The Obamas chose the dog because their daughter, Malia, has allergies and PWDs are considered hypoallergenic. The dogs are described as loyal and loving, but the breed is a working animal, which requires lots of exercise.
They were first bred to help fishermen retrieve nets and spent most of their days swimming.
According to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, obedience training is a necessity for owners. Also, they do not like to be boarded or left alone for long periods of time.