(L-R) Rinty Tin Tin Brodsgaard, CD, Int. Ch. Odin von Buescker Schloss, PH, ROM, Bodyguards Rin Tin Tin II, CD

The History of The Bloodline
Return to Hollywood Dogs Home Page
Some photos used are from private memorabila collections and/or museums

The Linebred descendants of Rin-Tin-Tin IV produced by the breeding program were the result of the efforts of Lee Duncan and his vision which was continued by Bodyguard Kennels and Jannettia Propps and then in turn continued by her granddaughter Daphne Hereford. This bloodline is over 100 years old and the Linebred descendants have been carefully bred for over six decades. Making the bloodline widely considered one of the oldest continuous bloodlines in the breeds 120-year history. There have been ups and downs, good and bad, but at the end of the day the lineage, and the precious dogs, were, for several decades, preserved in the manner Lee Duncan wanted. And for that he is likely he is likely grateful.

The auspicious beginnings of the line would lead to two families dedicating their lives to the preservation of not only the legacy of the lineage, but also the quality dogs for which they have become known. The foundation of the criteria for the breeding program American Corporal Lee Duncan would establish began when he checked recently captured German airfield near the Lorraine border at Fluiry on Sept. 15, 1918.

The 24 year old Duncan found the field in bad condition with the hangars and installations destroyed. Duncan, while searching through the rubble of the remains of a German War Dog kennel, found all the dogs in the kennel to be dead; then heard the sound of puppies crying, which he found behind a nearby dugout with their very weak, but protective, mother named Betty des Flandres. She and the puppies had not been injured by the American shell blast that destroyed the kennel. Betty and her five puppies were taken back to the headquarters of the 135th squadron on the Mem La Tour Road near Toul. Research, including Duncan's interviews with the captured German Kennel Master, determined that the sire of that litter was Fritz de la Chasse royale. The German Shepherd Dog breed was young, only 19 years old at the time Duncan came upon the litter. Dogs from the lineage can be found in the Zuchtbuch fur deutsche Schaferhunde (SZ)(First Stud Book for the Breed).

According to the Denver-Record Chronicle a Texan, Walker Jagoe, also had a connection to Duncan and the dogs. Jagoe was among America's first group of pilots in the 135th Aero Squadron, nicknamed the "Liberty Squadron." He flew alongside celebrated pilots like Eddie Rickenbacker and future generals Carl Spaatz and Benjamin Foulois. Pilots flew over German lines, performing reconnaissance on France's Western Front, leaning over the edge of planes to photograph enemy activity. When Jagoe and fellow pilot Lee Duncan investigated dugouts after Saint-Mihiel, they rescued five German shepherd puppies left by retreating Germans. Jagoe recalled that "Duncan became quite attached to one puppy," and it became Rin Tin Tin, an internationally famous silent film star. Jagoe eventually reunited with Duncan in Sherman and met Rin Tin Tin’s grandson. Duncan named the two pups he kept after tiny FRENCH PUPPETS the children gave to the American soldiers for good luck during World War I. The female died shortly after arriving in the United States following the war. In recent history it was printed in an article that Rin Tin Tin was actually the Girl puppet and Nenette was the boy. Hstorically, the public was under the assumption otherwise.

A New York breeder by the name of Mrs. Leo Wanner gave Duncan a female from one of her famous champions which he took back with him to California.

Ultimately it would only be the male that survived.
He died August 10, 1932.He was originally buired in Duncan's Rose Garden on Country Club Drive in Beverly Hills (left is the only know picture taken of the original gravesite) but later moved to Paris, his country of birth.

Duncan's original male was never registered with American Kennel Club but his lines have been traced to 1906/07 SGR Roland von Starkenburg (1903) SCHH3.

Duncan had fallen in love with the breed during his service in World War I and through his dedication became well-known in his own right in the dog show world. His dedication to the breed led his first wife to name his dog as co-respondent in the divorce case she filed against him.

