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19 Famous Dogs: presidents + world leaders

World leaders throughout history have always kept pets, but dogs have always held a very special place in their hearts. Whether these leaders belonged to the monarchy, a world-changing political movement, or even an evil regime, their dogs were beloved members of their families who were well-cared for in life, and for the most part, venerated in death. Below are the brief histories of nine world leaders from around the world and their pets. Let’s take a look at some of those famous dogs.

famous dogs presidents world leaders

It’s all about the First Fidos! Owning a dog is something that is as American as eating apple pie, and the pet-keeping habits of our American Presidents are direct indications of that. Not only were our forefathers like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington dog owners, but they also were breeders. Through the years many Presidents have owned a variety of animals from goats, donkeys, roosters, cows, horses, and even an alligator – yes I said an alligator.

World Leaders and Presidents famous dogs:

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottie, Fala, USA

franklin d roosevelt scottish terrier fala famous dogs

Although nearly every US President has owned dogs, probably the most controversial of these would be FDR’s Scottish Terrier, Fala, who was reportedly, as cited by the Presidential Pet Museum, named Big Boy for a brief time before being renamed in shorthand for one of FDR’s distant ancestors of Scottish ancestry. The controversy arose when Roosevelt mistakenly left his precious pet behind in the Aleutian Islands and used government resources to retrieve Fala. This wasn’t a good play for FDR as he was running for re-election at the time, and his frivolous use of tax dollars had angered voters. Luckily, Fala was recovered, and FDR still won the election, which was purportedly due to his novelty-laden speech explaining away the use of government resources for such a silly task.

2. Prince Alexei Romanov’s Spaniel, Joy, Russia

joy crown prince alexei spaniel famous dogs

One of the truest facts about dogs above all else is that they are man’s best friend, and Prince Alexei Romanov’s Spaniel, Joy, was no exception. Prince Alexei was a hemophiliac and unfortunately was unable to run around with friends or be outside due to the degree and nature of his illness. However, he was able to keep furry companions within the walls of his palace and their safe-houses. Joy was quite possibly, the only survivor of the Romanov family’s tragic execution, which ended the rule of the monarchy in Russia. According to Kate Baklitskaya of the Siberian Times, “They soon found the animal – ‘half-starved’ – running around the yard. He was seen as “the sole survivor of the Imperial Family.” Joy is seen in several portraits and prints of the Romanov family and dozens of photos of Prince Alexei as well.

3. Adolph Hitler’s German Shepherd, Blondi, Germany

famous dogs adolf hitler german shepherd blondi

However evil, Adolf Hitler was still a dog-lover, and his dog Blondi was his most prized companion and a magnificent German Shepherd. In 1941, Hitler received Blondi from a friend as a gift, and the two were found to be inseparable since then until Hitler’s death in 1945. Blondi was a purebred German Shepherd, as mentioned above, and a loyal friend to Hitler in his last days in the Fuhrerbunker before his eventual suicide. Blondi was given a companion of her own in Hitler’s other German Shepherd Bella, but Eva Braun, Hitler’s partner was very unenthusiastic about the two larger animals and did not treat them in a kind manner as she did her own tow smaller Yorkies. Blondi was often seen laying at Hitler’s feet as he listened to music in the study of his chancellery in Berlin, and rarely left his side. Sadly, he took Blondi with him when he committed suicide at the fall of Berlin; her puppies destroyed.

4. Portuguese Water Dog named Bo – President Barack Obama

portuguese water dog bo barack obama

Bo was a gift to the Obama’s from the late Senator Ted Kennedy. He has no other critters at the White House to compete with. This rare breed of dog is hypoallergenic and are always dressed in formal wear that is party appropriate. Bo has crashed Univision TV shoots on the lawn of the White House and he also enjoys blogging and making appearances as the Easter Bunny.

5. Queen Victoria’s Collie, Noble, United Kingdom

famous dogs border collie

Queen Victoria ruled the United Kingdom from 1837 to 1876 and was very avidly interested in dogs much like the rest of the British Royals. Her most dear companion was her Collie, Noble, who was one of three dogs she was inseparable with. It is widely known that Queen Victoria kept a Border Collie named Sharp prior to her time with Noble, and after Noble’s death took a very keen liking to another Border Collie named Roy. The queen was always very interested in her animals, but more so after the death of her husband, Prince Albert, as Christopher of the website Border Wars reveals: “her favorite dogs, her constant companions from the death of Prince Albert in 1861 to the Queen’s own death in January of 1901.”. She loved Noble so much that upon his death, he was buried at Balmoral and given a headstone inscribed with a message left in tribute to his companionship with this famous monarch.

