President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden admit that — though the dogs are well-trained — Champ and Major break little rules from time to time

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall and Virginia Chamlee
February 06, 2021 01:00 PM
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Champ and Major Biden might be the first dogs to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in four years — but that doesn't necessarily mean they have the run of the place.

In a recent joint interview with PEOPLE (part of this week's cover story), President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spoke about their rules for Champ and Major, the couple's German shepherds, who moved into the White House last week.

"They really don't have any rules, they're really good dogs," Dr. Biden said — though the president was quick to point out that the canines' high level of training is largely the reason for the lack of regulation.

"We trained them from the beginning," Biden said. "Champ is old, he's 14 years old and he was extremely well-trained by the Canine Corps and he thinks he's Secret Service, but Major, who is a big, little dog, is about a year-and-half-old and the only rule Jill has and he follows it: do not get up on the furniture."

That means they aren't allowed on human beds, either — though there are exceptions.

"The beds, furniture, except when our granddaughters stay overnight," Biden admitted.

"He sneaks in," Dr. Biden interjected, of Major.

"We walk in, he sneaks in, he jumps up on the bed with them," Biden added.

Champ and Major BIden
| Credit: Adam Schultz/Official White House Photo

Earlier this month, the dogs were photographed enjoying their time in the snow on the White House's South Lawn in a tweet shared by the president's granddaughter, Naomi Biden.

"Snow day!!!," Naomi captioned the photo, in which Major can be seen running on the grounds while Champ sits comfortably in the snow.

The dogs' differing personalities were also on display in a video shared on social media around Christmas, in which a rambunctious Major shakes a stuffed Santa as he runs down the stairs towards Champ.

"No matter how you're celebrating this year, Champ and Major wish you a Merry Christmas," Biden, 78, wrote alongside the clip, which was set to the tune of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas."

Champ and Major's move to the White House marks the return of pets to the First Family. Former President Donald Trump, notably, did not have any pets.

Already, the Bidens' two pooches are Instagram official, with pages on social media under the handle @firstfamilydogs.

For more from Joe and Jill Biden's first White House interview, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.

Credit: Celeste Sloman

Major is the first rescue dog to live in the White House and was rescued from the Delaware Humane Association in November 2018, 10 years after the couple welcomed their first German shepherd, Champ.

Major was fostered by the Bidens before being adopted, and came from a "litter of German shepherd pups that were surrendered and not doing well at all," according to the Delaware Humane Association.

"Once we posted about them for your help, Joe Biden caught wind of them and reached out immediately. The rest is history," the group wrote on Facebook.

Major's youth has caused some problems, with Biden injuring his foot while playing with the young dog in late November.

Biden who was given a walking boot for the healing process, recounted the incident to CNN.

"What happened was I got out of the shower. I got a dog and anybody who's been around my house knows — dropped, little pup dropped a ball in front of me. And for me to grab the ball," Biden explained. "And I'm walking through this little alleyway to get to the bedroom. And I grabbed the ball ... and he ran."

"And I'm joking, running after him and grab his tail. And what happened was that he slid on a throw rug. And I tripped on the rug he slid on. That's what happened," Biden said, adding, "Oh man, not a very exciting story."