Popular Presidential Pups Throughout U.S. History

chocolate lab mix puppy in front of american flag

Throughout U.S. history, there have been several dogs beloved by presidents and also in the White House that have stolen the country’s heart. Here are a few popular presidential pups throughout U.S. history:

1. Abraham Lincoln’s Yellow Lab Mix

Abraham Lincoln had a dog named Fido. Although it is unclear how Lincoln met the Yellow Lab Mix, Fido is often considered a rescued dog. However, Fido never lived in the White House.

Although people who met him loved Fido, the dog was afraid of loud noises and crowds. So, once Lincoln began seriously campaigning and won the presidency, they had to re-home Fido to reduce his anxiety and give him a calmer home environment.

The Lincolns sent Fido to live with a friend along with some specific conditions for the dog’s care to make sure Fido remained happy. Lincoln even sent along a couch that was made custom to fit his height to make sure Fido had something familiar to nap on!

2. Barack Obama’s Portuguese Water Dogs

Although the Obama family did not have dogs when they initially moved into the White House, they did add a couple of presidential pups to their family while in residence. Bo and Sunny were the two Portuguese Water Dogs that joined their family and lived with them in the White House. Bo was the first and Sunny was added to the family a few years later.

Bo was a gift from Ted Kennedy and his wife. Bo became such a popular presidential pup that he had four books written about him. He even had his own official schedule and, while in the White House, there was a plush toy of him available for sale on the White House online gift shop!

3. Bill Clinton’s Labrador Retriever

While in the White House, Buddy kept the Clintons company. He was a chocolate Labrador Retriever and was named after Henry “Buddy” Grisham. Grisham was Bill Clinton’s great uncle, raised and trained dogs for over 50 years, and was someone that Clinton considered a great influence.

Buddy has a feline sibling named Socks and they truly fought like siblings. Their feuds were well-known around the White House. Hillary Clinton even wrote a book about them that included samples from the huge amount of fan mail the presidential pets received.

4. Calvin Coolidge’s Collie

Calvin Coolidge had an astonishing 23 pets while he and his family lived in the White House! In addition to multiple presidential pups, they also had cats, birds, a raccoon, a donkey, and a bobcat. One of their favorite pets was Rob Roy, a white Collie.

One of the facts about Collies is that they make fantastic family dogs. This was true for Rob Roy as well. He was the first dog to be in an official First Family portrait. Rob Roy also accompanied Grace Coolidge in her official White House portrait. The Collie often accompanied the both of them on shopping trips, walks around Washington, D.C., visits to the oval office, and more.

5. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Scottish Terriers and Weimaraner

Eisenhower has a few presidential pups accompany him into the White House. Caacie and Telek were Eisenhower’s Scottish Terriers. He also had Heidi, a Weimaraner.

6. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Menagerie of Canines

Franklin D. Roosevelt had a lot of dogs. He had two Scottish Terriers, Fala and Meggie, as well as two Irish Setters, Jack and Jill. Additionally, he had a Bullmastiff that was named Blaze, an English Setter that was named Winks, a Bulldog that was named Pal, a German Shepherd that was named Major, and a Great Dane that was named President.

It’s rumored that having a dog named “President” during this time in the White House made things amusing and sometimes confusing. The most popular of Roosevelt’s presidential pups was Fala the Scottish Terrier. Reportedly, Fala got more fan mail while in the White House than a lot of presidents.

Fala got so much fan mail that he needed his own secretary just to sort it! There is even a statue of Fala next to the statue of FDR at the memorial in Washington, D.C. He is considered one of the most popular presidential pups of all time and was the first to be immortalized as a statue.

7. George H.W. Bush’s English Springer Spaniels

Millie was the English Springer Spaniel that kept George Bush and his family company while in the White House. While in residence, she had puppies and Ranger was one of the puppies that stayed with the Bush family.

Millie is known for being the “author” of “Millie’s Book”. This book is sometimes referred to as a “dogobiography”, which is a biography or memoir written from the perspective of the dog. She was so beloved that Houston citizens petitioned for years to open a dog park in her name within the George Bush Park.

In 2004, the Millie Bush Bark Park opened and became Houston’s first official dog park. With dog showers, ponds to swim in, leash-free areas, fake fire hydrants, plenty of walkways, and more, it’s no wonder why the park is popular for dogs and their owners.

8. George W. Bush’s English Springer Spaniel and Scottish Terriers

When George W. Bush entered the White House, he and his family moved in with three dogs. They had two Scottish Terriers that were named Barney and Miss Beazley. They also had Spot, an English Springer Spaniel that was the daughter of George Bush’s dog Millie.

Barney was the most well-known of the dogs thanks to his very own web cam series. Barney was outfitted with a small video camera on his collar and gave viewers a dog’s-eye view of the White House Christmas decorations and other adventures.

9. George Washington’s American Foxhounds

Although George Washington was not solely responsible for creating the American Foxhound, the first president played a key role in developing the breed and is considered the father of it.

With careful breeding of hounds he imported from England and French hounds that were a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington created the ancestors that would become the modern American Foxhound.

In his journals, George Washington referenced over 30 hounds. Drunkard, Sweet Lips, Vulcan, Tipsy, and Tipler are a few of the Foxhounds listed. According to his journals, it seems Sweet Lips was one of his favorites and he considered her “the perfect Foxhound”.

10. Gerald Ford’s Golden Retrievers

When Gerald Ford was in the White House, he had Liberty, a Golden Retriever. While in residence, Liberty had puppies. A puppy that was named Misty stayed with the Fords, one was donated to the Leader Dogs for the Blind to be trained as a seeing-eye dog, and the others were given to good homes.

