Over the years, a number of presidential dogs — and a menagerie of other animals — have called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. As new dogs prepare to take up residence in the White House in January, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take a look back at some of the most notable first dogs in the White House. Enjoy!
Becoming a First Dog, White House Pet
While it’s an honor becoming First Dog of the United States (FDOTUS), canines are not the only pets to grace the halls of the executive mansion. Some of the most unique White House pets include parrots belonging to George Washington, James Madison, and William McKinley. William Harrison, the shortest-serving president (due to his untimely death 31 days into his presidency) had a goat and a Durham cow. President Theodore Roosevelt’s list of pets ran the gamut from pigs and snakes to birds and horses, with several cats and dogs in the mix.
The one White House pet that garners the most love and admiration are presidential dogs. Many of the dogs were already part of the family prior to moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, others were offered as gifts from family, friends, and dignitaries. Major, Joe Biden’s dog, will be the first known rescue dog to take up residence in the executive mansion.
We did our best to scour the public domain for facts and photos of White House pets; unfortunately, some of them pre-dated the widespread use of photography! Our sources include WhiteHouseHistory.org, PresidentialPetMuseum.com (yes, this is a thing!), and the Library of Congress, from which we obtained all of the photos unless otherwise credited.
James Monroe (1817 to 1825)
Monroe’s daughter had a black spaniel, and President Monroe himself is rumored to have had a Siberian husky named Sebastian.
James Buchanan (1857-1861)
The only bachelor president in U.S. history, President Buchanan lived in the White House with his dog, Lara, a 170-pound Newfoundland, according to Presidential Pet Museum.
Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
The Hayes family loved their pets. Their list of animals includes dogs, cats, birds, cows, horses and a goat. Dogs included Dot, a cocker spaniel; Duke, an English mastiff; and Otis, a miniature schnauzer.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Two-term president Theodore Roosevelt and his family were also animal lovers, keeping a menagerie that included horses, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, snakes, and even a badger, according to Presidential Pet Museum. Roosevelt’s favorite was rumored to be Skip, a rat terrier. The Roosevelts also had Manchu a Pekingese; Rollo, a Saint Bernard; Pete, a bull terrier; and Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay retriever.
William Taft (1909-1913)
The last First Family to keep cows at the White House, the Tafts’ daughter had a pet dog named Caruso.
Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Wilson was famous for his flock of sheep and ram, Old Ike, but he also kept several dogs including Davie, an Airedale terrier, and Bruce, a bull terrier.
Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
The Coolidges were avid pet lovers and kept a number of cats and dogs, as well as a miniature zoo at the White House that included raccoons, a donkey, a bobcat, birds, lions, a pygmy hippo, black bear, and a goose. Their presidential dogs included Rob Roy and Prudence Prim, both collies; Peter Pan, a wire fox terrier; Paul Pry, an Airedale terrier; Calamity Jane, a Shetland sheepdog; Tiny Tim and Blackberry, both chow chows; Beans, a bulldog; and King Cole, a Belgian sheepdog.
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
President Hoover’s family of dogs included King Tut, a Belgian Malinois; Pat, a German shepherd; Big Boy, a wire fox terrier; Glen, a collie; Yukon, an appropriately named Siberian husky; Shamrock, Patrick I and II, all Irish wolfhounds; Eaglehurst or Englehurst Gillette, a Gordon setter; Weegie, a Norwegian elkhound; Buckeye, a Belgian Malinois; Mark, an English setter; and Whoopie, a schnauzer.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
The Roosevelts had a reported eight White House Dogs: Fala and Meggie, both Scottish terriers; Major, a German shepherd; Winks, an English setter; Tiny, an Old English sheepdog; President, a Great Dane; and Blaze, a bullmastiff.
Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
It’s well documented that President Harry S. Truman wasn’t dog person, although a cocker spaniel named Feller lived with the Trumans for a time while they were at the White House.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
President Eisenhower and his wife owned a Weimaraner named Heidi.
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
The Kennedy White House was also home to numerous pets, including birds, ponies, hamsters, horses, a rabbit, and several dogs: Charlie, a Welsh terrier; Pushinka, a mongrel; Wolf, an Irish wolfhound; Shannon, a cocker spaniel; Clipper, a German shepherd; and puppies Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie, and Streaker, offspring of Charlie and Pushinka.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
The Johnson White House was home to several pets, including hamsters, birds and these presidential dogs: Him, Her, Edgar, and Freckles, all beagles; Blanco, a collie; and Yuki, a mongrel.
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
The Ford White House was home to one cat (Shan) and three dogs: Liberty, a golden retriever; Lucky, a mongrel; and Misty, an offspring of Liberty.
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
The Carters had two dogs, a border collie named Grits and an Afghan hound named Lewis Brown.
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
The Reagans had six dogs throughout their time at the White House, although not all of them lived at the White House. Some lived at their home in California. Their pets included: Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres; Rex, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel; Victory, a golden retriever; Peggy, an Irish setter; Taca, a Siberian husky; and Fuzzy, a Belgian sheepdog.
George H. Bush (1989-1993)
The first Bush First Family included springer spaniels Millie and Ranger (who was an offspring of Millie).
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
President Clinton kept it simple with a single dog, Buddy, a Labrador retriever. The First Family also had a cat named Socks.
George W. Bush (2001-2009)
The second Bush First Family included an English springer spaniel named Spotty, who was an offspring of former First Dog Millie. They also had Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley.
Barack Obama (2009-2017)
The Obamas had two Portuguese water dogs: Bo, a gift from Ted Kennedy in 2009 and, four years later, Sunny.
George Washington the Father of Our Nation and American Foxhounds
Although George Washington didn’t have the opportunity to live in the White House, he’s responsible for its existence so we figured he warranted a mention. Plus, the father of our nation is also recognized as the father of the American foxhound (bonus points).
Out of the over 30 hounds listed in his journals, the most notable were Vulcan, Drunkard, Sweet Lips, Tipler, and Tipsy (American foxhounds). All in all, George Washington kept many dog breeds including spaniels, terriers, greyhounds, dalmatians (one he named Madame Moose), and briards.