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What kind of dog could make it to the White House?

To: The Obamas, particularly Malia
From: A parent who knows a little something about hypoallergenic dogs

President-elect, you threw the country a curveball when you revealed Malia's allergy. After all, the country spent days speculating on the best presidential dogs without knowing the key criteria : a dog that doesn't cause itchy or swelling eyes, a closing throat, sneezing or any other reaction.

Finding a dog that fits your needs won't be any easy task, Malia. You'll need to visit with different dogs for a while -- even have them stay with you for several days to make sure you are okay -- before you get too attached. And your bedroom is off limits for the dog.

But you do have lots of choices. First, start with long-haired or hairless pups. Those long-haired pets generally don't shed, which is good for people like you with allergies. But they will need some good brushings (maybe a good job for your sister, Sasha?).

I know your dad said he's considering a shelter dog, but if you're more a purebred girl, take a look at the Bichon frisee (naturally sociable), Poodles (smart, athletic and obedient), Shih Tsus (friendly and trusting), Schnauzers (the miniature is an active, alert watchdog), Maltese (gentle-mannered and affectionate) or the hairless Chinese Crested, which the American Kennel Club calls a social butterfly perfect for mature kids. If dad wants to fit right in with the Kennedys, you may be looking at the intelligent and obedient Portuguese Water Dogs. That's what Uncle Teddy has been seen walking around the Capitol.

If you want to find a mutt, also called hybrids or crossbreeds, for dad, there are several that are considered low-allergen dogs, including Shih-poos (a Shih Tsu/poodle mix); Yorkie-poos (Yorkie and poodle mix); Malti-poos (Maltese and poodle mix), and any mixture of all the above-mentioned dogs. Oh, and of course there are also the Labradoodle and Cockapoo, though I've heard from a highly allergic relative that they don't seem to be as low allergenic as some of the other breeds.

Finally, I know you and Sasha really want that puppy that Daddy promised. But if every dog you try makes you feel miserable, you're just going to have to come up with a different big-time present from dad.

Good luck!

To: The rest of On Parenting's readers today
From: S. Garfinkle

Would you like to speculate on which dog will end up in the White House? What's your bet and why?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 10, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Newsmakers
Previous: Preschooler, You're Outta Here! | Next: Are Kids' Gift Registries a Good Idea?


No idea on the breed, but it would be PC for the dog to be "rescued", rather than to come from a breeder.

Dogs are smart. "First Dog" Barney recently bit a reporter.

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 10, 2008 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Because America is "a melting pot" only the finest mutt in the land will do. Besides, mutts make the best dogs...

Posted by: PrissyPatriot | November 10, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Plenty of purebred dogs from puppy mills that get turned into humane societies/shelters. No need to go to a breeder. My vote is for a mutt. I'd hate to see shelters be inundated by "Obama dogs" in 4/8 years when they go out of fashion (like the dalmation did).

Posted by: scarlett_85 | November 10, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

The Obamas should get a retired racing greyhound. They are low allergen dogs that desperately need homes. They are really social, sweet, laid-back dogs. And how cool would it look to have a couple of greyhounds racing around the White House?

Posted by: jc13 | November 10, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Prediction: the troll who commonly posts as "va_herder", "Clifton", or "Upperville" won't be able to resist this opportunity to tell us once again how much smarter his collies are than he is.

Posted by: MacGruber | November 10, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

If Malia is allergic, I don't think they should get a dog. Although maybe I'm thinking too small -- it's not like they're going to be living in 3000 square feet anytime soon where she will be greatly impacted by the presence of an animal. But they should definitely keep talking about the dog, since it's worrying Bill Kristol and that's always nothing but fun.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 10, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

My vote is for a Wheaton Terrier or Wheaton Terrier cross from a rescue organization. Wheaton Terriers are on the small size (under 35 lbs) and don't need as much exercise as larger dogs; however, they still have "big dog" personalities. I frequently care for a friend's Wheaton-Poodle cross (our best guess) that came from a local pound. He is smart, wants to please, and has a winning personality. Good luck!

Posted by: cambridgeparent | November 10, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty certain that I couldn't be less intersted in this. I am however fascinated by the fact that apparently lots of people are fascinated by this topic.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 10, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I am allergic to dogs and I have 2 of them. Both are short-haired shelter dogs, that shed alot. I suggest vacuum...alot, get rid of as much carpeting as you can and buy a floor vac, such as a Swiffer vac. Sweeping just makes the dog hair fly around. The Obamas will be living in the White House, so cleaning should not be an issue. There are also special dog shampoos that reduce shedding, along with supplements such as Flax Seed.

