What are the “cleanest” dog breeds? A lot of prospective dog owners with tidy homes would like to know. Unfortunately, the term “clean” is relative, and might apply to dogs that have little discernable doggy odor or dogs that groom themselves like cats. Or perhaps “clean” means dogs with low-shedding, hypoallergenic coats, or even dogs with no coat at all. Keeping these factors in mind, here are the top ten breeds we’ve determined to be the cleanest.
The first hairless breed to originate in the United States, the American Hairless Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2016. The new breed is the result of a mutation that occurred in a litter of Rat Terriers born in 1972, according to the AKC. The litter included a hairless, pink-skinned puppy with black spots that was playful, affectionate and feisty. In time, the American Hairless Terrier breed was established and has become a popular dog with families. As terriers, they also love to play outside, dig in the dirt and chase anything that moves.
The American Hairless Terrier does shed skin cells and their sensitive skin must be protected from sunburn with sunscreen or protective clothing. Because the dogs are hairless, they don’t shed but are more prone to skin problems. “While they’re clean and neat, they can have the same skin issues people do,” says AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo.
Recognized by the AKC in 2010, the Xoloitzcuintli can be either hairless or have a short coat. An ancient breed native to Mexico, its name comes from the Aztec god Xolotl and itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog.
The typical Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short, is calm, aloof and attentive, and makes an excellent companion dog with moderate exercise and grooming needs. Xolos require occasional baths, after which the hairless version should receive an application of body lotion.
If “clean” is defined strictly in terms of a low-shedding coat, the gentle and loyal Bedlington Terrier fits the bill. This unique-looking breed that vaguely resembles a sheep doesn’t shed, but its single-layer coat should be regularly clipped. The AKC recommends going to an experienced groomer to keep the Bedlington Terrier’s coat in top form.
Well known as a good choice for people with allergies because of its non-shedding, hypoallergenic coat, the Poodle was recognized by the AKC in 1887 and comes in three sizes—toy, miniature and standard. The Poodle is a highly intelligent, active and family-friendly breed.
The Poodle’s coat is so sought-after that the breed is one of the most popular to cross with other breeds, spawning oodles of Poodle hybrids including the Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle), Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever/Poodle), Jack-a-Poo (Jack Russell Terrier/Poodle), Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever/Poodle), and Pekepoo (Pekingese/Poodle). Of course, even breeds with low-maintenance coats still require regular grooming.
The Chow Chow combines many “clean” dog characteristics, and according to the AKC, owners report that Chow Chows “are the cleanest of dogs: they housebreak easily, have very little doggy odor, and generally are as fastidious as cats.” At certain times of the year, however, Chow Chows shed… a lot!
An adaptable breed that requires only moderate exercise and can easily live in an apartment setting, adjectives used to describe the Chow Chow’s personality include “dignified” and “serious-minded.”
The Chow Chow originated in ancient China where it was used as a hunting dog. The medium-sized dog is also known as one of only two breeds with a blue-black tongue. The AKC also notes that Martha Stewart owns several Chow Chows. What could be a better endorsement for a breed’s general cleanliness?
A breed known for grooming itself like a cat, the Japanese Chin can even get hairballs, according to DiNardo. Japanese Chins particularly like to lick their paws to clean them, not just to remove an irritation or soothe a wound like other dog breeds, she says.
Sensitive and highly intelligent, the Japanese Chin was bred to be a companion animal. It’s name, however, is a misnomer, as it originated in ancient China and not Japan. The small, medium-energy breed has a long, silky coat that’s surprisingly low-maintenance. The Japanese Chin also tends to be a quiet housemate, but agile and playful when it wants to be, much like a cat.
Cat-like in its aloofness around strangers and self-grooming habits, the Basenji was developed in Africa and is known for its curled tail and quiet presence. The shorthaired breed usually only requires regular cleaning with a “hound glove” or mitt and lacks the typical dog odor. As a hunting breed, the Basenji needs plenty of exercise.
“Clean” might also refer to dogs that are not so high-energy and easily bored that their favorite pastime is wrecking the house.
The Greyhound is the fastest breed of dog that’s active outdoors but is something of a couch potato indoors. As long as his need for regular exercise and fenced-in running room are met, the Greyhound is quite docile at home. “Greyhounds are generally very tidy and neat,” DiNardo says.
Another tidy breed, Whippets are known for the long, lean bodies and speed as a hunting dog. Because of their short, fine coats, Whippets generally do not have that distinct doggy odor of some other breeds and can easily adapt to relaxing at home with their families, provided they have time to run during the day.
Similar to the Whippet and Greyhound, this tidy breed is calm and gentle at home and its short coat requires minimal grooming. A medium-sized dog that uses its senses of sight, smell and hearing to hunt, the Pharaoh Hound is a skilled and powerful dog.
In general, dogs that are groomed appropriately, get enough exercise and attention, are trained to mind their manners and are bathed regularly to control the natural oils in their skin that cause odor, can meet most owners’ definition of “clean,” DiNardo says.