Saturday, January 23, 2010

famous pit bull owners: the presidential edition

Every pit nutter web site lists President Theodore Roosevelt as a famous pit bull owner. But what do they really know about Pete? His breed has been listed as a boston bull terrier, a bull terrier and a bulldog. Boston bulls were used in the pit in those days. So technically yes, Roosevelt's dog was a pit bull, regardless of which gripping dog he traced his lineage. One thing we know for sure, Pete was a nasty gripper.

Of course, Roosevelt romanticized Sailor Boy and dogs in general, forgetting Pete-variously identified as a bulldog or a bull terrier-who terrorized the White House between 1905 and 1908. He caused an international incident in 1905 when he treed the French ambassador, Jules Jusserand, who had come to play tennis with the president. Many contemporary accounts claim that Pete chewed a hole in the ambassador's pants at a reception, but that was not so. He tore the pants and flesh of a naval clerk, John T. Thomas, on May I I, 1907, just ten days after his return from an eighteen-month exile after the Jusserand affair. At the time, Pete had been assigned to help the police patrol the White House grounds at night-specifically, it was said, to hold at bay the reporters who staked the place out, observing and questioning visitors.

THE PAWPRINTS OF HISTORY by Stanley Coren p 279
Theodore Roosevelt's bull terrier, Pete, had a dominant personality, and if people annoyed him he had no hesitation about responding with his teeth. When he nipped at a naval officer and snapped at some cabinet ministers, Roosevelt waved the incidents off as "the nature of the breed" or "his attitudes toward their political stances." Unfortunately Pete's aggression continued to increase, and one day he chased the French ambassador, Jules Jusserand, down a White House corridor, ultimately catching up with him and then tearing the bottom out of his pants. The press made a large fuss about this, the French government complained, and rather than jeopardize U.S. relations with France, Pete was exiled to the Roosevelt mansion at Sagamore Hill.

next time you run across an online discussion with nutters reciting the list of famous pit bull owners, please link to this blog.


Trigger said...

Excellent job Craven! Keep pushing out the historical ammo! The nutters simply hate their "made up past" being tested and proved absolutely false. Don't forget the critical test run by Animal People that destroys the myth that "Pit bulls used to be the most popular dog in America!"

Anonymous said...

"Nature of the breed" LMAO!

Keep in mind that Dog Fighter and UKC founder Chauncey Bennett didn't dream up the "American" Pit Bull Terrier moniker until about 1908.

Now onto to Petey the poisoned on the set Pit Bull...Meanwhile, Gentle Ben died of old age!

Anonymous said...


But, but, but even President Roosevelt had a pit bull...

Anonymous said...

Churchill, the English bulldog, owned a poodle.

Anonymous said...

Pete was actually a Bull Terrier. His daughter Ethel also had a white Bull Terrier named Mike, who's stay was short because he did not get along with her horse, Fidelity.

President Woodrow Wilson had the next Bull Terrier in the White house, Bruce.

P. said...

I second that good job, Craven. I did know about the one incident but not the others. Let's hear from the nutters that he was only protecting his property.

Felony said...

Makes you wonder about all of those other famous pit bull owners.

CKing said...

Thank you so much for this info! I was looking into the famous pit bull BS, suspecting info like this would turn up, and found your blog. Thanks for doing the hard work. And you bet I will leave links to this page for the nutters!

I thought you might be interested a thread at called "how to split up catastrophic fights" under "breed-specific talk"

Maybe I'm just naive, but this blew me away having grown up in a multi-dog household and not recalling a single serious incident.
They weren't pits, of course, but they were all large dogs.

The level of violence they see as normal and the measures they take to "control" the violence are astounding. They casually wonder if a stun gun is really sufficient, or maybe they DO need the 1,000 dollar taser after all...or maybe just carrying throwing knives will be sufficient.

And they keep saying, not just pit bulls...everyone who has more than one large dog should have a big stick propped up in the corner of every room and outside the house. Huh?

Also, as the gruesome description of an ultimately fatal dog fight unfolds, you are witness to colossally insane priorities - the owner dismisses taking actions that might hurt the attacking dog even though her 2 children are IN THE ROOM with the fighting pit bulls.

The thread has been pinned and marked because of all the REALLY GOOD info.

The scariest thing is that only one of the participants seems to be a young thug. He has the most info on where to get knives and tasers, though.

It is not an exaggeration to say they are insane.

Thanks again for all your work. I see a lot of good info you've compiled here.

wannabedirtnapping said...

pitbull history lesson? all i care about is when they became prevalent(the 70's) and that they now are a ever present threat to my and other peoples pets ,and when they will go away.

Anonymous said...

Craven... perfect name for a coward who collects other cowards and convinces them they are great. It must take a lot of bravery to bleat popular lies to the other sheeple instead of doing actual research. I wouldn't let my dogs bite you for fear cowardice and stupidity wold spread to them as violently as it's spread to your... ten...followers.

Ken Quin said...


scurrilous amateur blogger said...

here is a another link to the presidential pit bull.