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Illena & The Seven Sires

From Peggy Adamson’s article –  Illena and the Seven Sires (written in 1951)

In the history of the American Doberman, eight dogs produced more than ten American champions each. These were:

  1. Ch Westphalia’s Rameses
  2. Ch Dow’s Illena of Marienland
  3. Ch Favoriet von Franzhof
  4. Ch Westphalia’s Uranus
  5. Ch Emperor of Marienland
  6. Ch Domossi of Marienland
  7. Ch Alcor von Millsdod
  8. Ch Dictator von Glenhugel

Rameses produced 11 American champions of record, Illena, 12; Favoriet, 13; Uranus, 14; Emperor, 18; Domossi, 20; Alcor, 26; and Dictator, 37.

These figures are recorded in the American Kennel Club as of July, 1951, and can probably be considered final for Domossi, Rameses and Uranus, who have been dead for a number of years; also for Illena who was still alive in 1953 but whose last litter was in 1946. Emperor died suddenly in 1949, Alcor and Favoriet in the spring of 1951. Of the Seven Sires, Dictator alone was still living in 1953, occasionally siring a litter but no longer at public stud. The number of champions by the latter four could therefore have been increased appreciably.

Quote from an old book entitled The Doberman Pinscher by Milo Denlinger 1953:

“Three of the famous 7 died as a result of heart attacks. Domossi at age of 7, Emperor at age 8, and Alcor shortly before his 10th birthday. Uranus, Rameses, & Favoriet lived to the age of 10. Illena was still alive at this writing at the age of 12.

“The year 1941 was the golden year of the American Doberman.  That year alone gave birth to Illena and the younger four of the Seven Sires:  Emperor and Favoriet in the spring, and Alcor and Dictator in the fall, the latter two within a day of each other.  All of the five were sired by the older three except Dictator, who was Domossi’s younger brother.  Rameses, the oldest was whelped in 1938, Domossi and Uranus in 1939.  THREE OF THE FAMOUS SEVEN DIED AS A RESULT OF HEART ATTACKS

  • Domossi, at the age of 7

  • Emperor, at the age of 8

  • Alcor shortly before his tenth birthday. 

  • Uranus, Rameses and Favoriet lived to the age of ten.

The Seven Sires were responsible for an era in American Dobermans which was as exciting and colorful as the dogs themselves.  They towered over the Doberman world like mighty titans and the competition among them was brisk, awesome — and sometimes fierce.  The dog magazines fattened on their advertising, the like of which the breed has not seen before or since. Their names were familiar to the veriest novice, and their offspring could be found in the remotest hinterlands.  Each had his loyal partisans, and the legends concerning them were inexhaustible.  With their passing, passes an era. History will not soon see the time when seven males of such stature live contemporarily again”.

All of them lived on the Eastern seaboard, although Domossi and Dictator were bred in the Middle West. Five were kennel dogs, the exceptions being Alcor and Dictator, who were raised from puppyhood by their owners and valued by them primarily for their companionship.

These dogs were the descendants of the best of the German imports. Domossi and Dictator were line bred to Ch and Sieger Muck v Brunia through his two imported sons, Ch Blank vd Domstadt, their sire, and Ch and Sg Troll vd Engelsburg, their dam’s sire. Their dam, the red Ch and Siegerin Ossi v Stahlhelm, was a granddaughter of Helios v Siegerstor through Kleopatra v Burgund. Rameses and Uranus were line-bred to Helios v Siegerstor. Both were sons of the imported Ch and Siegerin Jessy vd Sonnenhoehe, Rameses by the imported Ch Kurt vd Rheinperle-Rhinegold, and Uranus by Kurt’s American son, Pericles of Westphalia. Illena’s dam, Ch Dow’s Cora v Kienlesberg, was also by Kurt out of the imported Ch Gretl v Kienlesberg, a half-sister to Jessy through Cherloc v Rauhfelson.

Domossi and Dictator were full brothers, Dictator being the younger by two years. Emperor was the son of Domossi, Illena was the daughter of Rameses, and Alcor and Favoriet were the sons of Uranus. Uranus and Rameses were half-brothers, as were Alcor and Favoriet. Emperor’s dam, Ch Westphalia’s Rembha, was a litter sister of Rameses. Favoriet’s dam, Adele v Miegel, was a daughter of Rameses litter brother, Ch Westphalia’s Rajah. Alcor’s dam, Ch Maida v Coldod, was a daughter of Inka v Lindenhof, a full sister to the sire of Dictator and Domossi.

