A reader recently asked: Which U.S. presidents had dogs and what were their breeds? Never ones to ignore animal-related questions, we immediately got to work, dove into research, and emerged with a list of presidential dogs.
Which president had eight dogs but no children? Which first family had over 30 pets and gave the White House a “Robinson Crusoe touch”? All the answers lie below — including details on the newest canines headed to the people’s house, Joe Biden’s dogs: Champ and Major Biden! By the end, you’ll be a “first dog” expert!
President George Washington’s Dogs: American Foxhounds, Black and Tan Coonhounds, Greyhound
George Washington, the country’s first president, had several dogs including three American Foxhounds named Vulcan*, Scentwell, and Sweetlips and four Black and Tan Coonhounds with themed names: Drunkard, Tipsy, Taster, and Tipler. He also had a Greyhound named after the top British general of the American Revolutionary War: Cornwallis.
About American Foxhounds
Cousin to the English Foxhound, the American Foxhound emerged in the 1600s when Robert Brooke, Maryland’s then Governor-General, brought hunting dogs from England to the colonies. It’s believed that George Washington bred a Grand Bleu de Gascogne (aka French Foxhound) with one of Brooke’s English Foxhounds to create the American Foxhound. A sweet-tempered breed, American Foxhounds need oodles of exercise to thrive both physically and mentally.
About Black and Tan Coonhounds
Bred for raccoon hunting, Black and Tan Coonhounds are a mix of Bloodhounds and Black and Tan Virginia Foxhounds. They’re very low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. However, Black and Tans are scent-hunters with strong instincts, and they chase! As such, they’re best suited for rural environments.
Greyhounds are fast and dominate the dog racing circuit. When they retire, Greyhounds make for calm, sweet pets. Interestingly, a 20-minute daily walk will keep them healthy, and they’re great for people with dander allergies.
*Queen Elizabeth II, the current British monarch and distant relative of George Washington, also has a dog named Vulcan, but he’s a Corgi.
President John Adams’s Dogs: Mixed-Breeds
John Adams, the 2nd U.S. president, and his family had three dogs named Juno, Mark, and Satan! Abigail Adams enjoyed a special relationship with Juno and frequently mentioned the canine in letters to family and friends. In a missive to her granddaughter Caroline, the first lady said:
“If you love me … you must love my dog. You will be glad to learn that Juno yet lives, although, like her mistress, she is gray with age.”
Later in the letter, Mrs. Adams further gushed:
“[Juno] appears to enjoy life and be grateful for the attention paid her. She wags her tail and announces a visitor whenever one appears.”
Though the Adams family pups’ breeds remain a mystery, we know they were the first canines to live in the White House, as John Adams was the first president to call the people’s house home.
President Thomas Jefferson’s Dogs: Briards
Thomas Jefferson was the nation’s 3rd president. He had two main dogs — Bergère and Grizzle — and each had litters. Commonly described as herding dogs from France, today’s canine aficionados believe they were likely Briards.
Jefferson purposefully acquired Bergère in Europe days before heading back to the Americas. He believed the breed was worthy of “colonization” in the United States, along with Angora goats, Angora rabbits, hares, nightingales, red-legged partridges, and skylarks.
Grizzle, another French sheepdog, was sent to Jefferson in 1790 from Normandy.
The notoriously prolific third president kept detailed records of his canine companions. Bergère was his favorite, and he described her offspring as “remarkably quiet, faithful, and abounding in the good qualities.” He was less enamored of Grizzle’s progeny, calling them “mischievous.”
Large dogs with long shaggy hair, Briards — which resemble baby wookies — were heavily used in World War I as messengers and wounded-soldier scouts. These days, individuals of the breed work as police dogs, search-and-rescue animals, and therapy dogs.
They also make cuddly companion pets. Loyal, kind, and protective, dog fanciers praise them as “hearts of gold wrapped in fur.”
President James Monroe’s Dogs: Spaniel and Siberian Husky
James Monroe was the 5th president of the United States, and pet historians believe two dogs lived in the White House during his tenure. The first was a Spaniel named “Buddy,” but letters and accounts indicate the dog belonged to his teenage daughter, Maria. The second purported Monroe canine was a Siberian Husky named Sebastian, but his existence is disputed.
Spaniels were originally bred to fetch felled animals. Some do best in dense brush while others are skilled at retrieving fowl from water. There are several offshoot spaniel breeds, including the American Water Spaniel and English Springer Spaniel. While there is variation in their looks, all Spaniels are medium-sized dogs with floppy ears and silky coats.
About Siberian Huskies
Originally bred by the Chukchi people of northeast Asia as sled and companion dogs, Siberian Huskies are hard-working, loyal, and friendly. They’ve also got independent streaks and constantly shed carpets. Siberian huskies are one of the few canine breeds with blue eyes.
President John Tyler’s Dogs: Italian Greyhound and Wolfhounds
According to various sources, John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States, had an Italian Greyhound named Le Beau and two Irish Wolfhounds. Accounts from the time mention Le Beau frequently frolicking on the White House lawn. However, very little was written about the Irish Wolfhounds, so their names are lost to history.
