The First Dog. A truly sought out position with mountains of history behind it! One of the most famous presidential pups, Bo the Portuguese Water Dog, is perhaps the most famous of the POTUS pups. Perhaps one of the most popular dogs in the world, Bo is a superstar!
I know it’s been a little while since Bo was in office, but he is still quite famous. Additionally, his history and presence in the white house became a major animal welfare event since Bo is a purebred dog from a dog breeder- rather than a shelter dog.
Let’s start with a quick profile on Bo!
What kind of dog is Bo?
Bo is a male purebred Portuguese Water Dog, which while not an ultra rare breed is far from an everyday occurrence at the dog park. Water dogs have a long history of working closely with humans and in the past they were trained to travel from ship to ship carrying messages off Portugal of Portugaul. Even more interesting, these dogs were used to literally herd fish into the nets of fisherman. I wonder which creative fisherman was the first to train his dog to help him fish! And did his friends believe it until they saw it!?
Haven’t I seen dogs like this have strange haircuts?
You have indeed! These dogs are often shown with a funny haircut that leaves their hind end shaved with the rest of the body furry and fluffy. This is a traditional cut used by the working dogs on the coast of Portugal. It allows for the dogs to protect their vital organs of the chest and thorax while leaving the hind end unencumbered allowing for faster and more efficient swimming.
The Obamas typically leave Bo with a cut that is roughly the same length all over. While many dogs of this breed are all black, Bo has a white chest that makes him look almost like he is wearing a tuxedo. Barrack has joked before that Bo is always ready to go with his tuxedo attire!
Where did Bo come from?
Bo came from a small breeder in Boyd, Texas and is the son of Watson and Penny. Who are dogs, in case that wasn’t clear. While I couldn’t find the details on how Bo was chosen, his brothers and sisters certainly got a lot of attention. One of Bo’s littermates ended up with Senator Ted Kennedy. This a very special and politically aligned litter for sure!
But Bo wasn’t always with the Obamas! He was originally sold to an unknown buyer, presumably in Texas, before being brought back to the breeder for an unknown reason.
Just how famous is this dog?
Well, he’s met the Pope among hundreds of other important world leaders. He’s also appeared on the Ellen show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Which makes him pretty famous. Bo was the First Dog for some time and as such, it is impossible for him not to end up in the spotlight. Add to it that the Obama family has never been shy about sharing the camera with Bo and you have one of the most famous first dogs of the century. The dog essentially grew up in front of the world, as there have been a number of pictures and videos taken of the family walking and playing with the dog. There are even some pictures of Obama goofing off with the dog and running around with him throughout various wings of the White House.
Why not a shelter dog?
As you know, I’m a big support of shelters across the country. The world already has too many dogs and spay/neuter efforts aren’t keeping up. Despite numerous petitions from animal welfare organizations requesting that the Obama’s adopt a shelter pet, the family decided on this breed of dog due to the fact that their daughter Malia has allergies. Portuguese Water Dogs are thought to be hypoallergenic which means that Malia’s allergies would be minimally affected. PWD’s are also one of the few larger breed dogs whose coat is thought to be hypoallergenic.
The Obamas had originally intended to adopt a dog from a shelter before Bo came along. At least that’s what various media outlets reported. A number of animal organizations signed petitions urging the Obama to take in a shelter dog instead. Though Bo is not a shelter dog, the Obamas did go on to make a donation to the Washington DC Humane Society in an effort to show support for shelter dogs across the nation.
Many organization were disappointed with this decision and while a donation is kind it doesn’t have the same impact as the most powerful man in the world brining a shelter dog into his home.