Dictator, Domossi and Favoriet were reds. Almost half (17) of the Dictator champions were red; three of the Domossi champions were red; and five of the Favoriet champions were red. Prior to Dictator’s time, the only stud producing as many as seven red champions had been Dictator’s sire, Blank, who was a black.

Alcor, Rameses and Illena were dominant black and all their champions were therefore black. Emperor and Uranus were black recessive. Two of the Emperor champions were red, and three of the Uranus champions were red.

There is no subject in dog breeding so cloaked in mystery, glamour and fable as that which surrounds the great stud dogs. The layman is convinced that great stud dogs become great simply because the breed’s best bitches all flock to them for breeding. Yet the records of the American Kennel Club show that of the total number of litters registered with Favoriet as the sire, only one-twelfth had the assistance of bitches who were, or ever did become, champions! Of the total number of litters sired by Dictator, only one-fifth had dams who were, or ever became, champions; of the total number by Uranus, only one-fourth, and by Emperor and Rameses, one-third. Of the total number of litters by Domossi or Alcor, approximately half had dams who were, or later became, champions.

Although it has long been recognized that the better the bitch, the better the stud’s opportunity to produce high-type progeny, the Seven Sires were able to produce an amazing number of champion offspring from bitches who never became champions themselves and in many cases could not even be considered show quality.

The records of Favoriet and Dictator were particularly impressive in this respect. Of the 13 champions by Favoriet, less than one-third (4) came from champion bitches. Of the 37 by Dictator, less than one-half (17) were from champion bitches. Of 14 by Uranus, 8 were from champions, and of 11 by Rameses, 7. Of 18 by Emperor, all but 3 were from champions; of 20 by Domossi, all but 2; and of 26 by Alcor, all but one were from champions.

A high proportion of the champions produced by several of these studs came from daughters of other studs included in the Famous Seven. Twelve of the 18 champions sired by Emperor were from daughters of the Seven Sires, with over half the Emperor champions from Rameses daughters alone.

One-half the 26 Alcor champions were from daughters of Dictator, Emperor and Favoriet. One-half the 20 Domossi champions were out of daughters of Emperor, Uranus and Rameses. Fourteen of the 37 Dictator champions came from daughters of Emperor, Alcor and Domossi, with ten of them from Domossi daughters only. Two of the 13 Favoriet champions were from a Uranus daughter and an Alcor daughter. One of the Uranus champions came from a Rameses daughter.

Rameses alone was never bred to any d
aughters of the Seven Sires, although 15 of the champions sired by the others were produced by his daughters. Ch Dow’s Illena of Marienland was not only the greatest of his offspring, but the greatest producing bitch in the history of American Dobermans. From a total of five litters by three different sires, she produced the remarkable total of 12 champions. The three sires were Domossi and his two sons, Emperor and Ch Dow’s Dusty v Kienlesberg. There were five champions in the two Emperor litters, four in the one Domossi litter, and three in the two Dusty litters. No other American bitch even approximated this record.

Rameses was the only one of the seven who sired more female champions than males, producing 7 female champions as against 4 males. Domossi sired 10 champions of each sex, and Illena produced 6 of each sex. Favoriet and Uranus each sired 6 female champions, with 7 male champions for Favoriet and 8 male champions for Uranus. Emperor and Alcor each sired 7 female champions, with Emperor siring 11 male champions and Alcor 19 male champions. Dictator sired 14 female champions and 23 male champions.

As individual specimens, Alcor, the black, and Dictator, the red, outshone all others, a fact which was reflected in their spectacular show careers. Of the other five, Favoriet was little known as a show dog, but Emperor, Domossi, Rameses and Uranus attained notable prestige both in breed and Group competition.

Five of the Seven Sires were between 27-1/2 inches and 28 inches in height, Rameses being slightly over 28 and Domossi slightly under 27. All had scissors bites, and six had complete sets of teeth, the exception being Domossi who lacked one premolar. In gait and strength of quarters, Dictator and Alcor excelled the others, Dictator being noted for the strongest pasterns and Alcor for the best turn of stifle. Uranus had the more rear angulation and Domossi, the less. The family line from which the brothers Dictator and Domossi were descended was strong in pasterns and quarters, but frequently lacked sufficient angulation. The family from which the brothers Rameses and Uranus came from was often weak in pasterns and tended to have too much angulation. In Alcor and in Emperor, the two families were combined, for both of them were outcrosses.

