HOW TO AVOID A BIG HAIRY MESS
Dogs are awesome and offer their owners many free perks. But dog hair is not one of them. If you're looking for a pooch that isn't a shedding machine, don't worry — you've got options. The truth is, all dogs that have hair shed to some degree — but some offload such a small amount of fur it's nearly impossible to notice. Don't make the mistake of thinking that light-shedding dogs don't require grooming or are necessarily low maintenance and budget friendly. But if you know your breeds, you can find a new best friend that keeps his fur to himself and doesn't irritate your allergies. Meet the virtually shed-free breeds that are some combination of easy to groom, hypoallergenic, or that have no hair at all.
Just six breeds on Earth are more popular than the venerable poodle, which comes in three variations: toy, miniature and standard. Smart, active, and remarkably obedient, poodles are hypoallergenic and they rarely shed. Their dense coats, however, require significant professional grooming — especially if you want the elaborate patterning that wins dog shows.
AUSTRALIAN SILKY TERRIER
For dogs with such long, flowing coats, silky terriers shed surprisingly little — and they're also refreshingly easy to groom and maintain. Since their hair is so long, it is prone to tangling and matting, so don't use infrequent shedding as an excuse to neglect a good brushing two or three times a week.
The coat of a lagotto romagnolo is so dense and woolly that looking at their faces makes you wonder how they could possibly see what's in front of them. But their curly double coats of fur actually shed very infrequently — and they're hypoallergenic. They're generally easy going, medium-sized dogs, and they can be counted on to be energetic, but not hyper.
PORTUGUESE WATER DOG
Athletic and energetic, Portuguese water dogs live up to their names — they can swim for extended periods of time without tiring. Their coats are both waterproof and hypoallergenic. They can be wavy or curly, but either way, they shed very little and only seasonally. Keep in mind, however, that the American Kennel Club describes their coats as "profuse" — so grooming demands can be significant.
This medium-sized African hunting dog has short, fine hair that requires only minimal, infrequent grooming. Alert and energetic, the basenji is one of the top 100 most popular breeds, and that probably has something to do with the peace and quiet that comes with owning one — basenjis don't bark.
If you've ever seen a walking mop that looks like it's on its way to a reggae concert, that's a komondor. The defining characteristic of this brave and loyal Hungarian work dog is its trademark long, dense, corded coat, which protects it from weather and animal attacks. Underneath all those dreads, however, is a large, powerful dog that can grow to more than 100 pounds. They shed only seasonally, but all that mop requires some work — daily grooming is required.
IRISH WATER SPANIEL
The tallest among all American Kennel Club spaniels, Irish water spaniels can stand 2 feet tall at the shoulders and weigh up to 65 pounds. Their waterproof coats are hypoallergenic, and they shed only minimally and seasonally. They're low maintenance, too. You can get away with brushing them just once every few weeks.
BOUVIER DES FLANDRES
Known for their courage and ability to send intruders packing, the bouvier des Flandres sheds only lightly and seasonally, but grooming can be a bit of a chore. Their constantly growing hair can quickly become matted and unclean if they aren't brushed regularly.
Translated literally from French, bichon frise means "fluffy white dog." The French didn't leave much to the imagination — that description pretty much sums it up. Not only does the bichon frise rarely shed, but it's hypoallergenic. The fluffy white dog has hair, not fur, so that means you will have to brush it regularly to prevent matting.
Friendly, healthy, and easy to train, the small Bolognese breed produces vibrant dogs that rarely shed and are easy to groom — as a bonus, they tend not to drool. Part of the bichon family group, Bolognese get their name from the region of Italy to which they trace their centuries-old lineage.
SOFT-COATED WHEATEN TERRIER
Topping out at about 40 pounds, the soft-coated Wheaten terrier has a stubborn streak common to terriers, but is generally a happy, loving — and largely non-shedding — animal. Known for their leaping, jumping greetings, Wheatens can be a handful when it comes to grooming. Expect to brush and comb twice a week and schedule baths and haircuts at least once a month.
Dogs from the Brussels griffon breed can come in a variety of colors and their coats can be either rough or smooth. No matter which variety you choose among this bearded breed from "As Good as it Gets" fame, you can count on it shedding only minimally and seasonally.
Few breeds in history are more instantly recognizable than the Cairn terrier, which you know better as Toto from "The Wizard of Oz." It's recommended that you brush these curious, busy dogs regularly — about once a week should do. But beyond that, you should expect just minimal seasonal shedding.
KERRY BLUE TERRIER
It's almost certain that you'll live your whole life and never confuse a Chinese crested with any other breed. These fine-boned toy dogs are either hairless or the powderpuff variety. If you fall in love with a hairless, you'll have to put in a little extra effort to prevent sunburn, cleanliness, and exposure to cold, but neither version of this dog, which is known to act more like a cat, comes with much grooming responsibility.
Scotties are known for their dangling beards and brows, which give them their trademark expressions. Bred to hunt foxes and badgers, the Scottish terrier is compact and sturdy. They do require regular grooming to retain their unique appearance, but they shed only seasonally and minimally.
COTON DE TULEAR
Small and happy, the coton de tulear is a light, seasonal shedder with hypoallergenic qualities. Known as the royal dog of Madagascar, its dry, white, long, cottony coat does require brushing with a special pin brush to maintain its luster and volume.
Afghan hounds are prized for their striking beauty, proud posture, and elegant long hair. Underneath it all, however, is an agile, athletic hound that can stand 27 inches tall and is built for work. They're hypoallergenic and they rarely shed, but don't think that will let you off the grooming hook — frequent brushing and bathing are part of having a relationship with an Afghan hound.
The soft, silky coat of a Havanese — which can come in 16 colors and eight markings — rarely sheds and is perfect for people who suffer from allergies, although regular grooming is required. Slightly longer than they are tall, their undeniable cuteness lands them a spot among the 25 most popular breeds.
The unmistakable coat of a Lhasa apso parts down the middle from head to tail. Active but calm, they're popular show dogs and they tend to be very healthy. Another benefit is that they shed very infrequently. Their long coats, however, do require a lot of grooming.
The Maltese has a reputation as playful, affectionate and surprisingly fearless for its little size. The breed is most famous, however, for its long, elegant, white coat. They shed very lightly and infrequently — but don't mistake that for low maintenance. Daily brushing and frequent grooming are required to maintain their trademark floor-length coats — and yes, don't worry, there are feet under there somewhere.
An interesting breed with an interesting name, the medium-sized xoloitzcuintli — often just called xolo — is not just one of the rarest breeds, but also one of the oldest. Scientists believe its ancestors accompanied ours on their Ice Age journey across the Bering Strait. The hairless version is nearly naked, and the version with a coat has short, clean hair that rarely sheds, is hypoallergenic and requires only infrequent brushing.
AMERICAN HAIRLESS TERRIER
Feisty, fearless, and affectionate, the American hairless terrier actually isn't always hairless. Even the coated varieties, however, are hypoallergenic and rarely shed their short fur. A single weekly brushing with a soft-bristled brush should be enough.
PERUVIAN INCA ORCHID
Since the breed is hairless, shedding obviously won't be a problem with a Peruvian Inca orchid. But intense and meticulous skin care is critical for the first year of the small dog's life. They'll pay you back, however, with affection, loyalty and hypoallergenic skin that is perfect for allergy sufferers.