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 have often kept pets while in office, or pets have been part of their families.[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 Police Dog" (Belgian Malinois),[3] 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."[4] What was later called the "Fala speech" reportedly helped secure reelection for Roosevelt.[5]

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."[6] 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."[7][8]

Animal lovers were upset when President Lyndon B. Johnson was photographed picking his two beagles, 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."[6]

List of presidential pets[edit]

President Pet(s)
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
  • Polly – Parrot, outlived both James And Dolley Madison[18]
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
  • Old Whitey – horse[key 2] Taylor's wartime mount
  • Apollo – Pony;[key 2] formerly a "trick pony" from a circus, a present for Taylor's daughter Betty and resided in the White House stables with Old Whitey[37]
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Old Bob caparisoned in a mourning blanket at Abraham Lincoln's funeral
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Whiskers pulling a cart at the White House, with Russell Harrison and his children
Dash in front of his doghouse
  • Whiskers ("His Whiskers," or "Old Whiskers") – goat,[17][48] kept at the White House for the president's grandchildren; may have belonged to Russell Harrison[49]
  • Dash – collie[13]
  • Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection – opossums,[50] named from the 1896 Republican party platform,[51] which includes: "Protection and reciprocity are twin measures of Republican policy and go hand in hand."[52]
  • Two alligators – According to one account, Russel Harrison kept two alligators in the White House conservatory[53]
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Archie riding Algonquin
Roosevelt family with Skip
Illustration of Slippers, the White House cat[f]
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
  • Gabby – parakeet[85]
  • Heidi – Weimaraner[86]
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
Reagan family pet spaniel, Rex
Ronald Reagan on El Alamein
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 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 Breed unknown
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Species unknown
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Name unknown

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Truman, Margaret (1969). White House Pets OCLC 70279; eBook (2016) ISBN 9781612309392


  1. ^ Washington was an avid dog breeder; he called the breed that he was developing "Virginia Hounds"; which eventually became American Foxhounds[11][12]
  2. ^ Some sources reference the name "Polly"[18]
  3. ^ The East Room was still under repair following the 1814 burning of the White House by the British, and was primarily used for storage. During the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States, Lafayette acquired several tons of gifts (including the alligator) that was stored there.[30][31] much to the consternation of visitors.[32] Possibly sent to France aboard the USS Brandywine
  4. ^ See: Conveying Marquis de Lafayette to France
  5. ^ 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."[38]
  6. ^ Illustration from St. Nicholas (1908); original caption: "With an amused bow, the President escorted the Ambassadress around 'Slippers' and kept on his way toward the East Room."[54]
  7. ^ Checkers died in 1964, before Nixon became president, but had played a major role in his electoral career


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  7. ^ DVM: The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine; Oct2008, Vol. 39 Issue 10, p22-22, 2/3p
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External links[edit]