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Presidential Pooches - A Guide to Presidential Dogs

All the President’s Dogs

With a new president setting up residence at the White House, there’s one question on everybody’s mind... What kind of dog is the new American President Obama going to have? "It'll probably either be a "Labradoodle" or a "Portuguese water hound,'' Obama told George Stephanopoulos on ABC News' This Week programme. (Ahem. It's actually a Portuguese Water Dog, Mr President.)

Many would argue that it’s merely a figurehead position, the moral support that the First Dog provides the Commander in Chief cannot be overstated.

So, Portuguese Water DOG in the White House, here's some more First Dogs worth a mention.

Okay, if you’re an old stick in the mud, you were probably a little more worried about what President Obama’s going to do about foreign policy and the economy (*yawn*), but the fact remains that many people around the world were wondering who they could expect to see as the President's Dog - or America’s First Pooch for the next four or eight years, so it seems this would be as good a time as any to discuss the history of this esteemed position.

Any resemblance between dog and owner in the below images is purely coincidental. Yeah, right!


BEFORE you look:

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Figurehead position or not, the role of First Dog carries quite a few perks. Round the clock executive chef, a huge yard to play in, full time body guards, and a yearly allowance of around four hundred thousand bones a year, although, the First Family usually opts to fritter that money away on things like clothing and furniture.

George Washington 1789 - 1797

See all 26 photos

George Washington 1789 - 1797 - Foxhound

Presidential dogs date back to George Washington, who introduced the United States to the Foxhound. In 1770, Washington imported a number of Foxhounds from England, and then in 1785, received a group of French Foxhounds from the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington then bred these animals and started the first family of what would eventually become the modern American foxhound breed.

If you look in Washington’s personal journals, he mentions his dogs Drunkard, Tipler, and Tipsy amongst at least thirty hounds.  Hmm I see a pattern emerging here...

The job of being First Dog carries with it a share of stress, so we can probably forgive Washington’s hounds for having a drink or two (or three) now and then.

Jefferson Thomas 1801 - 1809

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Jefferson Thomas 1801 - 1809 - Briard

Thomas Jefferson was always a fan of Briards when serving as minister to France, and it was with “Buzzy”, a pregnant female that he began a breeding program.

Marquis de Lafayette would also send Thomas Jefferson a couple of purebred Briards to help protect his flock of sheep.

I wonder where President Obama will keep his sheep (and is that why the White House has such a big lawn?)

James Monroe 1817 - 1825 Owned a Spaniel.

See all 26 photos

James Buchanan 1857 - 1861

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James Buchanan 1857 - 1861 - Newfoundland

Maybe the first celebrity Presidential Dog would be James Buchanan’s Newfoundland “Lara”, who was very protective of her human, sleeping with one eye open to keep an eye out and keep Buchanan out of trouble.

Another Newfoundland in the White House was “Faithful”, who served under President Ulysses Grant.

Grant actually bought the dog as a gift for his son, and promised his staff “If this dog dies, every employee in the White House will be at once discharged”. Needless to say, Faithful was very well taken care of in his term of office as First Dog!

Abraham Lincoln 1861 - 1865 Pictured below him is his dog called "Fido"

See all 26 photos
See all 26 photos

Ulysses S Grant 1869 - 1877 Owned a Newfoundland.

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(c) Jan Rawling (imajanphotography@sympatico.ca)
See all 26 photos
(c) Jan Rawling (imajanphotography@sympatico.ca)

Rutherford Hayes 1877 - 1881 Owned a English Mastiff.

See all 26 photos
(c)Fotosuabe
(c)Fotosuabe

Grover Cleveland 1885 - 1889 was believed to own a Poodle.

See all 26 photos

Benjamin Harrison 1889 - 1893 with "Dash" the Dog and a Goat named "Whiskers".

See all 26 photos

Theodore Roosevelt 1901 - 1909 Owned a Pitbull Terrier.

See all 26 photos
See all 26 photos

Woodrow Wilson 1913 - 1921. Did not own a Dog but was the first to shake hands with "Stubby" the Bull-Terrier

Warren Harding 1921 - 1923 Owned an Airedale.

(c)Montillon
(c)Montillon

Calvin Coolidge 1923 - 1929 with "Calamity Jane" (The Dog!!)

(c)AP Photo
See all 26 photos
(c)AP Photo

Calvin Coolidge 1923 - 1929 with many, many dogs

Calvin Coolidge seems to have had quite a taste for grammatical alliteration, as well as a whole cabinet of First Dogs.

“Black Berry”, “Tiny Tim”, “Rob Roy”, “Ruby Rough”, “Prudence Prim”, “Peter Pan”, “Boston Beans”, “Paul Pry” and... “Calamity Jane”.

Hm, well I guess there were no wild women of the west with the same first and last initials, but you’d think he would’ve at least gone with “Annie Oakley”.

Herbert Hoover 1929 - 1933

Frankin D Roosevelt 1933 - 1945 Owned a Scottish Terrier

See all 26 photos

AND a German Shepherd that famously bit many politicians

See all 26 photos

Harry S Truman 1945 - 1953 Owned a Irish Setter.

(c)Rob Gale
See all 26 photos
(c)Rob Gale

Dwight D Eisenhower (Left ) 1953 - 1961 Owned a Weimaraner called "Heidi"

See all 26 photos
See all 26 photos

John F Kennedy 1961 - 1963

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(c) Derek Purdy
(c) Derek Purdy

Lyndon B Johnson 1963 - 1969

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John F Kennedy 1961 - 1963 - Multiple dogs

John F. Kennedy kept well over a dozen pets, including a Welsh Terrier “Charlie”, “Shannon”, an Irish Cocker Spaniel, “Wolf”, who was part Wolfhound and part Schnauzer, and “Clipper”, a German Shepherd.