About Italian Greyhounds
A thin, small sighthound breed, Italian Greyhounds were popular among nobles and aristocrats from the Renaissance through the 19th century. Both Catherine the Great of Russia and Queen Victoria I of England had one.
Italian greyhounds have thin legs, slender bodies, and short fur in three colors: black, blue, and yellow-beige. Like other breeds of Greyhounds, they’re fast!
About Irish Wolfhounds
As its name suggests, Irish Wolfhounds hail from Ireland, date back to 700 B.C., and are huge! But massive doesn’t equal aggressive. Though built for hunting, they’re notoriously calm and gentle — and not big on barking. However, due to their enormous size, Irish Wolfhounds aren’t the best dogs for families with babies. Plus, they’re costly to maintain.
President Franklin Pierce’s Dogs: Japanese Chins
The 14th president of the United States, Franklin Pierce, had two miniature Japanese Chin dogs. The Japanese government gifted the two pups to commemorate the Perry Expedition, a diplomatic ocean exploration co-sponsored by the two nations.
About Japanese Chins
Bred as lapdogs for Japanese royalty, Japanese Chins are intelligent and picky. They adore their owners but can be aloof with strangers. The regal canines require a fair amount of grooming, but on the flip side, they don’t need loads of exercise. The tiny pups are perfectly content snuggling up on the couch for a day of streaming, making Japanese Chins excellent city dogs.
President James Buchanan’s Dogs: Newfoundland and Toy Terrier
James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States, had two dogs: a Newfoundland named Lara and a Toy Terrier called Punch. Buchanan is the only U.S. commander in chief that never married, but he did have a close relationship with his beloved Newfoundland.
Lara weighed 170 pounds, looked like a bear, and frequently made the news. An article in a popular magazine of the day said of her:
“Prominent also is Mr. Buchanan’s Newfoundland dog, Lara, remarkable for [her] immense tail and [her] attachment to [her] master…. This dog will hereafter become historical as a resident of the White House.”
Buchanan reportedly had a Toy Terrier named Punch, but barely anything is known about him.
Newfoundlands are Canadian through and through: big, kind, and loyal. They’re also superstars when it comes to water rescues. Originally from its namesake province of Newfoundland, the breed is strong and imbued with a sixth sense for danger, making them terrific watchdogs. If, however, you don’t have tons of time for activity and grooming, you may want to look elsewhere because Newfies require considerable amounts of both.
About Toy Terriers
Tiny and intelligent, Toy Terriers — aka Toy Fox Terriers — have huge personalities, big ears, and silky, short fur. Fanciers mated Terrier litter runts with Chihuahuas and Italian Greyhounds to create the breed.
President Abraham Lincoln’s Dogs: Mixed-Breeds
Jip and Fido were their names, and both were mixed-breed Mutts. Pet historians believe Jip was likely part Poodle.
Fido was a famous canine of his day and lived with the Lincolns in Springfield, Illinois. He trailed Abraham around town and carried parcels in his mouth to help with errands. But Fido had a bad case of anxiety and cowed in the face of loud noises and crowds. So when the Lincolns moved to Washington, knowing the bustle of presidential life would cause Fido great stress, they left him with John Roll, who took great care of the big yellow dog.
When John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Roll brought Fido to Washington, D.C. for the funeral. Several years later, Fido died in the same way as his master: murder. According to an account:
“Charlie Plank, a half-drunken man, was one day whittling a pine stick when Fido came bounding along and, as usual, sprang forward with his fore feet raised. In drunken rage, the man thrust his knife into the animal, and poor Fido ran away, not to be found for a month after, when his lifeless body was discovered under an old church.”
Jip lived with the Lincolns at the White House. His exact breed is unknown, but based on descriptions, Jip was likely a mixed-breed toy poodle or similar-looking dog. He frequently sat on Lincoln’s lap during mealtimes and was given free reign to roam.
Jip also entertained guests and did tricks. Surviving correspondences describe him as “a very cunning little fellow” and “a very beautiful little dog.” One visitor said the pup could “bark and stand up straight on his hind feet and [hold] his fore feet up.”
About Mongrel Dogs
Also known as Mutts and mixed-breeds, Mongrels have colorful lineages and aren’t the product of intentional breeding. About 150 million dogs worldwide fall into the category.
President Ulysses S. Grant’s Dogs: Newfoundland
Leader of the Union Army and 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, had two dogs. The first was a Newfoundland named Faithful. The other was named Rosie, but her breed is unknown.
Faithful was the primary companion of Grant’s son, Jesse, but the entire family adored the Newfie. They were so attached to the animal the president sent the White House staff a dire warning:
“If this dog dies, every employee in the White House will be at once discharged.”
Rutherford B. Hayes’ Dogs: Cocker Spaniel, Newfoundland, English Mastiff, Greyhound, Miniature Schnauzer, Hunting Dogs
Rutherford B. Hayes, America’s 19th president, his wife, Lucy Ware Webb, and their eight children were enthusiastic dog lovers who cared for eight canines!
The Hayeses had a Cocker Spaniel named Dot, Hector a Newfoundland, an English Mastiff named Duke, Otis a Miniature Schnauzer, a pair of hunting dogs called Juno and Shep, and their favorite, a Greyhound named Grim.
