13 Famous Presidential Dogs Who Lived in the White House
Our country has a longstanding fascination with presidential dogs. There’s even an entire museum in Williamsburg dedicated to the pets of our former presidents! Pet ownership is something most Americans find relatable, so it’s no wonder we’re all smitten with the dogs who’ve taken up residence in the White House.
Let’s take a closer look at 13 of these famous pooches.
1. President Barrack Obama and Bo
Image by Chuck Kennedy, White House photographer / Public domain
In 2009, former president Barrack Obama made good on his promise to get his daughters, Malia and Sasha, a puppy. Because of Malia’s allergies, the family selected a hypoallergenic Portuguese water dog named Bo. The family’s adoption process was covered extensively by the media, and Bo quickly adapted to celebrity life. In 2013, the family added a second dog of the same breed, named Sunny. It was First Lady Michelle Obama who organized the pair’s hectic schedule, approving appearances and photo shoots.
Image by CDC via Unsplash
2. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Fala
FDR and his Scottish terrier, Fala, were quite the pair. The two traveled together, attended meetings together, and slept together. The President absolutely doted on his adorable pup: Fala (short for “Murray the Outlaw of Fallahill”) was brought a bone every morning, met with dignitaries, and was even dubbed an honorary Army private during WWII!
3. President Lydon B. Johnson and Him & Her
LBJ and his famous pair of sibling beagles, Him and Her, could be frequently spotted roaming the grounds of the White House and attending meetings together.
But Him and Her weren’t the only dogs to grace the Oval Office during Johnson’s term. The President also lived with his beloved Yuki, a mixed-breed who accompanied Johnson everywhere she could. The President also owned two other beagles named Edgar and Freckles as well as a collie named Blanco.
4. President George W. Bush and Barney
Former First Dog Barney Bush became so popular that he was given his own official website. To capture day-to-day footage of Barney’s life for his fans, a camera was tied around the Scottish terrier’s neck. The videos taken with this “Barneycam” were (no surprise) a massive hit.
5. President George Washington and Sweet Lips
Our country’s first president was a serious dog enthusiast—he owned many different breeds, and always kept a group of hunting dogs at his Virginia estate. Washington enjoyed giving his hounds quirky names such as Sweet Lips, Madame Moose, Truelove, Drunkard, and Vulcan. Washington is even credited with contributing to the development of the American foxhound.
6. President Richard Nixon and Checkers
Although Checkers never officially lived in the White House, the cocker spaniel was catapulted to fame after Richard Nixon delivered his famous “Checkers Speech” on September 23, 1952.
When the former president was accused of misusing 18,000 dollars of campaign funds, he appeared on national television to defend himself. The most interesting part of Nixon’s speech (and the bit that resonated with many American viewers) was about his dog, Checkers. The puppy had been given to Nixon’s family by a supporter, and Nixon wanted to make perfectly clear that, regardless of the controversy’s outcome, Checkers would be staying put. I think most of us can understand that level of loyalty.
7. President John F. Kennedy and Pushinka
When John F. Kennedy took up residence in the White House, he brought quite the menagerie with him. And we’re not just talking about dogs! The Kennedys also had birds, hamsters, a cat, a rabbit, and a pony.
During the Cold War, Soviet Union leader Nikita Krushchev gifted Kennedy with Pushinka—a mixed-breed whose Russian name translates to “Fluffy.” Pushinka’s mother, Strelka, was one of the first dogs to make it home alive after being shot into space. According to History.com, Americans interpreted this gift as a reminder that the Soviet Union was still leading the Space Race. Unsurprisingly, Pushinka had to be inspected by the Secret Service for electronic bugs before she could move into the White House.
Pushinka struck up a romance with the Kennedy’s Welsh Terrier, Charlie, and had a litter of puppies that the president cleverly referred to as “Pupniks.”
8. President Theodore Roosevelt and Pete
Unlike the other charming canine companions on this list, Teddy Roosevelt’s dog, Pete, was quite the hassle. The Boston bull terrier didn’t always make the best first impression. In fact, he bit several of the president’s guests, including several naval officers, cabinet members, and two police officers.
One time, Pete took things a little too far and made headlines after taking a bite at French Ambassador Jules Jusserand, who ripped his pants in the ensuing scuffle. The French government issued a formal complant about the incident, and truthfully—we can’t say we blame them.
9. President Warren G. Harding and Laddie Boy
Image via National Photo Company / Public domain
Harding’s Airdale terrier was no stranger to the spotlight. Laddie Boy was regularly covered by the press, who published playful interviews and photographs of the dog in newspapers. Harding was so fond of his pup that he hosted festive birthday parties for him, complete with elaborate dog biscuit birthday cakes.
10. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Heidi
While rarely photographed, Eisenhower’s Weimeramer, Heidi, was said to be sweetly affectionate and friendly. The dog was the best of both worlds: she played gently with the Eisenhower children, but she also made an effective guard dog.
Despite her sweetness and good intentions, Heidi was the ONLY dog to be banned from the White House. Her crime? Having an accident on a 20,000 dollar rug. Yikes!
11. President Herbert Hoover and King Tut
Image by Herbert E. French / Public domain
The Hoovers were big dog lovers, but Herbert was particularly fond of the family’s Belgian Shepherd, King Tut. To soften his stiff and unapproachable public image, Hoover strategically orchestrated a photo op with King Tut. The snapshot was widely circulated across America, rebranding Hoover as a friendly “dog person.”
12. President George H.W. Bush and Millie
Once called “the most famous dog in White House history,” Bush’s beloved English springer spaniel, Millie, had a way with words. In 1990, she “penned” Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush. The book was a hit and ended up selling more copies than the President’s autobiograpy. Not bad for a dog.
13. President Ronald Reagan and Rex
Of all the pets owned by the Reagans, it was the family’s Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Rex, who stole their hearts. According to reporters at the time, Rex appeared to have a sixth sense—whenever the dog approached the allegedly haunted Lincoln Bedroom, he would bark relentlessly, refusing to step foot inside.
If we’ve learned one thing from these canine profiles, it’s that dog love is universal—even when your job is running an entire country. Our nation’s leaders prove once and for all that dogs really are man’s best friend.