First Dog? Presidential Dogs in the White House

Calvin Coolige with his Dog and Wife outside the White House

Dogs have been staples in the White House since our first president George Washington.

With such a high stress job it’s no surprise really. A furry friend is after all the best remedy for pretty much anything you can imagine.

Feeling blue? Furry friend saves the day.

Feeling under the weather? Furry friend saves the day.

Think you might have broken a bone? Go to the doctor (duh..)! Then when you get home have your furry friend sign your cast.

Anyways, in honor of our nation’s first dogs (and their presidential families, too) here’s the scoop on dogs in the White House throughout the years.

The First

Like any good story, this one has a beginning. George Washington was sort of like the crazy-cat-lady of presidents (except with dogs, and not a lady). He didn’t have any children of his own, but he raised furbabies by the dozen.

According to Our White House, as a passionate breeder of hunting hounds, Washington was trying to breed a superior dog with speed, sense, and brains. He is credited for creating the American Foxhound by crossing his black and tan Coonhounds with French Hounds.

A photo posted by Sam & Tori (@letushaveadog) on

Among his pack of over 20 dogs, the most commonly depicted in photos alongside him were Sweet Lips, Tipsy, Tipler, Cloe, Searcher and Drunkard.

Paving The Way For Pooches

Everywhere The White House had seen quite the collection of presidential pooches by the time 29th President Warren Harding took office.

However, Harding’s beloved Airedale, Laddie Boy, was the first pup to reach true celebrity status.

A photo posted by Sam & Tori (@letushaveadog) on

America Comes Alive describes the two as inseparable. Laddie Boy even had his own chair to sit in on cabinet meetings. Harding would also pen letters to the press, writing as Laddie Boy and sharing his canine opinions on various political topics).

The press had a field day with the fun nature of Laddie Boy’s persona, holding mock interviews and never missing an opportunity to print a photo of the pup.

After Harding’s death, pennies were donated from newsboys across the nation (Harding started out as a newsboy) to be melted down and formed into a Laddie Boy statue.

Fala Fame

Fala, whose full name was Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, was the Scottish Terrier of 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). Fala is most known for his part in a speech given by FDR that would later become referred to as “the Fala Speech.”

A photo posted by Libby 🌻 (@sunnylibs) on

The Presidential Pet Museum explains that this all started with a rumor that Fala was accidentally left behind while with FDR on a trip to the Aleutian Islands (14 large volcanic islands in the Bering Sea).

During his presidential campaign, the Republican party accused FDR of spending millions of dollars in taxpayer’s money to retrieve Fala.

Roosevelt responded with a speech in which he defended his pupster and went on to say that he expected the negativity towards himself, but that Fala wouldn’t be as forgiving.

Pushinka the Russian Spy

The youngest and arguably most popular president, John F. Kennedy had a household of both human and fur babies when his family was gifted a dog from Russian Premier, Nikita Khrushchev.

There were some concerns, according to America Comes Alive that the fluffy Pushinka (its name literally translates to fluffy in Russian) was actually a spy.

While that might sound a little crazy, Russia doesn’t exactly have a track record of playing nice. Plus, this was around the time of the Cold War.

Needless to say, poor little Pushinka was quite thoroughly examined before getting the “ok” to stay on at the White House.

There was also some controversy surrounding the fact that Pushinka was not a purebred pooch. Some took Fluffy’s status as an insult to the president.

However, in all actuality, Pushinka’s lineage was much more important than just a breed title.

This fluffy white dog was the offspring of Strelka, the first canine to be sent into space by the Russians in 1960.

More Canine Controversy

Thirty-sixth president Lyndon Johnson had four Beagles, a Collie, and a mixed breed pup during his time at the White House.

However, the most memorable of these pets are the Beagle duo Him and Her.

Unfortunately, they are memorable for a kind of sad reason. Johnson was photographed lifting Him up by his ears.

Outraged? Me too.

So were a lot of animal lovers across the nation.

Dogtime reveals that when the controversy was brought to his attention, Johnson shrugged it off claiming that it was good for the dog and that’s how Beagles are supposed to be handled.

The Bush Legacy

George W. Bush wasn’t the only second-generation Bush to make it to the White House.

English Springer Spaniel, Spot (I actually did try saying this five times, fast…didn’t make it past one) was the beloved pet of George W. and the daughter of George H.W. Bush’s Springer Spaniel, Millie.

This made Spot the only second-generation pet in White House history according to The Presidential Pet Museum.

A photo posted by Sam & Tori (@letushaveadog) on


Of course an article about first pups wouldn’t be complete without mention of the current title holders. President Barack Obama welcomed Portuguese Water Dog Bo to their pack in 2009 after months of debate on which breed would be right for them.

First daughter, Malia, suffers from allergies, so this hypoallergenic breed was the perfect match.

A photo posted by Sam & Tori (@letushaveadog) on

Bo is a well known and loved pupster and often accompanies first lady Michelle Obama to events such as children’s book readings.

The family enjoyed Bo’s company so much, they brought in their second Portuguese Water Dog, Sunny, in 2013. Sunny’s disposition is said to match her name perfectly.

Bonus Fact: President Adams had a pet alligator.

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