6. Dowager Empress Cixi’s Shih-Tzus, China

famous dogs shih tzu

Dowager Empress Cixi ruled China during the Manchu Dynasty. Empress Cixi was directly involved in the breeding, raising, and handling of her dogs; she even was said to have carried her favorite Shih Tzu in her sleeve. Dowager Empress Cixi had an affinity for her Shih Tzu’s and took great pride in attending to them much like modern-day pet-lovers. Karen Christensen asserts the well-documented fact that those who were discovered to be in possession of a Shih Tzu outside of royalty “[were] sentenced to death.”, which defined this ‘lion-head’ breed of dog to be an exclusive and very prized animal for the royals in Manchu Dynasty China, and Dowager Empress Cixi in particular.

7. George Washington’s Hounds, USA

group of puppies

The most infamous of world leaders in the western world and of the 18th century, George Washington was also highly involved in his pets. Being as farmer for a time before his service as President during one of the most pivotal political eras in US history, it was very fitting for him to have and rear many a pet, including horses, hounds, and even a parrot. In fact, it was known that George Washington kept at least seventeen hounds; five of which were French. There was, for a time, speculation that Washington owned so many hounds due to his taking part in slavery, but they could also have been used a great deal for hunting for sustenance as well as patrolling his tobacco fields. Washington was very close to his animals and had personally named at least twelve of these hounds.

8. Nelson Mandela’s Rhodesian Ridgeback, South Africa

rhodesian ridgeback in grass

Nelson Mandela, who is probably the most widely known leader of modern times, and his family with his first wife had a joyous relationship with a Rhodesian Ridgeback for quite some time before being arrested and thrown in jail from 1962-1990. The Rhodesian Ridgeback, as Dawn Gable of the Havana Times notes, is “distinguishable by a strip of hair down its spine that grows in the opposite direction as the rest of its coat”. This breed is a hybrid breed of an African hunting dog and an extinct variety of Cuban hound, making it a very sought after breed of dog that has been featured many a time by the American Kennel Club.

9. The Ancient Mayan and Aztec Techichi, Mexico

chihuahua closeup

Although the Techichi only exists today as its descendant, the chihuahua, it is still considered a popular pet among many world leaders due to their size and cute-factor, but Mayan and Aztec leaders of the 4th and 5th centuries felt that the Techichi was a prized pet that, as VIP Chihuahua mentions, “remains of the small dogs were found in graves in both Mexico and the United States”, which further confirms the idea that the Techichi was revered and religiously and personally significant to its owners during this period in time. Thei are so small you can easily fit them in your purse.

10. Airdale Terrier aptly named Laddie Boy – owned by President Warrant G. Harding

close up airedale terrier

Laddie Boy gave President Harding the recognition of being the first White House dog to hit celebrity status. This famed pooch received regular press in newspapers across the country. Now, the fact that Laddie Boy attended cabinet meetings regularly in a chair that was custom made and held “faux” conferences for the press probably had a lot to do with it. No one probably remembers him much today, however, this loveable canine outlived Harding by six years. After Harding died in 1923 while still serving in office, a statue in a life-sized version of Laddie Boy was erected.

11. White Collie named Rob Roy – owned by President Calvin Coolidge

border collie sniffing

President Calvin Coolidge and his wife First Lady Grace Coolidge were avid animal lovers, especially dogs. They owned many of them. None stood out as much as Rob Roy their White Collie. This dog is immortalized in a portrait of Lady Grace Coolidge that is hanging in the China Room of the White House. In his autobiography, President Coolidge wrote about the dog and was quoted as saying the pet possessed great fidelity and courage and was a stately companion.

12. Weimaraner named Heidi – owned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

weimaraner in field

When it comes to breeds of dog, todays modern President plays it safe. They tend to opt for a pet that is sturdy but reliable, dignified and not at all yappy. Hounds, Terriers, Spaniels, and the occasional Collie have filled the halls of the Oval Office at one time or another. And then there was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who stepped outside the box and went with a Wiemaraner whom he named Heidi. This beautiful dog handled many important projects such as chasing squirrels on the White House Lawn or inspecting underneath the bushes to see what was there. She was known for being well-behaved and beautiful, although on occasion she would display a bit of stubbornness, but would show an immediate apology for it. Here days at the White House were few because the breed tends to suffer from separation anxiety and she couldn’t help but potty on the floors. After a time she was sent off to the President’s Gettysburg Farm to live out her days.

