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:
Does Your President Look Like His Dog?See results without voting
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
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
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.
James Buchanan 1857 - 1861
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"
Ulysses S Grant 1869 - 1877 Owned a Newfoundland.
Rutherford Hayes 1877 - 1881 Owned a English Mastiff.
Grover Cleveland 1885 - 1889 was believed to own a Poodle.
Benjamin Harrison 1889 - 1893 with "Dash" the Dog and a Goat named "Whiskers".
Theodore Roosevelt 1901 - 1909 Owned a Pitbull Terrier.
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.
Calvin Coolidge 1923 - 1929 with "Calamity Jane" (The Dog!!)
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
AND a German Shepherd that famously bit many politicians
Harry S Truman 1945 - 1953 Owned a Irish Setter.
Dwight D Eisenhower (Left ) 1953 - 1961 Owned a Weimaraner called "Heidi"
John F Kennedy 1961 - 1963
Lyndon B Johnson 1963 - 1969
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
Gerald Ford 1974 - 1977 with "Liberty" a Golden Retriever
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
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
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
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?
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.
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Last updated on June 22, 2011
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