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The Story of RIN TIN TIN
Rintintin in French Lore 


    RIN TIN TIN is considered the most recognized name in the history of the German Shepherd Dog and likewise one of the oldest continuous bloodlines in the breed's 112-year history. The auspicious beginnings of RIN TIN TIN would lead to two families dedicating their lives to the preservation of not only his legacy, but also the quality lineage for which he would become known.

    The original RIN TIN TIN was a mere puppy of five days old when Corporal Lee Duncan insisted that his battalion in Lorraine, France check out a bombed war dog kennel during World War I. What he found on that fateful day of September 15, 1918 was a mother German Shepherd Dog and her litter, the only survivors of the bomb dropped. Betty des Flandreshad five puppies sired by Fritz de la Chasse royale.  Duncan chose two of the puppies, a male and a female, and members of the battalion took the mother and remainder back to their camp.

    Ironically, the only survivors over the next few months were the two pups Duncan had claimed. He named the pups after tiny (1" tall) French Puppets named Rintintin and Nenette that were given to the American soldiers for good luck. altDuncan named the male pup RIN TIN TIN and the female Nannette after the puppets.

    Duncan worked with the dogs training them to perform as he had seen the German war dogs perform during the war. He was wildly impressed with the breed's ability and wanted to learn more. Duncan discovered that the German Kennel Master in charge of the bombed kennel had been captured by the Americans. He went so far as to visit Kennel Master in the American prison camp to learn more not only about the new breed called a German Shepherd Dog, but Betty and the puppies he had rescued.

    When the war was over Duncan made special arrangements to take his two pups back to the United States with him to his home in Los Angeles. He and the pups were allowed aboard a ship that transported them to New York on a 15-day journey.
During the trip Nannette became ill with distemper and by the time Duncan arrived in New York she was quite ill.  With his driving interest in the breed, upon his arrival in New York he met Mrs. Wanner, at that time considered a premier breeder of German Shepherd Dogs in the U.S. She offered to keep Nannette to try to save her from her illness, but the pup died before Duncan's train to California had arrived. 


alt    Mrs. Wanner, knowing Duncan's love for the breed, sent him one of her finest female puppies to replace Nannette. Once back home and with the war over, Duncan returned to his job at a hardware store. Still enamored with his dogs, he attended dog shows with his beloved RIN TIN TIN.

alt    In February 1922 at a Shepherd Dog Club of America unsanctioned two-day show, RIN TIN TIN amazed everyone with his ability to perform by jumping 11 feet 9 inches. Following the show, Charles Jones who asked if he could try out his new camera that made moving pictures approached Duncan. Novograph Pictures Company who had purchased Jones' film offered Duncan $350 to film the dog in action. Duncan accepted and knew at that moment there could be a future for him and his dog in films.

Duncan pursued the film concept, contacting nearly every studio in Hollywood with his dog and a script, Where The North Begins. He was turned down by one studio after another, but determined he would not give up. He knew RIN TIN TIN was special.
alt Finally one day while approaching studios on what was called "poverty row" he saw a film crew trying to shoot a scene with a wolf and not having success. He approached the crew and told them he and his dog could do the scene in one take. He was told to go away and to take his dog and script with him.

    He persisted, and finally, they allowed him to try the scene with RIN TIN TIN. Voila, the scene was shot in one take as he had promised and they kept him on for the filming of "Man From Hell's River."
    The name of fledgling studio on the verge of bankruptcy was Warner Brothers Pictures. The film was a hit and RIN TIN TIN was a sensation. The public loved him and his heroic ability. RIN TIN TIN ultimately made 26 pictures for Warner Brothers before his death on August 10, 1932. alt He was referred to as the mortgage lifter and credited with saving the studio from financial ruin during the silent film era.
At the peak of his career with Warner Brothers he received some 10,000 fan letters a week and was considered to be one of Hollywood's top stars.

    When RIN TIN TIN died unexpectedly on that fateful Friday he was scheduled to begin a new film for Warner Brothers the following Monday.

    Not only was Duncan devastated at his loss, but also so was the studio as they both found themselves without a star. Duncan had raised several litters from RIN TIN TIN and had kept a pup he called Junior. Sometime after 1934, Duncan arranged to have RIN TIN TIN returned to his country of birth for burial in the Cimetiere des Chiens, the renowned pet cemetery in the Parisian suburb of Asnieres-sur-Seine.

alt According to Duncan, Junior was a nice dog, but not the image of his father in structure or ability but he was committed to continue the legacy with what fate had given him.
    The studio rather than start the new picture put Duncan on the road to promote the son of RIN TIN TIN. During that tour in 1933, RIN TIN TIN made the first commercial airplane flight by a dog and like his father won the hearts of fans across America.

    Duncan was dedicated to RIN TIN TIN and his ability and during a tour in England a report was published in a book that said Duncan's wife had filed for divorce citing RIN TIN TIN as co-respondent saying Duncan loved the dog more than her. The divorce case was dropped and never granted.
alt    When World War II began Duncan wanted to serve his country but because of an injury during the first war was not allowed to re-enlist. So he did the next best thing.

    He approached the U.S. Army and suggested they consider a training camp for military dogs in California. After many times being turned down, the army finally agreed and Duncan and RIN TIN TIN III became the head trainers for Camp Hahn.

    During the course of the war, Duncan and RIN TIN TIN III, who was an official soldier with his number tattooed on his leg, trained more than 5,000 dogs and handlers for the war effort.

