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The history and the origin of the Saarloos Wolfhound

zaska van de kilstroom

This still relatively young dog breed from the Netherlands has received its name from the founder of this breeding, Mr. Leendert Saarloos (16.11.1884 -13.01.1969). He wanted to create a dog breed that possess no degeneration appearance, for that however a natural resistance against the most deceased illnesses and yet the sharp senses of the wolf. The dog should contribute the advantages in this intersection, that the domesticity gave to it in thousands of years, namely the bonding to the humans, absencely escape distance in real and supposed danger, learn enthusiasm into the high age etc.

His later aim mattered an attentive, intelligent, useable dog, which could be trained quickly, based on its excellent nose, to a trackhound and its innate caution and its quick power of reaction, as well as a police dog, rescue dog and seeing-eye-guide. In priority however L. Saarloos concerned a thoroughly healthy "not degenerate" dog.

Because the wolf possessed many of this desirable characteristic ,he selected a she-wolf ("Fleur" , a European wolf, that he bought from the zoological garden of Blijdorp in Rotterdam) as one of his ancestor parents for his breed and the german shepherd "Gerard van Fransenum" (Axel v. Stubersheim x Wotan's Irmhild), out of Prussian descent. Gerard's ancestry have served and proved in the first world war their pluck and good to train.

"Fleur" originated from the sibirian branch of the European wolf. That is why some Saarlooswolfhonds have Russian names yet today, in imitation of its ancestress . ( By the way the first wolf died at distemper befor breeding insert.)

L. Saarloos' first litter came in spring 1936. Unfortunately the puppies all died within a month at the feared dog plague, that probably a visitor brought along. But Saarloos did not lost his courage and in the following year he had puppies again, 2 grey females ("Pittha" and "Fleurie") and one male dog ("Barré"). Unfortunately these animals were also infected and the male dog died at the results of the epidemic, but both bitches survived. Because Saarloos needed for the further breeding one male halfwolf, he coupled once again "Gerard" and "Fleur" in the spring of 1938. In this litter there were 6 bitches and also one male puppy. And only this male puppy, also called "Barré", was retained, the bitches were selected. The F2-generation was the result of the cross back of the bitches with their father, what would produce 75% dog and 25% wolf: Saarloos crossed "Fleurie" with her father in order to eliminate the shyness, and he reserved two of the 7 pups for the further breeding: "Largo" and "Kaja". And already there was the first brown Saarloos Wolfhond: namely "Kaja". Speculations over alleged outcrosses with Huskys in because of the red color therefor are totally absurd. Certainly "Kaja" was not used then probably for the breeding.

At the beginning L. Saarloos paired also again german shepherds. 1940 Saarloos coupled "Largo" with his halfsister "Dela". Out of that litter, that included 13 puppies, Saarloos kept 7, and everyone of them sprendidly developed. In that wintertime of the same year the halfwolf "Barré" got coupled with the female halfwolf "Fleurie"; out of this litter he got 8 puppies, whereby he retained two for the observation. He noticed that the female dog was very good to train, whereas the male dog had had the shyness of his grandmother wolf inherited. Therefor he was unsuitable for the further breeding and found a final home in the zoological garden of Rhenen. At spring 1941, "Pittha" was coupled with her halfbrother "Max" (GS). These puppies developed excellently. Their characters seemed to be very close to the tribe father "Gerard", no shyness, so that they were determined for the allround-police duty. In the same spring "Fleurie" was coupled with her halfbrother "Max". Convinced by the good characteristics of his wolfdogs just out of this last generation, L. Saarloos passed over to deliver a restricted number of his animals whereby he retained however the control over these animals. Everything he delivered were castrated male dogs, so that no one else could breed with his dogs, with exception of two bitches, with which however was notarial determined not to breed with them. Based on his splendid animals (extend, deep chest; magnificant skin, elastic walk; shoulder height 75 cm!), which made deep impressions and also had a wunderful character, L. Saarloos now had increase inquiries after pups...

L. Saarloos named his new created breed "Europese Wolfhond" and his kennel „van de Kilstroom“. Later in the official acknowledgement 1975 by the Raad van Beheer and 1981 by F.C.I., (standard no. 311.1 FCI-group 1) this breed was renamed in SAARLOOS WOLFHOND, in honor of its creator, who unfortunately did not experience this honor anymore (he died at the age of 84).

nimrod van de kilstroom

1942 Saarloos demanded his wolfdogs for registration at the Dutch breeding index at the Raad van Beheer. But the proposition was rejected; the animals still would not be homogeneous in order to distinguish as a breed from of the remaining breeds clearly. Saarloos' conception was a brown Europese Wolfhond! On May, 15th of 1943 he told at the hearing at the Raad van Beheer , that he had crossed a halfwolf with a brown maledog and 5 of the 7 puppies were brown. At least in order to be acknowledged as a breed, because the Netherlands acknowledges only working breeds, some of the wolfdogs were not demanded to be a working dog. So that was the reason why. But also it could be that the lobby of the german shepherds prevented this (same as many year later by the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog). It seemed well , that they were afraid of the competition to the German Sherpherds...

In his efforts to train his dogs then however success adjusted: some dogs seemed to be suitable as seeing-eye-guides. Their innated caution and skilfull above all unknown made it possible and gave Saarloos possibilities of selection his dogs.