Although none of the seven were faulty in ribspring or depth of brisket, the chests of Rameses and Dictator were the deepest, while the other five possessed greater spring of rib. Alcor had the strongest back, Dictator the highest withers, and Favoriet the most pronounced forechest. Uranus, though not the largest, was the most powerful of them all, but did not have their elegance and length of neck. The four black dogs had eyes that were various shades of brown, in the case of Rameses two-toned. Dictator, alone of the seven, had a truly dark eye, the deep shade of brown for a red dog being comparable to a black eye in a black.

Alcor, Dictator, Domossi and Emperor had excellent tailsets. Those of the other three could have been higher. The tails of Domossi and Dictator, which were always carried gaily, had a characteristic triangular shape, thick at the base and tapering to a point. The only one of the seven which could be described as a really compact, short-bodied dog was Domossi. While Alcor and Dictator measured square, their backs were of medium length, and those of the other four were slightly longer.

If a composite Doberman could be made, using only one of the many qualities of which each of the Seven Sires was known to possess and transmit, it might have Dictator’s temperament, Favoriet’s front, Ramese’s chest, Uranus’ ribspring, Alcor’s rear quarters, Domossi’s tail, and Emperor’s elegance. But it would require the head of Illena, for her head was closer to perfection than any of the Seven Sires.

Not only was Illena famed for the beauty of her head and expression, but for her superb neck, shoulders and front, and the wine-red color of her markings. Her mouth was beyond criticism. She had a deep chest and excellent spring, but was too rounded in croup and rarely carried her tail up. Her greatest liability was a lack of showmanship and animation which often caused her assets not to be fully appreciated on first impression.

Only two studs have come within reaching distance of the Seven Sires. These are the black Emperor son, Ch Roxana’s Emperor v Reemon, and a black Uranus son, Ch Kama of Westphalia. Both were whelped in 1943 and were still living in 1953. Roxanna’s Emperor sired 9 black champions frojm six different bitches, only two of which were champions. His dam, Ch Westphalia’s Roxanna, was a litter sister of Rameses. Kama has sired 7 champions (6 black and 1 blue) from four different bitches, only one of which was a champion. His dam, Alma v Molnar, was a daughter of Ramese’s litter brother, Rajah.

Among the younger sires, only three as yet have produced more than two champions: Favoriet’s black son, Ch Christie’s Barrier, who died in 1951 at the age of six; Dictator’s red son, Ch Saracen of Reklaw; and Alcor’s black son, Ch Rancho Dobe’s Presto. Barrier and Saracen were both whelped in 1945. Barrier has produced four champions from four different bitches, Saracen three champions from two different bitches. Neither of Saracen’s mates were champions, and only one of Barrier’s. Presto, whelped in 1947, has produced three champions from one champion bitch.  Two of the Saracen champions were red. The Barrier and Presto champions were black. Saracen was out of an Emperor daughter, Kay of Reklaw; Presto was from a daughter of Roxanna’s Emperor, Ch Rancho Dobe’s Kashmir; Barrier’s dam Ch Christie v Klosterholz, was a daughter of Ramese’s litter brother, Rajah.

Of the younger Dobermans, male or female, the greatest producer to date (1953) was the red Dictator daughter, Ch Dow’s Dame of Kilburn , whose dam was the Domossi daughter, Ch Dow’s Dodie v Kienlesberg. She was whelped in 1945, the same year as Saracen and Barrier, and in her first two litters produced seven champions (five males and two females). From the first litter, which was sired by Alcor, five became champions. From the second litter, sired by Emperor and whelped just after his death in 1949, two had completed their championship as of 1953. Her third litter, by her grandson, Ch Berger’s Bluebeard, and her fourth litter, by her own sire Dictator, were not yet of showing age in 1953. The Alcor and Emporer champions were black, the Bluebeard litter was black and the Dictator litter was red.

Here, indeed, is in interesting fact:

the six Dobermans mentioned above — Roxanna’s Emperor, Kama, Barrier, Saracen, Presto, and Dame — are all sons and daughters of the Seven Sires!

