News & Politics

Meet America’s New First Dogs, Champ and Major Biden

Two very good boys are headed to the White House.

Photo of Joe Biden and Major via the the Delaware Humane Association on Facebook. Photo of Jill Biden with the new first dogs via @DrJill on Twitter⁠.

When president-elect Joe Biden steps into the White House in January, he’ll also be bringing some furry family members with him — German shepherds Champ and Major. That’s right: After a four-year vacancy, there will be not one, but two FPOTUS (First Pets of the United States) once more.

As the eldest Biden dog and a veteran of DC political life, Champ will show his younger brother the ropes. Sasha and Malia Obama were promised a pet if their dad became president, and Biden made the same commitment to wife Jill Biden, who would tape photos of dogs onto the campaign plane seat in front of her husband, according to Politico. True to his word, the couple adopted six-week-old Champ from a breeder in Chester County, Pennsylvania around a month after Barack Obama won the 2008 election. Biden granddaughters Finnegan and Maisy chose the name Champ.

Ten years later, rescue pup Major came into the Bidens’ lives after daughter Ashley Biden shared a Facebook post about a litter of German shepherd puppies exposed to toxins in their original home. The Bidens began fostering Major in March 2018 before officially adopting him eight months later from the Delaware Humane Association in Wilmington.

Why German shepherds? The president-elect grew up with the breed. “I’ve had German shepherds my — from the time I was a kid. And I’ve actually trained them and shown them in the past, my past life,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in December 2008.

After four years without a White House pet, the pending arrival of canine residents feels like yet another return to normalcy. In fact, Donald Trump is one of the rare presidents to not have a four-legged, feathered, or furry friend while in office, joined only by James K. Polk. Trump’s lack of pets was even rolled into a Biden campaign message:

Perhaps Champ and Major will get recommendations on West Wing living from predecessors Bo and Sunny Obama. In his first term, Bo flew on Air Force One and met members of Congress, stopping for grooming sessions at Alexandria’s Olde Towne School for Dogs and vacations at Camp David — big paw prints for Champ and Major to fill.

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Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture. Originally from Rockville, she lives in Logan Circle.