Dogs Return to the White House, But Have Canines Ever Officially Been Elected to Office?

Have Any Dogs Actually Been Elected to Official Posts in the United States?

With the presidential election decided there's been a lot of talk about dogs returning to the White House (and, no, we're not referring to the Democrats).  That's called doggy humor, people!

pets in the white house

Of course, we're talking about Biden's German Shepherds, Major and Champ.  The last President to have a dog at the White House was Barack Obama.  In fact, did you know that 31 of 46 presidents have had at least one dog in the West Wing.  But we digress.

To get to the point, the idea of non-human electoral candidates, as well as successful animal candidature, is not new.  Several countries political systems allow it, or rather, don’t specifically disallow it. 

And, if it can be done … we all know that it probably will be.  Whether as a form of protest, to satirize the political process, to raise funds for good causes, or simply for entertainment value. 

And indeed it has.  From goats to donkeys.

For the purposes of this article, however, our interest is in whether any dogs have actually been elected to an official office in the United States.

    Now, if you follow the press, you might think the answer to this question is (oddly) 'yes'.  There have certainly been a number of headlines, at both national and local level, indicating our canine friends have, in fact, been elected to office.

    And, let's face it, it makes for a good story.  Not unpredictably, some commentators have been less than complete in their coverage.  Leaving the reader to wonder whether or not the post our canine friends were elected to actually holds any 'real' powers.

    So, here's a run down of dogs that have been elected to 'office' during our great nation's history.  And, importantly, whether or not the post was simply ceremonial.

    #1 In 1981, a black Labrador-Rottweiler mix named Bosco was elected mayor of Sunol, California (Ceremonial) 

    • Sunol is an unincorporated community of about 1,000 residents (at that time) where the title of "mayor" is merely symbolic.  Officially run as part of Alameda County.
    • Boss "Bosco" Ramos defeated two humans to win the race, running as a re-pup-lican.
    • During his tenure the Chinese newspaper 'People's Daily' inaccurately published a story on the election, calling it a failure of democracy.  (Looks like the Chinese were fooled by our press coverage, too.)
    white house dogs

    #2 Every Mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky has been a dog (Ceremonial) 

    • Rabbit Hash is an unincorporated community along the Ohio River with roughly 500 residents.  Officially run as part of Boone County.
    • It costs US$1 to cast a vote, with funds going toward town improvements and other good causes.  People can vote as many times as they want, and from anywhere in the world.
    • There have been five canine chiefs in total, starting in 1998.  With the latest mayor a French bulldog named Wilbur Beast, elected in 2020. 
    • Wilbur follows in the pawprints of Brynneth Pawltro (Brynn), a rescue pitbull mix.  He beat a cat and a donkey for his win.
    • Lucy Lou was the first female mayor for Rabbit Hash, running with the catchy campaign slogan: "the bitch you can count on."   
    • She stepped down after eight years ... to run for president in 2016.  A short-lived aspiration.  While the constitution doesn't specifically ban dogs from running, candidates must be at least 35 years old.

    #3 Frida, a female Chihuahua, was mayor of San Francisco for a day in 2014 (Ceremonial) 

    • Courtesy of her owner placing the highest bid at a charity gala.
    #4 In 2012, a Golden Retriever named Max was elected as mayor for life in the town of Idyllwild, California (Ceremonial) 
    • Idyllwild is an unincorporated town, officially run by Riverside County.
    • Max (full name: Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II) succeeds his relative Max I in office.
    • Funds collected from the election go to a local animal rescue non-profit.
    animals in office

    #5 In August 2014, Duke, a Great Pyrenees, was elected as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota (Ceremonial) 

    • Duke has been re-elected three times.
    • Voters pay US$1 to cast their ballots, enabling funding of projects in the township.
    #6 Pa Kettle, a Bloodhound, was elected mayor of Divide, Colorado, in 2014 (Ceremonial) 
    • He beat out other dogs, a donkey, a wolf, a hedgehog, and a cat to clinch the race.
    • Voters pay US$1 to cast their ballots, with proceeds going to a local shelter.
    • He was succeeded by a wolf.  The current mayor is Piper, a Swiss mountain dog.

    #7 Parker the Snow Dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog, was elected as honorary mayor of Georgetown, Colorado in 2019 (Ceremonial) 

    • Parker was already an icon in Colorado, as the Loveland Ski Area’s mascot, before being elected as honorary Mayor.
    • He counts members of the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies among his friends.

    #8 Gus Hall was elected as Canine Mayor of Coronado, California in 2018 (Ceremonial)

    • Voters pay US$1 to register their vote, with the funds going to a local pet medical needs fund.

    #9 Murfee, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, was elected mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont in 2020 (Ceremonial)

    • His predecessor was a goat named Lincoln
    • He beat out 19 other animals on the ballot, including a horse.
    first dog white house

    By our count that's 14 dogs who've had the chops to get elected (total of 5 for Rabbit Hash and 2 for Idyllwild).

    So, what does this tell us?  Well, for a start, it's clear that our four-legged friends are no strangers to elected office.   Nor to having a dedicated team of humans to do their bidding, and implement their policies!  Such as those which formed Bosco's platform in California: "a bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner".

    However, none of the posts held have been official.  That is, none have commanded any of the powers needed to govern their cities.  So, it would seem, at least for the time being, that our great country has not yet gone to the dogs.

    We hope you had fun reading the article.  Do let us know if we've missed anyone out.

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