In addition to their coterie of canines, the family kept three cats and a mocking bird in the White House. Outside, on the lawns, the first family had pet goats, cows, and horses! Of their pet menagerie, Rutherford B. Hayes once commented that the animals added “a Robinson Crusoe touch to our mode of life.”
Most is known about Duke, the English Mastiff, and Grim, the family’s Greyhound. The former kept a close eye on the children while Grim adored the first lady. The Greyhound purportedly liked to “sing” the national anthem with Lucy. A contemporaneous report explained:
“One day, as Lucy sang the Star-Spangled Banner, Grim lifted up his head and howled in a most pitiful manner. And ever after, when his mistress sang the national anthem, Grim began to howl.”
President James A. Garfield’s Dog: Newfoundland
The 20th president of the United States, James A. Garfield had a black Newfoundland named Veto. A superstar pet in his day, reporters frequently reported on Veto’s comings and goings. Heroically, the large dog once saved a horse. Another time, he alerted everyone when a nearby farm caught fire!
President Grover Cleveland’s Dogs: Japanese Poodle, Fox Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, and Dachshunds
Grover Cleveland — the 22nd and 24th president of the United States and only man to be elected for two non-consecutive terms — had four dogs: a Japanese Poodle and three Dachshunds.
The Dachshunds arrived in Cleveland’s second term as a gift for his wife sent by a U.S. consul serving in Germany. At the time, Dachshunds were new to the Americas and had only recently crossed the Atlantic with German immigrants.
The Clevelands also had a prize-winning Japanese Poodle named Hector, a Fox Terrier named Millie, and a Cocker Spaniel named Gallagher. Of Millie and Gallagher, a New York Times journalist once reported:
“Both animals take great liberties with Mr. Cleveland when he is accessible to them and when not otherwise employed, are rolling each other about on the lawn.”
About Japanese Poodles
Also known as the Poochin, Japanese Poodles are a mix of Poodles and Japanese Chins. The designer breed is known for being calm, cheerful, and exceptionally attached to their humans.
German by roots, Dachshunds are little dogs with huge personalities. Originally bred to hunt badgers, Dachshunds have long, slender bodies, big floppy ears, and short legs. They’re easy to groom but challenging to housebreak.
About Cocker Spaniels
One of the most popular dogs in the United States, American Cocker Spaniels are one of the smallest hunting breeds. Excitable and loyal, they require a fair amount of activity. Cocker Spaniels are intelligent and aim to please their humans for the most part, but they also have stubborn streaks, which can prove frustrating at times.
About Fox Terriers
Known as the “gentlemen of the terrier world,” Fox Terriers were bred to accompany British aristocrats on formal hunts. They’re energetic and headstrong, but also fun-loving. Fox Terriers aren’t large, but they do have long snouts and, depending on the strain, can require lots of grooming.
President Benjamin Harrison’s Dog: Collie
The 23rd president of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, had a goat, two alligators, a pair of opossums, and a Collie named Dash. Other dogs reportedly lived in the White House at the time, but they didn’t make the annals of history.
Dash was the standout. He had a fancy dog house on White House grounds and was often mentioned by reporters. According to legend, Dash clamored for Benjamin Harrison’s attention. But the president was awkward around the dog. Apparently, he didn’t want colleagues “to think of him as less of a man” for playing in their presence.
Originally from England’s northern reaches and Scotland’s highlands, Collies are herding dogs. Though popularized by Queen Victoria I of the United Kingdom, Lassie — Hollywood’s beloved canine — is probably the most famous of the breed. Intelligent and athletic, Collies make great family dogs. But beware: their bark isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s Dogs: Terriers, Mutts, Saint Bernard, Mongrel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The 26th president of the United States and renowned conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt, had lots of pets. He and his family cared for 32 non-human animals over the years! Of those 32, nine were dogs:
- Blackjack — Manchester Terrier
- Gem — Mutt
- Susan — Mutt
- Jack — Terrier
- Peter — Terrier
- Pete — Bull Terrier
- Rollo — Saint Bernard
- Skip — Mongrel
- Sailor Boy — Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Most of the Roosevelt dogs were easy-going. But ole Pete, the Bull Terrier, had a habit of “chomping on one too many legs.” Ultimately, White House life wasn’t for him, so the Roosevelts sent the frisky pup to live at their Long Island estate permanently.
About Manchester Terriers
Named after the English city, Manchester Terriers dig like others in their group but have the bodies of racing hounds. Described by the American Kennel Club as bright, spirited, and keenly observant, Manchester Terriers need two vigorous play sessions or walks per day to stay happy and healthy.
Terriers are a group of dogs whose claim to canine fame is digging. In the 1700s, only two types of Terriers ranked. Today, kennel clubs recognize 31 Terrier breeds that range in size from small to large. Clubs typically break the 31 breeds into several groups, including Toy Terriers and Hunting Terriers.
About Bull Terriers
Bull Terriers got their start in the bull-baiting arenas of 13th-century Britain. Eventually, authorities outlawed canine blood sports, and Bull Terrier breeders turned their focus to creating compliant companion dogs. These days, Bull Terriers excel at being friendly guard dogs — but they don’t make the best pets for young families.
