Joe Biden made the news for multiple reasons this week, including for his love of dogs. The 46th president will be welcoming the first rescue dog into the White House in January.
Major, along with Biden’s other dog Champ, have gained so much attention they even have Twitter users creating accounts dedicated to them.
Property experts have suggested the White House at almost £400,000,000 so the presidential pups will be living in the lap of luxury. They also decided to take a look at the VIP’s (very important pets) of Presidents and Prime Ministers, past and present, from around the world.
US Presidential Pets
Looking back over the past 230 years, the White House could have been mistaken for a zoo. There may have only been 45 presidents but there have been over 340 White House pets recorded.
The Presidents who had the most pets include Calvin Coolidge who set the record with 43. These ranged from a raccoon to lion cubs and even a pygmy hippo named William Johnson Hippopotamus.
Franklin Roosevelt and his family were well-known for their love of pets. They had 31 during their tenure at the White House. Most notable was Fala, Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier who travelled around with him wherever he went. The most bizarre being the laughing hyena he was gifted from Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. They also had snakes, a barn owl and a horned frog.
President Woodrow Wilson had 6 types of pet but one of those ‘6’ included 48 sheep that grazed on the White House lawn.
Other presidential pet facts:
30 out of 45 Presidents have had at least one dog in the White House
Trump and Polk are the only Presidents of the United States recorded to not have owned any pets in the White House
Rutherford B. Hayes was gifted the first ever Siamese cat to enter America
Benjamin Harrison kept two alligators in the White House conservatory
John Quincey Adams’ wife, Louisa Adams, kept silkworms and spun her own silk.
UK Political Pets
It is reported that No.10 Downing Street has had a resident cat since the reign of Henry VIII.
Infact, No.10 Downing Street’s current cat (formally known as the Chief Mouser) is called Larry. He has become something of a social media influencer in recent years with his own Twitter account and occasional TV appearances outside Number 10.
Though Downing Street has had resident cats for much longer, the position of ‘Chief Mouser’ was only created around 1997.
Until recently, Larry wasn’t the UK Government’s only cat. Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat, was adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Although he has since announced his retirement to the countryside.
France’s Presidential Pets
In France, a presidential pooch is not only embraced but expected. Every post-war president has appointed a ‘First Dog’.
The most common choice has been a Labrador, but Charles de Gaulle bucked the trend when he accepted a Corgi as a gift from Queen Elizabeth. France’s current leader Macron and his wife have a black Labrador Retriever-Griffon called Nemo, who found international fame when he interrupted a meeting to urinate on a fireplace.
New Zealand’s Political Pets
Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, had a ginger cat called Paddles. The UK’s Chief Mouser welcomed Paddles to the VIPets club with open paws.
The cat was Polydactyl – meaning it looked like it had thumbs – and joined other important pets on Twitter with her own account. Unfortunately, within just a year of becoming the First Cat, Paddles sadly died following a car accident caused by the Prime Minister’s next door neighbour.
Russian Political Pets
Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, is a huge dog fan. He has had five all together whilst being PM, four of whom are currently still alive; Buffy (2010), Yume (2012), Verni (2017) and Pasha the newest addition (2019).
Konni was Putin’s first dog in office (1999-2014), a black female Labrador. She would often accompany him to meet world leaders, even Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who later revealed she was phobic of dogs.
He is actively involved in the conservation of many endangered Russian dog breeds.
Political Leaders And Their Dogs
Not only have pets been a huge support for government officials around the world, some have even won government seats against human candidates.
In 1922, Fortaleza, Ceará Brazil elected Yo-Yo, the billy-goat, as their city councilor.
In 2014 Idyllwild, California they elected a Golden Retriever named Max II as Mayor for life – you can even request a meeting to see him.
Just two years ago, in 2018, Omena, Michigan elected a cat, called Sweet Tart, to be their mayor.
Further reading on leaders, politics and pet ownership
Animals that have been elected for government positions: