Of the 43 men who have served as U.S. presidents, the presidents who had the most dogs were Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president, and John F. Kennedy, our 35th president.
Presidents dogs have been the focus of scandals, political accessories and humanized their powerful owners.
Eleven presidents had animals but not dogs. (Most of these were horses or farm animals; some where a little more exotic. John Q. Adams, our sixth president, kept silkworms; Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, briefly owned two tiger cubs. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, fed the mice he found in his White House bedroom. Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, had a pygmy hippo.)
Teddy Roosevelt’s dogs
Roosevelt had 10 dogs, including a variety of terriers named Blackjack, Gem, Susan, Jack and Kip; Pete, a bull terrier; Rollo the Saint Bernard; and Sailor Boy, a Chesapeake Bay retriever. But he wasn’t a mono-species animal lover. He also had a herd of guinea pigs (including one named Admiral Dewey), a blue macaw, a hyena, a small bear and a one-legged rooster.
The Kennedy family dogs
Although Kennedy led the United States during the Cold War, it wasn’t so frosty as to prevent Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev from giving Caroline Kennedy a puppy named Pushinka. The puppy’s mother was the famous Soviet space mutt, Strelka.
Pushinka was part of quite a Kennedy pack. It included the poodle Gaullie; Welsh terrier Charlie; the Irish cocker spaniel Shannon; the Irish wolf hound and schnauzer mix Wolf; the German Shepherd Clipper.
Pushinka and Charlie added to the mix with their puppies (which President Kennedy called “pupniks”): Butterfly, White Tips, Blackie and Streaker. The Kennedys’ love for animals didn’t end at dogs; they also had a cat, a canary, parakeets, ponies, hamsters and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa, among others.
Warren Harding’s Laddie
The first presidential dog to receive regular media coverage was Warren G. Harding’s dog Laddie Boy. He had his own hand-carved chair to sit in during cabinet meetings. On Laddie’s July 26 birthday, the White House held a party and invited other neighborhood dogs to share a dog biscuit cake. Laddie retrieved Harding’s golf balls.
Reportedly, he howled continuously for three days before Harding died in San Francisco. Newsboys around the country collected pennies to melt down for a sculpture of Laddie Boy to honor Harding. Completed in 1927, it was presented to the Smithsonian Institute where it can be seen today.
Herbert Hoover’s shepherd
Herbert Hoover, our 31st president, got a Belgian shepherd he named King Tut as he campaigned to Depression-weary Americans. Photos of him and King Tut figured prominently in his campaign.
On the other hand, Lyndon Johnson, president number 36, lost points with the American public when he was photographed picking up his two beagles, Him and Her, by their ears. (He had four other dogs.)
George W. Bush’s Scottie
Barney, the Scottie who lived with the 43rd president, George W. Bush, even had his own “Barney cam” for web users around the globe to stay current on his activities.