Allergies and the accompanying symptoms of sneezing, coughing, stuffy nose and watery eyes create misery in the lives of those afflicted. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that an estimated 10 percent of the American population is allergic to animals. That statistic does not preclude the allergy sufferer from enjoying the companionship of man’s best friend. Simply select from the hypoallergenic dogs known to cause the least allergies.

Portuguese Water Dog
President Obama promised his daughters a dog when he became president. One of his daughters suffers from allergies; selecting the right dog proved challenging. Ultimately, the dog of choice was the Portuguese water dog. An active, playful breed, the Portuguese water dog loves children. A non-shedding dog, the coat of this breed is curly and comes in white, brown, black and combination colors. Daily exercise and regular grooming is a necessity for the Portuguese water dog. This medium size dog weighs 35 to 60 lbs. and adjusts well to apartment life as long as his exercise demands are met. The Portuguese water dog is prone to hip dysplasia and a fatal nerve condition called storage disease. The average lifespan for this breed is 10 to 14 years.

The non-shedding Havanese, a naturally playful, friendly dog, gets along well with children, cats and other dogs. An intelligent breed, the Havanese trains easily and should never be reprimanded harshly. He possesses a sensitive nature and his feelings get hurt easily. The breed is an alert watch dog that is quick to alert when a stranger approaches but rapidly befriends the stranger if you indicate your approval. His long, soft and abundant coat comes in an assortment of colors, including brown, black and white. The coat needs daily brushing to stay in peak condition. The Havanese does well in an apartment but requires daily exercise. Average weight of the Havanese ranges from 7 to 13 lbs and its lifespan is about 15 years. The breed is generally healthy but some may develop luxating patellas, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts and dry skin conditions.

This tiny, white, energetic dynamo loves children and is delighted to play outside with them for hours on end. The Maltese craves attention and enjoys spending time with his owner. The owner of a Maltese must be careful not to spoil the dog to the point that the dog thinks of himself as the one in charge. This is an intelligent breed but can exhibit training and behavioral issues such as snappiness and jealousy if allowed to become the leader of the house. The Maltese’s soft, long, non-shedding coat requires daily brushing to keep from matting. Tie his top hair into a ponytail and secure with a barrette to keep it out of his eyes. Keep the area around his eyes wiped clean with a soft, damp cloth to prevent staining. The Maltese usually weighs 9 pounds or less and is prone to sunburn, dental, eye, skin and respiratory conditions. The lifespan of the Maltese averages 15 or more years.

By Kate Daniels, eHow Contributor
Updated: June 10, 2010

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Advice from your Allergist-Pet Allergy
American Kennel Club: AKC Meet the Breeds Portuguese Water Dog
Dog Breed Info Center: Havanese
Dog Breed Info Center: Maltese
Mayo Clinic: Pet Allergy
Allergy Escape: The Hypoallergenic Dog
Martha Stewart: Dog Breeds Center