Presidential Pups Throughout U.S. History

Presidential Pups Throughout U.S. History

Sharing your life with a furry friend has been a cherished American tradition for centuries. Whether the White House homed hunting hounds or petite lap dogs, canines have shared a special place in the hearts of U.S. presidents. Nearly all 46 U.S. presidents have had a fuzzy companion to take charge of the Executive Branch with. Let’s take a look at some of the pups that captured the hearts of the different Commander in Chiefs throughout history.

Sweet Lips & Drunkard – George Washington

Washington was known for his fascination and appreciation for hunting dogs and even helped develop the American Foxhound. Washington wanted the superior dog for fox hunting, so he cross-bred black & tan Coonhounds with French Hounds to create American Foxhounds. Sweet Lips and Drunkard were just two of nearly FIFTY pups that Washington fathered throughout his lifetime. Even though the first president of the United States had many pets, he was known to be a great owner. Washington frequently visited the kennels and spent quality time with each of his furry friends outside of hunting.

Fido – Abraham Lincoln

Have you ever wondered why we call our furry family members Fido? The name, meaning “to trust,” was popularized by Abraham Lincoln’s pup! Before Lincoln’s presidency, the two spent time on walks and running errands together. Once Lincoln took office, Fido struggled to adapt to a presidential lifestyle, so Lincoln chose to rehome Fido to better suit his needs.

Lincoln rehomed Fido with the Roll family, and even though Lincoln would no longer be taking care of Fido day-to-day, he made sure to send a list of instructions for the Rolls to consider when taking care of Fido.

  • Fido was never to be tied up outdoors alone.
  • Never to be scolded for coming into the house with muddy paws.
  • Allowed to come indoors whenever he scratched at the door.
  • Allowed to wander freely about the table as the family dined.
Presidential Pups Throughout U.S. History

The Rolls faithfully followed Lincoln’s requests, and Fido remained happily with them for the rest of his life. Shockingly, Fido met a similar fate to his presidential counterpart. After playfully putting his dirty paws on a drunk man, Fido was shot and murdered! R.I.P. Fido!

Pete – Theodore Roosevelt

During Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, the White House could have been better referred to as the Washington D.C. Zoo. The Roosevelts homed kangaroos, rats, snakes, dogs, birds, ponies, and other small animals at the President’s palace. Teddy’s most infamous pet was his Bull Terrier, Pete. Pete was a bit of a troublemaker and could have benefited from some proper training. He was known for biting the ankles of house guests and White House staff, but despite his unpopularity, Pete was frequently pardoned. Eventually, Pete’s mischievous personality got him sent away, but he ultimately made his way back to the Roosevelt family home.

Pushinka – John F. Kennedy

JFK welcomed many dogs to the White House throughout his presidency. The Kennedy family included a Welsh Terrier named Charlie, an Irish Wolfhound named Wolf, a German Shepard named Clipper, an English Cocker Spaniel named Shannon, a Standard Poodle named Gaullie, and even a gift from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Pushinka, which means “fluffy” in Russian.

Presidential Pups Throughout U.S. History

Pushinka was the daughter of the first surviving pup in space, Strelka. (Justice for Laika). At first, the family and White House staff were worried the seemingly furry friend was really a Soviet spy. However, that conspiracy was quickly put to rest, and Pushinka won the Kennedy’s hearts.

Checkers – Richard Nixon

The Nixons had three dogs during their time in the White House: King Timahoe, Pasha, and Vicki. These pups were often featured in Christmas portraits that became more popular over time! However, the most famous furry Nixon did not live in the White House at all. Checkers, a black and white Cocker Spaniel, was the family’s beloved pet during Nixon’s vice presidency and even caused some controversy!

Presidential Pups Throughout U.S. History

In 1952, Nixon went under fire for allegations of improper campaign funding. In a speech that became known as the Checkers Speech, Nixon denied the allegations with one exception: his beloved puppy Checkers. Live to the American people, Nixon explained that his family was gifted the canine as a political gift, and he couldn’t stomach returning the furry family member. Richard Nixon salvaged his vice presidential nomination with this speech and later became the 37th president!

Millie – George H.W. Bush

The Bush family had extremely successful pups. Millie “wrote” her own book titled “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush,” a New York Times Best Seller. The book detailed Millie’s day in the life as a presidential pup. The American people adored Millie, and the book earned nearly $900,000 in royalties, which were ALL donated to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Millie also gave birth to many pups, including Spot, who stayed in the White House with George W. Bush during his presidency!

Bo & Sunny – Barack Obama

When Obama first ran for President, he promised his daughters that they could add a furry friend to the family if he won the presidency. Shortly after his 2008 victory, the family welcomed a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo to the White House. Bo quickly became so popular with the American public that the White House featured Bo as a plush in the online gift shop! Bo frequently traveled with Obama on many occasions and met various world leaders.

A few years later, it was announced that a second Portuguese Water Dog named Sunny was also welcomed into the family. The two pups were often seen at the White House playing on the front lawn or visiting guests. The two were so famous that they were nearly dognapped, but the Secret Service was able to arrest the suspect before they found themselves in harm’s way!

Champ, Major, & Commander- Joe Biden

The Bidens love their pups and have always had a special place for them throughout Joe Biden’s political career. After the 2008 election, the family got Champ, a German shepherd. He stayed with the family throughout Obama’s presidency but unfortunately passed away in 2021.

Champ’s furry sibling, also a German Shepard named Major, joined the family in 2018. Major was the first rescue dog to take residency in the White House! This playful doggie struggled to acclimate to the White House without Champ and, with professional recommendations, was rehomed to a family friend. Now, the Bidens just have one pup living in the White House with them. Commander, a purebred German Shepard, who was gifted to Joe Biden on his 79th birthday.

Despite political views, nearly every President of the United States can agree on one thing: dogs really are man’s best friend! Click here for more photos and information about each presidential pup!