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Bo (dog)

Official White House portrait of the First Dog
(May 2009)
Other appellation(s) First Dog[1][2][3]
Charlie (by previous owner)
Species Canis lupus familiaris
Breed Portuguese Water Dog
Sex Male
Born Amigo's New Hope[4]
(2008-10-09) October 9, 2008
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Nation from United States
Known for Pet of the First Family of the United States
Training Dawn Sylvia (Hume, Virginia)
Can sit, present paw/shake, lie down, roll over, get off, wait[5]
Predecessor Barney
Owner Obama family
Parents Dam: Penny
(Amigo's Phor What Its Worth)
(Boyd, Texas)
Sire: Watson
(Valkyrie's Dr. Watson Is Here)
(Ambridge, Pennsylvania)[6]
Breeder: Julie Parker[7]
Appearance tuxedo/black and white
Named after Obama girls' cousins' pet cat
and also Bo Diddley

Bo Obama[8] (born October 9, 2008) is a pet dog of the Obama family, the First Family of the United States.[2] Bo is a neutered[9] male Portuguese Water Dog.[2] President Barack Obama and his family were given the dog as a gift after months of speculation about the breed and identity of their future pet.[10] The final choice was made in part because Malia Obama's allergies dictated a need for a hypoallergenic breed. Bo has occasionally been called "First Dog" .[1][2][3] In August 2013 Bo was joined by Sunny, a female dog of the same breed.[11]


  • Breed background 1
  • Breeding and original owners 2
  • Selection of the dog 3
  • Biographical details 4
  • Disputed rescue heritage 5
  • Reactions by and in the media 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Breed background

The Portuguese Water Dog is originally from the Algarve region of Portugal. Only 48 Portuguese Water Dogs were entered for Britain's Crufts competition in 2009[12] and the author of The New Complete Portuguese Water Dog, Kitty Braund, believes there are about 50,000 in North America.[13] Due to its fleecy coat of minimally-shedding hair,[14] the Portuguese Water Dog is considered a hypoallergenic dog breed.

Breeding and original owners

The Obamas with Bo

Bred by Martha and Art Stern of Amigo Portuguese Water Dogs in Boyd, Texas,[7] Bo is a son of "Watson" (CH Valkyrie Dr. Watson is Here, Born 22.April.2002, AKC WS00562102)—of the Rader family in Pittsburgh's Ambridge suburb—and "Penny", belonging to Art and Martha Stern. One of Bo's nine litter mates was Senator Ted Kennedy's dog named "Cappy" (Amigo's Captain Courageous); the litter was named "Hope and Change", in honor of Obama's victory.

Bo's original buyer is unknown, but eventually they returned him to the Stern family; purchasing Bo required signing a contract to return him to his breeder if things did not work out. Bo enrolled with Kennedy's obedience trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, in Hume, Virginia on January 5, 2009.

Bo's brother Rico is owned by a couple in Houston, Texas.[15]

Selection of the dog

At his first press conference as President-elect, Obama was questioned by reporters as to which breed the family was looking to acquire; he replied, "Our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts."[16] He also noted "Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic."[16]

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."[17] Much was made by the public and press about the family's search for a dog. On April 12, 2009, it was announced that the Obamas would soon accept a six-month-old Portuguese Water Dog puppy as a gift from Senator Kennedy. The dog was reported to have visited the family some weeks earlier[18] in a secret meeting to gauge compatibility and purportedly referred to by staffers as "The Meeting". However, the gift was not accepted until the dog officially arrived and moved in at the White House on Tuesday, April 14, 2009.[19] Immediately after he arrived, the family staged a photo op with Bo on the property's South Lawn.[20] At the conference, Obama was asked if he would allow Bo inside the Oval Office, to which he responded: "of course."[20] He also gave a nod to President Harry Truman's quote, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."[20] The White House website was later updated to include official pictures and biographical details of Bo.[2]

Biographical details

Bo wearing a lei upon his White House arrival

Listed by the name "Amigo's New Hope" with American Kennel Club's breed registry[21] and given the name "Charlie" by his original owners,[22] the puppy received his current name from President Obama's two daughters, Malia and Sasha, in part after their cousins' cat and Michelle Obama's father's nickname Diddley; the dog is a namesake of deceased singer Bo Diddley.[23][24]

