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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Can You Match the U.S. President with His Dog?

Pop quiz! It’s time to put your presidential (and pup) knowledge to the test.

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dogs white houseCorbis/Getty Images

A long history of lucky dogs

We’ll give you one hint right off the bat: None of the dogs featured here are matched to President Trump. He is the only president who hasn’t welcomed a dog (or any pet) to live at the White House since President Harry Truman. If you can really even count Truman, that is. He was given an adorable Cocker Spaniel puppy by a woman from his home state of Missouri, but he didn’t want it and eventually gave “Feller” away. According to Steve Coren, author of Why We Love Dogs The Way We Do, Truman told the press, “I didn’t ask for him, and I don’t need him.” But hey, we don’t want to start this quiz on a sour note. Let’s have some fun and see if you can match these adorable White House dogs to their presidential parents. And once you’ve tallied your results, try answering these U.S. presidential trivia questions everyone gets wrong.

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spot dog Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis/Getty Images


This English Springer Spaniel was born at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day, but that wouldn’t be her home…not for another 12 years. Her mom, Millie, was also a resident of the White House, but she lived with a different president. Springer Spaniels are known for their bird-hunting skills, which Spot practiced on the White House grounds. When she wasn’t chasing birds, she was often in the Oval Office during briefings and other important meetings, and the president once quipped, “Spot understands the decorum of the Oval Office, so she gets to go in.” This pup also loved to fly, and she regularly accompanied her president on Air Force One to Camp David and to the family ranch in Texas for vacation.

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president bush and spot the dogAlex Wong/Getty Images

President George W. Bush

If you guessed Dubya, you guessed correctly! Spot’s full name, according to the Presidential Pet Museum, was Spot Fetcher, “a nod to Texas Rangers shortstop Scott Fletcher, who played for the Rangers when Bush owned the team.” Of course, Spot isn’t the most creative dog name out there, and President Bush once joked, “People often ask me how I came up with that name. I don’t know; I’m just a creative kind of guy.”

Of course, it wasn’t all belly rubs and presidential treats when Spot was at the White House. During Bush’s first term, the nation faced a monumental crisis: the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Domestic security and the threat of terrorism became the chief focus of the administration, which declared a global “war on terrorism.” Here are 12 facts about the White House you missed in history class.

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bo and sunnyPete Souza/White House/Getty Images

Bo and Sunny

This president kept a promise he made to his daughters that win or lose, once the election was over, they would get a dog. He won the election, and the new First Family welcomed Bo, a male Portuguese Water Dog to the White House. He witnessed his president be named Time‘s Person of the Year (twice) and receive the Nobel Peace Prize. (And no, he didn’t eat his dad’s birth certificate.) Sunny, a female Portuguese Water Dog, joined the family four years later.

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obama family dogsPete Souza/The White House/Getty Images

President Barack Obama

This one should have been easy since this dynamic duo called the White House their home not all that long ago. Bo and Sunny were hugely popular during President Obama’s tenure. In fact, First Lady Michelle Obama told PBS that she received so many requests for pictures and appearances of them, she got a monthly memo to approve them all. We’re glad that pet appearances don’t make the list of things presidents aren’t allowed to do while in office.

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laddie boyLibrary of Congress/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Laddie Boy

This president won the election by the greatest popular vote margin of the time, but he didn’t accomplish much in his presidency. Yet Laddie Boy, an Airdale Terrier, was a media darling. Laddie Boy was 6 months old when he arrived at the White House, a day after the inauguration. Almost daily, the Washington Star and the New York Times featured Laddie Boy, a good distraction from the scandals that marred his pet parent’s administration.

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president harding and florence harding and laddie boy dogFPG/Keystone View Company/Archive Photos/Getty Images

President Warren G. Harding

If Instagram were around back in the 1920s, Laddie Boy—and President Harding—would’ve been splashed all over it. As it was, according to Smithsonian Magazine, he was “the White House’s first celebrity dog.” One Smithsonian Institute historian explained, “That dog got a huge amount of attention in the press. There have been famous dogs since, but never anything like this.” It was hard for Laddie Boy not to photobomb President Harding and his wife, Florence because they took him everywhere—the golf course, cabinet meetings, and fundraising events.

