Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

What Kind of Dog Did General Patton Have? Cool Historical Facts

Chelsie Fraser

By Chelsie Fraser

bull terrier face

The controversial General George S. Patton Jr. is well-known for his ivory-handled pistols and battle strategies. During WWII, he acquired a Bull Terrier that he named after William the Conqueror. “Willie” kept General Patton company throughout his WWII campaigns in Europe and served as a companion to the General’s famous tank corps. The beloved Willie outlived his owner and was shipped to General Patton’s wife in California in December 1945. It is said that the dog suffered from serious separation anxiety after the General’s death.

Divider 8

Willie the Bull Terrier

General Patton was a career military officer with a love for Bull Terriers. He got his first Bull Terrier shortly after World War I. He owned several dogs of this breed throughout his life, but his last Bull Terrier, Willie, is the one that’s best known.

While in England awaiting the Normandy invasion (D-Day), General Patton adopted Willie to keep him company. Willie was originally owned by a British R.A.F. pilot who went missing in action during a bombing raid over Germany. The pilot’s wife gave the dog to General Patton, and the pair quickly became inseparable.

While the General was known for his gruff demeanor, this wasn’t the case for his dog. He made Willie his own dog tags, threw birthday parties for him, and brought the dog along through the Allied campaign across Europe. It is said that Willie even got into a fight with General Eisenhower’s Scottish Terrier, but it’s unclear whether this story is true or just an urban legend.

bull terrier with heart collar
Image Credit: Melanie Thomas, Pixabay

General Patton remained in Germany after the Nazi surrender in 1945, where he was killed in an unfortunate car accident in December. The army subsequently sent Willie back to the General’s family in California.

Willie lived for another 12 years after the General passed away, but he greatly missed his owner. It is reported that Willie suffered from severe anxiety after he went to live in the United States. Life Magazine published a picture of Willie lying on General Patton’s belongings awaiting his plane ride to the U.S. The Bull Terrier is shown curled up to Patton’s trunks and bags with a forlorn look on his face.

Divider 7


Willie, a Bull Terrier, was famous for accompanying General Patton during his European campaign in WWII. While the General had a strong affinity for Bull Terriers, his travels made Willie famous. The dog showed a softer side of the man with an unbreakable exterior. Sadly, Willie never got over his owner’s death, showing just how unbreakable the bond can be between dogs and humans.


Featured Image Credit: Georgiy Myakashiv, Shutterstock

Chelsie Fraser

Authored by

Chelsie is a freelance writer who is passionate about helping pet owners and beloved animals live their best lives. She lives in rural Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. She is also currently a pet parent to four horses, four cats, and a border collie.

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database