American Presidents and Their Pets
When we speak of a faithful companion, we cannot help but mention the pets of the Presidents and their families. From George Washington to Joe Biden, Presidents of the United States often had a pet with them in the White House, especially dogs. For most of American history, pets have cared for the First Family and made a mess on the White House lawn.
If you are looking for a name that you can give your new pet, maybe you can take inspiration from our presidents. Or, if you just want to know about our presidential pets, take a look at this blog.
Most of this research was found using the Presidential Pet Museum website. Did you know there was a museum dedicated to the pets of the Presidents? I did not!
In the new era of presidential pets, two new German Shepherd Dogs, Champ and Major, will come to the White House with newly elected President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. For the first time in history, a dog adopted from a shelter, Major, will live in the White House! Major was adopted from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018. Champ and Major have both been trained by Delaware's own, Mark Tobin and the K-9 Camp Dog Obedience School.
During the victory speech, Obama promised his daughters, Malia and Sasha, a puppy. He told his daughters that "I love you both very much, and you have earned the new puppy that will accompany us to the White House."
Senator Ted Kennedy gifted them with a male Portuguese water dog named Bo. Then in 2013, a Portuguese water dog named Sunny was adopted by the first family.
George W. Bush
George W. Bush was twice elected president and found adorable companions in his dogs, Miss Beazley, Barney, Spot (an offspring of Millie), and a black cat named India.
During the Clinton administration, a black and white cat named Socks served as America's first cat. Socks reluctantly shared his title with Buddy, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, in the final years of the presidency of Bill. These two pets notoriously didn't get along.
George H.W. Bush
Millie and Ranger (one of Millie’s offspring), lived in the White House with President Bush. Millie gave birth to six pups in 1987 and two of her puppies went on to live in the White House, each with a President Bush.
When Ronald Reagan entered the White House, he did not bring a dog with him. He later received a gift that was a dog named Lucky, a black Bouvier des Flandres. In 1985, Reagan received a Christmas present, Rex, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
When Jimmy Carter moved into the White House, he brought along his daughter’s Siamese cat named Misty Malarky Ying Yang. Misty, who was a male, was joined for a short time by a Border Collie mix named Grits.
When Gerald Ford moved into the White House in 1974, he brought along his daughter’s Siamese cat, Shan. Not long after, Ford’s daughter gifted him Liberty, a Golden Retriever puppy. In 1975 Liberty gave birth to a litter of 9 puppies at the White House. The Ford’s added to their family and kept one of her puppies, Misty.
Richard M. Nixon
During the Richard M. Nixon administration, he had three dogs: Pasha (Terrier), Vicky (Poodle), and King Timahoe (Irish setter). Nixon's best-known dog, Checkers (Cocker Spaniel), died before Nixon was elected president.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President Lyndon B. Johnson was a well-known dog lover. He had several dogs during his administration, namely, Freckles (Beagle), Blanco (Collie), Him (Beagle), Her (Beagle), Yuki (Mutt), and Edgar (a gift from J Edgar Hoover).
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Throughout the Kennedy administration, the first family had many pets. A Welsh terrier named Charlie, and a cat named Tom Kittin, were with him in the beginning. Other dogs belonging to President John F. Kennedy were Gaullie (French Poodle), Pushinka that was a gift from Nikita Khrushchev to Caroline Kennedy, Wolf (an Irish wolfhound), Clipper (a German Shepherd), Shannon (an English Cocker Spaniel), Butterfly (Pushinka and Charlie's puppy), Blackie (Pushinka and Charlie), White Tips (Charlie and Pushinka) and Streaker and Blackie (Charlie and Pushinka).
Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower’s Weimaraner, Heidi, didn’t live long at the White House. After soiling a very expensive rug, Heidi was sent to live permanently at their farm in Gettysburg, PA
Harry S. Truman
Harry Truman may never have said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." but, if he had, he was not very good at following his own advice. Truman received a Cocker Spaniel puppy named Feller from the supporter of his heart. But after a short interval, Truman gave Feller away to his personal physician. Another dog that belonged to President Harry S. Truman, and was given away, was Mike (Irish Setter).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Delano Roosevelt had several dogs such as Major (German Shepherd), Winks (Llewellyn Setter), President (Great Dane), Tiny (an Old English Sheepdog), and Blaze (Mastiff). FDR's famous and most beloved dogs were two Scottish terriers named Meggie and Fala.
Herbert Clark Hoover
Many dogs moved with Herbert Hoover to the White House during his administration, including King Tut (Belgian Shepherd), Yukon (American Eskimo Dog), Big Ben (Fox Terrier), Glen (Collie), Patrick (Irish wolfhound), Weejie (Elkhound), Sonnie (Fox Terrier), Eaglehurst Gillette (Setter), and Pat (German shepherd).
Coolidge was so fond of pets. He probably turned the White House into a small zoo where he kept dogs, cats, birds, raccoons, a bear, a hippopotamus, and lion cubs.
His dogs were Prudence Prim (Collie), Paul Pry (Airedale Terrier), Blackberry (Chow Chow), Calamity Jane (Shetland Sheepdog), Boston Beans (Bulldog), Bessie (Collie), Peter Pan (Terrier), Rob Roy (originally Oshkosh) (Collie), Tiny Tim (Chow Chow), Ruby Rouch (Collie), Palo Alto (Bird Dog) and King Cole (German shepherd). The Coolidge’s also had three cats; Tiger, Blacky, and Smoky.
Harding had two dogs at the White House during his presidency: Old Boy (an English Bulldog) and Laddie Boy (an Adireable Terrier). Warren Harding's wife had canaries, but the best-known pet in this first family was Pete (a Squirrel).
When we talk about the Wilson administration, we get to know a herd of sheep, and Old Ike, a tobacco-chewing ram. In addition to the sheep, Wilson had several dogs named Mountain Boy (Greyhound), Davie (Airedale Terrier), and Bruce (Bull Terrier), and one cat named Puffins.
President Taft’s most famous pets were two cows, Pauline and Mooly Wooly. They also had a small, white dog that belonged to the First Daughter. The dog’s name was Caruso and was given to Helen by a famous Opera singer, Enrico Caruso. The Tafts did have another dog, but its name has been lost to history.
When Theodore Roosevelt moved into the White House, he had the most pets with him than any other president. According to the National Parks Service, Roosevelt's pet dogs includes a Sailor Boy (Chesapeake Bay Retriever), Jack and Peter (Terriers), Skip (Mutt), Rollo (Saint Bernard), Pete (Bull Terrier), Manchu (Pekingese), and Black Jack (Manchester Terrier). There were also two cats that lived with the Roosevelt’s; Tom Quartz and Slippers.
The McKinley’s four-legged friends were a pair of Angora kittens that Ida McKinley’s cat had given birth two. Valeriano and Enrique were the runts of the litter. The McKinley’s also had a Mexican parrot named Washington Post, and several roosters.
Benjamin Harrison had various pets such as two possums, Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection, Old Whiskers (a goat that belongs to his grandchildren), and a dog named Dash (Collie).
Grover Cleveland became President of the United States for two different terms, from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897. Over his separate terms, he had different pets, including Gallagher (Cocker Spaniel), Kay (St. Bernard), Hector (French poodle) several dachshunds, foxhounds, and poodle dogs. There were also ponies, fish, canaries and mockingbirds.
Chester Arthur became the 21st president after the death of President Garfield. While he did not have any traditional pets (dogs, cats, or birds), he did have two beautiful reddish brown bays. They would pull the Presidential carriage with the help of a silver harness that perfectly matched the two horses.