In June 2009, the White House released a baseball card for Bo with his new official portrait on one side and tongue-in-cheek statistics on the other; information included the facts that Bo's favorite food is tomatoes and that he does not yet know how to swim. The card is available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the White House.[25][26][27]

According to financial disclosure forms released by President Obama in 2010, Bo has a value of $1,600.[28]

In December 2010, Bo was permitted to accompany the Obama family to the guest house Plantation Estate in Hawaii. Hawaii, which is rabies-free, has strict quarantine rules of up to 120 days for dogs from outside the state. However, in accordance with rules modified in 2003, dogs are permitted if they have had two rabies shots (including one in the previous 90 days), pass a rabies blood test, and have a microchip implant.[29][30]

As of August 2012, Bo is on a diet, though no other details were released (it was announced by the President during the Kids' State Dinner, where children from the states and territories who had won a contest to design healthy, appealing meals had lunch at the White House).[31]

Disputed rescue heritage

The Obamas walking with Bo

The Obamas originally voiced a strong desire to adopt a petition asking the family to adopt a shelter animal.[33]

As Bo is a gift through a breeder, he is not a shelter dog. Dog expert Cesar Millan stated Bo could be considered part of a larger group known as "rescue dogs". He was unsuccessful in his first home when plans for him to provide companionship to an older female dog went awry; apparently his attempts to suckle irritated her.[19][34] The Obamas pledged a donation to the DC Humane Society in a show of support for shelter dogs.[35]

Some animal welfare supporters criticized The White House for not adopting a shelter dog.[33] The Humane Society of the United States released a statement thanking the Obamas "for taking in a second-chance dog," but also discouraged going through breeders.[36]

Reactions by and in the media

Bo and Obama running through the east wing of the White House

The Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia, granted exclusive initial access to Bo for the print media, described the puppy: "Bo's a handsome little guy. Well suited for formal occasions at the White House, he's got tuxedo-black fur, with a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee."[37]

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) described the family's choice to accept the gift of a puppy from a family friend as "disquieting" and publicly urged Obama to have Bo neutered, though the dog had been neutered before the Obamas received him.[9][38]

Bo in March 2010

In anticipation of increased interest in the breed, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America issued a statement requesting that members of the public considering obtaining the dogs "ensure that this breed fits their lifestyle", advising that the dogs' needs preclude their being left alone for long periods or boarded in kennels.[39]

Immediately upon Bo joining the First Family, four children's books and a plush toy depicting him were slated for publication or manufacture.[40][41][42]

On July 17, 2009, the author Ben Greenman, writing in The New York Times as Bo, reflected on his first hundred days in office.[43]

In the final episode of the History Channel's Life After People, aired March 16, 2010, the producers imagined what life would be like for Bo after the disappearance of humanity.[44] This showed that he would leave the White House, and live off seafood from the Chesapeake Bay.[45]

Bo was also shown on Dogs 101.[46][47]

Bo has appeared in the comic book Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers and on the television shows Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Ellen.