In 1931 the first Rin Tin Tin sired Junior out of Ch. Asta of Linwood. In turn Junior sired Rin Tin Tin III

In 1939 as owner of the female, Treulene v Pond View, Duncan was listed as breeder of Ch. Tasso of Villa Marina, ROM a well-known son of 1937 Int. Ch. Odin von Busecker Schloss, PH, ROM. Tasso sired Rin Tin Tin II and in turn he sired Rin-Tin-Tin IV. As was common with most breeders of the time, Duncan owned several white coated dogs who were also part of the breeding program. The white coated dogs were not disqualified from the Conformation Ring ONLY until November 1960.

On October 15, 1954, "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin", made it's debut to Friday Night Television. The show was set in the Old West and featured a heroic German Shepherd Dog, "Rin-Tin-Tin" with a small boy as his companion, "Rusty." The boy had been orphaned in an Indian raid after which he and his dog "Rinty" were adopted by the Calvary soldiers of Fort Apache. Rinty and Rusty were made honorary soldiers and helped keep Law and Order on the Old Frontier. The series ran until August 28, 1959, a total of 164 episodes.

Three of Duncan's German Shepherd Dogs filled the roll in this TV series, Rin Tin Tin II, Rin-Tin-Tin IV and Hey You. An offspring of another canine star, "Flame" was also used in parts of the series. The dog, called J.R. was trained by Frank Barnes, who Duncan was mentoring.

According to Movie Dog Collector Dan Condon, there were only two movies starring "Rin-Tin-Tin. IV" that were made for the theater."Rin-Tin-Tin - Hero of the West" (1954) and "The Courage of Rin-Tin-Tin" (1954). Both were take-offs from the TV series.

There have been individuals who have suggested that Lee Duncan's dogs were not used in the filming of the series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. That misconception is easily proven to be not true by not only Executive Producer Herbert B. Leonard's own testimony in Federal Court, but by watching the various episodes and observing the four dogs who were used in the series, three of which Duncan owned. Photos show the major identifying factors, primarily head appearance and color, in the four dogs used; Rin Tin Tin II, Rin-Tin-Tin IV, Hey You and JR. Rin Tin Tin II and Rin-Tin-Tin IV were Silver Grey in color, Hey You and JR were Sable Grey in color.It is relatively easy to tell when the dogs were switched for various scenes and tasks.

This is a Link to YOU TUBE of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin episodes. Watch them and you can clearly see when the dogs change, example, S1-EP1 on the You Tube page JR is used in the opening scene and in the sitting cute with the cavalry scene, while Rin-Tin-Tin IV is used jumping off the building onto the wagon, and Rin Tin Tin II in an attack scene and so on. See additional information on the Identification of the Dogs section.

Many people who wanted pups approached Duncan, but only one of those relationships would maintain the dedication necessary to continue the lineage.

It was in 1956 that Jannettia Brodsgaard Propps first contacted Duncan about a puppy for her breeding program. She and Duncan communicated frequently and finally on July 5, 1957 the first son of Rin-Tin-Tin IV she would purchase from him arrived at the airport in Houston, Texas. Rinty Tin Tin Brodsgaard, CD and his half brother Bodyguards Rin Tin Tin II, CD were both shown in obedience. Jannettia also showed their progeny including Rin Tin's Sable, CDX who accomplishd a near perfect score of 199 1/2 out of a possible 200 under Judge Harvey Richards. When she asked why she did not get a perfect score, Richards, a Weimer breeder, told her, "No German Shepherd is perfect."
She would ultimately acquire four dogs, including Rena, Daw-Gon , and Judo directly from Duncan as well as his endorsement for success in her breeding program.

Duncan died on September 20, 1960 and the breeding program and lineage continued with Ms. Propps and Bodyguard Kennels. Ms. Propps continued to breed and show the Line 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.

