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Barack Obama close to finding the First Dog

January 12, 2009 |  2:04 pm

A Labradoodle is among Barack Obama's top choices for First Dog Barack Obama and his family have narrowed the field of potential First Dog breeds down to two finalists, the president-elect told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos this weekend.  Stephanopoulos writes on his blog:

On behalf of Malia and Sasha Obama, I asked the president-elect, "What kind of a dog are we getting and when are we getting it?"

Obama said, "They seem to have narrowed it down to a labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound ... medium-sized dog, and so, we’re now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up."

"So, you're closing in on it?" I asked Obama.

"We're closing in on it. This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary," the president-elect said.

The American Kennel Club, rather naturally, has stated its belief that the Obamas would do best with a purebred dog.  Lisa Peterson, a spokeswoman for the group, said, "One of the great benefits of a purebred dog is predictability –- knowing what you are going to get. In the case of someone with allergies this is particularly important, so a Portuguese water dog would be a great choice for the Obamas."  (The AKC even maintains a website called PresidentialPup.)

Portuguese water dogs' coats are "profuse, non-allergenic, non-shedding, and waterproof," says the AKC.  Bred to retrieve game, they are actually a sporting breed (not a hound, as Obama told Stephanopoulos).

Labradoodles were "first deliberately bred in 1989, when Australian breeder Wally Conron first crossed the Labrador retriever and standard poodle for Guide Dogs Victoria.  His aim was to combine the low-shedding coat of the poodle with the gentleness and trainability of the Labrador, and to provide a Guide Dog suitable for people with allergies to fur and dander," according to Wikipedia.

The New York Times politics blog, the Caucus, points out:

Notably absent from the shortlist of First Dog candidates was the goldendoodle, a cross between a golden retriever and poodle. While campaigning in Iowa in 2007, Mr. Obama had said that the goldendoodle was Malia’s top choice. There was no word from Mr. Obama on why the goldendoodle had withdrawn from consideration.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: The face of a canine candidate, the labradoodle. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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