President Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy. Americans criticize Trump’s vacation destinations. They mock the president’s fashion choices. And they also trade jokes about Trump’s diet. (To say nothing of the widespread criticism leveled at his policies and his social media usage.) But one of Trump’s most controversial choices since moving into the White House? Opting not to have a dog to keep him company at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In fact, Trump could be the first president in generations not to have a canine companion while in office. Read on to check out the best reasons why many Americans think Trump should have a dog at the White House.
1. Presidents usually have pets
Being president requires observing a lot of traditions. And while having a pet at the White House isn’t one of the official duties of the job, it’s a tradition nonetheless. The Washington Post reports that if Trump opts not to get a pet at all, he’ll be the first president in 150 years not to have a pet. He’ll also be the first since 1901 to live in the White House without a dog. And Mental Floss reports that only two presidents — Chester A. Arthur and Franklin Pierce — left no record of having pets at all.
2. Presidential dogs charm politicians and diplomats
Over the years, plenty of dogs who lived at the White House have charmed the American public. But some have had a similar effect on domestic politicians and foreign diplomats, too. Mental Floss notes that Warren G. Harding’s Airedale had his own seat at Cabinet meetings. Gerald Ford’s golden retriever could interpret a signal from the president to show affection to guests in the Oval Office when Ford wanted to end a conversation. And The Los Angeles Times reports that Bill Clinton’s dog Buddy “sat in on Oval Office meetings, where Cabinet secretaries vied for his affections and some of the world’s most powerful people threw his tennis ball.”
3. Trump almost got a goldendoodle
Trump almost got a goldendoodle, a mix of a golden retriever and poodle, named Patton. But as The New York Post learned, the plan fell through. Lois Pope, a Palm Beach resident and longtime friend of the president, found the dog for Trump. But she fell in love with the pup, and told Trump that he couldn’t have the dog. That was apparently fine by Trump. Nonetheless, the president came so close to getting a dog that we have to wonder whether he’s thought about bringing another canine to live at the White House.
4. Trump is a dad and has a child who’d probably love a dog
Donald Trump’s older children probably don’t have strong opinions about whether Trump gets a dog. But if his youngest, Barron, is like most American kids, he’d probably think his dad was the best father ever if he brought home a dog. (The 11-year-old reportedly wanted the goldendoodle that Trump almost adopted.) Barron apparently loves living at the White House, but we think that a dog would really seal the deal.
5. Things haven’t ended so well for presidents who didn’t have dogs
Correlation is obviously not causation. But The New York Post points out that things didn’t turn out so well for a few presidents who opted not to have a dog at the White House. President Andrew Johnson “had no furry companions in the West Wing other than a nest of white mice he found in his bedroom. Johnson was impeached in 1868.” Another example? President William McKinley had kittens, roosters, and a parrot, but no dog. And he was assassinated in 1901. Why tempt fate?
6. The Trumps don’t have a history of keeping family pets
The Huffington Post reports that “so far as anyone knows,” the Trump family doesn’t seem to have a history of keeping pets. But now might be as good a time as any to start, especially since the White House employs an entire staff that keeps the premises spotless. There’d probably be no scrubbing out stains or picking up waste for the Trumps themselves. Plus, there’s certainly somebody on staff who could walk the dog and make sure he gets the exercise he needs. As The New York Times reports, “That is why God invented White House ushers, and there are plenty of them.”
7. Trump doesn’t seem too familiar with dogs
Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have ever owned a dog, or even interacted much with one. But it’s never too late to learn something new. The Daily Dot drew some laughs by reporting that “Donald Trump has no idea what dogs are or what they do.” At least based on his prolific tweeting, Trump seems to love comparing people to dogs — but in ways that show he’s not quite sure how dogs really behave. In fact, The Daily Dot thinks it’s “fair to wonder if he’s ever been in the presence of an actual dog before,” a problem Trump could definitely fix by bringing a dog to the White House.
8. A dog could ease awkward conversations in the Oval Office
The Times also reports that dogs famously ease awkward interactions, and having a dog in the Oval Office could “serve as a badly needed emollient for the notoriously blunt President Trump.” For instance, in a hypothetical meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, “Trump could let his hypothetical dog Fido — the same name as Abraham Lincoln’s mixed-breed pet — do the talking. ‘Fido has some serious concerns about your medium-range weaponry,’ I hear Mr. Trump saying.” Having a dog in the room could take some of the pressure off situations created by Trump’s famous bluntness — which The Wall Street Journal reports “unsettles” other world leaders.