About Saint Bernards
Saint Bernards are huge and huggable. The gentle giants tip the scales between 140 and 200 pounds. Originally bred as monastery pets that helped pilgrims cross the Swiss Alps, they’re great with kids but need obedience training on account of their size.
About Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
Bred for duck hunting in Virginia and Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are mainly a mix of Newfoundlands, Hounds, Setters, and Water Spaniels. Colloquially known as “Chessies,” they’re a tireless breed that’s a great companion for a day out in nature.
President William Howard Taft’s Dog: Mixed-Breed
During the 27th president’s White House stint, one dog lived on the grounds: Caruso. The pup was a gift to Taft’s daughter, Helen, from opera singer Enrico Caruso who’d performed for the first family. Other than its name, nothing is known about the canine — the Tafts talked more about their two pet cows, Mooly Wooly and Pauline Wayne.
President Woodrow Wilson’s Dogs: Bull Terrier and Airedale Terrier
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, was a Terrier man. He had two: Davie, an Airedale Terrier, and Bruce, a Bull Terrier. Little is known about the pups, but Wilson believed in the innate integrity of the canine soul, once remarking:
“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
About Airedale Terriers
With their long muzzles and square bodies, Airedale Terriers have a distinct look. The breed was created by a working-class farmer in Yorkshire, England, who crossed a Welsh Terrier and Otterhound. Airedales are the largest and one of the most intelligent Terrier breeds.
President Warren G. Harding’s Dogs: Airedale Terrier and Bulldog
Laddie Boy and Old Boy were the 29th president’s, Warren G. Harding’s, two dogs. The former was an Airedale Terrier and the latter a Bulldog.
According to the Smithsonian, Laddie Boy holds the title of “first celebrity White House dog.” Newspapers of the day regularly reported on his antics, and Laddie Boy even had an official portrait! The famous canine did nearly everything with President Harding and his wife Florence, from golf outings to charity events. Historian Tom Crouch explains:
“While no one remembers him today, Laddie Boy’s contemporary fame puts Roosevelt’s Fala, LBJ’s beagles, and Barney Bush in the shade. That dog got a huge amount of attention in the press. There have been famous dogs since, but never anything like this.”
President Calvin Coolidge’s Dogs: Collies, Wirehair Fox Terrier, Airedale Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog, Chow Chows, Boston Bulldog, Belgian Sheepdog, English Setter
Like Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, the nation’s 30th president, loved animals. In addition to a menagerie of wildlife pets, the Coolidges had 12 dogs!
- Rob Roy — Collie
- Prudence Prim — Collie
- Peter Pan — Fox Terrier
- Paul Pry — Airedale Terrier
- Calamity Jane — Shetland Sheepdog
- Tiny Tim — Chow Chow
- Blackberry — Chow Chow
- Ruby Rouch — Collie
- Boston Beans — Boston Bulldog
- King Cole — Belgian Sheepdog
- Palo Alto — English Setter
- Bessie — Collie
Rob Roy was the Coolidges’ favorite animal, and artists of the era were just as enamored with him as the first family. As a result, there are many surviving photographs and paintings of the dog. Sadly, Rob Roy caught an illness in 1928 and was rushed to Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment. But, the sickness overpowered the potential remedies, and Rob Roy passed away. When he died, Coolidge lamented:
“His especial delight was to ride with me in the boats when I went fishing. So although I know he would bark for joy as the grim boatman ferried him across the dark waters of the Styx, yet his going left me lonely on the hither shore.”
About Shetland Sheepdogs
Small and active, Shetlands — aka Shelties — were bred to herd sheep. They have lots of straight, dense fur and shed seasonally. To keep their coats looking gorgeous, vets recommend three-time-a-week brushings.
About Chow Chows
Chow Chows aren’t happy-go-lucky dogs. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as “dignified, bright, and serious-minded.” Bluntly stated, Chow Chows are aloof — a rarity in the dog world. But they’re assiduously fastidious — like cats — and housebreak quickly. They’re also exceptionally loyal to their humans.
About Boston Bulldogs
Boston Bulldogs are a cross between Boston Terriers and English Bulldogs. Friendly and great with kids, Boston Bulldogs have yet to be formally accepted by the American Kennel Club, but their popularity is rising.
About Belgian Sheepdogs
Like Chow Chows, Belgian Sheepdogs are serious. Workaholics that form strong bonds with their masters, Belgian Sheepdogs require lots of activity to thrive. According to the AKC, the breed “inspires such intense loyalty because they themselves live and love with such great passion.”
About English Setters
Mellow and merry, English Setters are the perfect animal for people who appreciate distinctive looks and loyalty. They are, indeed, “man’s best friend.” English Setters were among the first nine breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and enjoy a long, distinguished history.
President Herbert Hoover’s Dogs: German Shepherds, Fox Terriers, Collie, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Irish Wolfhound, Setter, Norwegian Elkhound
The 31st president, Herbert Hoover, was an undeniable dog man. The Depression Era leader had nine!