    When the war was over it is said that Duncan untrained many of the returning war dogs and re-placed them with the families that had donated them for the war effort.

alt    Duncan, although he loved Junior and RIN TIN TIN III, also a son of the original, continued to learn about the breed itself in a search for the finest bloodlines available. He attended dog shows and participated in the development, progress and betterment of the breed as a whole.

    He was listed as breeder of Champion Tasso of Villa Marina, Register of Merit, one of the most well known show dogs of the time. Tasso was the grandson of International Champion Grand Victor Odin von Buescher Schloss, FH (herding) and the 1936 SV (German) Champion.

    Odin was one of the most recognized dogs of that time and the grandsire of the dog that would be registered as RIN TIN TIN II by Duncan.

alt    RIN TIN TIN II would sire RIN TIN TIN IV. RIN TIN TIN IV's lineage has been traced to Betty des Flandres and Fritz de la Chasse royale., the parents of the Original RIN TIN TIN. Both RIN TIN TIN II and RIN TIN TIN IV were the primary dogs used in the filming of The Adventures of RIN TIN TIN, which first aired on ABC 1954-1959. Two other dogs, one owned by Duncan called Hey You and the other owned by a trainer employed by Duncan (Frank Barnes) called JR were also used in some scenes of the series.Many people who wanted pups from his famous dogs approached Duncan, but only one of those relationships would maintain the dedication necessary to continue the lineage for future generations.alt It was in 1956 that Jannettia Brodsgaard Propps contacted Duncan about a puppy for her breeding program. She and Duncan communicated frequently and finally on July 5, 1957 her first RIN TIN TIN IV son arrived at the airport in Houston, Texas. She would ultimately acquire four dogs directly from Duncan as well as his endorsement for success in her breeding program to continue the lineage.

    "Rinty" as he was called at Bodyguard Kennels would begin a preservation of the legacy as soon it was discovered that Duncan suffered from bone cancer.Duncan died on September 20, 1960, but his bloodline and the legacy of RIN TIN TIN were in good hands with Ms. Propps and Bodyguard Kennels.

    Ms. Propps through her frequent communications with Duncan knew exactly what he wanted in the historic progeny. He told her once his primary concerns were intelligence with the secondary being a sound working structure.

    He preferred the lighter colors of the silver grey as they were more easily seen on the then black and white television. He also maintained several white coated dogs in his breeding program and did not discriminate against any dog merely because of coat color. He judged them, as did Ms. Propps, on ability, not hair color.

alt    Ms. Propps continued to breed and show the RIN TIN TIN dogs with help from her granddaughter, Daphne Hereford. Miss Hereford was raised by her grandmother from the time she was five years old, when she came to live with her grandmother in 1955, and quickly learned not only the qualities of the lineage, but also the aspects of participating at dog shows.


     Most children of the late 1950s and early 1960s participated in school sports, but Miss Hereford spent her weekends at dog class, in the kennel or at dog shows learning and being groomed to take the helm of the famed lineage.For about a decade beginning in the 1970s, both Ms. Propps and her granddaughter had security companies in Houston that provided security guard canine handlers accompanied by a RIN TIN TIN dog.

    The two companies maintained by the women were the only companies licensed by the State of Texas at that time that had never had a complaint filed against them.Ms. Propps passed away December 17, 1988 and the legacy of RIN TIN TIN was passed to Miss Hereford who continues to maintain it with assistance from her daughter, Dorothy Yanchak. Miss Hereford's 11-year-old grand daughter has joined the team and is training a pup who has been selected to become RIN TIN TIN.


 The dogs produced today are identical in structure, color and intelligence to RIN TIN TIN II and RIN TIN TIN IV.

    The breeding program of RIN TIN TIN is considered a "closed program" and any pups placed in pet homes are placed on a spay/neuter non-breeding agreement.

   "This strict criteria was initiated by my great-grandmother and continued by my mother to not only protect the integrity of the lineage, but the RIN TIN TIN name," said Dorothy Yanchak, President of RIN TIN TIN, INCORPORATED. 

    "If you are at the helm of something as important as the RIN TIN TIN legacy, then you are charged with a responsibility to ensure that it remains the same as it was intended by its founders. To change RIN TIN TIN in any way would be a disservice not only to my grandmother, but to Lee Duncan as well. I have dedicated my life to the maintenance of this lineage and am proud to say, the dog you see today representing RIN TIN TIN is the same dog Duncan put before the public in the 1950s," said Ms. Yanchak.

    The RIN TIN TIN-breeding program carefully utilizes line breeding to insure integrity in the lineage. Out-crosses are necessary in any breeding program, but the influx of new blood to the RIN TIN TIN line is done only after meticulous research and consideration. Progeny from the out crosses are then re-entered into the RIN TIN TIN bloodline. 


    "Seems with all things RIN TIN TIN, fate dictates events that will ensure the legacy is protected. And fate dictated that my mother begin her tenure with the lineage at the young age of five," Ms. Yanchak said.

  alice3crop  "Now, some 56 years later we have served the lineage honorably and have a working knowledge of the bloodline and will continue to produce dogs both Lee Duncan and my mother and great-grandmother would be proud of as they are a true tribute to their namesake and identical in every way to them. There Will Always Be a RIN TIN TIN!" she continued.

Classics Are Forever
There Will Always Be A RIN TIN TIN

Did you know ...

Lee Duncan is honored in the German Shepherd Dog Club of America Hall of Fame for his dedication and contributions to the breed, German Shepherd Dog. Duncan was a well known breeder and exhibitor of German Shepherd Dogs and co-owner of Ch. Tasso of Villa Marina, who remains in the top 100 GSDCA Register of Merit Sires even today.



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