Dogs of the White House

The Eight Most Memorable Presidential Pets

By Erik Ryken

dogs of the white house

Who are the dogs who have trotted through the White House? What First Companions have watched Presidents make history from the fluffy carpets of the oval office?


Thanks to the scholar of presidential pets, these questions are now answered. Very conveniently, there is an aptly named website as well as a book devoted to documenting the pets of every president: The Presidential Pet Museum and First Pet by Claire McLean.

Remarkably, every presidential household since Benjamin Harrison, whose term lasted from 1889-1893, has had at least one dog. Like any home or office worth visiting, the White House has welcomed plenty of dogs and other animals to roam as pets. It’s surprising how TV fiction hasn’t added any dogs to the casts of shows like Designated Survivor, Scandal, and House of Cards to make them more realistic!

Even more curiously, it appears one of the candidates this year may not even have a pet, prompting the question: if you can’t take care of a pet, how can you take care of a country??? Jokes aside, a Trump victory would mean a pet-less White House for the first time in over a century, while a Clinton win would see a couple of canines taking residence. Ah, the suspense.

Let’s have a look at some of the First Pets who’ve sat and stayed in the White House…

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Photo: Presidential Pets Museum

1. Laddie Boy – Dog of Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)

Nothing says presidential like an official portrait, and here’s old Laddie Boy looking proud of his sitting. This well mannered Airedale terrier was commemorated as a life-size statue presented to the Smithsonian Institution in 1927. It was made from 19,134 pennies which were donated by newspaper delivery boys, who shared Harding’s first job.


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Photo: Presidential Pets Museum

2. Prudence Prim –  Dog of Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

One of the most ridiculous collections of animals in the White House was that of Grace and Calvin Coolidge. They had plenty of dogs and birds, two raccoons, cats, a donkey, and even a bobcat. Perhaps the fanciest member of this zoo was the fashion-conscious collie, Prudence Prim, a white collie. Just look at this bonnet!

President Roosevelt with His Dog Fala (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

President Roosevelt with His Dog Fala (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

3.  Fala – Dog of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) 

The trend of high profile publicity being devoted to dogs of the White House really took off with FDR’s Scottish terrier, Fala (short for Murray the Outlaw of Fallahill). Reading any biography on Roosevelt will likely yield some tidbits on this First Dog, who was frequently in the press accompanying the president on trips and official meetings.


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Photo: Presidential Pets

4. Wolf –  Dog of John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) 

Unfortunately, less is written on Wolf, the Irish wolfhound gifted to the Kennedy family by an Irish priest. Wolf was one of several gifts the family received while in the White house, but was said to have not fared well with the other dogs, so he had to move to another family.

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Photo: Presidential Pets

5. Yuki – Dog of Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969)

Deeply adored by President Johnson was Yuki, a mixed breed dog named after the Japanese word for snow. This spoiled critter was constantly cuddled by Johnson, rarely leaving his side.

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Photo: Presidential Pets

6. Checkers – Dog of Richard Nixon (1969-1974) 

Presidential Pets calls Checkers the Cocker Spaniel “The Best-Known Presidential Dog to Never Have Lived in the White House.” Due to controversy surrounding misuse of campaign contribution funds while Nixon was Eisenhower’s vice-presidential nominee. Nixon stated on television that the puppy would be one campaign gift that he would not give up.

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Photo: Presidential Pets

7. Grits  – Dog of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

Beloved Grits brought cheer to the Carter family, and had that lovable family dog look that anyone could admire. Perhaps one of the smiliest of all White House pets was this sweet Border Collie.

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Photo: Presidential Pets

8. Bo – Dog of Barack Obama (2009-2016)

Who wouldn’t love Bo, the Obamas’ Portuguese Water Dog? Formerly known as New Hope, the daughters renamed the dog after receiving him as a gift following Barack’s election win. Ever since, Bo, and sibling Sunny, have remained staples in family portraits.

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Photo: Presidential Pets

Bonus: Socks – Cat of Hillary & Bill Clinton

Because we love cats too, and this one was such a famous critter, we’ve included Socks the cat here for good measure. Rescued by Chelsea Clinton, this stray was an important member of the family until his passing in 2009. Socks’s list of 90s popular culture appearances gave the cat more fame than any other feline who lived in the White House.