- King Tut — Belgian Shepherd
- Pat — German Shepherd
- Big Ben — Fox Terriers
- Sonnie — Fox Terriers
- Glen — Scotch Collie
- Yukonan — Canadian Eskimo Dog
- Patrick — Irish Wolfhound
- Eaglehurst Gillette — Setter
- Weegie — Norwegian Elkhound
When running for the country’s top job, Hoover’s PR handlers incorporated his beloved Belgian Shepherd, King Tut, into campaigning because it made the reserved Hoover more relatable. And it worked! The people elected Herbert Hoover, and to this day, King Tut is credited with winning the presidency.
About Belgian Shepherds
Belgian Shepherds, aka Belgian Sheepdogs, are serious, active, loyal working dogs. The breed is known for carrying itself with dignity, and it’s a joy to watch one bound through a field. Belgian Shepherds need to be brushed several times a week, and they shed seasonally.
About German Shepherds
The second most popular dogs in the United States, German Shepherds are intelligent working dogs that form indestructible bonds with their masters. German Shepherds have aggressive reputations, but more often than not, they’re aloof with strangers, not truculent. People in the UK call German Shepherds Alsatians.
About Fox Terriers
Compact and fun-loving, Fox Terriers come in two strains: Wire Fox Terriers and Smooth Fox Terriers. The former is a snap to groom; the latter takes more effort. If allowed, Fox Terriers will spend the day playing, and they’re notoriously good with young children.
About Scotch Collies
Scotch Collies are slightly smaller than other Collie breeds, but otherwise, they’re remarkably similar. Like their cousins, they’re devoted to their families and love children. Scotch Collies need daily exercise and are easy to train.
About Canadian Eskimo Dogs
Canadian Eskimo Dogs are rare and, at times, have faced extinction. Hardworking and loyal, the animal is super with children but rocks an independent streak. City living is not ideal for individuals of the northern breed because they need lots of outdoor time and space to live their best lives.
About Irish Wolfhounds
Irish Wolfhounds date all the way back to 700 BCE! According to legend, medieval Irish clans bred them as war dogs. Large and in charge, the average Irish Wolfhound weighs about 120 pounds and stands nearly three feet tall!
There are four types of Setter dogs: Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, English Setters, and Irish Red and White Setters. Originally bred as bird-hunting dogs, Setters crouch — aka “set” — upon finding their quarry. They’re also superb family dogs but need space to thrive.
About Norwegian Elkhounds
Described as “friendly, dependable, and confident,” Norwegian Elkhounds have beautiful silver fur and are among the oldest European breeds. They regularly traveled with Vikings on raids and figure prominently in ancient Norse art and legends.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Dogs: Scottish Terriers, German Shepherd, English Setter, Old English Sheepdog,Great Dane, and Bullmastiff
Like his cousin Theo, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a U.S. president that loved animals. The 32nd president had seven dogs.
- Fala — Scottish Terrier
- Major — German Shepherd
- Meggie — Scottish Terrier
- Winks — English Setter
- Tiny — Old English Sheepdog
- President — Great Dane
- Blaze — Bullmastiff
Major, his German Shepherd, was a retired NYPD canine — but Fala, his favorite Scottish Terrier, was a bona fide star who even became a political lightning rod. Roosevelt’s opponents accused Franklin of forgetting the pup on the Aleutian Islands while on tour and sending a Navy Destroyer to retrieve the dog. The story was false, and Roosevelt addressed the rumor in a now-famous speech called “the Fala speech,” which screenwriter and director Orson Welles helped craft. In it, Roosevelt admonished:
These…leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family don’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the …fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him – at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars – his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself … But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog.
Fala outlived FDR, and the animal’s likeness is included in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial statute in Washington, DC.
About Scottish Terriers
Nicknamed “the diehard breed,” Scottish Terriers have a reputation for persistence. Human-like in their moods, they value independence. That doesn’t mean Scottish Terriers are indifferent to people; instead, they’re quite affectionate with the folks they know. But they can be crabby with other animals and strangers. Plus, Scottish Terriers take time to train.
About German Shepherds
German Shepherds come in various sizes and colors, but they’re all loyal and hardworking if need be. German Shepherds are packed with courage and need lots of exercise. They’re not as aggressive as most people think — though they can be trained to protect their charges.
About English Setters
English Setters are medium-sized dogs with great tempers. Originally hunting hounds, they’re both elegant and sturdy — and their puppies are classically adorable. Depending on how you choose to keep their coats will determine the amount of grooming needed.
About Old English Sheepdogs
Developed around Cornwall, England, as a herding dog, Old English Sheepdogs worked with cattle more than sheep. These days, most live as companion dogs, and many work the show circuit. These pups aren’t short on hair, so if you need a hypoallergenic pooch, look elsewhere!
About Great Danes
The boarhound of German nobility, Great Danes are giant dogs with gentle personalities. Great Danes only need moderate amounts of daily exercise. However, they require lots and lots of space. Most individuals of the breed are super with children and other animals.
Brave and loyal, Bullmastiffs are part Bulldog and part Mastiff. Originally bred as manor patrol pups on the lookout for poachers, Bullmastiffs are fiercely loyal to their families but sometimes aggressive to strangers and other animals.
President Harry S. Truman’s Dogs: Cocker Spaniel and Irish Setter
Feller, a Cocker Spaniel, and Mike, an Irish Setter, were the 33rd president’s two canines — and Truman couldn’t stand either of them!