Outside of his kennel now breeding stations were established at different places in the Netherlands. A seeing-eye-guide-school was based in Dordrecht. L. Saarloos himself trained the dogs. It took less time to train a wolfdog than a "normal" dog, it should allegedly take 3 weeks!

Saarloos concerned a geneticist Dr. L. Hagendoorn because Saarloos recognized, that he alone wouldn't have success with his breeding. (There in the course of the breeding also brother and sister as well as half siblings together were crossed as well as there were some bottlenecks in the "breeding material". That is the reason why the inbreeding degree of this breed also today is still quite high, there often still operate for line- and inbreeding.)

Later yet wolfs were crossbreeded, the last wolf 1963 ( maybe the sixth, entirely that is not cleared, because L. Saarloos called all his she-wolves "Fleur".) That Dutch association for Saarloos Wolfhonden ( NVSWH ) assume yet more wolf intersection. It was official the second, according to pedigrees there must be anotherone in the 50, the third incross, a she-wolf crossed with "Barnum v. d. Kilstroom". A daughter out of this litter is "Alma v. d. Kilstroom", mother of" Baron v. d. Kilstroom", that is the father of "Fakar v. d. Kilstroom" (s. Pedigree Garou Loup). The NVSWH had found 4 wolves, all feminine animals, because in L. Saarloos' opinion the wild animal always should be the feminine... it is also possible, that these further intersections and/or lines do not further pursued.)

A neighbour of L. Saarloos had owned a black male Timberwolf, so that there is the supposition that this wolf also came to the breeding insert. Actually the current Saarloos wolfdogs see much more similar to American Timberwolf than the European wolf, that originated both "Fleurs" from. Also the good social behavior speaks in favour for the Timberwolf. But the NVSWH sais no incross of a Timberwolf...

In the last years of the second world war, the breed would have almost lost. Thanks to a local slaughter house, the famine could be turned away in the winter 1944/45. For this German officers would have brought almost the decline of this breed. They wanted to fetch originally the dogs for military duty, but when they shot, in spite of warning of L. Saarloos about the possible consequences, the wolfdogs escaped when the cages were opened. Perhaps this saved the breed surviving. It lasted for about one week to capture the wolfdogs.

Again and again L. Saarloos had to struggle against the stampede and shyness at his animals, that appeared again and again.

A virus raged in his dog-kennels at 1950 and snatched up many puppies and also most of his adult wolfdogs . People urgently advised him to vaccinate, but he refused to admit that it was a virus.

L. Saarloos dripped a very strict selection and sold no puppies. He delivered the animals at suitable persons, who did not sell them. Only he did the breeding, without left his courage himself also of various recoils. The appearance of his dogs did not interest him, but rather the character. He made this to his breeding principle. The character of his dogs was the most important factor, their looks didn`t interest him at all.

But the friends of the wolfdogs were not that same opinion however who made themselves probably meanwhile independent: they floated as a breeding aim the pretty shape of that "half and quarter wolves". (But the animals were not so georgious, the chest was wide, the white mask from nowadays wasn't there - look that photo upside.) At that time you hardly could recognized the wolf in these dogs. But Saarloos remained to select after character, faithfully to his aim. Secret resistance was the sequence. Without his knowledge they did breed. Other breeds maybe would be incrossed, because at once some features appeared, that can be attributed neither the wolf nor the german shepherd dog. People now increased on these external features. This trend obviously L. Saarloos also couldn't keep aloof from this. At 1963 he crossed once again one his wolfdogs ("Yro v. d. Kilstroom") with a wolf ("Fleur II"). On one hand he tried to counter the beginning inbreeding, which had become too large (the animals became smaller and more narrowly) and on the other hand he wanted to re-bond the breeding tighter to his kennel. Above all however he did it because friends urged him again and again; the wolflike appearance was more importantly to them. For the character concerning to the "usefulness" of his "wolfdog" the renewed wolf intersection brought a sharp setback. The stampede appeared again. At the beginning of the '70s the education to the seeing-eye-guide was stopped, also because of the increasing traffic. The blinds had lost moreover the confidence into the dogs because of heavy accidents. So the current Saarloos Wolfhond is a family dog "without use value"; that breed standard says: use: no working-dog! At 1993 the standard became yet once modified.

At 1963 Saarloos demanded for the second time for an acknowledgement as a recognized dogbreed. Because L. Saarloos however persisted further on that all his dogs remained in his property, it became be rejected again. After that he only had yet little interest in his breed. Only yet he used a few animals, especially with the male dogs, so that the breeding basis themselves almost made embarrassingly smaller. He made thoughts about his inheritance. Perhaps the breed should perish with him... Finally he died at 1969.

Then his daughter Marijke received the breeding together with her mother. Because she was only 17 years old however, she was overcharge certainly with the situation; the mother was moreover blind. In the following years, there was increasingly difficulty. The plot of land became sold at an adjoining tradesman. In order to rescue the European wolfdog and the breeding, the animals were accommodated at a friend in makeshift-kennels. It seemed to be only another question of time... and so 1975 some engaged lovers of this breed, who saw the breed threatened in its continue, asked the Raad van Beheer for support. With a number of Saarloos wolfdogs they went to Amsterdam and registrated these dogs in the breeding book at the Raad van Beheer. Years of registration followed. Zaska van de Kilstroom stood model to the standard.

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