9. The Trump family is better known for hunting animals than for keeping them as pets
The New York Times reports that when it comes to animals, the Trump family doesn’t have a great reputation. In fact, the family is known for hunting animals. “Mr. Trump’s two eldest sons have been criticized for a safari they took in Zimbabwe in 2011, when they posed for pictures next to a large water buffalo and other creatures they had shot for sport,” the Times explains. Perhaps bringing a dog into the White House could help Trump repair his reputation with animal welfare activists.
10. The president can have any pets he wants
Many of us have experience living in a house or an apartment where we either weren’t allowed to have pets at all, or were only permitted to keep very specific types of animals on the premises. But the president doesn’t seem to have to abide by any such rules when he moves into the White House. The Huffington Post spoke to Dave Baker, the co-owner of the Presidential Pet Museum, who said that he wasn’t aware of any limits on which animals a president can keep as a pet. Trump may push the limits in a number of different areas, but he won’t have to break any rules if he wants a puppy.
11. Many of America’s favorite presidents had dogs
If Trump is looking to improve his approval ratings, it might not hurt to bring a dog into the White House. Many of America’s favorite presidents — John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Gerald Ford — had canine companions at the White House. The Kennedy White House kept numerous dogs, including a poodle, a Welsh terrier, an Irish cocker spaniel, an Irish wolfhound-schanuzer mix, and a harlequin beauceron. Reagan had pets including a bouvier des Flandres, a cavalier King Charles spaniel, a golden retriever, an Irish setter, a Siberian husky, and a Belgian sheepdog. Clinton famously had a chocolate Lab. And the Ford White House was home to a golden retriever.
12. The most iconic presidents had dogs, too
Some of the most iconic presidents throughout American history have had dogs, too. George Washington loved dogs. America’s first president owned French hounds, greyhounds, Newfoundlands, Briards, and various kinds of spaniels, terriers, and toys. Abraham Lincoln also had several dogs, as did Thomas Jefferson, who loved sheepdogs. Ulysses S. Grant had a Newfoundland. And Theodore Roosevelt had numerous dogs, including a Chesapeake Bay dog, a Saint Bernard, a Manchester terrier, and a rat terrier.
13. Dogs make presidents more likable
Though people argue whether the likability of a president actually matters, everybody wants others to like them. We all know that Trump is no different. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2002 that in Washington, “presidential pets are ultimately presidential props, faithful followers who make even the most hard-boiled politician seem likable. (Which might explain why the White House has been occupied by only 190 children and more than 400 pets.)” Dogs have repeatedly boosted the image of the presidents who owned them.
14. People may trust dog owners more than cat owners
Likability aside, gaining the public’s trust is important for a president, and bringing a dog to the White House may just boost Americans’ willingness to trust Trump. Though the cat versus dog debate is hotly contested, everybody has an opinion. And some people base those opinions on the presumed personalities of dog owners versus those of cat owners. Researchers have posited that dog owners are less neurotic than cat owners, and that dog owners are marginally more extroverted and agreeable than cat owners. So if Trump is choosing between a canine and a feline companion, he may just want to choose the dog.
15. Presidential dogs make headlines
While we’ve all heard the saying that all press is good press, that doesn’t seem to be the case for the Trump administration. But DogTime reports that presidential dogs have a history of making headlines — which could result in some more favorable news cycles for Trump. Gerald Ford’s golden retriever made headlines for giving birth to a litter of nine puppies at the White House. A springer spaniel born during George H.W. Bush’s administration drew attention for returning to the White House with George W. Bush. And on a more embarrassing note, Teddy Roosevelt’s dog ripped the pants off the French ambassador, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s dog relieved himself in front of the Shah of Iran.
16. Dogs are America’s favorite pet
According to statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, more American households own dogs than cats. Of course, you could argue just as vehemently that cats are better than dogs as you could that dogs are better than cats. But when people talk about the stereotypical picture of the American dream, they’re more likely to imagine a golden retriever frolicking behind a picket fence than a cat sulking in the window. Americans love dogs, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt the president of the United States to adopt a dog.
17. America’s favorite dog is a perfect fit for the job
DogTime also investigated what kind of dog would be the best fit for a post at the White House, and determined that the front-runner is the smart but easygoing Labrador retriever. Labs are, in fact, the most popular dogs in the United States. Americans love Labrador retrievers because they’re highly trainable and have adventurous and playful personalities. Trump could instantly endear himself to millions of Lab fans by bringing one into the White House.