President Obama and Bo the Portuguese Water Dog

Bo, a Portuguese water dog, is President Obama's "First Dog."

He was born in 2008 and moved into the White House in early 2009. Before Bo
arrived at the White House there had been much speculation over which breed the
Obama family would choose.

Obama had always said that he wanted to get a shelter dog, but eventually chose to
buy from a breeder in Pennsylvania.

This disappointed many dog lovers, as the family's prior interest in a shelter dogs had prompted a petition containing nearly 50,000 signatures in support of this choice. While Bo was returned from his first home, and therefore technically a rescue dog, it's difficult to argue that he's a true shelter dog.

After an initial secret meeting between the family and dog he was immediately presented to the media on the South Lawn of the White House. The appearance of Portuguese water dogs makes them a good choice for a presidential pet. The breed isn't too big or small, and appears cute without being too "fluffy" or soft.

Portuguese water dogs are said to bond strongest with the "alpha" family member and are generally good with strangers. While there are many breeds that would have been suitable for his family, there are a number of other factors that Obama needed to consider.

One of the main reasons why the Obama family chose Bo was because the breed is meant to be hypoallergenic. When asked which breed his family would choose after being elected, President Obama mentioned that Malia was allergic to dogs, so a hypoallergenic breed was important. Dogs that are considered hypoallergenic, like Bo, can still cause reactions in sensitive people because it is not just the hair that causes problems, skin scurf and dander can also trigger allergies. It would be interesting to hear how Malia has been coping with the dog.

The breed is thought to be prone to separation anxiety, but this probably isn't an issue in the busy halls of the White House. Obama and his family may not be as involved in the day to day care of Bo as they would like, due to their official duties and school attendance. The Portuguese Water Dog needs a lot of exercise as the dogs were initially bred for hunting. They are also highly intelligent and require lots of attention and entertainment.

Fortunately, there are many people who can help with walking and training the dog, although Bo has had professional obedience training. It's common for presidential pets to be used in political speeches as a tool for increasing a president's "likability," but this doesn't always go to plan. Obama once said that his dog Bo had more charisma than his mother-in-law, which probably wasn't the best move!

Even Presidents have to be careful around their mother-in-law. Obama quickly tried to cover over his slip of the tongue by backtracking and then claiming that Michelle inherited all her good looks from her mother. This may not have saved President Obama from a stint in the "dog house!"