You’ve probably heard of official state flags, state trees, state birds, and a bunch of other things that are officially designated to represent states in the U.S., but you might not be aware that some states also have an official state dog. State legislators can select a dog breed to represent their state for any number of reasons, but Maryland was the first state to choose an official breed in 1964, picking the Chesapeake Bay Retriever because it is thought to have originated in the state when two dogs were shipwrecked there in 1807. Since then, several other states have followed the example and picked state dogs. Below is a list of official state dogs, but if you don’t see your state on the list, don’t worry. Some states are still in the process of choosing an official breed, but even if your state is not, keep reading to find out how you can help your state choose an official state dog.
List Of Official U.S. State Dogs
At the time of writing this article, there are 12 states in the United States that have official state dogs. Some other states are in the process of choosing a state dog, as well. Here are the current state dogs listed in alphabetical order by state.
- Alaska: Alaskan Malamute, designated in 2010
- Georgia: Adoptable Dog, designated in 2016
- Louisiana: Catahoula Leopard Dog, designated in 1979
- Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Retriever, designated in 1964
- Massachusetts: Boston Terrier, designated in 1979
- New Hampshire: Chinook, designated in 2009
- North Carolina: Plott Hound, designated in 1989
- Pennsylvania: Great Dane, designated in 1965
- South Carolina: Boykin Spaniel, designated in 1985
- Texas: Blue Lacy, designated in 2005
- Virginia: American Foxhound, designated in 1966
- Wisconsin: American Water Spaniel, designated in 1985
You Might Have An Official State Dog Soon
If you didn’t see your state on the list above, your state may be in the process of selecting a state dog. Ohio, for example, is considering the Labrador Retriever to represent the state, though PETA is opposed to the bill, claiming that it will increase demand from puppy mills to produce the dog. Instead they propose making the Mutt the official state dog to encourage adoption. Georgia did something similar when they chose the “Adoptable Dog” to represent the state in 2016, and that’s a fine idea, too. PETA’s claim that demand for Labradors would increase seems a bit far-fetched, but there’s nothing wrong with promoting mixed-breed, adoptable dogs either.
Delaware had a state dog, the Golden Retriever, for one year, but the designation expired on August 31, 2017. It was only meant to be a temporary designation, as some state representatives believed that other breeds deserved time in the spotlight, but they haven’t named another breed as official state dog as of the time that this piece was written.
Other states have had state dogs proposed to legislators, but haven’t chosen a breed yet. Oregon, for example, has discussed choosing the Newfoundland, Border Collie, and shelter dogs, though as of now, they haven’t picked an official breed.
If you are interested in why your state doesn’t have an official state dog, or if you’re wondering where your state legislators are in the process of choosing, I encourage you to do your own research and maybe even reach out to your local representative and ask if this is on your state government’s agenda.
How To Get A State Dog If You Don’t Have One
Getting anything done in politics, even something as seemingly inconsequential as choosing a state dog, can be a daunting task. It may surprise you to know, however, that Alaska’s state dog was chosen and pushed through the state Congress by school children.
In 2007, an elementary school teacher in Alaska told her class that North Carolina had a state dog, and one of the kindergarten students wondered why Alaska did not. That question spurred the entire Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage to start a lesson in state government and the democratic process that would last three years.
Kids at the school chose the Alaskan Malamute because it was big like the state and hardworking like the people of Alaska. Some people outside of the school opposed the choice and believed that the common sled dog was more appropriate, and others believed the whole endeavor was a waste of time. But the students worked hard, set up a website, raised funds, talked to legislators and the media, and got sponsors from both political parties. Eventually, a state representative introduced the bill to make it official, but government is slow. The bill sat for a year, and just as it was about to expire, students pleaded for the Senate to vote. Finally, the bill was passed and signed by Governor Sean Parnell in 2010. The kids learned a lot about what it takes to make change in a democracy, and that’s an important lesson for every United States citizen.
So what can you do if you want to have a state dog? Well, as you can tell from the story of the students of Polaris K-12 School, it’s not going to be a quick and easy process, but you can start by getting other locals interested. A petition is a good way to get the attention of local government representatives. You should contact your local officials, local papers and media outlets, and do your best to get the ball rolling. Get to know the state representatives for your district and find out if they are willing to draft and introduce a bill.
Most of all, you need to be passionate enough to keep pushing even though you will see setbacks. You’d be surprised at how many people will disagree with you or try to hold your agenda back, even for something as simple as picking a state dog. Don’t give up. Local representatives depend on your vote, and even getting a few people interested matters. People may tell you that your state government has more important things to do, but do they, though? Do they really?
It may also be beneficial to get your kids interested at school to create a class or school-wide project. Many schools would be interested in the opportunity to teach about democracy, and this is a good way to start that doesn’t have so much to do with choosing political sides. People of any political party love dogs, so it’s also a good lesson in finding common ground. If you decide to push for a state dog, I wish you the best of luck.
Are you happy with your state’s choice for their official state dog breed? Are you interested in pushing for a state dog if you don’t already have one? Let us know in the comments below!