The German Shepherd Who Was The Littlest Hobo

When Chicago White Sox pitcher, Chuck Eisenmann, was recovering from an arm injury in 1946, he got a German Shepherd puppy he called, “London,” so named for the time he was stationed in London during the war. He developed a very special relationship with London, a rapport possible only because of the dog’s extraordinary intelligence.  Eisenmann’s baseball contract included a clause allowing the dog to travel with the team, and there were plenty of anecdotes that resulted from London’s antics on the field (i.e., London ran the bases when asked to). One such incident came after Eisenmann had quit the team and was now writing a sports column and managing a local ball club. The other team’s manager wanted to eject the dog off the field, and Eisenmann instead motioned to London to approach the manager and push him off the field.  A Life Magazine photographer happened to witness the incident, and what followed was a three page spread about “The Dog That Made The Team.”

Who could have guessed what would follow.

Eisenmann gave up professional baseball when “the dog started showing signs of greatness.”  “London” would go on to launch a Canadian industry with his first film, “The Littlest Hobo.” It inspired the television series about a vagabond German Shepherd Dog who wandered through communities helping people and animals encountered along the way. In the 1960s, The Littlest Hobo became to Canada what “Lassie” was to the United States in the 1950s and 60s.

The first series was done with “London,” but other dogs appeared in subsequent versions of The Littlest Hobo, also appearing in a rebirth of the series in color in 1979. Eisenmann would eventually have three German Shepherd Dogs named London, as well as dogs named Litlon, Lance, Hobo, Venus and Raura. All were trained to be trilingual, and each had an average vocabulary of 1500 words. Personal appearances were part of their work, and by the time Eisenmann put the brakes on his career in 1992, he estimated that he and his dogs had performed three shows daily for eight months out of eighteen years. Along the way, they had appeared on the Today Show, the Mike Douglas Show (huge in its day), the Tonight Show, and Betty White’s Pet Set.

As of 2002, Eisenmann kept just one dog, Raura, and in 2010, he passed away at the age of 91.

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Read more about London on Tom Hawthorn’s blog from which the thumbnail image comes

22 thoughts on “The German Shepherd Who Was The Littlest Hobo”

    • Yesssz. I am..from the 1960 days ….I was about 20 years old .. watched it many times …still love it now.. glad we can still see it ..nowadays ….thankyou .T V …for bringing it back ..everyday on Ch 102 …at 9 amThankyou ….

  1. I have a picture of the 4 Littlest Hobo standing on front of a ball diamond, also it has 3 I think signatures. Could u tell me if there r any more around. I cant find one.

  2. Is this breed of dog available any more? We had one several years ago, she was the best. Hoping to find another one.

      • I feel like they meant this type of colour, it seems pretty rare for a pure bred german shepherd.

        • It’s a Reverse-Mask (or otherwise known as Wolf Mask) German Shepherd. They’re fairly rare but they’re out there. Just have to look for one as they pop up on occasion (or unexpectedly) in litters. Do be aware though that there are many Skepsky (Husky/Shepherd) mixes, so if you want a purebred Shepherd or don’t want to deal with any crazy husky, I’d choose wisely (and do a DNA test if possible for confirmation).

          • London was a working German Shepherd and Sable in colour. The working lines split from the show lines in the 1960’s. GSDs are working dogs, and they have different conformation, are more athletic, and more outgoing than the show line dogs. The original GSD was sable – created by Max Von Stephenitz in the 1800s. Police, military, and Schutzhund use working dogs because the show dogs are pretty much useless – no drive, have week backs, and weak hocks.

          • Look again, Jenn, not all show GSDs are built as you describe. We’ve seen a few spectacular dogs!

  3. it says that London died of a massive drug overdose. Anybody know the particulars of what happened?

    • Harold, we’ve not been able to find the particulars, but we’d sure like to know, too

    • It’s a play on words, sick dogs that cant continue are given a massive overdose of drugs (put down) to end their suffering.
      The original London died of old age complications in an emergency vet on his 15th birthday.
      Couple of the others had to be put down due to cancer, one (Toro) died after a rattlesnake bite.
      Very little is known about the last 80’s Dogs. BO was the youngest, the star of the ‘new’ show, and most likely Chucks last dog, he would have been 14 when Chuck finally retired from the dog business in 1992 at the age of 82.
      Posted pic of Bo and Chuck, both in their Golden years. <3

  4. I totally love this show very much. I watched this show growing up. Glad they have it on YouTube so I am able to watch it.

  5. My Mom worked at the Holiday inn back in the 60’s.
    One day when I came home from school. The owner and four of the dogs came over to surprise me! They performed tricks and I got autographed pictures of them.
    I was 9 or 10 at the time. Pictures got lost somehow:( but it was a great childhood memory.

  6. In the original 1958 movie version seen on You tube in 3 parts sees this ultra intelligent German Shepard as if the dog understood the English language ,human emotions , heroism and physical feats of incredible strength ,stamina and cleverness never seen by any other dog then and now not even Lassie . These particular Shepherds were beyond amazing . I ‘ll never forget how the dog rescued the sheep from slaughter and with nothing more than 18 in of rope tied around the sheep’s neck was pulled from place to place through all kinds of terrain and obstacles from the police and animal rescue who also released 20 dogs from the dog catcher by cleverly unlocking the lock . He understood how the sheep was a pet to a young boy whose father made him sell to a slaughter house . The hero then rescued the not so smart sheep until it found a home to the little crippled daughter of the governor and the hero found the little boy who believed the sheep was killed and brought to the governors mansion where the sheep is safe in his new home with the likely hood of the boy allowed to visit his beloved sheep. When the boy realizes just what the dog did and the attachment he finally felt for the dog ..Our hero the hobo having done so much but the vagabond nature of the hero homeless by choice jumped on the freight train with other human hobos for new adventures .

    • Wonderful memories, Steven, thanks for reminding us with a trip down memory lane!

  7. You can still watch the show on CTV2 (Barrie) weekday mornings. I watched it with my children in the 80’s and still watch and enjoy it now, when I’m home. My dog likes to watch it with me. They don’t make many shows like this anymore with such good moral teachings embedded.

  8. This TV production entry came across as a YouTube suggest. I forgot about the series. I used to watch it in the 89s a a young teen. It was popular at the time in Sydney Australia 🌏

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