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Are bichons frises hypoallergenic? It’s an important question for people that suffer from dog allergies. But unfortunately, it is also a very difficult question to get a clear, concise answer to.
So today, we will dispel the myths as we unpack whether bichons frises are hypoallergenic or not.
What Makes a Dog Hypoallergenic?
The truth is that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. However, some dogs, like the bichon frise, are less allergenic than others. Before we can really understand what would make a dog hypoallergenic, though, we need to take a closer look at allergies in general.
A pet allergy is very similar to a pollen or mold allergy. Basically, your immune system overreacts to a harmless substance and responds with antibodies. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the human immune system is very complex. The allergens that trigger an allergic reaction to pets are found in dogs’ skin cells, saliva, urine, and, most concerningly, in their fur.
The otherwise harmless dander weighs practically nothing and can float around in the air. It also collects on materials such as upholstery, curtains, and clothes. Unfortunately, all these factors come together to make it impossible to own a pet and not come in contact with the offending dander.
Therefore, there is simply no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. But, thankfully, that does not mean that no breeds present a lowered risk. So what’s really happening with these supposedly hypoallergenic breeds?
Aside from shedding far less than other dogs, the fur of hypoallergenic dogs get caught in their coats when they shed. This means people around them are less exposed to allergens in dander. Of course, this means that hypoallergenic dogs can definitely still trigger an allergic response in somebody that is severely allergic.
Since pet hair is the biggest culprit in transmitting dander, it happens less with these breeds. Does that make them 100% safe for someone with severe dog allergies? Not at all. These non-shedding or low-shedding breeds more directly benefit people who suffer from an irritant response to dog fur. Unlike an allergic reaction, an irritant response requires direct contact with pet fur.
Is the Bichon Frise Hypoallergenic ?
Like any dog, a bichon frise is not fully hypoallergenic. However, they are far less likely to cause an allergic response than most dogs. In fact, the bichon frise is almost the perfect template for a non-shedding dog.
It seems odd, but that big, fluffy, fine coat is the ideal fur-catcher. That means that when one of their fine hairs falls out, it is so densely packed in that thick coat it doesn’t actually fall from the bichon.
Make no mistake, a bichon frise’s dander will cause the same allergic reaction as that of any dog. However, even dander from a bichon’s skin gets trapped in their iconic fluff. Unfortunately, these same qualities make a bichon frise’s grooming a job unto itself.
Are Bichon Frise Crossbreeds Hypoallergenic?
It is difficult to say because different bichon frise crosses will have different coats. Dogs like the bichon frise are considered hypoallergenic, but for the most part, mixing a bichon frise with another breed will diminish the properties that make them non-shedding. This is unless the bichon is mixed with another low-shedding dog like the poodle.
Furthermore, some bichon frise mixes can rank among the worst offenders as far as dander is concerned. It just depends on how thick their coat is and how well it retains shedding fur and dander. By and large, anything other than a pure bichon would be a downgrade in terms of being a “hypoallergenic” dog.
How to Minimize the Risk of a Bichon Frise Allergy
We have discussed some of how allergies are counterintuitive. For example, they are an immune response to a harmless substance. But, in a case of awful irony, the reaction to the harmless substance can be incredibly harmful and sometimes even fatal.
Amazingly, that is not even the most ironic thing about allergies. You see, they have a habit of only getting worse the more you are exposed to the offending allergen, like dog dander. That flies in the face of how we usually think about our immune system. That is not enough. Allergies can happen because of repeat exposure to an allergen that you were not allergic to before.
To top it all off, you can develop an allergy to any allergen at any age. So you could wake up tomorrow unable to hug your dog at risk of a deadly allergic response.
Taking all of this into account, you understand that there is no practical or realistic method of minimizing the risk of developing an allergy. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent an already active allergy from getting triggered.
In the case of your bichon frise, things are a bit simpler than with other dogs.
First, remember that it is not a dog’s fur that directly triggers an allergic response. Rather, the dander collects on their fur that is to blame. Or, if we are even more specific, it is a protein within their skin cells that causes the reaction. But unfortunately, that same protein is present in their saliva and urine, for which their puffy coat does very little.
You won’t need to contend with much dander from shedding. But, unfortunately, a bichon still presents a pretty high risk of triggering your allergies if they lick you. Furthermore, you run the same risk if you unknowingly come in contact with their saliva or urine.
To further minimize the chances that dander from their coat becomes a problem, there are a few more steps we recommend you consider.
First, you want to have as little fabric around as possible. You want something like a vinyl couch, curtains made from polymers rather than cotton, and as few area rugs as possible. Regarding area rugs, any alternative to carpeting should serve you well, particularly easy to clean tiles.
Of course, you will want to vacuum your home thoroughly at least twice a week. Remember that you can vacuum your couches, drapery, area rugs, and anything else that needs it. Just make certain you have the correct vacuum cleaner attachment for the job.
Next, you want to keep your dog out of your bedroom from day one. It’s hard to train a bichon frise not to enter a space you once allowed them to. So to avoid the fuss, keep your bedroom off-limits from day one. Another helpful way to minimize the risk is to increase ventilation with air conditioning. It is also helpful to install air filters in every room.
