United States presidential pets

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Socks the cat at the podium in the White House Press Briefing Room in 1993
Grace Coolidge with Laddie Boy, an Airedale Terrier, and Rob Roy, a white Collie

United States Presidents and their families have often had pets while serving in office.[1]

History of White House dogs[edit]

The first White House dog to receive regular newspaper coverage was Warren G. Harding's dog Laddie Boy.[2]

Pets also featured on presidential elections. Herbert Hoover got a Belgian shepherd dog, King Tut, during his campaign and pictures of him with his new dog were sent all across the United States.

In 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for his fourth term when rumors surfaced that his Scottish Terrier, Fala, had accidentally been left behind when visiting the Aleutian Islands. After allegedly sending back ships to rescue his dog, Roosevelt was ridiculed and accused of spending thousands of taxpayers' dollars to retrieve his dog. At a speech following this Roosevelt said, "you can criticize me, my wife and my family, but you can't criticize my little dog. He's Scotch and all these allegations about spending all this money have just made his little soul furious."[3] What was later called the "Fala Speech" reportedly helped secure re-election for Roosevelt.[4]

Miss Beazley, a Scottish Terrier given to Laura Bush by her husband

Richard Nixon was accused of hiding a secret slush fund during his candidacy for vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. He gave the televised "Checkers speech" named after his cocker spaniel, denying he had a slush fund but admitting, "there is one thing that I did get as a gift that I'm not going to give back."[5] The gift was a black-and-white cocker spaniel, Checkers, given to his daughters. Although there had been talk of Nixon being dropped from the ticket, following his speech he received an increase in support and Mamie Eisenhower reportedly recommended he stay because he was "such a warm person."[6][7]

Animal lovers were upset when President Lyndon B. Johnson was photographed picking his two Beagle dogs named Him and Her up by their ears. Others did not understand the uproar; former President Harry S. Truman said, "What the hell are the critics complaining about; that's how you handle hounds."[5]

List of Presidential pets[edit]

President Pet(s)
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
  • Briefly owned two tiger cubs given to him by the Sultan of Oman before Congress forced him to donate the tigers to the zoo[20][21]
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Dash in front of his doghouse
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt family with Skip
Illustration of Slippers, the White House cat
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Laddie Boy
Calvin Coolidge
Portrait of Rob Roy and Grace Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover with King Tut
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR and Fala (1940)
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Kennedy family and dogs
Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ with Him
Richard Nixon
King Timahoe, Vicki and Pasha looking out the window in the White House
Gerald Ford
Susan Ford & Shan the Siamese cat
Susan Ford, daughter of Gerald Ford, and the family's siamese cat, Shan, in 1974
Ford and Liberty in the Oval Office
Ford and Liberty in the Oval Office
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan on El Alamein
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Bo and Sunny
Donald Trump
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Number unknown
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj Breed unknown
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Name unknown
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Species unknown

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Washington was an avid dog breeder; he called the breed that he was developing "Virginia Hounds" which became the American Foxhound
  2. ^ Number uncertain, perhaps received as many as seven. "Pierce was thought to have kept one dog, and he gave the other to his Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. Davis was particularly pleased with the dog and was known to have carried it with him in his pocket."[23]
  3. ^ Checkers died in 1964, before Nixon became president, but had played a major role in his electoral career


