What Makes A Dog Presidential?

Forget elephants and donkeys — the candidate with an eye on the White House would do well to focus on canines.


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.) Barack Obama has Sunny and Bo but the Trumps don’t have a dog or any pets at all making 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.

All the presidents’ dogs

Presidential 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 claim 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 12.
  • Lived in White House during most administrations: Spot, a Springer Spaniel, born during George H. W. Bush’s administration to his dog Millie, Spot 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 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).

White House material

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 MatchUp tool.

Here are the givens: The 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 the umpteenth year running (17 to be precise) he 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 centuries; 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.”




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