First Furballs: Meet the Presidential Pets!

From Bo and Sunny to Millie and Checkers, meet the furry residents who've called the White House home

01 of 14

Commander Biden

New Biden pup

On Dec. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden introduced the world to a new first dog.

"Welcome to the White House, Commander," Biden tweeted along with a photo of the adorable puppy running through the grass with a tennis ball in its mouth. The president also shared a video welcoming the new pet ("hey, pal").

Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, told PEOPLE that Commander is a male, pure-bred German shepherd born in September who was a birthday gift from Joe Biden's brother James and James' wife, Sara.

According to LaRosa, the Bidens plan to welcome a cat, who is currently residing with a foster family, to the White House in January.

02 of 14

Major & Champ Biden

Joe Biden
Joe Biden/Instagram

President-Elect Joe Biden's German shepherd, Major,made history as the first rescue dog to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, according to NBC News.

The Biden family adopted Major from the Delaware Humane Association in November 2018, 10 years after the couple welcomed their first German shepherd, Champ. However, both dogs left the family in 2021.

On June 19, the Bidens announced 13-year-old Champ's death with a touching tribute to the German shepherd.

"Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed away peacefully at home. He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family," the president and first lady wrote in a joint statement at the time.

Major initially left the White House earlier in 2021 to undergo additional training following several "biting incidents" at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A spokesperson said in a December statement that the canine would not be returning to live at the White House, as that is what the first family believes is what is best for the pet.

"After consulting with dog trainers, animal behaviorists, and veterinarians, the First Family has decided to follow the experts' collective recommendation that it would be safest for Major to live in a quieter environment with family friends," said Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. "This is not in reaction to any new or specific incident, but rather a decision reached after several months of deliberation as a family and discussions with experts."

03 of 14

Bo & Sunny Obama

Pete Souza/White House. Inset: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

It was a sunny day indeed for the First Family, who expanded their canine brood on Aug. 19, 2013, with a furry addition: Portuguese water dog Sunny, who joined rambunctious fellow Portuguese water dog Bo in the White House. Bo was the perfect Capitol tour guide for his sister: after going home with the Obama family in 2009, Bo attracted major media attention, traveling with the Obamas and making public appearances of his own.

04 of 14

Barney Bush

Evan Vucci/AP

George W. Bush's Scottish terrier Barney may have earned notoriety for biting a member of the press corps, but he had his cute moments, starring in a series of White House videos with puppy pal Miss Beazley.

05 of 14

Buddy & Socks Clinton

White House/Time Life Pictures/Getty. Inset:J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Chocolate Lab Buddy loved nuzzling his way into Bill Clinton's conversations, while Socks the cat (inset, with Hillary Clinton) was daughter Chelsea's preferred pet. The fuzzy feline lived out his final years with Betty Currie, the President's former personal secretary.

06 of 14

Millie Bush

David Valdez/White House/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

The springer spaniel earned fame for "writing" Millie's Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush – landing her on the New York Times bestseller list – and later gave birth to another White House puppy, George H.W. Bush's pet Ranger.

07 of 14

Rex Reagan

Pete Souza/White House/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan got Rex, a 1-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, from conservative writer William F. Buckley. The new pooch replaced the more oafish Lucky, who moved to the Reagan ranch.

08 of 14

Liberty Ford

David Hume Kennerly/White House/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Let freedom ring! Gerald Ford was often seen frolicking with his golden retriever Liberty, a gift from daughter Susan.

09 of 14

The Nixon Four

AP Photo

While Richard Nixon was Vice President he played papa to the infamous Checkers. But years later as President, he looked after French poodle Vicky, Yorkie Pasha and an Irish setter named King Timahoe.

10 of 14

Him Johnson

Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

The peculiarly named pup joined three other beagles – plus a collie and a mutt – during Lyndon Johnson's term. But when the President lifted Him by his ears, he gave dog lovers something to bark about.

11 of 14

Shadrach Kennedy

AP Photo

No puppies here! Instead, John F. Kennedy admired his 7-in. salamander Shadrach, a gift from 7-year-old nephew Robert Kennedy Jr.

12 of 14

Fala Roosevelt

Thomas D. Mcavoy/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took Fala on a 1940 cruise – and virtually everywhere else he went, too. The commander-in-chief often joked that the Scottie resented Republican attacks on his policies.

13 of 14

King Tut Hoover

Hoover Library/AP

Herbert Hoover released this photo of himself with King Tut, reportedly to warm his icy image. The large dog later went on to dutifully patrol the White House grounds.

14 of 14

Coolidge's Canine

AP Photo

"Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House," was Calvin Coolidge's famous phrase. The President, with wife Grace (pictured), also raised raccoons, a mockingbird, a bear cub, tiger cubs and a wallaby.

Related Articles