This dog posed an enigma. I scanned the photo from Robert E Heal’s book, where he was identified simply as Bruno, bred by Karl Farber (of THE v.d. Saalburg famous kennel). It was a major challenge for the breed history student in me, as the dog was not among the well-known v.d. Saalbugs, so I set out to solve the mystery.
According to the author, Bruno was bred by Karl Farber. But who was ‘Bruno’ and what was his pedigree? He certainly looked like a v.d. Saalburg, and in particular he looked like he was after Dolf. But I could not find any records of a Bruno v.d. Saalburg. A Bruno is again mentioned in the book, in a letter by Karl Farber to Bill Siggers, dated December 1938. In it, Karl Farber states “we still have Bruno and Zilly and a yellow daughter and son of both”. Jill Evan’s superb history book, did not help me in this case.
I did more research, to dogs registered between 1930 & ’38. I considered the possibility that he wasn’t bred by Farber, but out of his dogs. Bruno was certainly a superb Great Dane. He looked even more impressive than the legendary Dolf, who was most likely his ancestor. I had to find out who he was. I wanted to learn if he had progeny. After all, brindles are my passion. So, in July 2015 I posted the photo and questions in the Great Dane – Apollo of Dogs Preservation Society group on Facebook. But nobody seemed to know who the dog was. After plowing through some more records of dogs from the era, I felt almost certain that he could only be Bruno V Schloss Staufeneck. That was the only brindle which could be a candidate. Bruno V Schloss Staufeneck was born in 1933 and was indeed a double Dolf-great-grandson. But I couldn’t find any records of progeny by him and out of a bitch called ‘Zilly’, that would definitely identify the dog as the one mentioned in Karl Farber’s letter. Maybe Zilly was only a pet name. Maybe Bruno was only a pet name, I thought, temporarily disappointed. But was it ?
Then Laura Munro, a breeder from the US who has a set of early German stud book volumes, joined the investigation team. As Karl Farber’s letter, dated December 1938, gives the age of the youngsters sired by Bruno out of Zilly as 19 months old, they must have been born around May 1937. So any litters around that time were worth investigating. The identity of this dog had been a mystery for years, ever since the book was published, so I was getting excited in the prospect of solving the puzzle.
With the help of the date around when the litter mentioned by Farber was likely to have been born, Laura went back to work – and soon came back with the answer: Studbook Band XXI (1937-38) has Lasso, Lex, Lido, Lizzi, Linda & Luka von der Saalburg registered – and they are sired by none other than Bruno vom Schloß Staufeneck (Stud Book no. XVIII 245621) and out of Zilli (not Zilly) vom Birkenhof (XVIII 25475), the litter indeed bred by Karl Farber, Bad Homburg, Germany. Going back to Band XVIII (1933-34), Laura found Bosko, Bello, Bruno, Blitz, Blanka & Betha vom Schloß Staufeneck, sired by Joko v Kochertal (XVI 19788) and out of Asta v Schloß Loreksburg (XIV 15515), the litter bred by Hans Freese, Altona, Elbe, Germany.
So Bruno and Zilli did produce registered offspring. And Bruno was indeed, Bruno V Schloss Staufeneck. Bingo! Mystery solved. We still don’t know much more about Bruno, if he was shown, or his personal story, but his lineage can be traced back and forth, and we have a picture to go with the pedigrees. No telling why he wasn’t a champion – maybe he wasn’t shown by Farber. Maybe at that stage Farber was only showing his home-breds. Bruno was definitely majestic. He looks magnificent as he is standing there naturally, full of male arrogance yet calm and in control as he is surveying his grounds, with his beautiful neck raised in a graceful curve, aristocratically alert; he is captured in a moment for eternity, masculine, elegant, on his toes, at the height of his prime, a true model of timeless Great Dane breed type. I would love to have been around in time to meet him. Who would look at Bruno, and not see a Hound ? He is a lesson eternal, to be studied and learned by today’s breed followers, so different and so superior in quality to the coarse mastiffoids that pose as Great Danes nowadays in some regions.
photo kindly supplied by Jill Evans.
Bruno’s litter brother Blitz, above also a brindle, was exported to the US and became Am. CH Blitz V Schloss Staufeneck. Among others, he is behind BISS Am. Ch. Senta’s Astrid, a Great Dane Club of America Best In Specialty Show winner in 1950.
So if there is another edition of the book, the photograph can be correctly identified. Most importantly, we know now who this impressive ancestor was. Mission accomplished!