What is the Official State Dog

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I never knew that there was a thing called the official state dog until we adopted Oscar. The rescue told us that he was a Catahoula Leopard Dog, adding, “That’s the official state dog of Louisiana.”

Well, they were right and they were wrong.

They’re right that the Catahoula Leopard Dog is the official dog of Louisiana. However, after doing the Wisdom Panel doggie DNA test, we learned that Oscar was more than just a Catahoula. He is basically your Heinz 57 dog.

The Concept of the State Dog

Catahoula Leopard dogs and Louisiana aside, you probably know that the United States is home to a diverse range of dog breeds. Each has its unique characteristics and qualities, much like the states themselves.

Many places have even adopted an official dog breed as a symbol of their state’s identity. Oftentimes that dog reflects the state’s history, culture or geography.

For example, the Alaskan Malamute became Alaska’s official dog in 2010, given the breed’s suitability for Alaska’s cold and frozen tundra. Similarly, Louisiana selected that aforementioned Catahoula Leopard Dog as the official dog in 1979. Why? Because it reflects the breed’s origins in the area that is now Louisiana.

catahoula leopard dog louisiana state dog
Catahoula leopard dog. Photo credit: Canva Pro.

Origin and Importance

The concept of state dogs is a relatively new phenomenon. In fact, it wasn’t until 1964 that any of the 50 states decided to name an official dog.

The first one to do so was Maryland. It chose the Chesapeake Bay Retriever for obvious reasons — the Chesapeake Bay makes up a significant part of Maryland’s waterfront. Also, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the official mascot of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

Now which came first — the official Maryland dog or the college mascot? I’ll have to find out.

chesapeak bay retriever
Chesapeake bay retriever. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Since then, only a handful of states have designated an official dog breed. Each state has its own criteria for selecting a breed.

Some states choose a breed that is native to that area. Others choose a breed that is popular among its citizens. Still other places select a breed that has played an important role in the state’s history. Finally, some choose a breed that is known for its loyalty and courage. Who doesn’t love a loyal dog?

Finally, having an official canine is a way to promote responsible pet ownership and raise awareness about the importance of animal welfare. In fact, some places have chosen not to select a certain breed but instead to promote adopting rescue pets instead.

Official Canines and Their History

In 2013, Colorado listed rescue dogs and cats as the state pet, as did Tennessee in 2014. California also named the shelter pet as its state pet in 2015 because of all the abandoned shelter pets each year. California’s legislature hopes this will cause more adoptions of pets from shelters.

New York named “Working Dogs” the official state dog as a way to honor the search and rescue dogs that helped in downtown New York City after September 11, 2001.

Here is more information about other breeds associated with different locations in the United States.

The Alaska Malamute

malamute alaska state dog
Alaskan Malamute. Photo credit: Canva Pros.

Sometimes the state dogs come to be in the most interesting ways. Take the Alaskan Malamute, the official dog of Alaska.

Although Malamutes are native to Alaska, it took a long time for Alaska to recognize them officially. In fact, it was only in 2010 that they were designated as such. And it was thanks to a group of school children who worked hard and raised funds for the Alaskan Malamute to officially become the state dog!

The Plott Hound

plott hound north carolina state dog
Plott Hound. Photo credit: Croft Fite, Shutterstock.

The Plott Hound is the official dog of North Carolina, named after the Plott family who bred the dogs for hunting. The breed’s history goes back to the mid-1700s when Johannes Plott brought five Hanoverian Hounds with him when he immigrated to America. The Plott Hound is known for its exceptional hunting skills, and it is still used today for hunting big game.

Finally, both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognize many of the state dogs as official dog breeds.

Dog Breeds by Location

The United States has a diverse range of official dogs, with many states opting to honor a specific breed. What states have state dogs? Here is an alphabetical listing with their respective breeds.

