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Is A Dog Like Bo Right For You?

Would a dog like "first puppy" Bo Obama be appropriate for your family?

Portuguese Water Dogs, like the one the Obama girls just got, make great family pets, says The Early Show's resident veterinarian, Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, but they're not necessarily the right choice for everyone seeking a breed considered hypoallergenic.

According to Turner:

The Portuguese Water Dog is a wonderful dog.

From the coast of Portugal, the PWD is a hearty, robust breed that works hard and swims extremely well. They were used as couriers and retrievers for Portuguese fisherman. They retrieved fishing nets, carried messages between boats, and could even dive for fish.

The PWD is a member of the working dog group, which means they are great athletes, very intelligent, and quite trainable. However, PWDs need firm leadership and plenty of physical and intellectual outlets. They shouldn't be left alone all the time, and aren't well-suited to be kept in a kennel all day. They need attention! A PWD owner should be the dog's intellectual equal, or the dog may develop undesirable behaviors.

PWDs are considered "hypoallergenic" because they have a single coat and don't shed excessively. It is important to note that all dogs shed and have the potential to illicit an allergic response in humans. Portuguese Water Dogs come with a wavy or curly coat. And they're most often trimmed in a "working cut" or "lion cut."

Quick facts about Portuguese Water Dogs:
1. Medium in size
2. Hypoallergenic
3. Coat colors: black, white, and various tones of brown
4. Life expectancy: 10 years

For much more on PWDs, visit the Web site of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.

Turner's favorite "hypoallergenic" breeds:

(All of the following information is directly off the Web site of the American Kennel Club):

  • Bichon Frise: The Bichon Frise is a small, yet sturdy dog with a white, loosely-curled double coat. Bichons are naturally sociable. They have a self-assured temperament and are likely to get along with just about everyone (including members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation). Their active, alert and curious personalities make them easy to train, and the breed's history of being a companion to noblemen in the courts of 16th-century France have primed it for a high-profile life in the White House.
  • Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier: The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier's coat grows longer on his chin and over his eyes, giving him a scruffy appearance, but this intelligent, affectionate and loving breed makes a dignified companion. The breed's playfulness and courageous spirit would likely make him an ambassador of goodwill in the White House. Despite their affectionate and gentle nature, they are true terriers and thus must be handled firmly, fairly and with consistency.
  • Poodle: Although often considered high-maintenance show dogs, Poodles are exceptionally smart and athletic. They excel in obedience training and even as hunting companions. The breed comes in three sizes. While their coat does require frequent grooming, their intelligence and versatility more than make up for the extra care. The Poodle is currently the eighth most popular breed in the U.S., according to AKC registrations statistics, but it spent more than two decades in the top spot -- a testament to its suitability as a family pet.

    For still more on water dogs, click here.