Is something itching your Alsatian? Does your spaniel seem extra scratchy? Is your Boxer bothered by beef? Are fleas flooring your Bichon Frise? Is soy making your Staffie sore?

When we pawrents get allergies, we tend to sniff, sneeze and rub our eyes but with dogs, it’s a little different. While allergies are just as common in our furry friends, canine allergic reactions are less ‘achoo!’ and more ‘atopy’. That’s canine atopic dermatitis (cAD), basically the dog version of eczema in people. cAD causes scratchy feet, belly, skin folds and ears in response to environmental allergens like dust mites, pollen, grass and mould spores. Your pooch might also get other itchy allergies in response to certain foods or to flea saliva: flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the leading cause of allergic reactions in dogs.

If your dog keeps getting the itch, it might not just be down to bad luck. Some unlucky breeds are genetically predisposed to developing specific allergic reactions. In fact, cAD arises from an interaction between a dog’s inherited genetics and allergens, so different breeds might have different triggers. Below, we’ve listed the 10 dog breeds most prone to getting scratchy so that you can stay alert to signs and be prepared to get them treated by your vet. 

You’ll notice that while cAD and FAD are common conditions in many breeds, the same dogs often suffer from adverse reactions triggered by food, certain ingredients like meat, soy and wheat making our pups sick. This happens when changes in your dog’s immune system cause their body to perceive certain ingredients as ‘foreign,’ leading to an aggressive immune response that causes the allergic reaction. Scroll down to read how THE PACK avoids using any of these red flag foods to keep your pooch thriving, whatever their breed!

  • The cute and cuddly Bichon Frise is top of the allergy-prone list. Their white fur might be hypoallergenic for us, but that doesn’t stop them from getting their own itches! These dogs contract food allergies easily, as well as reacting very badly to flea bites. They also suffer from cAD, triggers including pollen, grass, medications (penicillin, opiates), perfumes, shampoos, cleaning products and latex.
  • Anybody who shares their home with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier knows that these dogs are far more sensitive than they look! Unfortunately, this extends to their skin too, Staffies reacting badly to everything from fleas to food. As with other dogs and humans, Staffy allergies occur when they’re repeatedly exposed to an allergenic substance and their white blood cells remember the allergen, releasing histamines, the chemical compounds involved in immune responses. Those histamines are what cause the itching. 
  • Staffies aren’t the only Bull Terrier vulnerable to allergens. Bullies often suffer from cAD, made worse by detergents and other chemicals. To ease symptoms, your vet might administer immunomodulatory medications, either as a daily pill or an injection given every 4-10 weeks. If your Bully has been scratching for a while, antibiotics or antifungal medicines might be needed to treat resulting skin infections.
  • German Shepherds or Alsatians are another stoic-looking dog in touch with their sensitive side when it comes to allergies; specifically, food-related reactions. These dogs can suffer badly after consuming ingredients like beef, chicken, corn, soy, dairy and wheat, as we explore in this blog. 
  • Golden Retrievers tend to appear the picture of glowing health but they’re susceptible to numerous allergies, including cAD - so watch out for itching after walks!
  • The same applies to Labradors, who often suffer from both canine atopic dermatitis and food allergies. Scientists have found that roughly half of Labradors and Golden Retrievers whose pawrents have cAD will develop the condition themselves.
  • You might not have heard of the Brussels Griffon, a tiny dog breed with big personality! Unfortunately these dogs often develop skin allergies, so make sure you check them regularly for early signs. If their scratching’s due to atopy, your vet might prescribe hyposensitization therapy. That involves giving your dog injections of the allergens to which they’re sensitive, easing itchiness in 60-80% of pooches after 6-12 months.
  • Another small breed prone to skin allergies is the Maltese. These dogs can even develop allergic reactions to the fabric of their bed or the plastic in their food and water bowls! Look out for shortness of breath or eye infections, other visible symptoms of a reaction besides itching. 
  • Cocker Spaniels are notoriously active dogs, but itchy feet can too often slow them down. Allergies in Cocker Spaniels may also present as itchy ears and can be triggered by food or environmental allergens like pollen or sand.  Left untreated, these allergies can change your dog’s personality; they feel so uncomfortable that they begin to shy away from people or become aggressive when touched. This is especially true for dogs with ear infections as a symptom so if your Cocker seems oddly crabby, get him or her checked out ASAP!
  • Finally, the robust Boxer dog can be floored by wheat in dog food and knocked out for the count by cAD rashes caused by weeds and trees. As with any of these breeds, regular baths where you lather your pup up with medicated or prescription-strength shampoo are a simple way to heal skin infections and ease itching. 

We’ve explored some ways to treat cAD, but what if your dog’s trigger isn’t found outside, but in their food bowl? One easy way to keep food allergies at bay, regardless of your dog’s breed, is to feed THE PACK instead of a meat or soy-based alternative. As we explore in our food allergies blog, beef, dairy, chicken and lamb are the most common culprits for provoking allergic reactions, as well as wheat, none of which appear in our wet or dry foods. Soy is another offender, which is why THE PACK prides itself in using alternative proteins like pea and hemp

So unlike with other vegan pet foods, which often include soy protein and wheat, you can be sure that the only reaction your dog will have to our food is an extra waggy tail!


If you want to discover more about raising a happy, healthy plant-based dog, download our FREE eBook

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