Famous Presidential Dogs

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Some of the most famous residents of the White House have been the president's dogs. According to the Presidential Pet Museum, there have consistently been dogs in the White House from its current canine residents, Sunny and Bo Obama, dating all the way back to 1901. President William McKinley stopped the trend with a double-yellow-headed parrot, Angora kitten, and roosters–but no dogs! Here's an overview of some interesting presidential pups that lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Barack Obama

Bo, a Portuguese Water dog, helped President Obama keep a promise to his daughters Malia and Sasha. While still a candidate for the presidency, he promised that they could get a dog after the election–regardless of the results. Bo was a gift from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009, and the breed was selected specifically to help accommodate Malia's allergies. Next came another Portuguese Water dog named Sunny that was adopted in 2013. According to PBS, both pups have very active schedules filled with photo shoots, and Bo's job with the grounds crew. In the same article, Michelle Obama says, "Everybody wants to see them and take pictures. I get a memo at the beginning of the month with a request for their schedules, and I have to approve their appearances."

South side of the president's White House in Washington D.C.

President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush had two Scottish Terriers (Miss Beazley and Barney) and Spot, an English springer spaniel. Spot was the offspring of the elder President Bush's famous dog Millie. Barney was ever-so-popular, as he had an official website that featured "Barneycam" videos that were filmed from a camera hung around his neck. Some videos are available for viewing on the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum website or Barney's personal White House website.

President George H.W. Bush

Millie, one of the most famous presidential dogs, was an English springer spaniel. She reached the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list in 1992 for her memoir, Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush. It also spent 23 weeks on Publishers Weekly's hardcover bestseller list. The book gave a first-pup's view into White House life, covering President Bush's terms in office. The "author's" proceeds benefited the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Millie's only male puppy from her White House litter became a beloved family pet as well.

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Yuki, a mixed-breed dog well-known for her singing, was loved deeply by President Johnson. In fact, it's tough to find another presidential pup that was so well-loved. They'd swim together, sleep together, and they even danced together at his daughter Lynda's wedding. The First Lady needed to convince President Johnson that the dog did not need to be in the wedding pictures. There were five other dogs that served their time in the White House while President Johnson was in office: four beagles (Him, Her, Edgar, and Freckles) and Blanco, a collie that often scuffled with two of the beagles.

President John F. Kennedy

Gaullie, a French poodle, was originally the First Lady's dog that accompanied her to the White House. The president's dogs included Charlie, a Welsh terrier; Wolf, an Irish wolfhound; and Clipper, a German shepherd. Pushinka and Shannon the cocker spaniel were other pets added to Kennedy's herd. The two were bestowed as gifts from the leaders of the Soviet Union and Ireland, respectively.

A canine romance budded between Pushinka and Charlie that ended with a litter of puppies. The furry bundles of joy named Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie, and Streaker lived at the White House for two months, notes the Kennedy Presidential Library.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

President Roosevelt loved dogs, and had seven of them, which included some of his children's pets, but none more than his famous Scottish Terrier puppy, Fala. Originally named after a Scottish ancestor, Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, Fala traveled extensively with the president, who personally fed his best furry friend dinner every night. Fala was so popular a series of cartoons were drawn of him, and MGM made two films about him. When FDR died, Fala walked beside his remains in the funeral. He is also the only dog immortalized in a presidential memorial.

While this extensive list of First Family dogs may make you think that dogs are the presidential preferred animal companion, you should know the White House pups were often one of many pets. President Theodore Roosevelt, for example, had six dogs, in addition to a zoo of other animals. He had 22 species of pets, including a lion, a hyena, and a badger! So, as the next presidential election comes to a head be on the lookout for the next First Pet. While history dictates that it will likely be a dog, you never know–we might see our first presidential panda!

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform–and even transform–its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.


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