The Most Popular Dogs in the White House

Presidential pups are so important to image these days that it’s almost unheard of for a president not to have a dog.

Bo Obama“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

That’s a famous piece of advice to politicians from a top dog in the Executive Branch: President Harry S. Truman. (Truman himself was not a dog lover and gave away the Cocker Spaniel puppy sent to him by a woman in his home state of Missouri.) Lots of presidents before and after Truman were much fonder of dogs and shared their White House digs with them.

  • George Washington, 1789 to 1797
    • An avid fox hunter, His hounds were among the ancestors of the breed we now know as the American Foxhound. Washington was quite creative in naming his dogs: His pack included Drunkard, Tipler, Tipsy, Sweetlips, Scentwell and Vulcan.
  • Thomas Jefferson, 1801 to 1809
    • Jefferson had two Briards from his time in France. The Briard, which has been described as a heart wrapped in fur, is a large herding dog and flock guardian. This protective and intelligent dog stands out for a shaggy coat that can be black, gray or tawny.
  • Franklin Pierce, 1853 to 1857
    • It is said that Pierce has been given a pair of Japanese Chin by Commodore Matthew Perry after Perry and his gunboats forced Japan to open its markets to the Western world in 1854. Pierce later gave the dogs away. Could that be why his party didn’t nominate him for a second term?
  • Theodore Roosevelt, 1901 to 1909
    • It’s a wonder that Roosevelt had time to run the country with all the pets his family had. The dogs alone — half of which were terriers — included Pete, a Bull Terrier; Skip, a Rat Terrier; Jack and Peter, simply described as terriers; Blackjack, a Manchester Terrier; Manchu, a Pekingese; Rollo, a Saint Bernard; Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever; and Gem and Susan, “dogs of unidentified breeds.” Not surprisingly, New York City’s Theodore Roosevelt Park at Central Park West and W. 81st Street is dog-friendly.
  • Warren G Harding, 1921 to 1923
    • Warren G. Harding’s Airedale Terrier, Laddie Boy, may have received more press coverage than Harding himself. Laddie Boy presided at the 1923 Easter egg roll on the White House lawn, sat in on Cabinet meetings on a specially carved chair, accompanied Harding when he went golfing and celebrated his birthday by treating the neighborhood dogs to a dog-biscuit birthday cake. Sadly for Laddie Boy, Harding died of a heart attack after only two years in office, from 1921 to 1923. A statue of Laddie Boy, created from donated pennies that were melted down, can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Calvin Coolidge, 1923 to 1929,
    • Nicknamed “Silent Cal” for his taciturn ways, Coolidge was outspoken when it came to his love of dogs. “Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House,” Coolidge once said. His own White House menagerie included a pair of white Collies named Rob Roy and Prudence Prim. Rob Roy attended Coolidge’s weekly press conferences and was a vocal participant.
  • Herbert Hoover, 1929 to 1933
    • German Shepherd Dog, King Tut, appeared in Hoover’s campaign photographs and successfully helped him to appear warm and friendly. Hoover entered office in 1929, only to be battered by the Great Depression. Luckily, to keep his spirits up, he had not only King Tut, but also two Fox Terriers named Big Ben and Sonnie, a Norwegian Elkhound named Weejie, and an Irish Wolfhound named Patrick, but they weren’t enough to help him win re-election in 1932.
Herbert Hoover. Photograph by Herbert E. French,


  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 to 1945
    • Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, Fala, was so well-known and popular that he had his own press secretary. When Roosevelt was running a losing campaign for a fourth term, Fala helped turn the election around for him after Roosevelt gave a speech attacking opponents who wrongly accused him of spending taxpayer money to retrieve Fala after supposedly leaving the dog behind on the Aleutian Islands. The FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., includes a statue of Fala alongside that of the president.
FDR and Fala. Wikipedia
  • John F. Kennedy, 1961 to 1963
    • From dog’s to parakeets and ponies, the Kennedy White house was never without a gaggle of pets, but dogs ruled the roose. The family had a variety of dogs including Charlie, Caroline Kennedy’s Welsh Terrier, Gaullie the Poodle, Pushinka, a mutt gifted by Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev, an Irish Cocker Spaniel named Shannon, a Mutt named Wold, Clipper the German Shepherd, and  Pushinka and Charlie’s puppies: Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie and Streaker.
Kennedy and family. Cecil Stoughton White House Photographs


  • Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963 to 1969
    • Johnson created an uproar in the country after he was photographed holding his Beagles, Him and Her, by their ears. Johnson also had a small, white, mixed-breed dog, Yuki, who is best known for “singing” with Johnson during a visit by the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.
  • Gerald Ford, 1974 to 1977
    • Liberty, a Golden Retriever, was given to the president as a puppy by his daughter Susan Ford and  White House photographer David Hume Kennerly in the fall of 1974. Liberty was frequently photographed in the Oval Office, in the swimming pool at Camp David and the White House lawn. She had a litter of puppies in the White House in 1975 and one of the puppies, Misty, became part of the Presidential family.
      Gerald Ford and Libery.
  • Ronald Reagan, 1981 to 1989
    • Regan had many dogs in his lifetime, two of which lived with him in the White House. Lucky a Bouvier des Flandres was given to Nancy Reagan by the 1985 March of Dimes poster child, Kristen Ellis and Rex, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel was a Christmas present from Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan.
  • George Bush, 1989 to 1993
    • Millie, Bush’s Springer Spaniel, was considered by Bush to be the most famous dog in the White House. In a speech for re-election, Bush stated, “My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos” in reference to opposition candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Millie gave birth to puppies in the White House. George Sr. kept a puppy named Ranger, and gave a puppy to George W. Bush.
  • Bill Clinton, 1993 to 2001
    • A dog didn’t join the Clinton White House until his second term. In December 1997, however, he got Buddy, a 3-month-old chocolate Labrador retriever. Buddy the dog became well-known for his feud with Socks – the Clinton’s cat.
  • George W. Bush, 2001 to 2009
    • Bush had a few dogs during his term, one of whom was a puppy from Bush Sr’s dog Millie. “Spotty Fetcher,” named for Texas baseball player Scott Fletcher was the only pet to live in the White House during two non-consecutive terms. Spotty was sister to Scottish Terriers Barney and Mrs Beazley. Barney had his own official web page which redirected to an extension of the White House website.
  • Barack Obama, 2009 to current
    • When Barack Obama took office in 2008, people were as interested in what kind of dog he would get for his family (he eventually brought home Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog) as they were in who he was going to name to his Cabinet. They later added a second Portuguese Water Dog Sunny to the family.
Sunny and Bo Obama. Photo by Beth Caldwell via Washington Post


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