See also


  1. ^ a b Dave, By (April 20, 2009). "Vigilant press spots Bo, the first dog, out for a walk |". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The White House – Blog Post – Meet Bo, the First Dog". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Cooper, Helen (April 12, 2009). "One Obama Search Ends With a Puppy Named Bo". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2009. Other Web sites, which have been tracking the saga of the selection of the first dog, were in a frenzy over the weekend. 
  4. ^ Silva, Mark (April 12, 2009). "'"Obamas' dog Bo:'Amigo's New Hope. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  5. ^ """Obama Dog Trainer: Bo Already "Sits, Shakes, Rolls Over. Us Weekly. April 15, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Obama Dog Blog: Cappy's Breeder Rejects Obama Dog Connection". April 15, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Sostek, Anya (April 14, 2009). "First dog's father from Ambridge". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Hess, Amanda (April 13, 2009). "PETA Encourages Obamas to Neuter Neutered Dog". Retrieved April 15, 2009. 
  10. ^ "'"World | Obama family 'picks first puppy. BBC News. April 12, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  11. ^ Feldmann, Lindie. "New little girl arrives at White House. Meet Sunny Obama. (+video)".  
  13. ^ Ryan, Denise (April 15, 2009). "U.S. first family puts Portuguese water dog on the map". Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  14. ^ Scott, Danny; Miller, William; Griffin, Craig (2001). Small Animal Dermatology. W B Saunders. p. 4.  
  15. ^ Berkowitz, Lana (April 13, 2009). "Houston pooch has friend in high place". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 13, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b Rhee, Foon (November 10, 2008). "Chewing over Obama's 'mutt' reference – 2008 Presidential Campaign Blog – Political Intelligence". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  17. ^ Weiner, Rachel (January 13, 2009). "Obama: Finding Puppy "Tougher Than Finding A Commerce Secretary" (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  18. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (April 12, 2009). "The First Puppy Makes a Big Splash". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Theimer, Sharon. "PROMISES, PROMISES: Is Obama dog a rescue or not?". Associated Press. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b c Theimer, Sharon. "First dog Bo makes himself at home". The Washington Times. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  21. ^ Saul, Michael (April 12, 2009). "First photos of First Dog: Obamas meet Bo, their new Portuguese Water Dog". Daily News (New York). Retrieved April 13, 2009. 
  22. ^ St. Clair, Stacy (April 13, 2009). "Obamas' dog: Meet Bo, the Portuguese water dog". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 13, 2009. 
  23. ^ "The First Puppy Makes a Big Splash". PopWatch Blog. April 12, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  24. ^ Sobieraj-Westfall, Sandra (April 12, 2009). "The Obamas' Dog Has Arrived – at Last!". People. Retrieved October 2, 2010. 
  25. ^ Iovino, Jim. "First Dog Bo's Portrait Out as Baseball Card". NBC Washington. Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  26. ^ Lee, Jess. "The White House – Blog Post – Bo: The Portrait, the Baseball Card". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  27. ^ Conolly, Katie. "The Gaggle : Official Portrait of First Dog Bo Released". Newsweek. Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  28. ^ Marr, Kendra (May 17, 2010). "Hot dog: $1,600 Bo listed on disclosure forms".  
  29. ^ "Uncategorized » Bo Obama Faced Possible Quarantine in Hawaii, Asked to Produce Papers". December 21, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Animal Quarantine Information – Hawaii Department of Agriculture". Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Greene, Nick (April 15, 2009). "Obamas criticised for breaking promise of adopting dog from shelter". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  33. ^ a b Goldston, Linda (November 5, 2008). "Obama family will adopt, rather than buy, a dog". Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  34. ^ Vinzant, Carol (April 16, 2009). "5 Things You Don't Know About First Dog Bo – Barack Obama". People. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Obama puppy: Portuguese water dog Bo is Obama puppy". The Baltimore Sun. April 13, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  36. ^ "The HSUS Congratulates First Family on New White House Dog". Humane Society of the United States. April 12, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Obama Dog Bo Diddley Obama Puppy First Dog Photos Video at The Insider". Retrieved August 10, 2009. 
  38. ^ Bedard, Paul (April 13, 2009). "PETA urges Obama to snip Bo the first dog". Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  39. ^ "Obama Family’s Choice for "First Dog" Prompts PWDCA to Remind Public About Responsible Breeding and Dog Ownership". The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, Inc. April 13, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  40. ^ Irvine, Chris (April 16, 2009). "Bo Obama to star in children's book". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  41. ^ Kondo, Koji (April 2009). Bo Obama: First Dog of the United States of America. CreateSpace.  
  42. ^ Lewis, J. Patrick; Beth Zappitello; Tim Bowers (April 2009). First Dog. Sleeping Bear Press.  
  43. ^ Greenman, Ben (July 16, 2009). "The First Hundred (Dog) Days". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 
  44. ^ "Take Me To Your Leader".  
  45. ^ Bo Obama's anniversary: First year as First Dog, The Washington Post, April 15, 2010
  46. ^ Dogs 101 Ep. 10, All the Presidents' Pets,
  47. ^ Dogs 101 ep. 14, Bernese Mountain Dog, Afghan, Portuguese Water Dog, Cairn Terrier, Alaskan Malamute

External links

  • American Kennel Club Congratulates Obamas
  • Bo's First Day
  • Bo The First Dog Website (Fan Club)
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Scottish Terrier
White House pet dog
Served alongside: Sunny
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