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Obamas’ pooch options narrowed to two

Barack Obama faces an economic crisis, U.S. troops engaged on foreign soil and naming his new team. But the question on everyone’s minds seems to be, "What’s the new presidential pooch going to be?''

While Obama has narrowed down the family’s choices for family dog to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water dog, he told ABC News the challenge “has been tougher than finding a Commerce secretary.”

TODAY endeavored to make the choice easier for the Obamas on Tuesday, trotting out one of each on the show set while noted dog trainer Andrea Arden ticked off the pros and cons of each breed to Natalie Morales.

Arden, who runs the Manhattan Dog Training and Behavior Center in New York City, told Morales she can relate to the hoopla surrounding the impending choice of Presidential dog.

“I think it’s because the dog you choose says so much about who you are,” Arden told Morales. “So people are really curious to see what type of dog the presidential family is going to chose because it will really tell us a lot about who they are.”

Both breeds need a 'job'
While a Labradoodle and Portuguese water dog frolicked on set, Arden says Barack and Michelle Obama can’t go wrong with either choice as long they fully investigate the new companion on its way to fulfill a promise to their daughters Sasha and Malia.

She said the Labradoodle is a “very new mix,” and that they can range widely not only in size, but in temperament.

“This has become a very popular, trendy breed, so keep in mind that you need to find somebody who really understands what they’re doing in regards to breeding and that they are breeding for good temperaments,” Arden says.

For the Portuguese water dog, the family should realize it’s a purebred that above all, prizes a sense of duty, Arden said.

“I always say that these are dogs that are great for trainers because they love to have a job to do,” Arden told Morales. “So while the presidential family is going to be very busy, they need to keep in mind that they’re going to need to give their dog a job to do.”

That might mean fetching the morning paper or Barack’s slippers, but for Arden, it’s important the Obamas don’t allow whatever dog they choose to run amuck in America’s most famous residence.

“The White House is a huge place, and that dog should not be coming in there and running loose and investigating the environment,” she said.

A major consideration for the Obamas is finding a dog that won’t irritate Malia’s allergies. While both breeds are sometimes called hypo-allergenic, no such dog truly exists, Arden noted.

Henry Horenstein / Photonica
Portuguese Water Dog getty images

“There are dogs that produce less dander and that shed less, but it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have an allergic reaction to them,” Arden said. If the family ultimately settles on a Labradoodle, it needs to know how it’s been bred – if the dog’s mother was a poodle and its mother was a Labrador, “then she could have more traits of a Labrador, which could mean that Malia could have a stronger reaction to her.”

Controversy over breedWhile the Obamas have yet to make their final decision, others are already weighing in. The American Kennel Club has gone on record saying the Obamas should select the Portuguese water dog, since it doesn’t recognize the Labradoodle as an official breed.

“All dogs are wonderful,” AKC spokeswoman Daisy Okas said. “But a Labradoodle is a mixed breed and its predictability can’t be compared to a purebred. We think especially for such a high-profile family, they need to know what they’re getting.”

But Stu Freeman, president of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, says there could be a negative effect if the Obamas choose his beloved breed.

Freeman says he fears the Obamas adopting a Portuguese water dog could start a buying craze with people thinking, “If Obama has one, I want one, too. That’s how dogs end up in shelters.”

Obama indicated the family is looking for a rescue dog, telling ABC News ``This Week” that the family is “going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up.”

— Michael Inbar with Associated Press reporting