Breeder advises caution before jumping on the Bo bandwagon

On Monday, the Obamas welcomed a new member of the first family to the White House and Bo, a six-month-old Portuguese Water Dog, has quickly become a star in his own right.

But professional dog breeders such as Cathie Sockett caution those who may be inspired to run out and get their own version of Bo to think the decision through. A breeder for over 15 years, she advises that not just any dog can be labelled a ‘purebred.’

She knows that as interest in the breed grows because of Bo’s star power, non-professional breeders and puppy mills may be tempted to cash in on the notoriety and sell mix-breed dogs as purebred.

“The concern is some people may try to breed them to make a quick buck,” Sockett says. “You have to do your homework.”

In addition to authenticity of the bloodline, those shopping around for a dog such as Bo also need to recognize Portuguese Water Dogs, like many purebreds, can be prone to genetic disorders such as hip dysplasia. A professional breeder, said Sockett, will know and reveal the dog’s medical history.

When bred correctly, Portuguese Water Dogs are excellent family pets, says Sockett. If they are exposed to children at an early age they’re fine with them.

“These dogs see themselves as members of the family and like to be involved with everything that’s going on. The fact that Bo joined the family at six months of age shouldn’t have an impact on his adjustment to the White House”, Sockett says. The key is socialization.

“He’ll need to get used to new sounds, faces, environment, all that stuff,” Sockett says. “He’ll be fine as long as he’s exposed to it, so he’ll be confident and relaxed in any situation.”

Confidence and a relaxed demeanour are key traits for any member of the first family. Sockett doesn’t think the busy schedule at the White House will affect the puppy as long as boundaries are set out for him.

“They’re quite a smart dog but they need rules, or they’ll make their own,” Sockett says. “Somebody’s going to have to train him but I don’t think it will be Barrack Obama himself.”

Filed by Mallory Hendry