Unfortunately, Laddie Boy’s popularity only went so far. Harding appointed a mix of prominent leaders and shady politicians, and what followed was a series of scandals and corruption that cast a dark shadow over his third year in office. Harding eventually went to Alaska in 1923 to escape the conflicts in Washington but died before he returned to the White House. Check out these surprising legacies left behind by U.S. presidents.

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socks the cat and buddy the dogSmith Collection/Gado/Getty Images


Buddy, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, was a gift to this president during his second term. He loved the spotlight but didn’t want to share it with his cat sibling, Socks, whom he often pestered. Thankfully, things were more peaceful outside the animal kingdom at the White House (for a while, anyway). In fact, while Buddy resided in D.C, the United States enjoyed more peace and economic well-being than at any other time in its history, courtesy of this president. Buddy was no stranger to the Oval Office, and he also often took walks with his president on the White House grounds and traveled to Camp David with him.

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bill clinton and buddy the dogSmith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

President Bill Clinton

Did you get this one right? Buddy was President Clinton’s beloved pet. According to, while the two of them were in office, the country experienced the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest homeownership in the country’s history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls. Clinton proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. No matter how well the country is doing during a president’s tenure, it’s stressful to be a world leader, whether or not you’ve got a furry BFF. Take a look at these dramatic before-and-after photos of how presidents have aged in office.

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beagles white house dogs Bettmann/Getty Images

Him and Her

These two Beagles didn’t end up in the White House after an election but after a national tragedy. They arrived shortly after the inauguration, during the first cabinet meeting. Their pet parent often invited the press to go on walks with Him and Her on the grounds at the White House. They also rode along in the president’s car, watched astronauts orbit the moon, swam in the White House pool, and attended a formal tea party, where Him peed on a chair. Maybe he was protesting the bacon-free scones!

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LBJ president dogsBettmann/Getty Images

President Lyndon B. Johnson

That national tragedy we referred to, of course, was John F. Kennedy’s assassination, after which Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th president of the United States. Despite their slightly eyebrow-raising names, Him and Her were treated very well, according to a 1964 Life article, and they watched President Johnson further his vision of “A Great Society” for America—a tall order that included things such as ending poverty, crime prevention, ensuring minorities’ right to vote, Medicare, and education. Unfortunately, Him and Her did not live long doggy lives. Her died after swallowing a stone in 1964, and Him was hit by a car in 1966 while chasing a squirrel. Cars aren’t the only things to worry about when your pet is outside. These are the 10 shockingly common dog dangers in your own backyard.

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dogsBrooks Kraft LLC/Corbis/Getty Images

Barney and Miss Beazley

These Scottish Terriers were gifts from this president to his wife. Barney was given shortly after the first presidential win, while Miss Beazley arrived for the First Lady’s birthday a few years later. When Barney joined the family, he had some built-in playmates: an older doggy sister, as well as two human sisters who happened to be twins. Barney was also by the family’s side as the country dealt with an unprecedented tragedy on American soil and plunged into years-long conflict.

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president bush dogsBrooks Kraft LLC/Corbis/Getty Images

President George W. Bush

Did we trick you with this one? These two cuties also belonged to the 43rd president: Barney joined sibling Spot in 2000. (Unfortunately, Spot never got to meet Miss Beazley.) Barney loved all kinds of balls, but even though his cute short legs could never spike it, his favorite was a volleyball. According to the George W. Bush Presidential Center website, Barney guarded the South Lawn entrance of the White House as if he were a Secret Service agent. Miss Beazley didn’t get as much attention as Barney, but she didn’t hold a grudge. She was content with her role as guardian for the family’s cats, Bob and Bernadette. Of course, you know Bush’s distinctive middle name, but can you guess the middle name of every U.S. president?

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fala dog Bettmann/Getty Images


At first, this Scottish Terrier was named Big Boy, but his president renamed him “Murray the Outlaw of Falahill” after a Scottish ancestor. (His nickname became Fala). He was this president’s constant companion and often rode in the president’s car, which had special hand controls because of his paralysis from polio. It was a pretty sweet deal for Fala, and there was definitely some sort of theme going on, since the United States also got a great New Deal from this president.

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FDR dog Bettmann/Getty Images

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yep, Fala’s dad was FDR, who enacted the New Deal and spent a whopping four terms in office from 1933 until his death in 1945. While Fala missed the worst of the Great Depression and the country’s recovery since he didn’t arrive in the White House until 1940, he did witness the start of World War II. Despite all of the stress in his presidential life, FDR was a doting pet parent. Every morning, a bone for Fala was brought up on the President’s breakfast tray, and Fala got a full dinner every night. He was almost always with FDR, even on his travels, and he often showed off his famous trick of curling his lip into a smile, according to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Presidents might be given the White House and a salary, but these are the things they have to pay for on their own.

