The Dogs of President Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, who remains one of the United States' most famous Presidents,
was a genuine dog lover, as was his family.

He owned many dogs during his time in office, including bull terriers, retrievers and
mongrels.

Roosevelt loved spending time outside - particularly on hunting trips - and his choice
of breeds reflect this.

Roosevelt was President before the time of the mass media, but this didn't stop his dogs from becoming popular amongst the public. "Teddy" Roosevelt's First Dogs included Manchu the Pekingese (who was actually given to his daughter as a gift from the empress of China) and Rollo the Saint Bernard.

He also owned a Chesapeake Bay Retriever known as Sailor Boy, and a terrier called Jack. Skip was probably his most famous dog, even though his ancestry was uncertain. There are several pictures of Roosevelt and Skip together, and it appears that the President favored this dog over his other pets. The long legged Skip loved to spend time outdoors, especially running with horses, so the dog was a great companion to Roosevelt on his hunting trips.

Although Skip was a mixed breed, he is often listed as a rat terrier - a type that was bred specifically for hunting ability. From photographs, it's clear that Skip was a confident and athletic animal, which would have suited the President's desired image. Pete, a Bull Terrier, was another of the President's favorite dogs.

Unfortunately, he was also highly aggressive! After biting one too many visitors, the dog was eventually sent away to the Roosevelt's second home in Long Island. Bull terriers are known for being very strong and powerful dogs, although are often unfairly classed as an aggressive breed (this isn't the case - the dogs have around 90% pass rate on temperament tests).

Pete didn't help to dispel this misconception though, as he was aggressive towards both humans and other dogs. Roosevelt may have chosen the breed because of its strong and masculine appearance and hunting characteristics. Theodore Roosevelt even had a breed of dog named after him. The breed, which is known as the Teddy Roosevelt terrier, was named in honor of the former President - not because he had anything to do with the dog or because Skip was this breed.

In fact, it appears that the people who named this breed chose to use Roosevelt's name as a ploy to gain credibility. The idea was to imply that the breed descended from Skip, although this has been proven to be false. Aside from dogs, Roosevelt loved to keep exotic and interesting pets; he virtually had his own zoo. His more unusual pets included a badger, rooster, macaw and several guinea pigs. He even owned a hyena and barn owl.

When the President moved into the White House the housekeepers were shocked by the number of pets he brought with him - the famous mansion had never had to cope with so many animals before! Fortunately, the White House had plenty of space for this menagerie.