The two dogs landed in the Trumans’ lives for short periods, but Harry and his wife Bess weren’t big on animals and “preferred to be a pet-free family.” Upon moving into the White House, the Trumans received a Cocker Spaniel puppy named Feller as a present from a home-state supporter. But within weeks, Feller was living at Truman’s doctor’s house. Their other dog, Mike the Irish Setter, was given to Margaret Truman, the president’s daughter, as a gift. According to the official story, Mike was sickly, so the Trumans gave the pup to a farmer in Virginia who could better care for him.
According to dog expert Stanley Coren, when asked about his family’s habit of offloading pets, Truman snipped:
“I didn’t ask for [them], and I don’t need [them].”
The former president also went on the record as calling Mike “a d*mn nuisance.”
About Cocker Spaniels
A popular breed in the United States, Cocker Spaniels are a small hunting breed. Excitable, loyal, and intelligent, they require a fair amount of activity. Cocker Spaniels love their people, but they also have a stubborn streak, which can be frustrating.
About Irish Setters
Members of the Setter group, Irish Setters are large, lovable family dogs with gorgeous, silky coats. They can be rambunctious and suffer from separation anxiety, but Irish Setters are also intelligent and affectionate.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Dogs: Weimaraner
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the nation’s 34th president, and his family had a beloved pet dog named Heidi. A Weimaraner, Heidi frequently made the news, but she only lived at the White House for a brief period, preferring the family farm in Virginia where she had a large little of puppies.
Obedient, friendly, and fearless, Weimaraners are known as “Gray Ghosts.” Tirelessly obedient and unfailingly loyal, Weimaraners make excellent hunting hounds and family dogs. They love to exercise and thrive with humans who frequently take them venturing in wide-open spaces.
President John F. Kennedy’s Dogs: Poodle, Welsh Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Mixed-Breeds, Cocker Spaniel, German Shepherd
One of the nation’s most famous presidents, John F. Kennedy, the 35th commander in chief, and his family had many dogs throughout the years.
- Gaullie — Poodle
- Charlie — Welsh Terrier
- Moe — Doberman Pinscher
- Pushinka — Mutt
- Shannon — Cocker Spaniel
- Wolf — Irish Wolfhound and Schnauzer Mix
- Clipper — German Shepherd
Pushinka, a small Mutt, was a gift to the Kennedys from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The dog was an offspring of Strelka, one of the first Soviet Space Dogs to orbit the Earth and return home safely. Pushinka and Charlie, the family’s Welsh Terrier, had offspring — Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie, and Streaker — whom Kennedy called the “pupniks.”
In an interview, John F. Kennedy Jr. revealed that he and his sister Caroline taught Pushnika how to use their playground slide on the White House grounds. The president’s son reminisced, “Sending the dog down that slide is probably my first memory.”
Elegant and clever, Poodles are distinguished dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, they’re the seventh most popular breed.
Poodles are France’s national dog, where they’re called Caniche — or “Duck Dogs.” They love family life and make good watchdogs. But if you’re thinking of welcoming Poodles into your life, be sure to budget for their grooming needs!
About Welsh Terrier
Welsh Terriers are spirited but a lot calmer than other Terrier breeds. Originally from Wales’ mountain regions, the dog was bred to hunt otters and badgers. With their beards and folded ears, Welsh Terriers are both fun looking and fun to be around.
About Doberman Pinscher
Sleek and smart, Doberman Pinschers are top-shelf protection pups. Dobermans aren’t too sociable and can be overly dominant. But they’re easy to train and don’t require extensive grooming. Dobermans will bite, so early training is essential.
About Cocker Spaniels
Floppy Cocker Spaniels are smaller dogs that ooze joy. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most-loved breeds, Cocker Spaniels make great family pets. They have spectacular coats, which need lots of care, and daily brushings are a must!
About German Shepherds
German Shepherds shed profusely and will destroy your furniture if it feels ignored, but the formidable working canines are loyal to their people. That said, they’re dignified, and you must work for the love of a German Shepherd. But once earned, it never wanes.
President Lyndon Johnson’s Dogs: Beagles, Collie, Mongrel
America’s 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, had several dogs.
Yuki ranks among the most famous first dogs. The Mongrel frequently sang duets — aka howled — with his master for White House guests. Him and Her also enjoyed the spotlight and were often photographed with the commander in chief.
Beagles are adorable! Their big, expressive eyes can melt just about any heart — except maybe Harry S. Truman, who was notoriously anti-dog. Beagles are merry, and the small pups are known as being “big for their inches” among dog fanciers.
Graceful and proud, Collies are one of the most recognizable breeds — in large part thanks to “Lassie,” Hollywood’s most famous dog. Queen Victoria I of England helped popularize the breed and kept several at Balmoral Castle.
President Richard Nixon’s Dogs: Poodle, Terrier, Irish Setter, Cocker Spaniel
Richard Nixon was the only president to resign while in office, and he had four dogs: Poodle Vicki, Terrier Pasha, Irish Setter King Timahoe, and Cocker Spaniel Checkers. According to legend, King Timahoe wasn’t a fan of Nixon, but some Americana enthusiasts dispute the claim.
Poodles’ coats can be kept in various ways, and the coif will determine grooming needs. The breed is a favorite at dog shows and a popular pet.