Posted by: milesdy | November 10, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

My unsolicited advice to the Obama family is to research breeds and temperments in various ways. Periodically, I take my kids to a nearby pet store to look at and cuddle puppies. I do this to familiarize the children with various breeds, provide the puppies with affection and minimize the begging for a dog (it's like getting the puppy fix, then we go home). I also take my son to a "read to rover" day at the public library. There, the volunteers tell how they rescued their dogs and provide my son with knowledge on their dogs' breeds. At some point, when things are less hectic and I am more sure that my kids will help with the care, I'd like to get a dog. We'll need a dog that doesn't trigger the allergies as well.

My son has an Asperger's-like knowledge of animals, especially dogs. So most of his conversation centers around dogs -- breed, height, weight, type of ears, origin, etc.
It's a never-ending subject.

I also vote for rescue dogs. My cat is a resuce, and one of my childhood dogs was a stray.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 10, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I am a volunteer at both the DC and Montgomery County Humane Socities.

I am sure the president-elect's family will make the right choice by adopting one of the many great animals currently living a shelter.

Shelter dogs make great family members becuase they started their life in dire circumstances and realize how lucky they are to find the perfect family.

My vote is for a shelter dog!

Posted by: JHoltz | November 10, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Our 5 month old standard poodle is an intelligent, calm, and friendly dog who has not provoked allergies in our two dog-allergic family members. For the Obamas, as was the case with us, the problem with allergies trumped our concerns about a rescue dog. We were able to visit the breeder and meet several adult poodles as well as the pups, which confirmed that they weren't provoking allergies.

Posted by: SolontheGreat | November 10, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I also am allergic, but found that my silky terrier did not provoke my allergies. And she was the smartest, most loyal, and most ferocious dog on the planet. The picture above looks just like her. Makes me long for another one right now. Maybe in a year or two.

Posted by: emily8 | November 10, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Who cares?

Posted by: dennis5 | November 10, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I weaseled out of getting a family dog for more than a decade after promising my wife we would get one when the time was right. I was the big family meanie for saying "NO" for so long. I finally caved when Ms Weasel and the kids agreed to cancel cable TV.

So the cable TV got canceled, and I was still the big, fat meanie for insisting that we do research on getting the new pet instead of going strait down to the pound and picking one out the minute I said OK. After 3 weeks of research, we ended up getting a 6 month old puppy from an adoption agency.

that was 2 months ago, and after watching my 6 year old boy play with the puppy, I'm wundering what took me so long. Every boy should have a dog!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 10, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The way they've gone about this dog acquisition has just seemed really calculating. I won't be surprised if the final choices are focus-grouped. "I'm sorry, sweetie, I know that the Schnauzer is adorable, but the cocker spaniel polls much better among women 35-49."

Posted by: tomtildrum | November 10, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

There is a dog I am aware of named "Fred" who is a Jack Russell terrier as smart as Obama and Michelle put together. He should be invited into the family. See

Posted by: jheubusch | November 10, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I vote 2 shelter dogs, to keep each other company. Dogs are social animals. If not a shelter dog, there are rescue groups for any breed they could possibly want.

Posted by: martymar123 | November 10, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I say pay attention to the allergy symptoms that you have, and you may find that some types of dogs trigger them and others do not. I develop a skin contact allery around some short-haired breeds. When I was going through the adoption process with a lab rescue group, some labs triggered the reaction, and others did not. I ended up with a beautiful golden retriever from a breed rescue organization. I recommend researching the nature of the breeds that interest you to find the right temperment and fit for your family, and I absolutely encourage adoption from a shelter or rescue group.

Posted by: Kellygirl | November 10, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

The allergy component to getting a dog should not stop the family from adopting. One in every 4 shelter dogs are pure bred and represent a wide variety of breeds. There are also breed rescue group which would be an excellent source of a pup or young dog. A breed rescue group can provide a trial run as a foster to determine the level of tolerance Malia has to a particular breed or dog.

The AKC is pushing hard on this pure breed nonsense while out of the other side of their mouths they actively fight puppy mill and spay/neuter legislation wherever it comes up. Don't buy their line that you can't adopt a pure bred hypoalergentic pup.

Posted by: sparky491 | November 12, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The firsy pup should be a Labradoodle or some poodle hybrid, and should be named Snickerdoodle. "According to Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking, Snickerdoodle was "a miniature hero who drove a peanut car and cut giant problems down to size. The pintsize champ was the nephew of Yankee Doodle and the cousin of Polly Wolly Doodle." Supposedly Snickerdoodle cookies are named for him."

Posted by: mkfairchild | November 12, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

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