James A. Garfield
Since President Garfield’s time in office was so short, he did not have time to accumulate as many pets as some of his predecessors had. He did, however, have a heroic Newfoundland named Veto. Veto once held the reins of a horse that was on a rampage in the barn and didn’t let go until help arrived. He also was responsible for alerting the family when a barn caught fire. The First Daughter had a mare named Kit that resided with them at the White House.
Rutherford B. Hayes
President Hayes had many animals, including eight different dogs. Hector (Newfoundland), Dot (Cocker Spaniel), Otis (Mini Schnauzer), Duke (English Mastiff), Juno (hunting dog), Shep (hunting dog), Grim (Greyhound), and Jet (mutt) all lived at the White House. The Hayes’ also have the distinction of being given the first Siamese kitten that came to the United States. Her name was Siam and she only lived a few months after arriving in America. There was also another Presidential cat named Piccolomini that resided with the Hayes’.
Ulysses S. Grant
President Ulysses may have had only two dogs name Faithful and Rosie, but he had many horses that resided with the family at the White House, including his wartime mount Jeff Davis.
It is well documented that Abraham Lincoln was exceptionally compassionate about animals and a strong advocate for their rights. He was very fond of rescuing stray cats. Mrs. Lincoln often called it the President’s hobby. Their traditional pets included Jip (breed unknown) who would sit with the President during mealtimes and Tabby and Dixie (two cats that were doted on by the President). They had many other pets in the White House, including ponies, goats, a pig, rabbits, and even a turkey!
Single President James Buchanan had a Punch (toy terrier) and a Newfoundland dog named Lara. What a sight it must have been to see the two dogs together! President Buchanan also had two bald eagles that were unsuited to life at the White House. They were sent home to Lancaster, PA. While they were given the freedom to fly, they never strayed far from the property.
Franklin Pierce was given 7 teacup sized dogs after the successful signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa that opened trade relations with Japan. These miniature dogs are thought to be the breed known as the Japanese Chin. President Pierce only kept one of the dogs and gave the rest to his friends.
President Fillmore had two ponies names, Mason and Dixon, named after the surveyors for whom the border between the Northern and Southern states was named. President Fillmore was a founding member and president of the Buffalo, NY chapter of the ASCPCA. Fillmore used his prestige as a former President to initiate ordinances against the mistreatment of animals.
President John Tyler was an animal lover who owned several dogs, but one was famously known as Le Beau, a greyhound. President Tyler also had two Irish Wolfhounds imported from Ireland for his wife, Julia. But his favorite animal was his horse, The General. The General is buried at Sherwood with this inscription on his headstone: “Here lies the body of my good horse ‘The General.’ For twenty years he bore me around the circuit of my practice, and in all that time he never made a blunder. Would that his master could say the same! John Tyler.”
James Monroe's daughter had a pet, a Spaniel named Buddy. Any details of Buddy, and possibly another dog possibly named Sebastian, have been lost to history.
First Lady, Dolley Madison, was well-known for her macaw parrot named Polly. Polly would often be perched on Dolley’s shoulder as she went about her daily life. Polly had a naughty side and had even bitten the President once. Polly would often speak for guests and it’s rumored that her vocabulary included some naughty words.
Thomas Jefferson was once given two Grizzly bear cubs! The bears lived at the White House, in a cage, until they were sent to a museum in Philadelphia. He also had a passion for Mockingbirds with his favorite being named Dick. Dick had free range on the President’s office and would be found perched on the couch or the President’s shoulder while he worked.
The animals that lived at the White House with John Adam's were Cleopatra and Caesar, tow carriage horses, and a couple of dogs, Juno and Satan. Since President Adams was the first president to live in the White House, Juno and Satan have the distinction of being the first official White House pets!
It is safe to say that George Washington loved horses and dogs! Some of his horses were Sampson, Steady, Leonidas, Traveller, and Magnolia Some of his hounds were Mopsey, Drunkard, Taster, Cloe, Tipsy, Tipler, Forester, Captain, Lady Rover, Vulcan, Sweet Lips, and Searcher.