About Irish Setters
Members of the Setter group, Irish Setters are large, lovable family dogs with gorgeous, silky coats that got their start as hunting hounds. They can be rambunctious and suffer from separation anxiety, but Irish Setters are also intelligent and affectionate.
President Gerald Ford’s Dogs: Golden Retrievers, Mutt
Gerald Ford’s family, the 38th first family, had three first dogs: Liberty, a Golden Retriever, Misty, Liberty’s pup, and Lucky, a Mutt.
Photographers loved to capture Liberty around the White House, and many pictures survive. The dog spent gobs of time in the Oval Office and South Lawn. On September 14, 1975, Liberty birthed a litter at the White House, and the Ford’s kept one, Misty.
In a famous speech, Ford talked about Liberty’s constant presence around the presidential compound:
“This puppy has really taken over the White House. In fact, you may have seen some of us laughing up here during dinner. As I reached in my pocket to get a match to light my pipe, look what I pulled out of the pocket — some dog biscuits!”
About Golden Retrievers
A product of the Scottish Highlands, Golden Retrievers epitomize loyalty and affection. Conceived by an aristocratic baron and dog fancier, Golden Retrievers are part Yellow Retriever, Tweed Water Spaniel (now extinct), Irish Setter, and Bloodhound.
President Jimmy Carter’s Dogs: Border Collie, Afghan Hound
The 39th president, Jimmy Carter, and his family had two first dogs. Grits was a Border Collie given to his daughter Amy by Verona Meeder, a public school teacher. Coincidentally, Grits was born the same day Carter won the election.
But the dog didn’t last long at the White House. Unfortunately, Grits snapped at several guests and tended to urinate around the West Wing. Ultimately, he went back to Ms. Meeder and enjoyed life out of the spotlight.
The Carters had another dog named Lewis Brown. He was an Afghan Hound who rarely left the White House residence, so little is known about the pup.
About Border Collies
Border Collies are super-intelligent, top-notch herding dogs. It’s the 35th most popular breed in the United States and the 12th most popular in the United Kingdom. Border Collies need action and do best with masters who love the great outdoors.
About Afghan Hounds
Originally from Afghanistan, Afghan Hounds are known for their silky, long coats and curled tails. It’s one of the oldest domestic breeds dating back to 4,000 BCE. The sighthound is gentle by nature and makes an excellent watchdog. They were introduced to the UK and US in the 1920s.
President Ronald Regan’s Dogs: Bouvier des Flandres, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Siberian Husky, Belgian Sheepdog
America’s first actor-turned-president, Ronald Regan, the country’s 40th president, had several dogs.
- Lucky — Bouvier des Flandres
- Rex — Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Victory — Golden Retriever
- Peggy — Irish Setter
- Taca — Siberian Husky
- Fuzzy — Belgian sheepdog
Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres, was the first dog in Regan’s early years as president, but he retired to the family’s California compound after a few years.
Enter Rex, a gift to Nancy Regan. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel remained the first dog till the end of Regan’s two terms.
None of the other Regan canines were White House dogs. Instead, they lived at the family’s homes in California.
About Bouvier des Flandres
Bouvier des Flandres is a herding breed that hails from Belgium. Their name means “Cow Herder of Flanders,” and that’s what they were initially bred to do. These days, they work as police dogs and are kept as pets. Other names for the breed include Vlaamse Koehond (Flemish Cow Dog), Vuilbaard (Dirty Beard), and Toucheur de Boeuf (Cattle Driver).
About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Highly affectionate, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the ultimate lapdog. They’re generous with children and eager to please people. Cavaliers are so friendly it can get them into trouble with larger, less-gregarious dogs who think nothing of swatting away the joyful balls of fluff.
About Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers radiate joy. They’re trusting, warm, and cheerful. The breed is also intelligent and playful, and they’re always looking for ways to please their humans. Golden Retrievers are often one of the most popular pups at the dog park.
About Irish Setters
Setters are sporting gundogs used to hunt grouse, pheasants, and quails. There are four Setter breeds, each of which has subtle differences in bone and head structure. Irish Setters are high energy and affectionate, but they do suffer from separation anxiety if away from their folks for too long.
About Siberian Huskies
Siberian Huskies are one of the few breeds with blue eyes. Their thick coats come in various colors, including agouti, grey, red, and white. Originally bred in northeast Asia for sledding and companionship, Siberian Huskies are hard-working, loyal, and have an independent streak.
About Belgian Sheepdogs
Belgian Sheepdogs are elegant and muscular, and their coats are thick! Industrious and playful, Belgian Sheepdogs always give 100 percent and make great additions to active families.
President George H.W. Bush’s Dogs: English Springer Spaniels
The first Bush president, George H.W. Bush, was the 41st president of the United States, and he had two dogs: Millie and Ranger. Both were English Springer Spaniels, and Ranger was one of Millie’s puppies. Bush once credited the canine for knowing “more about foreign affairs than” Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
Millie was referred to as “the most famous dog in White House history” and was portrayed on several sitcoms in the 1990s, including Murphy Brown, Wings, Who’s the Boss, and The Simpsons.
A dog park in Texas is named after the now-deceased pup.
