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Muck von Brunia and Genetic Bottlenecks

Muck von Brunia

Muck von Brunia (1929 - 1940)

A good source of information about the early history of the DV (German Doberman Club) can be found in a book called "100 Jarhe Dobermann-Verein E.V. 1899 - 1999". It's a yearly chronicle of the German Doberman Club from its inception in 1899 until its one hundred year anniversary in 1999. It's an interesting book but it's written entirely in German which can make for difficult reading for an American audience :-). Fellow Doberman fanciers would appreciate the condition of my copy of the book. Let's just say that I'm not the only one to have enjoyed this book, so have my dogs. Apparently, books make excellent chew toys.

There's a prevalent misconception in America that there were no Dobermans born in Germany following the second world war. However, that's simply not true. There were plenty of litters registered in Germany from 1949 through 1958 but due to the war and all of the problems created by it, the German club had fallen behind on publishing the stud books in a timely matter. The club had basically stopped functioning from 1944 - 1946, but there were still Dobermans registered during those years. Considering the post-war conditions in Germany, it's a true miracle that the club survived at all. As an example of just how far behind they were, the 1949 stud book was not published until 1955.

I am fortunate to have a lot of these old stud books in my possession. When I started out in Dobermans I constructed a pedigree database using freeware developed by Jim Seltzer. I manually entered thousands upon thousands of dogs (OCD much!) and even though this was a long time ago, a lot of that information stuck. So I kind of just know from constructing this database just how small the founder stock basically is. I can't quantify it, but the essential truth is that the Gruenig book mentions ALL of the important dogs, and many more that are basically no longer in pedigrees as well. The fact is however, that was so long ago, and so many bottlenecks ago (and the consequent loss of alleles via selection and also through genetic drift) that those early dogs aren't even relevant. For all intents and purposes the founder stock in America is Illena and the seven sires. I mean that's basically what it comes down to. In practical terms.

Here's an example that should illustrate just how small the international gene pool really is. The legendary and now deceased president of the Italian Doberman Club, Dr. Pietrogino Pezzano (kennel del Citone), was also something of a breed history and pedigree nerd. Years ago he sent me a pdf document that traces the sire line of his famous dog Ginogomez del Citone. Gino was 31 generations away from founder stock, a dog named Landgraf. He was 28 generations away from Hellegraf von Thüringen. He was 22 generations away from Lux von der Blankenburg, and 19 generations away from Muck von Brunia.

So here's the thing. In the past ten years there have been three really big studs in Europe. They are: Baron Nike Renewal, Nike's son, Fedor del Nasi, and Gino Gomez del Citone. All three dogs are descended from Prinz vom Norden Stamm. So all three have identical sire lines and trace back to the same dog: Muck von Brunia. And by the way, if you carry out the same exact exercise for the top American bred sire Electra's The Windwalker... just follow the sire line, you'll eventually find Muck. He's way back there, because he was the grandsire of Dictator! My male, Livonija Baron Pompey, is not descended from Prinz vom Norden Stamm or Electra's The Windwalker, yet you can trace his sire line directly back to Muck as well. I'm willing to bet that if you trace the sire line, more than 75% worldwide descend directly from Muck von Brunia. And that's being awfully conservative. I'd say something ridiculous like 99.9% trace back Hellegraf von Thüringen. I think all of the seven sires trace back to Hellegraf.

You'd be hard pressed to find a European pedigree from so called show lines whose tail male line is not based on one of the following Dobermans:

Nitro del Rio Bianco Prinz vom Norden Stamm Graaf Quirinus van Neerlands Stam

Hertog Alpha le Dobry

Ebo van de Groote Maat

- all trace back to Muck through the tail male line.

Remember, we're looking strictly at the "tail male line" - this doesn't take into account the sire line of the dam, or of the grandparents. There will be tens if not hundreds (if not thousands) of crosses to Muck in your typical modern pedigree. All genetic roads lead to Muck.

And just in case anyone reading this article thinks that the so called "working lines" are somehow special, allow me to address that misconception. The following influential sires trace back to Muck von Brunia strictly through the tail male line:

Bingo vom Ellendonk

Ikarus von der Kollau

Jano von Bayern

Curd von der Urftquelle

A-Litter von der Weyermühle

B-Litter von der Weyermühle

C-Litter von der Mooreiche

The sire line of the Ellendonk foundation bitch, Dixie v. Krakau, traces back to Muck von Brunia!

So the sire line of nearly every Doberman born in Europe will trace back to Muck von Brunia, regardless of whether that dog was bred for "show" or for "work". This is significant because the Y-chromosome, which is the chromosome that determines the gender of the offspring, is passed directly from father to son. Consequently, every Doberman descended from Muck will have an identical Y-chromosome. The implications for the genetic diversity in our breed, or lack thereof, should be clear.

Of the "seven sires", the foundation upon which American lines are built, the following three dogs can trace their sire line directly back to Muck:

Emperor of Marienland

Domossi v. Marienland

Dictator v. Glenhugel

And while you can not trace the sire line of Alcor v. Millsdod back to Muck v. Brunia, the maternal grand-dam of Alcor v. Millsdod was sired by Muck. So there Muck is, exerting his genetic influence in the third generation of Alcor's pedigree.

Three of the seven great American sires have zero genetic contribution from Muck von Brunia. Muck is not found in the sire line, nor anywhere else in the pedigree. They are:

Westphalia's Uranus

Westphalia's Rameses

Favoriet v. Franzhof

So who is the most influential contributor of genetic material in the pedigree of Westphalia's Uranus, Westphalia's Rameses and Favoriet v. Franzhof? Well firstly, Jessy von der Sonnenhöhe is a common ancestor found in the pedigree of all three dogs. However, the tail male line of these three dogs traces back to Helios v. Siegestor, who also happened to be Jessy's paternal grandsire. So these three dogs are linebred on Helios vom Siegestor, and this gave American breeders the opportunity to breed Dobermans descended from Muck to Dobermans descended from Helios......

A word about Muck....

Muck was the best of the Alto v. Sigalsburg grandsons. Muck was the 1932 black German Sieger, imported to America at the age of three by Mr. Owen West of Chicago for a reputed 3,500 USD. He became an American Champion in 1932 less than a month after arrival and was the DPCA National BOB in 1934. He sired 10 American bred champions (five of them from a single litter out of Cora v.d. Ruppertsburg) and left behind two Sieger sons in Germany- Troll v.d. Engelsberg and Blitz v.d. Domstadt. His Brown litter sister Mona (44 398) was the 1934 Reichssiegerin.

Muck's genetic legacy in Europe is most strongly represented through his son Troll v.d. Engelsberg. Troll sired 286 litters in Germany (including several Sieger dogs) before he was imported to America. Muck is the grand-sire of the Rauhfelsen F-Litter (Ferry, Frido, Fine, Freya, ect..) through Troll v.d. Engelsberg. In America, Muck's legacy can be traced through Blank v.d. Domstadt and his sons. The great American bred sires Ch. Domossi of Marienland and Ch. Dictator v Glenhugel are linebred on Muck 2-3.

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