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10 of the best pets for allergy sufferers

By: Katherine Butler on July 21, 2011, 10:55 a.m.
Portuguese water dog

Photo: Raymond Brow/flickr

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Portuguese water dog

A common misconception about pet allergies is that people are allergic to fur. But as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America points out, “People with pet allergies have supersensitive immune systems that react to harmless proteins in the pet's dander (dead skin that is shed), saliva or urine. These proteins are called allergens.” Further, these allergens can remain potent for several months. They seem to be sticky and can travel distances on people’s clothing. However, some animals are better tolerated because of their fur. Some dogs either do not shed a lot, or they require so much grooming that their dander is washed away more frequently. This is the case with the Portuguese water dog, an active breed with a robust coat requiring regular maintenance. White House dog Bo Obama is a Portuguese water dog, chosen to accommodate Malia Obama’s allergies.