Given that Franklin D. Roosevelt was president for 12 years and had a large family, the FDR White House years were filled with many animals.
In addition to the president and first lady’s own pets, the mansion was often the temporary home for the pets of the couple’s grown children.
For example, Franklin Jr. left his Great Dane, named President, at the White House during the holiday season of 1937.
The huge dog’s visit prompted First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to write in her journal:
“I find that grandparents are very useful, not only to take over children when their parents feel the need of a change, but to give a home to the dogs which may be temporarily homeless.”
Great Dane Adds “Homelike Touch” During Royal Visit
The dog made another appearance at the White House for the historic visit of the King and Queen of England in 1939.
With Europe on the brink of World War II, King George VI accepted FDR’s invitation for a visit to the United States. It was the first time a reigning British monarch had set foot on American soil, so the visit signified a new era in American and British relations. The First Family was anxious that everything go well — and by all accounts, it did.
On June 9, 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote: “I have just made the rounds of every room in the White House with Mrs. Nesbitt, the housekeeper. We even inspected the third floor, which, this time, instead of housing grandchildren, will have our royal visitors’ personal servants…. I have no babies to worry about!”
She did have one very large dog to worry about, however. “Franklin Jr. brought his Great Dane to stay [for a while] … which will add a homelike touch to the South Lawn.”
Unlike a few of his White House canine counterparts who bit visitors on occasion, President the dog acted with appropriate behavior and wagged his tail vigorously at the visiting monarchs.
Did Any Other Great Danes Live at the White House?
As far as we know, this was the one and only Great Dane associated with a U.S. president to live at the White House.