About English Springer Spaniels
English Springer Spaniels are gundogs, originally from England, with droopy ears and big round eyes. They’re either black and white or brown and white and have medium-length coats.
President William J. Clinton’s Dogs: Labrador Retriever
Buddy was first dog under the Clinton Administration. He arrived at the White House in 1997 and was named after Clinton’s great-uncle, Henry Oren “Buddy” Grisham. The dog didn’t get along with his sibling, Socks, the Clintons’ cat, and the two had to be kept in separate quarters.
About Labrador Retrievers
Ancestors of Canadian fishing dogs by way of the United Kingdom, Labrador Retrievers are gundogs that come in several colors. Their coats are short and sleek, and they’re easy-going, friendly, and loyal. Labradors are fabulous family pets and do well as service dogs.
President George W. Bush’s Dogs: English Springer Spaniel and Scottish Terriers
The 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush, and his family had three dogs: Spotty, Barney, and Miss Beazley. The first was an English Springer Spaniel related to Millie, the former first dog, and the other two were Scottish Terriers. Spotty was named after a Texas baseball player and one of the few first dogs born at the White House. She also was the only presidential pet to live in the White House for two non-consecutive terms.
Barney was the first presidential pet to have a web page, and Miss Beazley was the star of a White House Christmas video entitled A Very Beazley Christmas in 2005.
About Scottish Terriers
Scottish Terriers are tiny, spirited, and independent. They have big, upright ears, beards, and bright eyes. The breed can be aloof towards strangers and cantankerous around other animals. However, when with their humans, the loyal pups love nothing more than brisk walks and playtime.
President Barack Obama’s Dogs: Portuguese Water Dogs
Bo and Sunny Obama were the first dogs under the 44th president, Barack Obama. The two hypoallergenic Portuguese Water Dogs were carefully considered to accommodate Malia Obama’s allergies. White House photographers widely captured Bo and Sunny.
About Portuguese Water Dogs
Hypoallergenic and incredibly smart, Portuguese Water Dogs are very easy to train and work hard to please. They were bred to herd fish into nets and act as messengers between ships. Today, they work as water rescue canines.
President-Elect Joe Biden’s Dogs: German Shepherds
Major and Champ Biden will be heading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, 2021, when President-Elect Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, move in. The Biden dogs are both German Shepherds, and Major is the first rescue dog to make his way to the White House!
List of U.S. Presidents Who Didn’t Have Dogs
- James Madison — 4th president of the United States
- John Quincy Adams — 6th president of the United States
- Andrew Jackson — 7th president of the United States
- Martin Van Buren — 8th president of the United States
- William Henry Harrison — 9th president of the United States
- James K. Polk — 11th president of the United States
- Zachary Taylor — 12th president of the United States
- Millard Fillmore — 13th president of the United States
- Andrew Johnson — 17th president of the United States
- Chester A. Arthur — 21st president of the United States
- William McKinley — 25th president of the United States
- Donald J. Trump — 45th president of the United States
Ten Presidential Dog Fun Facts
- “Fido” as a common name for a dog came about in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s beloved pup Fido.
- Harry S. Truman was the opposite of a dog fan. Two puppies crossed paths with the family, but both were given away after a few months.
- Traphes Bryant, an electrician and dog fancier, served as the unofficial White House “kennel keeper” and cared for all the first dogs from Truman to Nixon. He wrote a book about his experiences called Dog Days at the White House.
- George Washington and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom are distant relatives, and both had dogs named Vulcan.
- John Adams, the country’s second president, had a dog named Satan!
- James Garfield’s dog, Veto, was the first presidential dog with a political name.
- Two U.S. presidents had dogs named Millie, Cleveland and the first Bush.
- First Dog Buddy Clinton didn’t get along with his pet sibling, Socks the Cat. The two had to be kept separately because they fought…like cats and dogs!
- Spotty, one of George W. Bush’s dogs, was an offspring of former presidential pet Millie Bush.
- Barack Obama was the only U.S. president to have Portuguese Water Dogs.
President Dog Quiz
Let’s have some fun while learning! Below is our 5-question presidential dog quiz. Feel free to use it for educational purposes. All we ask is that you give us credit and link back to our guide to presidents’ dogs.
If you’re a teacher who would like a .PDF of our first dog guide (for free!), please send an email to [email protected].
- Which U.S. president is a distant relative of Queen Elizabeth II and had a dog named Vulcan, just as the queen does today?
- George H.W. Bush
- George Washington
- Thomas Jefferson
- John Adams
- What U.S. president thought Briard Dogs would “colonize” well in the Americas?
- George Washington
- Thomas Jefferson
- John Quincy Adams
- James Monroe
- Which U.S. president was given a Japanese Chin dog to commemorate Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s Pacific Ocean exploration expedition?
- James Buchanan
- John Tyler
- Franklin Pierce
- Ulysses S. Grant
- What U.S. president had 12 dogs?
- Herbert Hoover
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Teddy Roosevelt
- Calvin Coolidge
- King Tut, a Belgian Shepherd, won the presidency for which person:
- Herbert Hoover
- Warren G. Harding
- Harry Truman
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Answer Key: 1) b; 2) b; 3) c; 4) d; 5) a