The Dogs of President Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln and his family loved animals, and owned a variety of pets both
before and during the President's time in office.

His best known dog, Fido, never lived in the White House as the President didn't
want to cause the elderly dog undue stress.

The Lincoln family did own a different dog while Mr. Lincoln was in office though.

Lincoln enjoyed looking after Fido, but decided to leave the dog with neighbors in Springfield Illinois. This was mainly because Fido was easily scared by strangers and loud noises, and Lincoln realized the White House wouldn't be an enjoyable environment for him. Lincoln was also concerned that the dog would become stressed on the long train journey to the White House.

There are no records of Fido's breed, although we do know that he had a rough, yellowish coat and floppy ears. Mr. Lincoln is said to have left a large list of instructions with Fido's new household. The new owners weren't allowed to tell Fido off if he trod mud through the house and were forbidden from tying him up in the yard. Mr. Lincoln also instructed his neighbors to let the dog in whenever he scratched at the door, and asked them to promise that the dog would be in the dining room whenever they ate supper! It sounds like the President wanted to make sure Fido would be well cared for in his absence.

Lincoln loved dogs, so it wasn't long before he had another canine companion after moving into the White House. Jip, as the dog was named, was a cross-breed although his parentage isn't known. All we know is that Jip was a "little dog" that Lincoln described as "a cunning fellow." It's clear that the Lincoln family became very attached to Jip, and Mr. Lincoln often had lunch with the dog.

The Lincoln family also owned a number of other pets. These included kittens, goats, several horses and a few peacocks. In fact, Mr. Lincoln was so fond of his pets that he had frequent arguments with his wife about them. She didn't share his affection for animals and couldn't understand why the President doted on them so much.

It's surprising that there are no records of the breeds of either of Lincoln's dogs. This was a time before photography was common and when dogs were bred for a specific purpose and not necessarily as a specific breed. It seems that Lincoln genuinely loved animals, and didn't care about the breed as long as the dog was affectionate and playful. The President appears to have almost treated his dogs as his own children - regularly allowing them to eat at the dinner table and giving Jip free run of the White House.

Mr. Lincoln passed on his affection for animals to his children, even if his wife didn't share the same views. His son Tad, for example, owned a pony and two goats, and is said to have often worried about their welfare when travelling.