Shih Tzu! Hypoallergenic dog breeds that won't make you sneeze

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Owning a pooch can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. But doggone it, dog allergies make it hard for some people to share their lives with a canine companion. Allergy sufferers aren't sneezing because of a dog's fur - they're reacting to the proteins in canine saliva and dander, and shedding spreads those allergens throughout the home. Since all dogs (even hairless ones) have those proteins, no dog is completely hypoallergenic, but breed choice still matters.

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Methodology

We consulted Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club (AKC), who walked us through 20 of the best dog breeds for allergy sufferers. Hairless and low-shedding dogs drop fewer allergens in their environment and thus have less of an effect on allergy sufferers, Klein says. You'll also see a lot of small dogs on this list since big dogs produce more dander and saliva and can be tougher to groom.

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Afghan hound

Afghans are an elegant and dignified dog, beloved by artist Pablo Picasso, who often included them in his paintings. Their long flowing hair isn't just for show - it kept this breed warm in the chilly mountains of its native Afghanistan, where it helped humans hunt.

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American hairless terrier

Families may want to consider this active, trainable, smaller dog, says Klein. The hairlessness comes with special considerations in both cold weather places and locations with a warmer climate. Yes, dogs can get a sunburn.

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Basenji

You may have heard the independent and spirited Basenji described as a "barkless dog," but they're not mute. Their sound has been described by the AKC as falling "between a chortle and a yodel."

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Bedlington terrier

Looking for a dog with the looks of a lamb and the tenacity of a terrier? Bedlingtons are named for the English town where they were first bred and make for devoted additions to the family, Klein notes.

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Bichon frise

It's hard to pass up this energetic fuzzball of a dog. They do require grooming to keep those white coats crisp and in order.

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Chinese crested hairless

You may have seen this breed win "ugly dog" contests, but owners are loyal to this quirky-looking variety. The breed is small, intelligent and sensitive.

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Chinese crested powderpuff

The second kind of Chinese crested dog is the powderpuff. Both varieties of Chinese crested may be produced in a single litter of pups from the same parents.

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Giant schnauzer

Giant schnauzers are usually solid black but may come in salt-and-pepper varieties. They make great watchdogs and devoted family pets for those who want a bigger breed.

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Irish water spaniel

Is your family always outside, or camping and hiking? Consider this breed, which is full of energy and ideal for a sporty, active family.

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Kerry blue terrier

This breed's coat may look more gray than blue, but it's soft and striking regardless. The active breed can fill many roles, from family pet to farm dog.

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Lagotto Romagnolo

This dog is known as the "truffle" breed for its ability to sniff out the tasty treat in its native Italy. These active pooches have wavy, curly coats.

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Maltese

The charming and tiny Maltese looks so much like a toy that it may blend in with a bed full of stuffed animals. Note that its silky coat will require maintenance to keep it looking good.

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Miniature schnauzer

The popular miniature schnauzer with its iconic long beard and eyebrows has a devoted following. These dogs weigh between 12 and 14 pounds, half the weight of their big siblings in the dog world, the standard schnauzer.

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Poodle

Klein calls the poodle "the original hypoallergenic breed." There's a size for all, as the poodle comes in toy, medium and standard varieties.

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Portuguese water dog

This dog soared to fame thanks to President Barack Obama, who had two, Bo and Sunny, when he lived in the White House. This smart and energetic dog has a wavy, water-repellent coat.

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Scottish terrier

This short-legged breed is many a Monopoly player's favorite game piece, and presidents Franklin Roosevelt and George W. Bush both owned one. Don't let the Scottie's small size fool you. They make excellent watchdogs.

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Shih Tzu

This spunky, sassy dog was a favorite of Chinese royalty. Its elegant coat will need attention, and the AKC notes that because it was bred to live inside palaces, it makes a fantastic dog for those without big backyards.

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West Highland terrier

Here's another popular breed that you might mistake for a stuffed animal. Independent and bred to hunt, it is a favorite among many, including "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, whose beloved Westie is named Brontë.

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Yorkshire terrier

Yorkies' silky coats are more like human hair than animal fur, making them a good choice for allergy sufferers. These dogs are full of personality. The AKC notes that this breed is often named the most popular dog breed in cities, but it's not the most popular dog breed in America.

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