Gender Confusion Over Hero Dog That Helped Take Down ISIS Leader

George Winston
GETTY
GETTY

The dog who was injured during the raid that killed the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was honored in a ceremony at the White House on November 25th.

But most of the discussion about the ceremony centers on the conflicting reports about the dog’s gender.

Conan is a Belgian Malinois who was named after the popular comedian, Conan O’Brien. When President Donald Trump tweeted about Conan, he referred to the animal as “he.”

US President Donald Trump (L), Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) stand with Conan, the military dog that was involved with the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 25, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L), Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) stand with Conan, the military dog that was involved with the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 25, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

When the president spoke with reporters with Conan next to him, he continued to refer to Conan as male.

However, a White House official referred to Conan as a female only to be contradicted by another White House official a few hours later.

ABC News reported that the dog was female but the Pentagon responded that Conan was indeed male.

A former military K9 handler examined the photo of Conan that was released by the White House and came to the conclusion that Conan is definitely a male dog.

Conan took part in the raid that led to the death of al-Baghdadi. US troops cornered the ISIS leader in a tunnel where the terrorist leader detonated an explosive vest which killed him and two children he had brought with him.

Conan was injured during the raid after coming into contact with live electrical wires. Reportedly, Conan recovered quickly and is already back on active duty.


The certificate and medal presented to Conan were created specially for the dog. The Department of Defense has rules which prevent the President from awarding medals to animals that are intended for humans.

In spite of the rules, many have called for Conan to receive the Purple Heart for the injuries received in the raid. The Purple Heart is the medal awarded to US soldiers who are wounded while serving their country.

Conan was serving with Delta Forces during the raid. It is one of approximately 50 missions that Conan has participated in.

Belgian Malinois (also called a Mal) is a breed of dog that looks similar to German Shepherds but is smaller and has shorter hair.

The breed is the 43rd most popular among 191 breeds according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). They have a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years.

A declassified image of Conan that helped capture and kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS
A declassified image of Conan that helped capture and kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS

The temperament of a Mal is “confident, smart, hardworking,” according to the AKC. They are very obedient and very smart. They are a popular breed in the military and in law enforcement.

When First Lady Melonia Trump was asked if she wanted to get a Mal for her son, she laughed and said, “No.”

When informed that the dog was named after him, Conan O’Brien tweeted, “That dog is clearly the better ‘Conan.’”

Since none of the identities of the human soldiers involved with the mission have been declassified, Conan’s handlers were not present when the dog appeared with the president.

“Having this extraordinary dog here today is all a reflection of our armed forces and the great job that they do,” the president said in his remarks. “Conan is really a hero.

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It’s really a joy to be able to help welcome him here to the White House.”