Having a child with allergies greatly reduces the options when it comes to owning a dog. According to the ASPCA, allergenic proteins found in every dog's dander and saliva set off the majority of dog allergies. Some breeds are less prone to shedding and releasing dander into their environment, resulting in the term "hypoallergenic dogs."
The American Kennel Club recommends dog breeds that produce less dander than others for children or adults with allergies. Some of the hypoallergenic breeds include the bichon frise, Chinese crested, Maltese, Portuguese water dog, schnauzer, poodle and terriers such as the soft-coated wheaten terrier, the Bedlington terrier and the Kerry blue terrier. Mixes of these dogs can also be hypoallergenic, though it depends on the mixes of breed and the extent of the owner's allergies.
The ASPCA lists two traits that make a dog less likely to set off allergies in humans: single coats and hairlessness. Single-coated dogs do not have a thick undercoat, which is the part of the fur responsible for heavy shedding in some dog breeds.
Dog dander reduces with regular brushing and grooming. Shampoos are available that are designed to lessen the amount of dander released into the atmosphere. A child with minor allergies could possibly live with a traditionally heavy-shedding dog, provided the parent bathes the dog at least once per month and brushes it daily. Do not allow a child with allergies to sleep in the same bed as a dog, and make sure the child washes his hands after direct contact with the dog.
According to the ASPCA, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. While certain breeds produce less dander than others, all dogs produce some dander, even those with no fur, and can set off allergic reactions in children and adults with severe allergies. Mixes of hypoallergenic dogs with non-hypoallergenic dogs are thought to be good dogs for allergy sufferers, but the American Kennel Club states that there is no way to tell if a mixed breed dog will be hypoallergenic until it is exposed to a human with allergies.
If you are considering getting a hypoallergenic dog breed for your child, do your research. Pick a dog based on energy level, temperament and the time you have available to devote to the dog, rather than based on hypoallergenic tendencies alone. A family which is away from home all day and has limited time to exercise a dog should not purchase a Portuguese water dog, just as an active family should not purchase a Chinese crested. Make sure your lifestyle is compatible with the dog breed you choose.