Dogs In The White House: What Makes A Dog Presidential?

(Picture Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Forget elephants and donkeys–the White House has often been the domain of canines.

Nearly every president since Warren Harding has brought a dog to Washington, and over half of all U.S. presidents owned at least one dog during their terms. Makes you wonder how the White House lawn stays so green!

The only exception in recent years is the Trump family. They don’t have a dog or any pets at all. That makes Donald Trump the first president in 150 years who does not have a pet of any sort. Some say that getting a dog would help improve the public’s perception of him, but who knows? Hopefully dogs will return to the White House some day.

In celebration of Presidents Day, here are some facts about the canines who made the White House their home with their Presidential parents and what it takes to be First Dog.

A Few Notable Presidential Dogs

Presidents’ dogs have long been making headlines. Thanks to his famous speech, Richard Nixon’s Cocker Spaniel, Checkers may enjoy the highest name recognition, but other First Dogs—and their owners—have their own claims to fame:

  • Most fertile dog: Gerald Ford’s Golden Retriever, Liberty, gave birth to nine puppies at the White House.
  • Most dogs owned: Calvin Coolidge had at least twelve.
  • Lived in White House during most administrations: Spot, a Springer Spaniel, born during George H. W. Bush’s administration to his dog Millie, later returned to the White House as George W. Bush’s pet.
  • Most embarrassing dogs: It’s a tie between the ones owned by Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Roosevelt’s dog, Pete, managed to rip the pants off the French ambassador while Johnson’s relieved himself in front of the Shah of Iran.
  • Most inexplicable name: George Washington’s Sweet Lips–don’t ask because we don’t have the answers.

For the full list of US Presidents’ dogs and their names, check out our complete guide!

Which Dogs Are White House Material?

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: In this picture released 31 January 2001 by the US White House, Barney(L), a Scottish terrier, and Spot(R), a English Springer Spaniel, play on the south lawn of the White House 23 January 2001. Barney was a gift from Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and current head of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), to US President George W. Bush and his family. Spot is the offspring of Millie, who was former US President George Bush's family dog.

(Picture Credit: PAUL MORSE/AFP/Getty Images)

So what type of dog is best suited for the White House? The DogTime team wanted to find out, so we plugged our criteria into the Dog Breed Match Up tool.

Here are the givens: Any President of the United States needs a dog who is confident, friendly, and calm with people and children of all ages, comfortable in a busy, near frenetic household, and able to adapt easily to change.

And here are the results: Any pup who embodies the qualities of the mellow Basset Hound or super-friendly Golden Retriever would make a superb First Dog. The best fit though, not surprisingly, is a pooch with a Labrador Retriever‘s sunny, anything goes disposition and laid-back attitude.

And getting a Lab, or Lab Mix, isn’t a bad political tactic either. For almost a whopping three decades, the Lab continues to be the country’s most popular dog, according to the American Kennel Club.

Whether purebred or mutt, dogs have been humanizing their presidential owners for ages. No matter who enters the White House next, having a dog will no doubt make him or her seem more like the rest of us.

Or as Harry S. Truman famously said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

Would you like to see a dog in the White House? Which Presidential pooch is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!





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