News that a Portuguese Water Dog, as seen here, will become the First Canine of the United States is thrilling lovers of the breed in its native land, who say Barack Obama's family couldn't have picked better
News that a Portuguese Water Dog will become the First Canine of the United States is thrilling lovers of the breed in its native land, who say Barack Obama's family couldn't have picked better.
"It's been more than 500 years that these dogs have played a part in great moments of humanity," raved Hugo Oliveira of the Association for the Protection of Water Dogs, which champions the poodle-like breed in Portugal.
"It could be one of ours. Why not?" Carla Peralta, a Water Dog breeder in the southern Algarve region, told the popular 24 Horas daily.
Peralta's bitch is expecting puppies at Easter time -- around the period that the Obamas hope to get their dog.
Speaking to People magazine this week, First Lady Michelle Obama confirmed that the family is looking to adopt an unwanted Portuguese Water Dog, whose hypoallergenic coat would suit allergy-prone older daughter Malia.
"Temperamentally they're supposed to be pretty good," she said. "From the size perspective, they're sort of middle of the road... And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them."
With a history going back to pre-Christian times, the Portuguese Water Dog travelled with world with 15th century Portuguese explorers, swimming between ships with its webbed feet.
Fishermen meanwhile used them to recover lost nets and guard boats.
The breed slipped out of favour during the 20th century until enthusiasts in Portugal and the United States launched a revival -- inspired by the dogs' gentle temperament, particularly with children.