And finally, stick to an intensive grooming routine. Naturally, that isn’t something you should manage when you are allergic to dogs, so make use of a professional groomer.
Most groomers worth their salt will advise you on the best bichon frise haircut for an owner with allergies. The most important thing about choosing a cut for your bichon frise’s coat is not going short.
It is obviously tempting to get rid of as much fur as possible. After all, less fur means less shedding and fewer allergies. Unfortunately, cutting your bichon’s coat short does away with the very thing that makes them “hypoallergenic.” A mid to long cut that retains a good length of the fuzzy outer coat is best.
Once you are friendly with your groomer, bring up the possibility of a discounted repeat-business price. After all, you will have your bichon frise come in at least once a week for the full suite of grooming services.
10 Hypoallergenic Alternatives to the Bichon Frise
If you are looking for a hypoallergenic dog but are not sure if the bichon frise is the right breed for you, make sure to also consider some others. Below are just a few worth looking at.
1. American Hairless Terrier
If you want a lively little companion, the American hairless terrier might be the right hypoallergenic dog for you. As with most small-breed companion dogs, they don’t need much exercise time.
A quick walk and some playtime will do the trick. However, as with most hypoallergenic breeds, the American hairless terrier has a demanding grooming routine.
2. Irish Water Spaniel
Suppose you are in the market for a more active pal that won’t leave you red-faced and swollen. In that case, the Irish water spaniel is the comical companion you didn’t know you needed. They need a lot of exercise time and enjoy playing in the water.
Their water-repellant coat does not demand the same amount of grooming as a bichon frise. Still, they do need the occasional proper brushing.
3. Giant Schnauzer
The ultimate family dog for the family with dog allergies, the giant schnauzer, is very protective and just a bit territorial.
As a working breed, the giant schnauzer needs a good deal of directed exercise. Furthermore, you’ll get to know your local groomer by name in no time.
4. Coton de Tulear
The Coton de Tulear is a small but hardy little dog as lovely as its name. They are very much a companion breed and seek approval above all else. Such dedicated companion breeds are sensitive to their owner’s mood and often respond surprisingly appropriately.
So, don’t be surprised if your Coton de Tulear is in your face to cheer you up whenever you feel under the weather.
For more information, read my detailed Coton de Tulear vs. bichon frise comparison.
5. Afghan Hound
The Afghan hound is a more reserved, perhaps even stoic dog breed. They come across as dignified and aristocratic but don’t fret; this loyal breed makes for a fantastic companion.
They are particularly well suited to anyone who feels that a bichon frise is “just a bit much.” The Afghan hound needs regular exercise and grooming twice a week.
6. Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry blue terrier is nothing short of a blue bolt of pure energy. This adorable little firecracker is perfect for a very active home and not recommended for the faint-hearted.
They do well with a family that has time to spend playing, running, jumping, bouncing, and, dare we say it, twirling the days away. Their coat needs regular brushing and the occasional trimming.
7. Lagotto Romagnolo
A devoted dog with a tricky name, the lagotto Romagnolo is the perfect fit for an active family. While not as frantic as the Kerry blue terrier, this affection dog will need a good deal of exercise.
Their coat resembles that of a poodle, and it requires just as much attention and grooming to avoid mats.
It should come as no surprise to those familiar with the history of the bichon frise that this breed makes this list. The Maltese and bichon frise are two of the four descendants of the original “little white dog” favored by renaissance-era nobles and royalty.
The Maltese do not share the puffy coat of their close cousin, but it rarely sheds its long silky white hair. As a result, the Maltese come with all the grooming needs you would expect from such a fabulous member of the non-shedding club.
For more information, read my detailed Maltese vs. bichon frise comparison.
9. Peruvian Inca Orchid (Hairless)
In the Peruvian Inca orchid, we find a dog that lives up to its exotic name. There are two kinds of Peruvian Inca orchids as far as the coat is concerned. One has fur, as is traditional for dogs. The other is hairless, which is a great way to become hypoallergenic, we suppose. The Peruvian Inca orchid can also come in three distinct sizes, not content with only coming in two variants.
Whether you opt for small, medium, or large, you will definitely get your money’s worth in energy. The curious breed needs a lot of exercise time. Fortunately, their grooming needs are pretty much zero.
The familiar poodle is nothing short of a fashion icon. Like the Peruvian Inca orchid, the poodle comes in three sizes. Although we constantly see poodles put on parade for their pricelessly pulchritudinous styling, the popular breed packs a brainy punch too.
Unfortunately, they require a lot of exercise time, and their grooming needs are best left to a professional.
For more information, read my detailed poodle vs. bichon frise comparison.
There is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog breed, and as such, the name is used for the closest possible thing. The bichon frise and other hypoallergenic breeds are actually low or non-shedding breeds. While a dog’s fur is not responsible for the associated allergies, it does make for fantastic transportation for the dander that sits at the proverbial root of the problem.
As far as getting a bichon frise is concerned, their iconic puffy coat traps any hair they shed, and that makes them as close to non-shedding as you can get.