- A White House official said on Monday said Conan, the military working dog that helped take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October, was female.
- Shortly thereafter, a White House official told reporters that the dog was in fact male.
- The reversal follows speculation about Conan’s gender that developed after President Donald Trump tweeted her name and a photo of her after the raid.
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A White House official on Monday said that Conan, the military working dog that helped take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria in October, was a female,
However, a few hours later, a White House official said the dog was in fact a male, adding to a debate that developed after President Donald Trump tweeted a photo of the dog after the raid.
Conan was awarded a medal and a plaque by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Monday. Trump, Pence, and Conan walked out to the White House lawn, where the president described Conan as “the world’s most famous dog” who had an “incredible story.”
Trump, who referred to the dog with male pronouns several times, said he thought it was a good idea to “put a muzzle on the dog” because of its “violent” tendencies, though it was unmuzzled throughout the ceremony. The president’s remarks did not deter Pence, who petted Conan several times on her head.
There was speculation over Conan’s gender after Trump released her name and a photo of her in an abrupt tweet after the raid. But former military dog handlers and canine experts were still at an impasse, with some intensely examining the photo.
“I’ve seen the photo of the dog,” a former military dog handler told Business Insider after the raid. “And if you blow up that photo, it’s not a female dog – it’s a male dog.”
“Conan was very badly hurt as you know, and they thought maybe he was not to recover,” Trump said Monday, referring to injuries the dog received when she touched exposed electrical wires during the raid. “Recovered very quickly and has since gone on very important raids.”
Conan is a Belgian Malinois, the same breed used in the 2011 raid against al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The dog is named after comedian Conan O’Brien, according to a Newsweek report.
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