AlabamaAmerican Pit Bull Terrier
AlaskaAlaskan Malamute
DelawareGolden Retriever
FloridaFlorida Cracker Cur
KansasBoston Terrier
LouisianaCatahoula Leopard Dog
MarylandChesapeake Bay Retriever
MassachusettsBoston Terrier
New HampshireChinook
New JerseyGerman Shepherd
New YorkWorking dogs
North CarolinaPlott Hound
PennsylvaniaGreat Dane
South CarolinaBoykin Spaniel
TexasBlue Lacy
VirginiaAmerican Foxhound

Here are dog mascots affiliated with baseball teams.

Places without an official dog

Here is a list of states that have not selected any kind of dog as their official dog:

  • California (here are the most popular dog names in California)
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington State
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What is the state dog of California?

There isn’t a single breed that is the state dog of California. Instead, the legislature decided that all shelter dogs would be the official dog.

What is Florida’s state dog?

The official dog here is the Florida Cracker Cur. What does a Florida Cracker Cur look like? The ones I’ve seen are a fawn-colored dog that looks like a cross between a hound and a retriever. Florida cattle ranchers use Cur dogs to work with their herds.

What is the state dog of Massachusetts?

This is an easy one for me to answer. Massachusetts’ state dog is the Boston Terrier. It’s also the official dog of Kansas. And the Boston Terrier is also the mascot for Boston University.

What is the state dog of New York?

Like California, there is no official dog breed for New York. Instead, Albany says that all working dogs represent New York.

What is the state dog of Alaska?

The Malamute is the state dog of Alaska. Also, I recently discovered that the Malamute is considered to be the first and oldest dog breed in America.

So if you’re wondering what the national dog of the United States is, you could say it’s the Alaskan Malamute, given its long history.

What is Georgia’s state dog?

Georgia’s official dog is not one particular breed, but rather dogs that are in need of homes. Passed by lawmakers in 2016, the firm belief in “adopt, don’t shop” means that the millions of dogs in shelters and rescues have a chance at finding a loving home.

However, ask someone in Georgia what the official dog is, and chances are they’ll tell you the Georgia Bulldog, for the University of Georgia mascot.

What is the state dog of Ohio?

The beagle is the official dog of Ohio. I wonder if people name their beagles Buckeye?

What is the state dog of Illinois?

Unfortunately, Illinois does not have an official dog breed.

What is the state dog of Minnesota?

Minnesota doesn’t have one.

What is the state dog of Arkansas?

The Bloodhound is the official dog of Arkansas.

What is the state dog of South Carolina?

The Boykin Spaniel is the official dog of South Carolina. Look how cute this little brown swamp dog is.

Photo credit: Canva.

What is the state dog of Arizona?

The Chihuahua is the official dog of Arizona.

What is Kentucky’s state dog?

Unfortunately, there is no official Kentucky dog. However, the Golden Retriever is the most popular dog in Kentucky.

What is the state dog of West Virginia?

There is no official dog of West Virginia.

What is the state dog of Texas?

The Blue Lacy is Texas’ official dog. What does a Blue Lacy dog look like? In my opinion, a silver or gray Weimaraner.

Blue Lacy
Blue Lacy dog. Photo credit: Adobe Photos.

What is the state dog of Washington?

Washington State tried to make the husky the official state dog as it is the official mascot for the University of Washington. However, my research tells me that the measure did not pass and so they do not have an official state dog. Neither does Washington, D.C., if your question was more about the District of Columbia versus the location in the Pacific Northwest.

What is Oklahoma’s state dog?

There isn’t one.

What is Alabama’s state dog?

The American Pit Bull Terrier is Alabama’s official canine.

What is Indiana’s state dog?


What is the state dog of Iowa?

Sorry, Iowa, you don’t have an official dog.

What is Colorado’s state dog?

While not an official breed, Colorado declared that rescue dogs officially represented them.

What is the state dog of Missouri?


What is the state dog of Virginia?

The American Foxhound is Virginia’s official dog. Here is the picture of the American Foxhound. I think it looks like a long-legged Beagle, don’t you?

american foxhound virginia state dog
American Foxhound. Photo credit: Adobe Photos.

Final thoughts on official state dogs

If I’ve gotten anything wrong about one of the 50 states and their official dog breed, please let me know. I’m happy to review additional information and update this article accordingly.

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