  1. ^ "Presidential Pet Museum". Presidential Pet Museum. Retrieved June 16, 2011. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Famous and Forgotten, Toledo’s Laddie Boy, The First Presidential Pet Archived August 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "1944 Radio News, 1944-09-23 FDR Teamsters Union Address – Fala (27:45–30:08)". Internet Archive. Retrieved July 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Fala, the dog who helped win a presidential election". National Constitution Center. September 23, 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Presidential pets of the past". K-state.edu. September 23, 1952. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ DVM: The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine; Oct2008, Vol. 39 Issue 10, p22-22, 2/3p
  7. ^ Ethan Trex. "mental_floss Blog » The Bizarre History of White House Pets". Mentalfloss.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Pamela Redmond Satran (November 5, 2012). "Do You Have a Dog in This Election? Pets Are Presidential". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Soldier, Statesman, Dog-Lover: George Washington's Pups". George Washington's Mount Vernon. 
  10. ^ "American Foxhound History & Training/Temperament". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj Choron, 20.
  12. ^ Mary Brigid Barrett. "Presidential Menageries: Washington's Mules and Hounds". Our White House. The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Nelson (Horse)". George Washington's Mount Vernon. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Spring 1999: Presidential Pets". Inside the White House. nara.gov. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  15. ^ Wolf, Alissa. "First Pets: A History of Critters in the White House". About.com. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Calkhoven, Laurie (2007). George Washington: An American Life. Edison, NJ: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 91. ISBN 9781402735462. 
  17. ^ a b c "White House Pets (1789–1850) – Presidential Pet Museum". Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  18. ^ "James Monroe Biography – Presidential Pet Museum". Presidential Pet Museum. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  19. ^ The Handy Science Answer Book. Visible Ink Press. 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! Animals at the White House". Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c d Longley, Robert (29 June 2017). "First Pets: Animals in the White House". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  22. ^ The Handy Science Answer Book. Visible Ink Press. 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  23. ^ a b Kate Kelly (5 August 2015). "Teacup Dogs Owned by President Franklin Pierce". America Comes Alive. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  24. ^ Abraham Lincoln’s Cats
  25. ^ Kate Kelly (13 July 2016). "Grover Cleveland's Dogs and Other Pets". America Comes Alive. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  26. ^ a b c "Pets in the White House". White House for Kids. nara.gov. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  27. ^ U.S. Presidents: Truth and Rumors By Sean Price, Sean Stewart Price. Coughlan Publishing, 2010, Page 14: Accessed Via Google Books Search April 27, 2011. Quote under Presidential Pets:"Benjamin Harrison let a pair of pet opossums run around."
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Roosevelt Pets". National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved December 21, 2012. (Reprinted from the National Archives and Records Administration) 
  29. ^ "America's First Presidential Hyena". Ethiopianism-Ethiopiawinet Online Revival. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2017. 
  30. ^ Betsy (July 1, 2013). "Pay a Call on Petey the Canary at Warren G. Harding's Marion Home". 
  31. ^ a b Stephen Bauer, At Ease in the White House: Social Life as Seen by a Presidential Military Aide, Taylor Trade Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-58979-079-0. pp 224.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Sandra Choron, Planet Dog: A Doglopedia, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005, ISBN 0-618-51752-9. pp 21.
  33. ^ Amy Ruth, Herbert Hoover, Twenty-First Century Books, 2004, ISBN 0-8225-0821-4. pp 64.
  34. ^ Wayne Bryant Eldridge, Tom Kerr The Best Pet Name Book Ever!, Barron's Educational Series, 2003, ISBN 0-7641-2499-4. pp 29.
  35. ^ Herbert Hoover Biography
  36. ^ "President Truman's Dog, Feller". Highland-ohio.com. January 12, 1948. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  37. ^ Sally Bedell Smith, Grace And Power, Random House, Inc., 2006, ISBN 0-345-48497-5, pp 219.
  38. ^ a b c d e f "Pets – John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum". Jfklibrary.org. December 3, 1961. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  39. ^ Smith, 125.
  40. ^ Morrow, Laurie Bogart, The Giant Book of Dog Names, p. 414
  41. ^ JFK’s German Shepherd Dog, Clipper
  42. ^ Smith, 293, 489.
  43. ^ a b c d Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum President Johnson's Dogs Archived July 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  44. ^ a b c d Bryant, Traphes, with Frances Spatz Leighton, Dog Days at the White House: The Outrageous Memoirs of the Presidential Kennel Keeper, New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1975. ISBN 0-671-80533-9
  45. ^ "Lyndon B. Johnson's Pet Info". Exoticdogs.com. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  46. ^ a b c "Richard M. Nixon". June 5, 2004. Archived from the original on June 5, 2004. 
  47. ^ Bauer, 8.
  48. ^ Ford Presidential Library and Museum, Ford Family White House and Pets
  49. ^ Tribune, Chicago. "Presidential pets". chicagotribune.com. 
  50. ^ "Presidential Pooch – Grits, the Impeached First Dog | Bully Sticks". Bullysticksinfo.com. November 21, 2008. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  51. ^ "Ronald Reagan Presidential Library". Reagan.utexas.edu. Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  52. ^ a b c d e Stanley Coren, Why Does My Dog Act That Way?, Simon and Schuster, 2007, ISBN 0-7432-7707-4. pp 6.
  53. ^ a b c d e f Stanley Coren, Why We Love the Dogs We Do: How to Find the Dog That Matches Your Personality, Simon and Schuster, 2000, ISBN 0-684-85502-X. pp. 5.
  54. ^ Coren, Why Does my Dog..., 7.
  55. ^ George H. W. Bush, All the Best, George Bush Simon and Schuster, 2000, pp 595, correspondence from September 10, 1996, ISBN 0-7432-0048-9, ISBN 978-0-7432-0048-6
  56. ^ a b Bailey, Holly (April 24, 2013). "Laura Bush: New library is not 'a monument' to her husband". Yahoo News. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  57. ^ Barack Obama (August 19, 2013). "Meet the newest member of the Obama family: Sunny". Facebook. Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  58. ^ Hannah August (August 19, 2013). "Meet Sunny: The Obamas' New Puppy". The White House Blog. Retrieved August 20, 2013. [permanent dead link]

External links[edit]