Dogs and Cats Recognized as Official State Mascots

By Linda Cole

Every state has a flag, seal, motto, emblem, song, animal, flower, tree and bird, unique to each one. No matter where you live, our symbols reflect who we are as a country, and the diversity that make up the stars in Old Glory.

Dog State Mascots

Alaska – When you think of sledding dogs, the first breed that comes to mind is the hard-working Siberian Husky. But it’s the Alaskan Malamute that was chosen as the state’s official dog in 2010. The Siberian Husky was a close second, but the Malamute has been part of Alaskan history for 5,000 years plus, and contributed more than any other breed to the development of the state.

Louisiana – The most aggressive and largest of the cattle dogs, the Catahoula Leopard Dog was picked in 1979 as their state dog. The Catahoula is all-American breed capable of finding livestock in any kind of terrain, no matter where they are. The breed was developed by settlers and Native American Indians.

Maryland – The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was recognized in 1964. When an English ship wrecked off the coast of Maryland in 1807, the crew and two Newfoundland pups were rescued by an American ship. The puppies were given to duck hunters as a thank you gift from the British crew. They were bred with local hunting dogs to create the beginnings of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Massachusetts – In 1979, the made-in-America Boston Terrier became their official state dog. Known as the “American Gentleman,” a dog owned by Robert C. Hooper and named Hooper’s  Judge, is considered to be the father of most modern day Boston Terriers.

New Hampshire – Recognized in 2009, the Chinook, a sled dog, is a hardworking and strong breed. Dog musher Arthur Walden developed the breed because of his love for dog sledding. In 1929, he joined Admiral Richard Byrd’s Antarctic Expedition and took his team of sled dogs with him. His lead dog, Chinook, is the foundation stock for the breed that was named in his honor.

North Carolina – The Plott Hound, recognized in 1989, is another all-American breed. Johannes Plott developed the breed from five hunting dogs he brought with him when he immigrated to America from Germany in 1750. This breed has the courage and reputation to tree a bear or hold it at bay.

Pennsylvania – The Great Dane was chosen in 1965. Sometimes referred to as the “Apollo of all Dogs” or the “King of Dogs,” this is an ancient breed that originated in Germany to hunt boar and other large game. Their roots can be traced to the Irish Wolfhound, with a dash of old English Mastiff mixed in. Noblemen used this giant breed to guard their estates.

South Carolina – The Boykin Spaniel was chosen in 1985 to represent the Palmetto state. Uniquely American, this breed is the smallest retriever, and can be traced back to a spaniel-type stray dog named Dumpy that was found wandering the streets of Spartanburg. Alexander White took the dog home and discovered he had natural hunting abilities. Dumpy became the foundation stock for the breed.

Texas – The Blue Lacy is a Texas creation, and became the Lone Star state’s official dog in 2005. The breed was developed by brothers Edwin, George, Harry and Frank Lacy sometime in the late 1800′s as a herding dog to work feral hogs.

Virginia – One of America’s native breeds, the American Foxhound is an obvious choice for the Old Dominion state as their official state dog, because this breed was developed in the 1700s by our country’s first president, George Washington. He is considered the father of the breed. This breed became Virginia’s state dog in 1966.

Wisconsin – The American Water Spaniel became the Badger state dog in 1985. The exact origin of this breed is unknown; however, the dog was developed in the Midwest in the Wisconsin Wolf River and Fox River valleys during the late 1960s.

Cat State Mascots

Maine – The Maine Coon was designated as their state cat in 1985. A native of the state, the large feline is well adapted to survive Maine’s harsh climate. Tall and muscular, this cat has a heavy water-resistant coat, a long bushy tail she can wrap around her to ward off the cold, ears with more fur inside and on the tips, large tufted feet that act like snow shoes, and large eyes and ears that increase her ability to see and hear.

Maryland – In 2001, the Calico cat became their state cat. The calico was picked because her tri-color markings match their official state Baltimore oriole and Checkerspot butterfly. Three colors – black, orange and white – in distinct patches set the calico apart from a tortoiseshell with her colors blurred together.

Massachusetts – The Tabby Cat is recognized by an “M” on her forehead and stripes, dots, lines or swirls in her coat. Like the calico, the tabby is not a cat breed. In 1988, the tabby cat was recognized as the Bay State kitty in response to school children.

Photos, top to bottom:
Alaskan Malamute pups by kitty.green66
Boston Terrier by Michael Gwyther-Jones
Boykin Spaniel by Luke Faroane
Maine Coon by Dan Hershman

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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