11. Herbert Hoover’s Multiple Dogs

Herbert Hoover was another president with multiple dogs. Big Boy was a Wire Fox Terrier while King Tut was a Belgian Malinois. He also owned two hounds – an Irish Wolfhound named Patrick and a Norwegian Elkhound named Weejie.

One of the facts about Belgian Malinois is that they are popular police and military dogs, and King Tut was no different! King Tut was a trained police dog and helped create a more amiable, open, and relatable image for Hoover during his presidential campaign. Once elected and living in the White House, King Tut even assisted as a patrol dog for the White House police force!

12. Joe Biden’s German Shepherds

Joe Biden and his family moved into the White House with two German Shepherds – Champ and Major. Champ was the first German Shepherd they added to their family. They purchased him from a breeder located in Pennsylvania and Biden’s granddaughters are credited with naming him Champ.

Major was a later addition to the family and is the younger of the two German Shepherds. He came from a shelter and was fostered by the Bidens before he was adopted. Although he could be considered the first shelter dog in the White House, he is certainly not the first presidential pup with a rescue story.

Lyndon B. Johnson had a Terrier Mix named Yuki in 1967 that his daughter rescued from a gas station. Abraham Lincoln had a Yellow Lab Mix named Fido. It’s not clear how they met and Fido did not live in the White House, but he is often considered a rescue.

Champ crossed the rainbow bridge in June 2021 at 13 years of age. In late 2021, a decision was made to move Major to live with a family friend as life in the White House ended up being too stressful for him.

But, the White House wasn’t without a dog for long as Commander, the presidential puppy, joined the family in December 2021, just in time for Christmas. Commander is a German Shepherd that was born in September 2021 and was a gift from Biden’s brother and sister-in-law.

13. John F. Kennedy’s Pack of Presidential Pups

John F. Kennedy and his family had a pack full of different pups. Charlie was a Welsh Terrier, Wolf was their Irish Wolfhound, Clipper was their German Shepherd, Shannon was their English Cocker Spaniel, and Gaullie was Jackie Kennedy’s Standard Poodle.

In addition, they received a mixed-breed dog as a gift from Nikita Krushchev who was the Soviet Union’s Premier at the time. This dog completed their pack and they named it Pushinka. Pushinka’s mother was Strelka, one of the first dogs to fly into space and come back safely.

14. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Terrier Mix

Lyndon B. Johnson did not start with a dog, but he certainly ended up with one. His daughter Luci found a Terrier Mix at a gas station back in 1966.The dog was abandoned by his owner and Luci rescued him and named him Yuki. After Lyndon B. Johnson and Yuki formed a tight bond, Luci gave Yuki to Johnson in 1967 for his birthday.

Thus, Yuki moved into the White House, became the first rescued dog in the White House that we officially know of, and accompanied Johnson all over. They could be found swimming together and Johnson would often bring Yuki to cabinet meetings.Johnson could even be found howling along with Yuki at times!

15. Richard Nixon’s Canine Companions

Checkers was Richard Nixon’s Cocker Spaniel and is credited with helping him get elected. He also owned a Yorkie that was named Pasha, an Irish Setter that was named King Tikmahoe, and a Poodle that was named Vicky.

Checkers was the most famous of Nixon’s dogs and gained popularity during the campaign. Although there is even a dog holiday named after him. National Checkers Day, or Dogs in Politics Day, which is September 23, Checkers did not live at the White House.

16. Ronald Reagan’s Bouvier des Flandres and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Ronald Reagan had two dogs with him and his family in the White House. Lucky was their Bouvier des Flandres and Rex was their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Of the two, Rex was the most famous. Lucky was a gift to the family. He lived in the White House at first, but needed more space to run.

Although they did not live in the White House, the Reagans did have a few more dogs back on their ranch. These dogs included a Siberian Husky, an Irish Setter, a Golden Retriever, and a Belgian Sheepdog.

Once it was clear that Lucky needed more space, he joined these other high-energy dogs on the ranch. The Presidential Pet Museum opened in 1999 and Lucky is credited with being the inspiration for it.

17. Theodore Roosevelt’s Various Dogs

Between Theodore Roosevelt and his family, he had a menagerie of pets, including various dogs. In addition to a badger, kangaroo rats, and other animals, Roosevelt owned a Chesapeake Bay Retriever that he named Sailor Boy, a Bull Terrier that he named Pete, and a Saint Bernard that he named Rollo.

Other Roosevelt dogs include a Manchester Terrier named Blackjack that belonged to his son Kermit and a Pekingese named Manchu that belonged to his daughter Alice.Pete, the Bull Terrier, was known for his antics and for nipping at ankles.

One time, he actually ripped a French ambassador’s pants on a visit. After an incident where Pete chased a French Ambassador up a tree, he was sent to live with a friend until the Roosevelt’s were back in their family home when Pete could rejoin them.

18. Thomas Jefferson’s Briards

While he was serving as a minister to France, Briards piqued Thomas Jefferson’s interest. He was so in love with the breed that he bought a pregnant female to bring back to the U.S. Her name was Buzzy and she helped him start his breeding program for the long-haired herding dog.

Although there is no record of his dogs living at the White House, they could be found herding and protecting flocks of sheep at Monticello. The Marquis de Lafayette even sent Jefferson two additional Briards.

These are just a few of the most popular presidential pups throughout U.S. history. With a long history of presidential pets, there’s no doubt that we will have more dogs in the White House that will steal our attention and our hearts with their antics.