13. Beagles named Him and Her – owned by President Lyndon B. Johnson

beagle puppies

President Lyndon B. Johnson and the First Lady Ladybird Johnson were known by some to be the greatest dog lovers ever in the Oval Office. President Johnson himself owned a variety of dogs during his six-year term. Of these included Blanco, a White Collie, Edgar a Beagle, and Yuki a Mutt actually found by his daughter. None were so famed as the pair of Beagles known as Him and Her. They were the most photographed of all of the canines owned by LBJ. In a public speech, LBJ was photographed lifting the Beagle Him by his ears. Of course this photo landed on the front page of newspapers far and wide and many activist and animal lovers reprimanded the President for his actions. Unfortunately these lovable dogs did not live long and happy lives. Him was hit by a car while he was chasing a squirrel and Her died after she swallowed a rock.

14. Cocker Spaniel named Checkers – owned by President Richard Nixon

cocker spaniel sitting

As far a four-legged companions go, the black and white Cocker Spaniel owned by President Richard Nixon became famous in his game-changing speech commonly referred to as the “Checkers Speech” that was made when he was the Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate. Now the pooch did pass away before Nixon actually became President so he wasn’t actually a “first dog” but he is the one most remembered.

15. King Charles Spaniel Rex and a Bouvier des Flandres Lucky – President Ronald Reagan

king charles spaniel

During the 1981 to 1989 Presidential term, Ronald Reagan owned two canine companions. A Bouvier des Flandres called Lucky who gained public notoriety for dragging her master through the White House Lawn in front of Margaret Thatcher! It was determined that Lucky was too high spirited and she went to live out her years at the Reagans vacation ranch located just outside of Santa Barbara. Her replacement was a King Charles Spaniel known as Rex. As the official First Dog, Rex had many responsibilities including lighting the National Christmas Tree and enjoying his lavish dog house. He is also well-known for refusing to enter Lincoln’s supposedly haunted bedroom and for undergoing a brave tonsillectomy.

16. Springer Spaniel named Millie – owned by President George H. W. Bush

spinger spaniel

The 43rd President’s pooch has bragging rights! Millie is the first and only pooch who made the leap into literature in the book “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush” According to the Cartoon Character Garfield in a 1990 New York Times Review said the dog was a miracle given that it was written by a dog. This lovable pet died in 1997 from pneumonia.

17. Chocolate Lab named Buddy – owned by President Bill Clinton

chocolate labrador

Many former Presidents have been touted as being genuine dog and animal lovers, however, it is rumored that the same wasn’t exactly true for President Clinton. According to the rumor mill, Buddy the lovable Chocolate Lab owned by the former President was merely a prop for PR to alleviate some of the negative press surrounding the public scandal with Monica Lewinsky. It is said that Buddy actually lived in the White House Basement and was only taken out for photo opportunities that showed the former President in a more favorable light. Buddy was hit by a car in 2002 after chasing Clinton’s cat Socks.

18. Scottish Terrier named Barney – owned by President George W. Bush

famous dogs scottish terrier

Barney was a wartime dog in the White House. He was the second Scottish Terrier to sit, fetch, and roll over. The nip-prone Barney established quite a sizeable fan base of his own while he was at the White House. He was the star in a series of propaganda films released during the Bush presidency.

19. Marie Antoinette and Her Papillon, Coco, France

famous dogs papillon

Marie Antoinette was hugely enthusiastic about keeping dogs during her reign and had done so prior to becoming the Queen of France. Although a vast number of royals have owned Papillons, Marie Antoinette was especially enamored with her choice companion, Coco, who has been featured in many royal portraits that depict the French aristocrat. She sent her precious Papillon pup to live with the governess of her children who kept the pet safe during the entirety of the French Revolution and Napoleonic era before it died, which shows that Coco lived to be well over 20 years old. Matthew Fraser notes that Marie Antoinette’s Coco “lies in the sumptuous gardens of the Hôtel de Seignelay.”. The historically renowned Coco’s grave is considered a historical marker that perfectly illustrated that her faithful companion was well-loved in death. Papillons are the smartest small dogs.

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