It’s fun to consider what presidential dogs may have walked the floors of the White House. Moreover, what breeds were favored by our presidents of old. Here’s a history lesson on the dogs of Washington.
First off, let’s talk common breeds of presidential dogs. Our presidents loved the Terrier, from Bull Terriers, to Scottish, and even Airdales. The Terrier has made it to the White House steps more often than any other breed. Theodore Roosevelt had four Terriers.
It is by no mistake that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier “Fala” is the only dog memorialized with their president. Fala went everywhere with Roosevelt. His story is even featured in two films. George W. Bush was also a fan of the Scottish Terriers, he had two named Miss. Beazley and Barney. The only toy dog in the white house was Buchanan’s toy Terrier.
Another breed favorite of the presidents was the Spaniel. These dogs are known for being an affectionate, loyal lap-dog. Not to mention they’re great at sitting and looking pretty. While both Bush families had a springer spaniel, the more favored Cocker Spaniel was seen often occupying the Lincoln bedroom. A Christmas present to the first lady, Regan’s Cocker Spaniel “Rex” didn’t like the Lincoln bedroom as much. He reportedly would bark at the door before refusing to go inside. Nixon, Hayes, Truman, and Kennedy all had a Cocker Spaniel.
Some presidents had interesting names for their dogs. George Washington’s Staghounds went by Vulcan, Sweetlips, and Scentwell. This was even before the Star Trek craze. Today, the name Vulcan is trendy, unlike its originality in the 18th century. Coolridge was particularly fond of naming his dogs after beloved characters and people. He had a Terrier named Peter Pan and a Shetland Sheepdog named “Calamity Jane.” A couple memorable names are Carter’s Border Collie “Grits” and Lincoln’s yellow, mixed-breed “Fido.”
The first presidential dog to make the front page was Harding’s “Laddie Boy.” He howled for three days before Harding’s death, making many believe he knew the inevitable. Another dog that made it to print was Ford’s Golden Retriever “Liberty.” He would use her as a distraction for his guests in the oval office, where they were often photographed together. He once said, “So, I have this feeling–this is one liberty that is going to cost me some of mine…that is the true nature of liberty. It comes with both privileges and obligations. Freedom, we all know, is seldom free.” We can all agree, nothing is more American than a Golden Retriever in the White House named “Liberty.”
More from Dog History
Obama was many firsts for America. He even brought one of the most unfamiliar breeds into the White House. His pair of Portuguese water dogs “Bo” and “Sunny” were beautiful against the backdrop of the White House. There were two considerations the Obamas had when choosing a dog. First, they needed to be hypoallergenic because Malia is allergic. Secondly, that the pooch was a shelter dog. Bo and Sunny were found keeping up with Obama during his presidency.
Granted dogs are pretty standard compared to John Q. Adams alligator in the White House. Yet, we’ll never tire of seeing our favorite four-legged friends make it to press conferences, flying on Air Force One, or playing catch on the White House lawn. Presidential dogs, we salute you.