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Do You Know Your State Dog?

Only 11 states have a state dog -- can you name yours? Or would you like to pick one if the position isn't already filled?

Caroline Coile  |  Apr 13th 2016


Does your state have a state dog? Only a handful do. Let’s see if you can match the state:

  1. Alaska
  2. Louisiana
  3. Maryland
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Hampshire
  6. North Carolina
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. South Carolina
  9. Texas
  10. Virginia
  11. Wisconsin

To the dog:

  1. Boykin Spaniel
  2. Chinook
  3. Great Dane
  4. Boston Terrier
  5. American Foxhound
  6. Catahoula Leopard Dog
  7. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  8. Blue Lacey
  9. Alaskan Malamute
  10. Plott
  11. American Water Spaniel

Here are the answers, along with date of adoption for each state dog:

1. Alaska: Alaskan Malamute (2010)

The Malamute was first described as living with native Inuit people known as the Mahlemuts on Alaska’s northwest coast. They were an essential member of these people’s tribes and way of life.

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Alaskan Malamute by Shutterstock.

2. Louisiana: Catahoula Leopard Dog (1979)

The first settlers of Northern Louisiana were overrun with wild hogs, but found the Native American dogs of the region were the best way to catch and control them. The breed gets its name from the Catahoula Lake of the region.

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Catahoula Leopard Dog by Shutterstock.

3. Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Retriever (1964)

The Chessie descends from two dogs rescued from a sinking ship off the coast of Maryland in 1807. They and their descendents proved themselves to be talented duck retrievers in the rough icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Shutterstock.

4. Massachusetts: Boston Terrier (1979)

Around 1865, coachmen of wealthy Bostonians crossed their employers’ English Terrier and Bulldog, creating the foundation of the breed that very quickly became popular in Boston and eventually took their city’s name.

5. New Hampshire: Chinook (2009)

Admiral Perry brought his prized sled dogs to New Hampshire for retirement, where Arthur Walden crossed a Mastiff-type farm dog to one. One of the offspring, named Chinook, became a famed lead dog, and his offspring were all named Chinook after him. Chinook and 14 offspring were part of Admiral Byrd’s 1929 Antarctic expedition.

6. North Carolina: Plott (1989)

In 1750, teenager Joahnnes Plott brought five German hunting hounds with him from Germany and settled in the Great Smokey Mountains. These dogs formed the basis of a popular trailing hound, who could even hold a bear at bay.

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Plott by Shutterstock.

7. Pennsylvania: Great Dane (1965)

The Great Dane didn’t originate in Pennsylvania, but the state’s founder, William Penn, owned at least one, and the breed was popular as a hunter and guardian in the Pennsylvania frontier. Plus the resolution sums it up, regardless of history: “… WHEREAS, the physical and other attributes of the Great Dane, to wit: size, strength, beauty, intelligence, tolerance, courage, faithfulness, trustworthiness and stability exemplify those of Pennsylvania …”

8. South Carolina: Boykin Spaniel (1985)

The Boykin’s foundation was a dog found in Spartanburg around 1905. That dog’s descendents proved adept at flushing and retrieving birds along South Carolina’s Wateree River.

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Boykin Spaniel by Shutterstock.

9. Texas: Blue Lacy (1985)

In 1858, four Lacey brothers brought their dog with them from Kentucky to Texas. They developed a line of dogs for controlling free-range hogs in the Texas Hill country. The dogs became an integral part of working ranches as cattle herders.

10. Virginia: American Foxhound (1966)

No less than George Washington is credited with developing this breed, which comes from crosses of English and French Foxhounds. Foxhound pedigrees have been recorded in Virginia since 1850.

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American Foxhounds by Shutterstock.

11. Wisconsin: American Water Spaniel (1985)

The American Water Spaniel, originally called the American Brown Spaniel, originated in the Midwest as working hunters and retrievers. Nobody knows their origin but some credit it partly to Native Americans who lived along the Great Lakes.

What about the rest of the states?

That’s only 11 of 50 states, though. While it’s true not every state can boast its own canine creation, every state can boast a dog who was critical to its settlement, history, or economy.

Who doesn’t think of Toto the Cairn Terrier when they recall famous dogs of Kansas? The Cairn was proposed as the Kansas state dog in 2012, but PETA has fought it. Really? That’s what PETA is spending its energy on?

Just last year, two states received proposals for state dogs: Maine for the Labrador Retriever, a breed developed just north of there and integral to cold water retrieving; and Oregon for the Newfoundland, whose most famous explorer was named Seaman. Seaman trekked across country with Lewis and Clark and may have been the first purebred to set paw in the Pacific surf by way of North America. And he did it in Oregon.

Now it’s your turn to get involved!

So here’s your challenge: What dogs can you propose as state dogs? And yes, I realize that everyone is going to yell out “rescue dog” and “all-American mutt!” but maybe save those for our national dog.

Think about your state and what dog breeds were important in its history. I’m thinking Hawaiian Poi Dog for Hawaii, Chihuahua for Arizona, Treeing Walker for Kentucky, and Bluetick Coonhound or Tennessee Brindle for Tennessee. I might even suggest the extinct Salish Wool Dog for Washington, just to emphasize that breeds, like species, can be lost forever. The Greyhound for Florida would be controversial, although it did play a huge role in the tourist industry for many years. Golden Retriever for California, the Golden State. Bull Terrier for Idaho, as in Spuds MacKenzie? Collie for Colorado, just because it sounds good? And New York’s state dog should change every year according to what breed wins Westminster. So this year it’s the German Shorthaired Pointer!

What’s your suggestion? Tell us in the comments!