In other lands they have also enriched the breed, many of the exports being Dictator or Emperor offspring out of daughters of the Seven Sires. In 1948, the Siamese Prince Bhanuband Yukol imported a Dictator son and daughter for the purpose of establishing the line in Siam. The red male, Damasyn The Shawn, was out of a daughter of Emperor. In Tokyo, Damasyn The Bat, who is by Dictator from a Domossi-Illena daughter, produced a litter sired by the Kama son, Ch Dacke vd Elbe, whose dam was a Domossi daughter out of a Uranus daughter. One of these was awarded the 1951 title, Grand Champion of Japan. The Cuban champion Damasyn Venture and his half-brother, Damasyn The Blade, have sired a number of litters in Havana. Both are by Dictator, Blade being a full brother of Damasyn The Bat. In Germany in 1950, Arda Lark Of Inverness priduced a litter by the red Sieger Artus v Wertabrucke. She is a red Dictator daughter out of a Domossi-Emperor granddaughter.

most famous of all the exports is probably Ch Kilburn Escort, the Emperor-Illena son sold around 1953 to Hawaii. Escort is one of the few Dobermans ever to leave America after completely his championship, most Dobermans being exported as puppies. Meadowmist Barrister, by Emperor out of a Rameses daughter, has established himself as a stud in Brazil.

The Seven Sires were the backbone of the American show Doberman. Through their intermarriages with the daughters, not only of each other but of the brothers and sisters of their families, they have transmitted a productive power that makes itself evident from generation to generation. During the ten years prior to August, 1951, a total of 416 Dobermans completed their championships in the United States. One-half of these were the descendants in the first, second or third generation of the Seven Sires. One-third of the total number were their own sons and daughters (139), sixty-two were their grandchildren, and seven were great-grandchildren. Many, of course, could have fallen into several categories, but in considering these figures no dog was counted more than once.

*** *** ***

submitted by Judy Doniere, USA

While it is true that Illena and 7 Sires are behind a great many of our present day Dobermans, you should know that they weren’t the ONLY dogs imported to this country.  Many great dogs from Germany and Holland were imported years before the importation of these dogs and their ancestors.  They weren’t all related in close generations.

Dogs such as Lux, owned by Glenn Stains (Pontchartrain) and Clause owned by Hermie Fleitman and many others as well as top bitches were imported by these men and many others, helped contribute to the gene pool in America.  It’s true that some go back to the older imports but many were several generations back.

While we have a rather small gene pool, we don’t KNOW that we have free lines or not.  Even if it were true all lines contain the Cardio defect, not ALL dogs and bitches carry this trait.

Many, many dogs live to a ripe old age.  I’ve had plenty and I know others that have had many in their breeding programs.  The problem is, we don’t know which dogs carry it and which ones don’t while they are young enough and virile enough to breed to or from.

If we had the elusive DNA and we had the guts to do it, we could do test matings and discard (sell as pets or do the unthinkable) and just keep for breedings those that would clear.  It would mean many of our litters would go down the drain, breeding wise but it’s the only logical thing we can do.  By breeding full brothers and sisters with the help of DNA we could eliminate many unbreedable dogs & bitches.  We could breed son to mother, or daughters to sires to see where the recessive lie if we had carriers.  It will be a big project and many won’t want to do it.  The few that do will have to have a very strong constitution and grit their teeth and do what is necessary.

I watched dedicated breeders almost wipe out Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Irish Setters and Dwarfism in Malamutes.  I saw them take 6 week old puppies to Michigan State University for euthanasia and for testing for these diseases.  They did this with the help of an affected dog
bred to their beautiful Champions or top breeding stock.  These test matings were promoted by the Parent Clubs and if you abided by their COE you did it. What a horrible thing to do BUT it certainly was a great help in cleaning up their breed.

On the other hand, a few dedicated Basenji breeders took a trip into the jungles of Africa, selecting some Basenji’s to bring back to the States in order to try and eliminate Falconi’s disease with dogs that were supposed to be clear and unrelated to our Basenji’s.  That’s how the Brindle Basenji’s got here.  I saw many of the foundation stock and some were quite nice. Others were so-so.  None were
registered nor was much known about their ancestors.  They dealt with the Chief’s of tribes in Africa and possibly saw some sires and dams and littermates.

AKC recognized the infusion of these dogs into the stud books as Foundation Stock and many in the ring today go back to these dogs as it’s just been several years since the imports arrived.  I’ve heard that Falconi still exists in many lines because many breeders refused to use these dogs and so the disease continues.

We will have to decide if this is how we want to proceed IF AND WHEN we get a DNA test.

We MAY have to resort back to the infusion of a like breed (i.e.-German Pinscher, Rottweiler, or possibly a Beauceron) to bring in Cardio clear blood. However, in doing so, we may find that we will also get some of their health problems.

It’s going to be a big project no matter how we do it, unless we just freeze all our good dogs and all of us wait about 15 years to see which if any lives a long life and what was the cause of death.

submitted by Judy Doniere, USA