Germany’s Youngest Breed

Visitors to historic Freudenberg, a town located in the Siegerland region in Germany, immediately notice the timber-framed houses made possible by an abundance of timber resources in the area. Exposed wooden beams and plastered walls are characteristic of many structures in Siegerland towns and villages, but they weren’t just aesthetically appealing; these houses were designed to withstand the region’s climate, the timber frames providing structural stability, the plaster infill effectively insulating against the elements.

Photo by © Typhoonski | Dreamstime

The Siegerland region of western Germany was also known for a unique way of farming done historically with non-reversible ploughs. To be more descriptive, this was a “ridge and furrow” ploughing system used since medieval times.  Horse-drawn plows (or later, tractors) created parallel ridges and troughs in the soil by ploughing the same strip of land each year.

Photo of ridge and furrow system by © Giuseppe Di Paolo/Dreamstime

We know you’re dying for specifics.

See, traditional ploughs had a cutting blade that could turn the soil over only to the right. This meant that the plough couldn’t return along the same line for the next furrow. Instead, it went in a clockwise direction, and after ploughing one long side, the plough was removed from the ground, moved across the unploughed land to the other side, and was put back in to work back down that long side. The process gradually moved the soil towards the center line of each strip over many years of ploughing the same strips, and this eventually built up ridges in the center of each strip leaving lower furrows between the ridges. 

This resulted in a pattern of crooked or curved furrows in the fields known locally as “Krumme Furche” or “Krom Fohr,” or in modern German, “crooked furrow,” and it came to refer to the area. 

You might not have known (or cared) about this region, or about how farm land was tilled there. You might not even recognize the name, Ilse Schleifenbaum, but she and her husband owned a summer house in the village of Krumme Furche, and in 1945, the couple lived there with their dogs, “Peter” and “Fiffi.”

The offspring of those dogs were the foundation of a breed Ilse Schleifenbaum created and named for the area in which she lived, “Krom Fohr,” or the breed we know today as the Kromfohrlander. As an aside, it is also the only breed of dog descended from a beloved US military troop mascot. Read more about that on the parent club’s website. 
There are many sources to learn more about the breed and its history (this article by the fabulous Ria Hörter is another good one), but the focus of this post is the origin of the breed’s name. We’ll go so far as to mention that ten years after the first litter was whelped, the Kromfohrlander was recognized by the German Kennel Club and by the FCI, and that Ilse  wrote the first breed standard. And to underscore the relative “newness” of the breed, the first Kromfohrlander  didn’t come to the US until 1997.
Image by ©Judith Kiener | Dreamstime

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