Companionship, protection, emotional support or just plain love — there are so many reasons we choose to get a pet. And Americans love their furry friends — 68 percent of U.S. households own a dog or cat.
Dogs, in particular, have been known to help with those who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder and even Alzheimer's disease. Beyond the emotional support, who wouldn't want a happy face and wagging tail greeting you at the door every day?
While the benefits are undeniable, a potential downside to having a dog is the issue with shedding. Allergies from pet dander and constant pet hair all over your furniture, floors, clothing and car can be a deal-breaker for some.
However, there are plenty of low-shedding or even hairless dogs you may consider if you're concerned about shedding.
Just so you have the right expectations, there's no dog that is 100 percent hypoallergenic, non-shedding or odor-free. Animal experts believe the term hypoallergenic, which is often associated with low-shedding dogs, is misleading.
The reason is that there are many causes of allergies that aren't always due to just the fur of the animal. Some are allergic to a dog's saliva or others with weak immune systems may have overly sensitive reactions to harmless dog dander.
While no dog is completely hypoallergenic, there are certain breeds that shed less than others. Let's start with a few popular designer dogs.
Hybrid dogs, also known as designer dogs, are an intentional cross between two purebred dogs. Unlike a mutt, a hybrid dog has purebred parents. A perfect example includes the adorable Labradoodle (Labrador and Poodle) and Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever and Poodle).
The dogs in this list are known to shed less than the average dog and are recognized for making great apartment dogs.
Labradoodles, which originally came from Australia, were bred as allergy-friendly guide dogs. Not only is the Labradoodle a low-shedder, but is also highly intelligent.
The minimal shedding is bred from the Poodle's curly coat and the good-natured, spunky personality of the Labrador makes the Labradoodle a wonderful companion.
Similar to the Labradoodle, the Goldendoodle is crossed with a Poodle and Golden Retriever and also makes for a low-shedding pet.
Goldendoodles, which are known to look like brown teddy bears, are smart and make excellent guide dogs, therapy dogs and service dogs.
Cockapoos are one of the original hybrid dogs.
A Cockapoo is a Cocker Spaniel mixed with a Poodle and was one of the first designer dogs intentionally bred in the 1960s. Cockapoos are great for apartment living, not only because they're low shedders, but because of their small size.
They're highly intelligent and easy to train.
These dainty dogs look like Greyhounds, as they're tall and thin. Unlike Greyhounds, which are known to be couch potatoes, Afghan Hounds have high energy and require a lot of exercise. Although they grow long, silky coats, they don't shed a lot.
They should be brushed at least twice a week to keep their shedding at a minimum.
This breed, from Louisiana, has the qualities that make for a great family pet. They're affectionate, loyal, energetic and curious. American Hairless Terriers are alert and protective of their owners.
Because the dog is hairless, it's important to put sunscreen on its skin during outside walks in the hot sun. (Yes, hairless dogs get sunburned too.)
These unique and charming dogs look like a mix between a Whippet and a lamb. They have a pear-shaped head, arched back and a soft, curly coat.
They don't shed much and also don't require a lot of grooming, but they should be brushed regularly.
They're naturally friendly, playful and also make for a great first-time dog.
Chinese Crested dogs, which look similar to Chihuahuas, only have hair on their head, tail and feet. They're easy to bathe but be sure to protect their skin with sunscreen in the summer.
Don't forget the dog sweaters and coats in the winter if you live in a cold climate area.
As the tallest member of the Spaniel family, the Irish Water Spaniel has a curly, low-shedding coat with a long, skinny tail.
Aptly named for its swimming chops, the Irish Water Spaniel is alert, playful and full of energy. Their thick, dark, water-repellent coat should be brushed every few weeks.
Kerry Blue Terrier comes from Ireland and was originally bred to help control rats, rabbits, badgers and foxes. The Kerry is a working dog and also herds cattle and sheep. They also make great guard dogs.
Known for its splendid, thick coat, the Kerry Blue Terriers are a breed to consider if you suffer from allergies. Their coat should be brushed regularly, particularly around the face.
There's a reason why Poodles are often used for cross-breeding — they're incredibly intelligent and versatile. Poodles come in three standard sizes: miniature, standard and toy.
The Poodle's fur is soft and curly and, just like humans, will shed individual strands, which mean less dander and easy cleanup.
Poodles are highly energetic, affectionate and have a wonderful disposition.
Most likely, you know someone who has a Maltese.
These adorable white dogs look like puppies. Their coats are soft, silky, white and can grow to be very long. You can choose to grow their hair long or keep their coats short.
Maltese don't shed a lot due to a single-layer coat. Dogs with single-layer coats tend to shed small amounts year-round vs. dogs with undercoats, which shed large amounts, twice a year.
Described as friendly, smart and obedient from the American Kennel Club, Miniature Schnauzers fall into the low shedders category.
These breeds were created to be an all-around farm dog and are tough and feisty, without the aggression. Because of that, they make great watchdogs.
If you've always wanted to own a dog but are wary of too much shedding, there are definitely plenty of breeds to choose from.
Outside of the shedding factor, consider the size, temperament and energy level of the dog. Some dogs are couch potatoes, while others require lots of outside time. Also, some breeds are prone to certain diseases, so that may be another element to consider when doing your research.