This is what The Evergreen Historic Memorial Cemetery in Riverside, California wrote about Duncan.
"Leland Leroy "Lee" Duncan, 67, owner and trainer of the famous family of Rin-Tin-Tins, German shepherd dogs, died of a heart attack on September 20, 1960 at his ranch home, El Rancho Rin-Tin-Tin. Duncan had lived in Riverside for 24 years.

"In France at the close of World War I, Duncan rescued a litter of German shepherd dogs abandoned in the trenches by the retreating Germans and brought them back to the United States. One of the pups became the famous original Rin-Tin-Tin, who starred in 22 Warner Brothers films from 1922 until his death in 1932. Rin-Tin-Tin and subsequent litters (including Rin-Tin-Tin, Jr., III, & IV) brought fame and fortune to Duncan. Rin-Tin-Tin puppies went to movie stars like Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo and industrialists like W. K. Kellogg.

"Duncan and his sister, Marjorie, were born in Hanford, California. In 1897, their father abandoned them and they spent time in an Oakland area orphanage until their mother was able to care for them.

"Duncan enlisted to serve in World War I on November 1, 1917. He was among the first 300 Americans sent to France in the 135th Air Squadron. According to his obituary, "he had charge of the squadron's ordinance and was the first American to synchronize machine gun fire through aircraft propellers." Wounded in action and awarded the Purple Heart, Corporal Leland L. Duncan was honorably discharged from the United States Army on May 26, 1919.
* During World War II, Duncan trained more than 5,000 war dogs for the Army K-9 Corps at Camp Hahn, Riverside, California while continuing to train the descendants of the original Rin-Tin-Tin in successive Hollywood movie roles.
* From 1954 to 1959, Rin-Tin-Tin IV starred in the television series, "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin."
"In Riverside, Duncan was active in youth work. One of the many groups he aided was Boy Scout Troop 2, sponsored by the First Baptist Church. Upon his untimely death, these Scouts reverently donned their uniforms and honored Duncan by attending his funeral at the First Baptist Church." Duncan's wife Eva passed away December 26, 2000 and is buried near him.

Because she was raised by her Grandmother, the dogs were a huge part of Miss Hereofrd's life. So much so she spent her weekends at dog class, in the kennel or at dog shows learning and being groomed to take the helm of the respected lineage.

Over the years Miss Hereford has owned several dogs registered as Rin Tin Tin with the American Kennel Club and has bred several generations of Linebred Descendants of Rin Tin Tin IV.

Ms. Propps passed away December 17, 1988 and the legacy was passed to Miss Hereford who dedicated her life to maintaining the bloodline. No Trademarks had ever been granted for Rin Tin Tin when Hereford applied for Live German Shepherd Puppies and Fan Club in 1993. She was ultimately issued 10 Trademarks and used them for 20 years.

For decades AKC Breeder of Merit, Daphne Hereford continued to be well known throughout the German Shepherd dog world as the breeder of the lineage.

Hereford managed the breeding program for several decades following the death of her Grandmother. She was a long-time member of The German Shepherd Dog Club of America. During her tenure with the lineage she participated in the American Kennel Club Canine Ambassador Program and served as an AKC Canine Ambassador for the Kansas City German Shepherd Dog Club. As such she presented Responsible Dog Ownership programs to more than 5,000 children in the Houston area.

One thing Hereford has remain steadfast with the Lineage is what breeders refer to as "Type." Type means a certain look that is consistant in a line and stays there over time. It takes a special effort by a breeder to perfect and retain Type. That has been achieved with the Linebred Descendants of Rin Tin Tin IV.

