively, feisty dog became one of the most popular dog breeds in America.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably wondering if this breed is right for you and whether a Shih Tzu might aggravate your allergies.
You’re far from being alone in this. About 30% of the U.S. population has an allergic reaction to dogs and cats. This article covers the meaning of the term “hypoallergenic” and whether this elegant dog breed is safe for allergy sufferers.
What Are Hypoallergenic Dogs?
Hypoallergenic dogs are breeds that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. The good news is that Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic (or at least less likely to trigger an allergic reaction than other long-haired dogs).
It is essential to note that no dog breed is wholly hypoallergenic or allergen-free. In that sense, a hypoallergenic dog, like the Shih Tzu, is comparatively safer than breeds that are known to trigger allergies.
Contrary to popular opinion, people with allergies don’t just react to dog hair. Their uncontrollable sneezing, runny eyes, and breathing difficulties are caused by 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 another. 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 or they shed considerably less than other breeds.
- They have short, mono-layered coats.
- Some have tight curly coats.
Meet the Cute Shih Tzu
- 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. They are found in a variety of colors.
- 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. A monthly bath might be needed. On the plus side, they do not shed.
- Training: Shih Tzus can be stubborn at times. These showstoppers often know how to get their way. Proper training is necessary with this breed.
- 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.
Do Shih Tzu Dogs Get Allergies?
When it comes to allergies, you are not the only one prone to them. Your Shih Tzu may also have allergies.
Dogs can get allergies from environmental factors or new food. Symptoms include itchy skin, vomiting after every meal, diarrhea, visible hives, skin inflammation, sneezing, and eyelid swelling, among other things.
The vet should examine your dog to find out whether the symptoms are related to an allergy or something else. If an allergy is causing it, the vet will attempt to find the source of the problem.
How To Minimize Allergies
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.
Vacuuming will reduce your exposure to the dander scattered around your home. Your vacuum cleaner’s air filter can also help to purify the air of the dander.
HEPA Air Filter
Known for their allergy relief benefits, HEPA filters remove pollutants like dust, hair, and dander from the air, giving you a cleaner, allergy-free experience.
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 antihistamines to treat your symptoms.
A Quick Summary
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.
Shih Tzus produce less dander than most hypoallergenic breeds. This feature makes them an ideal addition to your family. Plus, their regal charm and affectionate nature will win over your heart in no time!