President John Tyler and His Dog Le Beau

John Tyler was President of the United States between 1841 and 1845.

His time as President was blighted by opposition from both of the main political
parties, but this didn't stop him from enjoying the company of animals while living in
the White House.

John Tyler and his family appeared to have only a single dog while in office, but the
President also owned a canary and a horse called "The General."

Like many US Presidents, it appears that Mr. Tyler was a genuine animal lover. John Tyler's dog was an Italian greyhound named Le Beau. The dog was actually a gift to his wife, Julia, from a government official in Naples, and was immediately sent back to the White House. There aren't many records of Le Beau or the dog's personality, but we can guess what type of dog she was from the breed's typical characteristics.

Italian greyhounds are the smallest type of sight hound, and are officially classed as toy dogs. This is partly misleading though, as the toy classification is based on weight and not physical size - Italian Greyhounds are thin and slender. IGs, as the dogs are often known, are an ancient breed that date back to Turkey and Greece around 2000 years ago. It wasn't until the 16th century that IGs became popular in Italy, which is where it received its modern name.

Le Beau was probably one of the smallest dogs to live at the White House, as the breed usually only weighs around 10 pounds. The coat of the IG is relatively short, with the advantage that it doesn't shed or require much grooming. Today, a slender and somewhat fragile looking dog like Le Beau may not be considered suitable for a Presidential pet. The dogs are hardy for their size, but can be easily injured by overly playful children or even excessive exercise due to their thin bone structure. Despite their small size, IGs like Le Beau need a lot of care and attention.

The dogs aren't easy to train, and need regular exercise in order to remain happy and well behaved. Italian greyhounds don't cope well with the cold because of their short coat, so it's likely that Le Beau would have spent much of her time inside the White House during the winter months. The breed is often described as "dogs of leisure," so the life of a Presidential pet would have suited Le Beau very well!

As you'd expect from a greyhound breed, IGs favorite past time is running (followed closely by lazing in the sun to warm up their short coated body). The breed has a strong prey instinct, which means that Le Beau is likely to have spent a lot of time chasing squirrels and rabbits in the grounds of the White House. The Italian Greyhound generally makes a very loyal and well behaved companion, and becomes highly attached to their owners. They usually aren't aggressive to strangers, which is an important characteristic for any Presidential dog.