Pets have a long history in the White House

With Presidents Day right around the corner, I thought it might be interesting to go back in history and research the dogs and other pets who shared the lives of our presidents and their families.

According to Claire McLean, founder of the Presidential Pet Museum,, dogs and other pets have been residing with presidents since George Washington.

Here are some of the animals who lived with our presidents:

Washington had horses, French foxhounds, hounds and a parrot belonging to his wife, Martha, living with them at Mount Vernon.

Thomas Jefferson became interested in the briard dog breed while serving as minister of France. He had two of them, one a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette. Jefferson also had a mockingbird.

John Quincy Adams had some unusual pets, including an alligator given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette and silkworms belonging to his wife, Louisa.

James Buchanan had a large Newfoundland dog named Lara.

John Tyler bought his wife an Italian greyhound, and Ulysses S. Grant's son, Jesse, owned a Newfoundland as well.

Rutherford B. Hayes also owned a Newfoundland named Hector, a cocker spaniel, a greyhound and an English mastiff.

Millard Fillmore took the issue of animal rights seriously. He was a founding member and president of the Buffalo chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Abraham Lincoln and his family, shared their lives with a pig, goats, a white rabbit and ponies belonging to Tad and Willie. Lincoln and his family also had several dogs and cats.

Andrew Johnson reportedly left flour out at night for a family of mice playing in his room during the days of impeachment. Rutherford Hays reportedly had the first Siamese kitten to reach America.

According to McLean, several presidents were petless. Chester A. Arthur did not share his home with any pets. McLean suggests, "For fear history would treat him unkindly (the Teapot scandal), his administration destroyed most of his White House history."

Before President Arthur, Millard Fillmore, James Polk and Franklin Pearce were all presidents without pets.

In the 1900s, the numbers of presidential pets increased. Theodore Roosevelt had his horses, a bull terrier, a Chesapeake retriever, a mongrel named Skip, snakes, cats, guinea pigs and a variety of other animals.

Calvin and Grace Coolidge had "a zoo at the White House." They had three collies, an Airedale terrier, Shetland sheepdog, two chow chows, a bulldog, an old English sheepdog, a wire fox terrier, a "police dog," birds, geese, cats, raccoons and animals given to them by dignitaries from other countries.

Herbert Hoover owned two fox terriers, an elkhound, an Irish wolfhound and a German shepherd named King Tut.

Franklin D. Roosevelt owned a Scottish terrier named Fala, a bull mastiff, two Irish setters, a bulldog, an English setter, a Great Dane named President and a German shepherd.

Harry Truman had only one animal, a dog named Feller. However, Margaret Truman had an Irish setter.

The tradition of pets continued in the 1950s and 1960s. Dwight Eisenhower had two Scottish terriers and a Weimaraner.

John Kennedy and his young family filled the White House with numerous pets, including a Welsh terrier, an Irish wolfhound, an English cocker spaniel, a German shepherd, cats, birds, hamsters, a rabbit and ponies, including the famous Macaroni.

Lyndon Johnson owned three beagles named Him, Her and Edgar, as well as a collie.

Richard Nixon owned a cocker spaniel named Checkers, a Yorkshire terrier, a poodle and an Irish setter.

Gerald Ford owned a golden retriever named Liberty.

Ronald Reagan had a bouvier des Flandres with natural ears and a King Charles cavalier spaniel, as well as various dogs and horses at his ranch.

George H.W. Bush owned Millie, the English springer spaniel, who wrote a book.

Bill Clinton had Socks the cat, who infamously did not get along with Buddy, the chocolate Labrador retriever.

George W. Bush shared the White House with Scottish terriers Barney and Miss Beazley, Spot the dog, and India the cat.

Barack Obama reportedly promised his two daughters they would add a dog to their family after the election. They owned Bo, a Portuguese water dog, while they lived in the White House.

Donald Trump, doesn't have a dog in the White House, however, one of his granddaughter has a snow-white dog named Winter, reportedly a mixed breed.

Throughout history our presidents have surrounded themselves with animals, especially dogs.

I can understand. When you're making decisions as the leader of the free world, I'm sure it's comforting to know you can reach down and pet the one being who won't judge you - your dog.

• The Buddy Foundation, 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights, is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with all funds directly assisting its animals. Call (847) 290-5806 or visit

Stella is new to The Buddy Foundation, so not much is known about her likes and dislikes. She is s 10-month-old Boxer mix, who weighs in at 40 pounds. Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation
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