Presidential Pooch, Commander, Exiled From White House

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
Tariq Igbal03/Shutterstock

For President Biden, keeping a dog at the White House has proved more challenging than running the country. After a series of biting incidents, Commander, a two-year-old German shepherd, has been exiled from the President’s House. 

Reports of the 11th biting incident involving Commander have forced the presidential family to send their beloved pooch to an undisclosed location. 

Elizabeth Alexander, a spokesperson for First Lady Jill Biden, confirmed to CBS News that the family dog named Commander “is not presently on the White House campus while next steps are evaluated.”

Alexander didn’t elaborate on where the pooch had been sent or whether the exile from the White House would be permanent or not. But it’s safe to assume this is the end of Commander’s term in the White House. 

The President and First Lady care deeply about the safety of those who work at the White House and those who protect them every day,” said Alexander. “They remain grateful for the patience and support of the U.S. Secret Service and all involved, as they continue to work through solutions.”

Biting is a serious offense, but in Commander’s defense, he is the latest on a long list of Presidential dogs involved in biting incidents. His predecessor, Major, also a German shepherd, was sent to live with the Biden family’s friends after several nipping incidents. 

Major had a hard time adjusting to so many unfamiliar faces and the hustle and bustle of the White House. Experts advised the Biden family to move the dog to a calmer and more predictable environment, and they agreed. 

And now, history is repeating itself with Commander. 

The White House can be a stressful environment for family pets”, said Alexander, and added that Bidens were continuing to “work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds.” 

Secret Service agents, foreign dignitaries, and residential staff can breathe easier now that Commander is removed from the premises. The same can’t be said for the Bidens, who are surely saddened to send their pooch away.

Bred to be courageous, fiercely loyal, and watchful, German shepherds are extremely protective of their families. Commander probably saw all those Secret Service agents crowding President Biden as a threat to his safety and was compelled to intervene using his sharp chompers. 

White House officials stress that the Biden family took the necessary steps to address this issue, but all their efforts were in vain. 

Interestingly, other presidents also struggled to discipline their canine companions. According to Andrew Hagar, the historian in residence for the Pet Presidential Museum, Theodor Roosevelt had a naughty dog named Pete who chased and nipped many people, including the French ambassador, before he was sent to live at the family’s New York home. 

Herbert Hoover had a Belgian shepherd named King Tut. The pooch who was previously a police dog, struggled at the White House because he was stressed about protecting his family. Although King Tut’s offenses remain a secret, the Hoovers eventually sent him to their house in Washington. 


Like President Biden, Franklin D. Roosevelt had a German shepherd named Major who ripped the pants of the British Prime Minister. Needless to say, he was dispatched from the White House as well. 

Commander is just one of many overprotective pooches whose stay in the White House was cut short. It seems to me that being the First Dog is a high-pressure job that only a few people can understand.

Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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