Lyndon B Johnson 1963 - 1969 - Beagle

Lyndon B. Johnson was the first president whose dogs would make the cover of Life magazine.

His Beagles were named rather imaginatively (not) “Him”, and “Her”.

He later shared the White House with “Blanco”, a white Border Collie, “Beagle” and “Little Beagle” who were... well, beagles...

You might say Johnson wasn’t very imaginative when it came to naming dogs, though he did take the extra effort to name his Mongrel “Yuki”.

Richard Nixon 1969 - 1974 with "Checkers" the Spaniel

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Gerald Ford 1974 - 1977 with "Liberty" a Golden Retriever

See all 26 photos

Jimmy Carter 1977 - 1981

Amy with "Grits" a Mongrel

Jimmy Carter 1977 - 1981 - MONGREL

Jimmy Carter gave a Mongrel Dog to his daughter Amy and it was named "Grits".

Ronald Reagan 1981 - 1989 with "Rex" a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Ronald Reagan 1981 - 1989 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bouview des Flandres

Ronald Reagan had two dogs, the one shown and another called "Lucky" a Bouvier des Flandres which later was sent to live in California.

George H W Bush 1989 - 1993

See all 26 photos

George H W Bush 1989 - 1993 - English Springer Spaniel

George Herbert Walker Bush’s English Springer Spaniel, “Millie”, may be the only First Dog on this list to have the honor of being a published author.

She wrote “Millie’s Book, as Dictated to Barbara Bush”.

Millie has gone on record strongly denying that there were any ghostwriters involved in the process, but the speculation as to Millie’s true veracity as the author continues to persist.

Bill Clinton 1993 - 2001

(c) dbking @ flickr.com
See all 26 photos
(c) dbking @ flickr.com

Bill Clinton 1993 - 2001 - Chocolate Labrador Retriever

While there’s a lot of talk about Socks the Cat, a lot of people have never even heard of Bill Clinton’s Chocolate Lab Retriever.

“Buddy” gets very little mention. According to our sources, Buddy actually prefers to stay out of the limelight, allowing Socks to get all the attention (because, well, you know how cats can be).

George W Bush 2000 - 2009 and "Barney" a Scottish Terrier

See all 26 photos

George W Bush 2000 - 2009 - Scottish Terrier

George W. Bush kept an English Springer Spaniel named “Spot Fetcher” for years. Spot Fetcher was actually one of Millie’s puppies.

George W. Bush also kept a couple of Scottish Terriers, “Barney” and “Miss Beazley”.

Barney actually got himself into some hot water when he gave a White House reporter a little nip. Maybe the journalist had been a little too hard on his human, in which case, it’s hard to condone replying to the media in such a manner!

Obama 2009 - I'm not sure this President will break the tradition on Presidential Dogs looking like their owers - are you?

Portuguese Water Dog.
Portuguese Water Dog.
Just a thought...
Just a thought...

In the coming years, bipartisanship is going to be an important part of getting just about anything done in D.C. Maybe if America’s leaders can take a note from their canine companions, the Twenty First Century will live up to all of its promises.

What can we tell from looking at all of these First Pooches?

Well, it’s interesting to note that no one breed is any more common than another, and neither male nor female dogs seem to take precedence. We’ve even seen mutts in the White House. It’s taken hundreds of years for America to see its first President that wasn’t a male of strictly European descent, whereas that racial and gender divide has never existed in the canine political community. The world of First Dogs has always been an inclusive club, rather than an exclusive one.

This, of course, comes down to a dog’s laid back philosophy on life: Eat, sleep, and play with your friends. There’s no room in that attitude for the polarizing politics that have long dominated Washington, nor is there any kind of a cultural divide between poor dogs and rich dogs. There’s no stigma attached to being a single mother dog, and a dog is willing to put political differences aside in order to maintain a strong friendship. For dogs, the world of politics and society is pretty simple and uncomplicated.

This hub brought to you...

by Julie-Ann Amos, professional writer, and owner of international writing agency www.ExquisiteWriting.com

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 Last updated on June 22, 2011

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Comments 10 comments

Allison 5 years ago

Just one question.... which one is George W Bush and which one is Barney? Hard to tell with those eyebrows...

Great hub!


Julie-Ann Amos profile image

Julie-Ann Amos 5 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK Hub Author

Some of them are really spooky. Likenesses I mean not eyebrows. Ok the eyebrows are creepy too.


Mardi profile image

Mardi 5 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

Absolutely amazing and a wonderful article. I am wondering how much I look like my dogs? Yikes, poor dogs.


Julie-Ann Amos profile image

Julie-Ann Amos 5 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK Hub Author

I wish I looked like mine! My girl is built like a whippet!


sillydog 5 years ago

This article is great, but FDR had a Scottish Terrier named Fala.


Julie-Ann Amos profile image

Julie-Ann Amos 5 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK Hub Author

AND a German Shephrd famous for biting politicans


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Really great Hub, and the timing is perfect. The Animal Planet network has been airing a special edition of Dogs 101 where they profile some of the Presidents' pooches. It's not as inclusive as yours, but it really drives home the privilege accorded these dogs and the love given to them not only by the Presidents but by the nation.

Thumbs up!


Julie-Ann Amos profile image

Julie-Ann Amos 5 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK Hub Author

Ah over the pond here of course we don't see that, and I thought I was being clever by covering something really topical!


foxility profile image

foxility 5 years ago

The resemblance is astonishing.


Chatterbox profile image

Chatterbox 5 years ago from New York City

Love this article! Very informative! I have a cat, but I would love to have a dog someday.

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