Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson, who was president of the United States between 1963 and
1969, was a genuine dog lover.
During his time in office he owned Beagles, Collies and a cross breed, and loved to
spend time with the animals whenever he could.
The President already owned two dogs before he was elected, so we can be sure
that the animals weren't just for PR purposes.
Mr. Johnson was a huge fan of Beagles, and brought two with him into the White House. These were called "Him" and "Her" - admittedly these aren't the most imaginative names. "Him" fathered a litter while in the White House, and two of the puppies were kept by the President's daughter. He also owned a collie named Blanco who was originally a gift, but gave him away when he left the White House.
His favorite dog, however, was a mongrel named Yuki. Yuki was originally found by Johnson's daughter Luci in a gas station, and moved in with her for a short time. After visiting the White House, the President fell in love with the dog and eventually convinced his daughter to let him stay. Mr. Johnson and Yuki often "performed" in the Oval Office - they loved to sing and howl together. After he left the White House, Yuki was flown with the president on Air Force One to their new home, and eventually returned to live with Luci after the former president's death.
Unfortunately, President Johnson didn't always treat his dogs with the respect he should. Many people were shocked when the President was photographed lifting one of his beagles by the ears. This wasn't the kind of behavior you'd expect from someone who loves dogs - let alone a man in the public eye - but there isn't a suggestion that Mr. Johnson was ever intentionally cruel to his pets.
It's not clear why President Johnson was such a fan of Beagles, but we can speculate as to why this breed made such good presidential pets. Beagles are generally very relaxed and predictable dogs, and are gentle towards children and guests. They also aren't shy dogs, which is important for an animal that's often going to be near large crowds or unfamiliar people.
Another reason why the President may have chosen Beagles is their intelligence. Despite their hunting instinct, they are generally well behaved and not too difficult to train. The only time the dogs are often disobedient is when caught up in a chase, which was unlikely to be a problem in the White House.
The appearance of a Presidential dog is important. While beagles aren't large dogs, they have a sturdy and confident appearance, which is ideal for any politician's dog. Like many of the Presidents, Mr. Johnson loved spending time on his ranch so Beagles with their natural energy and hunting instinct would have made a great choice. The dogs require a reasonable amount of exercise, so they would have been very happy to accompany the President on his walks.