List of U.S. state dogs

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"A map of the United States with Alaska,, Wisconsin and Texas in red along with a swathe of the north eastern states."
A map of the USA showing in red which states have a specified dog breed as an official symbol

Thirteen states of the United States have designated an official state dog breed. Maryland was the first state to name a dog breed as a state symbol, naming the Chesapeake Bay Retriever in 1964.[1] Pennsylvania followed the year after, naming the Great Dane as its official breed.[2] Dog breeds are mostly affiliated with the states that they originated in. North Carolina chose the Plott Hound as it was the only dog breed indigenous to the state.[3]

Other official state dogs also are indigenous to their state, including the Boston Terrier (Massachusetts) and the Alaskan Malamute (Alaska).[4][5] Pennsylvania selected the Great Dane not because of its origin, but because it was introduced by early settlers in the state to be used as a hunting and working dog;[6] it was chosen over the Beagle, which was also proposed around the same time.[7]

Two of the more recent successful campaigns to name a state dog have been started by schoolchildren. In 2007, Alaskan kindergarten student Paige Hill's idea created the campaign for the Alaskan Malamute which would convince Representative Berta Gardner to support the bill in 2009, with it becoming law in 2010.[8] Elementary school students from Bedford, New Hampshire won their campaign for the Chinook to be accepted as a symbol of their state in 2010.[9]

In May 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill the idea started by school children, designating dogs and cats adopted from a Colorado shelter or rescue as the official Colorado state pet. The bill was passed via the state's education committee, both recognizing its role in educating children about the legislative process and the importance of educating the general population regarding the benefits and responsibilities of pet ownership.[10][11]

There have been a variety of campaigns in other states to select a state dog. Georgia was undecided about choosing a state dog in 1991, with an attempt to make the Golden Retriever the official dog failing after a vote in the Georgia State Senate; an opposing campaign promoted the Bulldog, the mascot of the University of Georgia.[12] The campaign to make the Siberian Husky the Washington state dog failed in the Washington House of Representatives in 2004.[13] In January 2019, Minnesota partnered with charity Pawsitivity Service Dogs to introduce a bill to make the Labrador Retriever the State Dog[14].

In 2006, New York State Assembly member Vincent Ignizio suggested that New York should adopt a dog as a state symbol,[15] and during the campaign to name the western painted turtle as state reptile for Colorado in 2008, it was suggested by local press that the Labrador Retriever would be suitable as a symbol, even though it is not native to the state.[1] While in Kansas as early as 2006, residents have suggested the Cairn Terrier as the state dog due to the breed's appearance as Toto in the film The Wizard of Oz.[16] In 2012, Representative Ed Trimmer tabled a bill proposing the Cairn Terrier as a state symbol.[17]

Although South Dakota does not have a state dog breed, it does list the coyote—a canine species related to the dog—as its state wildlife animal.[18][19] In Minnesota, legislation has been proposed on six different occasions to adopt the eastern timber wolf as the state animal.[20] In 2013, Colorado listed rescue dogs and cats as the state pet.[21] California also recently named the "shelter pet" as its state animal, because of all the abandoned shelter pets each year. California legislature hopes this will cause more adoptions of pets from shelters.[22][23]

State dog breeds[edit]

State Dog breed Image Year of designation Ref.
Alaska Alaskan Malamute "A white and grey husky-like dog faces left. Its tail curves over its back." 2010 [24]
Delaware Golden Retriever "A golden fluffy colored medium-size dog faces left in a woodland setting." 2016 (expired on Aug. 31, 2017 pursuant to 80 Del. Laws, c. 365, § 3). [25]
Georgia "Adoptable dog" 2016 [26]
Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog "A mottled brown dog with a white chest faces right. It wears a red collar." 1979 [1]
Maryland Chesapeake Bay Retriever "A brown dog faces left." 1964 [1]
Massachusetts Boston Terrier "A brown and white dog turns to face the camera. Its ear's stand up on top of its head." 1979 [1]
New Hampshire Chinook "A light brown dog stands in woodland. It faces left but has turned its head to face the camera." 2009 [9]
North Carolina Plott Hound "A dark colored mottled dog faces right while sniffing the ground." 1989 [1]
Pennsylvania Great Dane "A large white dog with black patches stands next to a trophy." 1965 [27]
South Carolina Boykin Spaniel "A brown spaniel faces the camera in the snow." 1985 [28]
Tennessee Bluetick Coonhound BluetickCoonhound.jpg 2019
Texas Blue Lacy "A dark grey colored dog faces just to the right, it wears a large tag on its collar." 2005 [29]
Virginia American Foxhound "A mostly white dog with black and brown markings faces left with its head turned to the camera." 1966 [30]
Wisconsin American Water Spaniel "A curly coated dark brown colored spaniel stands next to its owner." 1985 [31]

Proposed dog breeds[edit]

The table below shows the dog breeds which have been proposed to each state's relevant State Senate or House of Representatives, but either were not accepted as a state symbol or are still pending nominations.

State Dog breed Image Year proposed Ref.
Georgia Golden Retriever "A golden fluffy colored medium-size dog faces left in a woodland setting." 1991 [12]
Georgia English bulldog "A stocky brown and white dog." 2016 [26]
Kansas Cairn Terrier "A small mottled brown dog." 2012 [17]
Maine Labrador Retriever "A black Labrador Retriever at a confirmation show." 2015 [32]
Ohio Labrador Retriever "A black Labrador Retriever at a confirmation show." 2015 [33]
Oregon Newfoundland "Black Newfoundland" 2015 [34]
Washington Siberian Husky "A dark grey and white wolf like dog faces left in profile." 2004 [13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hazlehurst, John (February 29, 2008). "Commentary: Colorado legislature is long overdue for selecting a state dog". The Colorado Springs Business Journal. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  2. ^ McAuliffe, Emily (2003). Pennsylvania Facts and Symbols. Bridgestone Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7368-2268-8.
  3. ^ "Plott Thickens as Committee O.K.s Official State Dog". The Dispatch. April 19, 1989. p. 15. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  4. ^ "AKC Kennel Club: Boston Terrier". American Kennel Club. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  5. ^ "AKC Kennel Club: Alaskan Malamute". American Kennel Club. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Hart, Joyce (2004). Pennsylvania. Benchmark Books. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7614-1691-3.
  7. ^ "Great Dane Whips Beagle". Toledo Blade. October 14, 1959. p. 9. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "Governor signs bill making the Alaska Malamute Alaska's state dog". Sit News. May 14, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Hogan, Cara (December 15, 2010). "Pelham girl seeks to make purple the state color". Eagle Tribune. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  10. ^ O'Connor, Colleen (March 22, 2013). "Kids fight for abandoned dogs and cats to become Colorado state pets". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Shelter Dogs, Cats Now Colorado's Official State Pet". CBS Denver. May 13, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Senator wants a state dog". Star News. February 25, 1991. p. 2B. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Surviving bills and some that didn't". The Spokesman Review. February 18, 2004. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  14. ^ "Best in snow? Bill would make Labrador retriever Minnesota's top dog". MPR News. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  15. ^ Kranes, Marsha (February 4, 2006). "Pol Shepherds an Official State Dog". New York Post. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  16. ^ "Wichita resident wants 'Toto' breed named state dog of Kansas". Lawrence Journal-World. May 13, 2006. p. 2B. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Toto as state dog of Kansas? Bad idea, PETA says". LA Times. February 3, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
  18. ^ "Delaware State Animals". Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  19. ^ "South Dakota Facts". Travel South Dakota. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  20. ^ "Minnesota State Symbols—Unofficial, Proposed, or Facetious". Minnesota State Legislature. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  21. ^ O'Conner, Coleen (March 22, 2013). "Kids fight for abandoned dogs and cats to become Colorado state pets". Denver Post. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Alaskan malamute becomes latest official state dog". The Washington Post. August 31, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  25. ^ "TITLE 29 - CHAPTER 3. STATE SEAL, SONG AND SYMBOLS". Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  26. ^ a b Salzer, James (February 22, 2016). "Pooch fight: Senators want Uga's breed as Georgia's official state dog". Atlanta Journal-Constitutional. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  27. ^ "Symbols of Pennsylvania". Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  28. ^ Braswell, Tommy (February 21, 2006). "Boykin spaniel reigns as state's official dog". The Post and Courier. p. 2E. Retrieved January 8, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Texas State Symbols". Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  30. ^ Kilpatrick, James J. (August 1, 1968). "White Ella Runs Again". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 4. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
  31. ^ "Wisconsin State Symbols". Archived from the original on January 12, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  32. ^ "Forget Maine Coon cats! Labs want to be 'state dogs'". USA Today. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  33. ^ "Forget Maine Coon cats! Labs want to be 'state dogs'".
  34. ^ "A state dog for Oregon? Newfoundland suggested for the job (poll)". The Oregonian/OregonLive. Retrieved January 10, 2016.