WASHINGTON — Mr. President-elect, the votes are in: American pet owners prefer a mutt in the White House.
By more than 2-1, pet owners say the Obamas should choose a mutt for their first dog over a purebred, according to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll released Wednesday. People who don't have pets mostly don't care either way.
"Let's get philosophical about it: We're kind of a country of mutts," said Steve Minor, 54, of Knightdale, N.C. "I think he'd set an example if he got a dog from a shelter that needed a home."
Obama said over the weekend that the family is choosing between two breeds: a Labradoodle (a cross between a poodle and a Labrador) and a Portuguese water dog, the kind owned by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
Obama has indicated the family likes the idea of rescuing a shelter dog, but 10-year-old Malia is allergic and most shelter dogs are, as the president-elect put it, "mutts like me." Both the Labradoodle and the Portuguese water dog are low-shedding breeds.
The survey, conducted by GfK, also found more than half of pet owners and 43 percent of all Americans said it was important to them that the Obamas adopt their dog from an animal shelter.
Michelle Zabrucki of Tampa, Fla., considers buying a purebred dog akin to wearing $200 jeans or carrying the latest designer bag.
Pet owners favored mutts more than did all adults, 33 percent of whom said they'd prefer a mutt. Twenty-three percent of all adults preferred a purebred and 38 percent said it didn't matter. About six in 10 Americans own pets.
Past presidential pooches have included many purebreds, including incumbent Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley.
But Obama's hero, Abraham Lincoln, had a mixed-breed dog named Fido who didn't make the trip to the White House. Lyndon B. Johnson also had a mutt, Yuki, Japanese for snow.
Of course, purebreds have their backers, and not just because knowing the breed makes it easier to predict how the dogs will affect Malia's allergies.
"If it was me, I would get a purebred. I think they're just better dogs," said Anthony Madrigal, 19, of Schererville, Ind.