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gerald ford dogCorbis/Getty Images


Liberty and this president hit it off right away. And this pet parent was known to get on all fours in the Oval Office to play with this fun-loving Golden Retriever. He also often took Liberty on walks instead of a dog handler, who’s usually the one to care for the dogs who call the White House home. While in the White House with this president, Liberty saw Apollo XI astronauts land on the moon—and also made a little history of her own by having a litter of puppies.

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gerald ford dog Bettmann/Getty Images

President Gerald Ford

Meet Liberty’s dad: President Gerald Ford! He holds the distinction of being the only person to serve as both president and vice president of the United States without being elected to either office. However, he almost didn’t get Liberty as a pet, according to the Presidential Pet Museum. Gerald and Betty’s daughter, Susan, enlisted family friend and White House photographer David Hume Kennerly to get a pup from a breeder, but he was tight-lipped about details with the breeder for obvious reasons. When the breeder wouldn’t release the puppy without more information about the home she would be going to, Kennerly had to spill the beans. Looking to expand your own family? Try one of these 18 best dog breeds for kids.

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nixons dogsBettmann/Getty Images

King Timahoe, Pasha, and Vicky

It might have been a little crowded, but this trio were all happy to have free rein of the White House and its grounds. This is King Timahoe, an Irish Setter; Pasha, a Yorkshire Terrier; and Vicky, a French Poodle. They certainly lived the life and even had a heated enclosure and dog run, but things got tricky for their presidential parent, who ended up leaving the office a bit earlier than he expected…and not under the best of circumstances.

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nixons dogsPictorial Parade/Getty Images

President Richard Nixon

Tricky Dick made some great choices when choosing his dogs, but he certainly could have made some better ones while he was in office. Granted, during his presidency, the EPA was established, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and the Apollo XI astronauts landed on the moon. But, of course, during his second term, he resigned in the midst of the Watergate scandal. Perhaps Vicky sensed her owner’s unrest, and she curled up on an ottoman next to him the night before he left the White House. Of course, Nixon resigned before he could actually be impeached, but in case you’re wondering about the process, check out these 13 things people often get wrong about impeachment.

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JFK dogBettmann/Getty Images


This Welsh Terrier was just one of this president’s menagerie of pets. The presidential family brought hamsters, birds, cats, and dogs to live with them at the White House. Charlie, who would often swim laps in the pool with this president, was known to be protective of his human, growling when any other dog came near him. Maybe he just sensed the tension of the world around him, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the tragedy that was to soon hit the family and the nation.

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JFK and dog charlieBettmann/Getty Images

President John F. Kennedy

The pet lover you should have matched Charlie to was JFK! We’ll forgive you if you got this one wrong—after all, in addition to that assortment of pets, JFK had a total of nine dogs during the three short years he was in the White House. But, according to the Presidential Pet Museum, he had a special bond with Charlie, and he and Jackie would often take Charlie and another dog of Jackie’s choosing (usually Clipper) out for nighttime walks, with the Secret Service trailing behind. Interesting fact: Kennedy apparently asked to see Charlie before making a decision on the Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK wasn’t the only president to pets other than dogs in the White House. From a billy goat to an alligator, these are the most famous first pets to live in the White House.

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rex reagan the dog Bettmann/Getty Images


Rex, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, arrived at the White House during Christmas, in a decade when bigger was definitely considered better. One of his first official duties was to flip the switch to light the National Christmas tree. Like his mom, Rex was a bit of a fashionista and sported stylish doggy coats. He didn’t, however, share a love for jelly beans like his dad did.

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reagan dog jean-Louis Atlan/Sygma/Getty Images

President Ronald Reagan

Did the jelly bean clue give it away? Ronald Reagan—jelly bean lover, former actor, and the 40th president—was Rex’s pet parent. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are devoted lapdogs, yet once Rex was on his leash, it was his turn to lead. He loved to pull President Reagan, though some reporters thought this was a built-in excuse to avoid pesky questions about the nation’s looming recession. Many presidents had little-known talents. Can you guess what Reagan’s was?

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.