There once was a little Fox Terrier, who met a GGV who was hairier…
The subject line and opening sentence sound like the beginnings of a limerick or amusing story, but the punch line is an unassuming little breed called the Kromfohrländer. Often mistaken for anything other than a purebred dog, the breed has been recognized by the FCI since 1955, the United Kennel Club since 1996 and is currently part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service. Still, as Mary Dixon, the president of the Kromfohrländer Club of America in 2013 once wrote, a lot of people have thought they owned a Kromfohrlander because their shelter dog looked like one.
Even sources can’t all agree on what breeds produced this charming dog. The FCI breed standard writes that its ancestors were a wire-haired Fox Terrier and a Grand Griffon Vendeen. Vetstreet.com will only say that its ancestors were likely terriers, hounds or herding dogs. We tend to side with the experts, and that would be the Kromfohrländer Club of America that writes, “Possible breeds (that could survive on their own during the war and actually existed in that part of northern France at the time) that would have contributed to the creation of the Kromfohrlander include Briquet Vendeen, English White Terrier (the foundation of Parson Russell and Fox Terriers), Pyrenean Shepherd, Schnauzer and Brittany and/or Kooikerhundje, which would have made the smooth variety possible.”
This ancestry contributed to a smart, quick learning dog who just might be only breed descended from a U.S. military mascot, of only an unofficial one. “Peter” (sometimes called “Original Peter”), was the original foundation dog, a scruffy stray dog found by US ground soldiers in northern France. Peter traveled with his human mates into Germany at the end of the war, but once again, he became a stray when he separated from his troops. Found by local Germans, the wife of a German lawyer, Ilse Shleifenbaum, saved him just in time when he was about to be killed. It was Peter’s lucky day in more ways than one. Brought home and loved, when Peter was bred with a local black & white fox terrier and resulting puppies were identical in type, size, coat, pattern and behavior, Ilse was inspired to develop a companion breed, and the rest is history.
Image of a Kromfohrländer by Ellarie