Who Are Joe Biden's Dogs? Major and Champ, the President's Two German Shepherds

Pooches returned to the White House this year with the arrival of Champ and Major, the two German Shepherd dogs of President Joe Biden, following four years of no first pets during Donald Trump's term.

"I've had German Shepherds since I was a kid and I've actually trained them and shown them in the past," Biden told ABC in 2008.

"We've always had two dogs," Biden said at the time. "We've always had two big dogs so they can have companionship."

Champ

The then-vice president came into ownership of Champ as a 3-month old puppy in 2008. He joined the Bidens at the Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the vice president on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Champ was reported to have taken his duties seriously. "He thinks he's Secret Service," Biden said.

His name was chosen by Biden's granddaughters in honor of a phrase the president often heard from his father: "Any time you get knocked down, champ, get back up!"

Joe Biden dog Champ 2012
Champ seen at the official residence of the vice president at the U.S. Naval Observatory on May 10, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Major

The Bidens adopted Major from the Delaware Humane Association (DHA) in 2018 when he was a puppy. He is the first shelter dog at the White House.

The DHA said in a November 2018 Facebook post: "For those who don't know, Major was 1 of 6 puppies who were brought to DHA after coming in contact with something toxic in their home. Their original owner was unable to afford veterinary care so they surrendered them.

"With the help of our friends at VSCD [Veterinary Specialty Center of Delaware], together we provided lifesaving care, shared their story here and that we were looking for fosters for them. Once we posted about them for your help, Joe Biden caught wind of them and reached out immediately. The rest is history," it added.

The origin of Major's name has not been publicly explained. However, "many assume the dog was named for President Biden's deceased son, Beau, who earned the rank of major in the Delaware National Guard," the Presidential Pet Museum says.

Life at the White House

Champ and Major moved into the White House in late January, days after the Bidens settled into their new home in Washington, D.C.

"The First Family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware. Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loved running around on the South Lawn," the press secretary for First Lady Jill Biden, Michael LaRosa, told CNN at the time.

Both Champ and Major were previously enrolled at Delaware's K-9 Camp Dog Obedience School.

The school's Mark Tobin, who trained both dogs, believed Major would have more challenges with the transition.

"Champ is used to the big show," Tobin told The Wall Street Journal in January. "I think Major is going to be like 'wow.'"

Both dogs were reported to have made themselves at home at the White House.

"Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loved running around on the South Lawn," LaRosa said in a statement to CNN in January.

Biden dogs Major Champ White House 2021
Champ and Major, Joe Biden's two German shepherd dogs, seen on the South Lawn of the White House on January 25. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images