Hereford had occasion in June 2019 to communicate with long-time very respected German Shepherd breeder David Fritsche regarding his personal experience with Lee Duncan which eventually led to a book The Dog is My Shepherd. Hereford asked him if he thought Rin Tin Tins Flashdance was almost an identical replica of his Heidi in type and his reply was, "Oh my yes. The breed type is certainly there in this line." That is one of the greatest compliments a breeder can get.(On the right the top photo Heidi 1959 - Bottom Flashdance 2017)

In April 1993 Hereford qualified and applied for, and was issued, the first ever Trademark for Rin Tin Tin 'live German Shepherd Puppies" and a Service Mark for Rin Tin Tin Fan Club by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In October 1993, after sending a friendly letter offering the services of her dogs, she received a cease and desist letter authored by James P. Tierney on behalf of Herbert B. Leonard claiming he owned the rights to Rin Tin Tin. That is when what Susan Orlean referred to as the "lawsuit period" began.

Leonard and his associates continued their barrage of lawsuits over the next 20 years but it finally ended in 2016 in The United States District Court, Central District of California, 2:13-cv-2783 with the termination of the Trademarks. The judge's final ruling clearly stated Hereford's dogs are Linebred Descendants of Rin-Tin-Tin IV and she is not restricted from using Rin Tin Tin in any context.

Hereford's line dogs have been the subject of feature stories in two separate editions of Popular Dogs German Shepherd Editions in 2001 and 2006.

In addition she participated in a nationwide Responsible Dog Ownership Program tour sponsored by Gerry Nash and Animal Food Services with her gorgeous Silver male named RIN TIN TINS OOOH-AHHH between June 1999 and April 2000. California, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York and Texas were among the states included in the tour.

Miss Hereford authored two books, Rin Tin Tin's Legacy in 1998 ( Copyright) and RIN TIN TIN: The Lineage and Legacy in 2011 (ISBN-13:978-1468114980)( Copyright) See more about the book Here.

A representative of the bloodline was present in October 2011 to accept the First Legacy Award during The American Humane Association's First Hero Dog Awards Ceremony and was honored to participate in the Closing Bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept.7, 2011 and featured in Times Square that same day.

In June 2012 The Academy of Arts and Sciences invited a lineage representative to participate in a Dogs in Hollywood presentation highlighting dogs in film that included information regarding the nominations by Darryl Zannuck for the first ever Oscar for Best Actor that were originally intended to be humerous.

Following Miss Hereford's diagnosis in 2005 of COPD she began looking for a successor who could continue the bloodline in a manner acceptable to the criteria Lee Duncan had envisioned and she and her Grandmother had followed for their 60+ year stewardship of the lineage.

Several individuals expressed interest and some produced litters that were placed on non-breeding agreements. In December 2017 Joanne Bradley acquired Rin Tin Tins Flashdance, Rin Tin Tins Rudolf and semen from Rin-Tin-Tin XXXVII. She agreed to raise line dogs in accordance with the historical protocol.

Bradley produced her first litter on June 2, 2019 out of Rin Tin Tins Flashdance and sired by Rin-Tin-Tin XXXVII.

In 2018 Nancy Hibiske Reed agreed to assist with the continued development of the Museum of Dogs and the promotion of the exhibition of German Shepherd collectibles in Public Venues. In addition, Hibiscus Reed participates in AKC and UKC performance venues with her male, Rin Tin Tins Independence. Reed also plans to compete with Rin-Tin-Tins Rin-Tin-Tin from the Bradley litter in upcoming shows.

More than 50 years separate these dogs The first is Grafmar's Odin of Rocky Reach from a 1950s copy of the Review and the bottom is RIN TIN TINS OOOH-AHHH taken in 2000. Compare those to the photos of today.
More than 50 years separate the two dogs in these photos. The Bloodline is also easily recognized by their unmistakable head. (Left) Rinty Tin Tin Brodsgaard, CD (Right) Rin Tin Tins Oooh-Ahhh
Thank you for visiting.
If you have any questions, please CONTACT US

Please enjoy this very informative article by John Ayotte about Color Genetics in the German Shepherd Dog. Published with permission.

A Very Special Thank you to Larry Ferris for providing the photos of Lee and Eva Duncan's burial sites

(c) Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website may be copied or reproduced without prior written permission. This website is NOT affiliated with ANY Registered Trademarks