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From George Washington’s Foxhounds to Thomas Jefferson’s Briards, purebred pups are as all-American as apple pie.  To celebrate the Fourth of July and the New York City return of Meet the Breeds™ – the world’s largest gathering of dogs and cats – the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) celebrates the dogs owned by our founding fathers.

Meet the Breeds™ — hosted by the AKC and Cat Fanciers’ Association® (CFA) and sponsored by Pet Partners, Inc. will get under way this October 16th and 17th at the Jacob Javits Center.

Founding Fathers Famous Canine Companions

George Washington was not only the father of our nation, but the father of the American Foxhound.  In 1770 Washington imported a number of hounds from England and in 1785, he received a number of French Foxhounds from the Marquis de Lafayette.  These hounds, carefully bred and maintained by Washington, are the founders of today’s American Foxhound.  More than 30 hounds were listed in Washington’s journals including “Drunkard,” “Tipler” and “Tipsy.”

John Adams and wife Abigail also used their sense of humor in the naming of one of their dogs, who they called “Satan.”  While “Satan” more than likely had a lot of unfocused energy, “Juno” (their other dog) captured the heart of Abigail.  In one letter to her granddaughter Abigail wrote of “Juno,” “as if you love me proverbially, you must love my dog.”  However, no such writing exists for the aptly named “Satan.” No records exist identifying either dog’s breed, so it is likely they were mixed breeds.  Today, both could have participated in the AKC Canine Partners program.  Perhaps “Satan” could have turned into an angel if his energy were redirected into one of the companion events such as AKC Rally®, Obedience or Agility open to AKC Canine Partners enrollees.

Benjamin Franklin’s son’s Newfoundland dog made quite an impression on one friend who wrote Franklin saying, “nothing shall tempt me to forget your Newfoundland dog.”  This was during his time in Paris as America’s first ambassador there.  Thomas Jefferson, another founding father, would later replace Franklin.

Thomas Jefferson became interested in Briards while serving as minister to France.  He returned to the United States with a pregnant female named “Buzzy” who whelped two pups while crossing the Atlantic, thus starting his breeding program.  Lafayette also sent Jefferson two Briards to help protect his sheep.  If alive today, Jefferson would have most likely been a proponent of AKC Companion Animal Recovery, (AKC CAR) a not-for-profit 24/7 pet recovery service, for having come out publicly for the enactment of a law “requiring every dog to wear a collar.”  Additionally, Jefferson improved the quality of the Briard, and often left pairs with other landowners, including James Madison who housed two dogs briefly on his Montpelier estate in Virginia before sending them to a friend who lived in Washington, D.C.

While it appears none of the founding fathers owned cats other great leaders throughout American history did welcome furry felines into their homes, among them Abraham Lincoln and the first White House cat, “Tabby,” Theodore Roosevelt’s cats “Tom Quartz” and “Slippers” and John F. Kennedy’s daughter’s cat “Tom Kitten.”

Learn more about all 167 AKC-recognized dog breeds and 41 CFA recognized cat breeds at and at Meet the Breeds™ this October 16 & 17 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Editor’s Note:  Photos of these breeds are available to members of the press upon request.  Please contact