When someone starts looking for a dog breed that's best for a mild to severe allergy sufferer, the Yorkshire terrier, or “Yorkie,” is always mentioned. These spunky, loyal little dogs make ideal pets for any acute allergy sufferer and can even become loving pets for major allergy sufferers if the proper precautions are taken.
Hypoallergenic, Not Allergen-Free
Yorkshire terriers, like all other hypoallergenic dogs, are not allergen-free. You cannot own a dog that is allergen-free, including hairless breeds. With skin comes dander, and with dander come dander allergies. Hypoallergenic simply means that these breeds are severely lacking in the dander department and with proper care can be nearly dander-free. If you have a severe allergy to dog dander, even a hypoallergenic breed could cause a reaction.
Why the Coat Helps
The reason a Yorkie, as well as other breeds, is called hypoallergenic is because of its coat. These dogs either have coats that shed less than average or have a much thinner undercoat--or none at all. With less shedding, the dog sheds less dander, thus saving the allergy sufferer from a bunch of the stuff floating around in the air. Undercoats in dogs tend to be dust and pollen magnets, which often worsens the effect on owners, as many folks allergic to dander are also affected by these other common allergens.
Grooming, Bathing and Brushing
To help prevent dander from spreading around the house, the Yorkie must be groomed, bathed and brushed. It is recommended to use a weekly dander-reducing shampoo and bathe your pet. Besides a weekly bath, Yorkies need to be groomed and brushed regularly to prevent dander. It is recommended that all allergy sufferers wear a mask and gloves when grooming their pets. Also recommended are grooming the pet outdoors and keeping it off furniture.
Most people's allergies are mild enough that if they simply took a few small precautions when handling dogs, they would have no reaction. Remember to wash your hands and even your clothes after grooming, brushing or even having extended contact with your Yorkie. Try to keep pets out of the bedroom as well as off of all clothes, blankets and furniture that has been exposed to pet dander. Make sure to regularly vacuum and dust places that your Yorkie frequents.
If possible, replace air filters with HEPA filters. Also, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will ensure that all the dander is caught and not re-dispersed into the open air. It is important to make sure that some--if not all--of the allergens are being caught in some kind of filtration system and not being re-released into your environment; there is no point in cleaning up dander with a vacuum if it is not contained.