The Dogs of President Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding owned two dogs while in office. He had a strong relationship with
his dogs and took responsibility for most of their care.

The best known First Dog while Harding was President was Laddie Boy, an Airedale
terrier who was originally from Ohio. He became something of a celebrity while living
in the White House, and was the first Presidential dog to receive regular attention
from the press. He was said to be a highly loyal pet and was much loved by the
President. The dog was considered so important by President Harding that he even
had his own chair for cabinet meetings!

Like most Presidential pets, Laddie Boy was treated like royalty while in the White House. He is the only dog, as far as we know, that was thrown a birthday party - complete with invited guests (mainly neighboring dogs) and a dog biscuit cake! Laddie Boy wasn't just a dog-of-leisure though, he had important work to do. He brought the President his newspaper each day and even retrieved Harding's golf ball after a bad shot.

Mr. Harding also owned a bulldog called Old Boy during his time in office. Old Boy didn't reach the same celebrity level as Laddie Boy, and his time in the White House was short. Old Boy wasn't a healthy dog and died in spite of several weeks of veterinary care.

Harding didn't have the most successful term as President of the United States, but there's no doubt that he loved animals. He was said to be a kind and genuine man, and often treated his dogs like the children he never had. The president adored Laddie Boy so much that he even commissioned 1000 bronze models of the dog after being elected President. These were handed out to those who had supported his campaign.

Warren G. Harding was President during a time when media coverage was far less intense than it is today, so his choice of breed in terms of appearance probably wasn't a major concern. Even so, Airedale terriers and bulldogs are both strong sturdy breeds so would have provided the right impression in photographs.

Airedale terriers were bred as hunting dogs, so need a lot of exercise and often chase animals. Mr. Harding liked spending time outdoors, especially playing golf, so Laddie Boy would have made a good companion. The breed is highly intelligent and self-assured, and can be stubborn during training. With patience, however, the animals can be trained to the level of good behavior expected of a Presidential dog. The Airedale makes a good family pet if raised properly, although this wasn't a concern for the Harding family as they had no children.

Warren G Harding died unexpectedly while in office. Laddie Boy is said to have howled for three solid days before the President's eventual death. A life size sculpture of this loyal and devoted dog is held in the National Museum of American History in Washington DC.