Famous Dogs of Politicians

The dog has long been man’s best friend, and some of those men (and women) have made their mark on history due to their political accomplishments. As far back as Alexander the Great, even military leaders rode into battle with their faithful dogs by their sides.

The vast majority of American presidents have had dogs in the White House. Prior to the 20th century and the advent of the automobile, dogs were just as popular pets as horses were. As newspapers, motion pictures, television, and now social media increasingly focused on the human interest aspects of the presidency, several “First Dogs” have become beloved icons.

US Politicians

Laddie Boy, Warren Harding’s Airedale Terrier, accompanied his master nearly everywhere, including Cabinet meetings. Fala, a Scottish Terrier, was the inadvertent cause of mudslinging during one of Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection campaigns, due to rumors that the president used government funds to retrieve him. Likewise, Lyndon Johnson was criticized for holding up his Beagles, Him and Her, by their ears. (We can’t forget Checkers, who belonged to Richard Nixon’s family while he served as vice president under Dwight Eisenhower, and Seamus, candidate Mitt Romney’s Irish Setter, who was said to ride in a crate atop the family’s station wagon.)

Millie, George H.W. Bush’s Springer Spaniel, not only saw her “memoirs” top the New York Times best-seller list, but one of her puppies grew up to be Spot Fetcher, who accompanied Barney and Miss Beazley, both Scottish Terriers, during George W. Bush’s administration. While the Bushes are not the only father-son combo who served as president, Millie and Spot are the only documented mother and daughter to occupy the White House in separate terms. Between those was Buddy, a Chocolate Labrador Retriever, who arrived during Bill Clinton’s second term, under ongoing protest from Socks, the family cat. Through January 2017, we have Bo and Sunny, Portuguese Water Dogs chosen for their hypoallergenic qualities, due to Malia Obama’s allergies.

Foreign Leaders

Across the pond, Queen Elizabeth II has owned Pembroke Welsh Corgis since she was a little girl, when her father George VI was king. Even Konni, a black Labrador Retriever, accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin to various functions. In 2015, the King of Thailand had to say goodbye to his mutt Tongdaeng, adopted as a stray, in stark comparison to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, who supposedly owns dozens of pedigreed dogs.

Yet, even at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s Nikita Krushchev gave John Kennedy’s daughter Caroline a puppy named Pushinka, whose mother was a Soviet space dog. It just goes to show that while we may disagree with an individual’s ideology, voting record, or policies, at least we can all agree on one thing: dogs are wonderful.

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  • Updated: 9/27/2017: 12:38:36 PM ET