In December 2020, right-leaning commentators and websites highlighted what they claimed were photographs posted by President-elect Biden or his staff that showed Biden’s dogs, Major and Champ, biting and playing with “Donald Trump” chew toys.
On Dec. 12, right-wing activist and One America News correspondent Jack Posobiec posted three screenshots from the @first_dogs_usa Instagram account, containing photographs labelled as Biden’s dogs Champ and Major, along with a third dog named Charlie, biting and playing with a chew toy clearly designed to resemble outgoing President Donald Trump. Posobiec added the following caption:
Joe Biden has an Instagram account for his dogs, and they just posted pictures of them using the President as chew toy. Unity and Healing!
Posobiec’s tweet formed the basis of a subsequent article published by the right-wing website The Post Millennial, which bore the headline “Biden Posts Pictures of His Dog Destroying a Trump Doll.”
The social media accounts that posted the photographs in question were not official or associated with Biden himself, nor his election campaign or transition. So the claims that Biden posted the photographs, or the Instagram account for Biden’s dogs did likewise, were inaccurate.
However, the photographs themselves were authentic, and did in fact show Champ, Major and Charlie — whose owner is the president-elect’s granddaughter Naomi Biden — chewing on a novelty Trump dog toy. Naomi Biden posted the pictures online in July 2020 before later deleting them.
The Instagram account Posobiec cited in his tweet was @first_dogs_usa. That account posted the photographs on Dec. 12, 2020. The profile “bio” clearly states that it is a “fan page” — meaning it should not be confused for an official account. That Instagram account is linked to a Twitter account with the handle @TheOvalPawffice, which also posted the photographs on Dec. 12, along with the caption:
Awoooof! I hope you’ll enjoy these pics of me, Champ & Charlie First Grandpupper. @NaomiBiden took these during our #TugOfWar match. Champ was the champion – some names are predestined. Just like winning, in a landslide, by a record number of votes. #ByeDon #YoureFired #DOTUS.
That Twitter account also describes itself as a “fanpage.”
@first_dogs_usa and @TheOvalPawffice were just two of several social media profiles relating to the Bidens’ dogs Champ and Major, which emerged after Biden’s victory was projected in November 2020. Some of the accounts were clearly labelled as “unofficial” or “fan accounts”, while others were not. They included: @firstdogsusa; @TheFirstDogs; @firstdogs46; @BidenChamp; @ChampBiden; @DoggOTUS; and @ChampMajorBiden.
None of those accounts was official. The Biden-Harris transition confirmed that, as of Dec. 14, neither Champ nor Major have any official social media presence.
However, the three photographs of Champ, Major and Charlie playing with a Trump chew toy were authentic. On July 16, 2020, Naomi Biden posted the pictures to Twitter, along with the caption: “Champ is short for Champion, but Charlie & Major played a good game”:
The tweet was still online on Nov. 10, but then deleted on an unknown date between then and Dec. 14. The Trump chew toy is authentic and produced by Fuzzu. A companion Biden chew toy is also available for purchase online.