Commander, President Biden’s dog, has been removed from the White House following a series of biting incidents. According to emails, the most recent biting of a secret service officer in late September is the eleventh known incident since Commander arrived at the White House as a puppy in 2021. One incident in November 2022 even hospitalised a White House secret service officer, who had to receive treatment to wounds on their arms and thighs.
The young German shepherd is the second of the Bidens’ dogs to be removed from the White House due to bad behaviour. Three-year-old Major, another German shepherd puppy, was sent back to Delaware after he bit two people in the first year of the administration.
The Bidens are not alone in their struggle to manage their four-legged friends, with several other White House dogs making headlines throughout history for questionable behaviour. In 2008, George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney, bit a Reuters reporter, but was allowed to remain in the White House. Theodore Roosevelt’s dog was known to chase and bite several people, including the French ambassador. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s German shepherd, also named Major, was also banished from the White House after he tore the pants of the British prime minister at a state dinner. Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan’s respective dogs were also returned to the family home after struggling to settle into Washington life.
First Lady Jill Biden admitted to experiencing some difficulty acclimating the dogs to the White House during a TV interview in 2021 and implemented new leashing protocols and training in January 2023 after service agents raised concerns about Commander’s aggressiveness. While there are 11 incidents recorded, some reports allege the total number of incidents could be as many as 20 and many working with White House staff, including the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, say something should have been done about Commander’s bad behaviour earlier.
Responding to the most recent incident, White House press secretary said “The White House complex can be unique and very stressful. And that is something I’m sure you all can understand.”