A Brief History of Presidential Pets

While President Biden’s dogs, Champ and Major, have gained fame as the most recent pets in the White House, did you know that the first presidential pets were believed to have roamed the White House lawn in 1800? John Adams, the first president to live in the White House, had two mixed breed dogs named Juno and Satan. Adams’ tenure in the White House was short-lived (he lost reelection later that year), but many dogs and cats have served as First Pet since. 

While America waits to see if any other animals may move into the White House in the future, let’s take a look at some of the other pets who had a home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: 

  • Rutherford B. Hayes had one of the first cats in the White House, according to the Presidential Pet Museum. In approximately 1878, the Hayes family welcomed a Siamese cat named Siam.
  • John F. Kennedy’s family had a kitten named Tom Kitten, but the president was later diagnosed with allergies. A staff member at the White House assumed ownership and care of Tom Kitten as a result.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson had numerous dogs, including two beagles named Him and Her. Unfortunately, Johnson was photographed holding up Him by his ears in 1964. Following the public outcry, he issued an apology.
  • The Clintons had a famous First Cat, Socks, who was often photographed around the White House. Socks enjoyed a long life, even after the Clinton administration ended, and lived to be 20 years old.
  • George W. Bush and Laura Bush had two Scottish Terriers, named Barney and Miss Beazley, who were regular stars on short videos released by the White House. Click here to see the library of “Barney Cam” features.
  • Following his first election victory in 2008, Barack Obama received Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, as a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy. Sunny, also a Portuguese Water Dog, came along in 2013 and joined the Obama family in the White House.

Pets can be an integral part of our families – even those living in the White House!

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