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prussian reichshund dog, reichshund
Reichshund "dog of the Empire"[1][2][3] was an informal term used in Germany for Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck's dogs and more generally for similar dogs, particularly Great Danes


  • 1 Bismarck's dogs
  • 2 Public attention
  • 3 Notes
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Bismarck's dogs

Germans became able to own dogs freely as a result of the democratisation following the revolution of 1848 Keeping dogs became increasingly fashionable as the 19th century continued, and people in public life often did so as part of their image[4] Bismarck reportedly took a blonde Great Dane called Ariel with him when he entered the University of Göttingen in 1832[5] He continued to keep Great Danes throughout the rest of his life[n 1] His favourite was Sultan shortened to 'Sultl' to avoid diplomatic repercussions with Turkey[6]; on his deathbed he berated himself for not treating the dog better[4] Sultan was a gift from the Bavarian Count Holnstein[7][8] After Sultan's death on 26 October 1877, Bismarck could only be consoled by the gift of another Great Dane from Count Holnstein, Tyras[9] Tyras died on 18 January 1889; Emperor Wilhelm II gave Bismarck Tyras II for his birthday the following April 1[10] The dog died on 11 May 1896[11]

Bismarck also owned female Great Danes named Flora nicknamed 'Flörchen', who was Sultan's mate, and finally Rebecca nicknamed Beckchen,[12] who died in 1897 After receiving Tyras II from the emperor, Bismarck regretfully gave Tyras I's offspring, Cyrus, whom he had hand-reared, to his head forester[11] Bismarck's dogs were buried at his estate in Varzin, in Pomerania now Warcino, Poland; the gravestones were rediscovered by students at the forestry institute that now occupies the manor[13]

Accounts of the dogs' temperament vary Some historians have regarded Bismarck's choice of the largest available breed and his habit of having a dog with him, which would disconcert foreign diplomats, as calculated demonstrations of power[4] Former diplomat James Bryce, Viscount Bryce referred to the dog as "now and then growl and show its teeth in a threatening way",[3] and diplomat and President of Japan Kijūrō Shidehara said in a speech that "the dog threatened to bite anyone who would provoke his master's displeasure"[14] Robert K Massie describes Tyras as "terrori the Chancellory staff" and writes that those who spoke with Bismarck were "advised to make no unusual gestures which Tiras might interpret as threatening"[15] On the other hand Tyras was said by one contemporary to have "never been guilty of any such ill-mannered act before" his celebrated misbehaviour,[2] and the English periodical The Spectator described him at the time as "a very quiet creature, with a most pacific reputation"[16]

Public attention

Bismarck's dogs came to the public's attention and began to be called 'Reichshund' after Tyras attacked the Russian chancellor, Alexander Gorchakov, at the Congress of Berlin in 1878[4] In some accounts, he knocked him to the ground,[2][17] according to Massie after he raised his arm to make a point,[15] but according to The Spectator after he had stumbled and Bismarck had rushed to aid him[16] However, Kladderadatsch published a front-page poem describing him as having torn the envoy's trousers Its title was "An den Reichshund" - "To the Dog of the Empire"[18][19] The poem misidentifies the offending dog as Sultan, who had already died

The term Reichshund came to be used for Great Danes or similar dogs in general[20] In Nancy Mitford's Wigs on the Green Eugenia's "enormous mastiff" is called the Reichshund "after Bismarck's dog"[21]

Some of the statues of Bismarck in Germany depict him with a dog, for example Max Klein's statue of him in Grunewald, Berlin 1897; melted down during World War II and recreated by Harald Haacke in 1996, Adolf Lehnert's statue of him in the Johannapark in Leipzig with a dog for whom Tyras II served as model 1895; destroyed[11] and the statue of a young Bismarck by Norbert Pfretzschner erected by members of the student 'corps' on the Rudelsburg at Bad Kösen in 1896 destroyed; recasting erected in 2006 depicts him with attributes of a corps member including a dog for whom Tyras I served as model[4] Late-19th century student corps members included keeping large dogs among their traditions[22]


  1. ^ Occasionally the dogs are described as bulldogs, for example: Christopher McIntosh, The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria, rev ed London: Tauris, 2012, mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflinkISBN 9781848858473, p 172, Klaus Schlichtmann, Japan in the World: Shidehara Kijūrō, Pacifism, and the Abolition of War, AsiaWorld, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington, 2009, ISBN 9780739126752, n 222, p 88, quoting a speech by Kijūrō Shidehara, or mastiffs, for example: Frank Preston Stearns, The Life of Prince Otto Von Bismarck, Philadelphia/London: Lippincott, 1899, OCLC 18998727, p 423, David Clay Large, Berlin, New York: Basic, 2000, ISBN 9780465026463, quoting Baroness von Spitzenberg, James Bryce, Viscount Bryce, "Lecture V Diplomacy and International Law", in: International relations: Eight Lectures Delivered in the United States in August, 1921, The Institute of politics publications, Williams College, New York: Macmillan, 1922, OCLC 1550278, pp 148–75, p 152: "a wolfhound, or something between a wolfhound and a mastiff"


  1. ^ Damon, "Kennel", Outing, Volume 28, August 1896, p 110
  2. ^ a b c Henry Vizetelly, Berlin under the New Empire: Its Institutions, Inhabitants, Industry, Monuments, Museums, Social Life, Manners, and Amusements, Volume 1 London: Tinsley, 1879, OCLC 833338207, p 420
  3. ^ a b Bryce, p 126
  4. ^ a b c d e Wolfgang Wippermann, "Biche und Blondi, Tyras und Timmy Repräsentation durch Hunde", in: Lutz Huth and Michael Krzeminski, eds, Repräsentation in Politik, Medien und Gesellschaft, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007, ISBN 9783826036262, pp 185–202, p 192 in German
  5. ^ Arnold Oskar Meyer, Bismarck, der Mensch und der Staatsmann, Stuttgart: Koehler, 1949, OCLC 830196594, p 16, cited in Ulrich Kühn, Der Grundgedanke der Politik Bismarcks, Dettelbach: Röll, 2001, ISBN 9783897541900, p 161 in German
  6. ^ A Ebers, Bismarck-Buch, Hannover-List/Berlin: Meyer, 1909, OCLC 252809630, p 172 in German; P Hahn, Varzin: Persönliche Erinnerungen an den Fürsten Otto von Bismarck, Berlin: Verlag des Vereins der Bücherfreunde, , OCLC 28950979, p 40 in German
  7. ^ Werner Richter, Ludwig II, König von Bayern, 13th ed Munich: Bruckmann, 1996, ISBN 9783765417580, p 207 in German
  8. ^ McIntosh, p 172
  9. ^ Wolfgang Wippermann and Detlef Berentzen, Die Deutschen und ihre Hunde: ein Sonderweg der Mentalitätsgeschichte, Munich: Siedler, 1999, ISBN 9783442755462, p 49 in German
  10. ^ Heinrich Ritter von Poschinger, tr and ed Sidney Whitman, Conversations with Prince Bismarck, New York/London: Harper, 1900, OCLC 913177, p 127
  11. ^ a b c Konrad Breitenborn, Bismarck: Kult und Kitsch um den Reichsgründer, Frankfurt: Keip, 1990, ISBN 9783805100243, p 111 in German
  12. ^ Breitenborn, p 110
  13. ^ Gerhard Gnauck, "Der Kanzler in Pommern", Die Welt, 18 October 2003 in German
  14. ^ Quoted in Schlichtmann, p 88
  15. ^ a b Robert K Massie, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War, 1991, New York: Random House-Ballantine, 1992, ISBN 978-0-307-81993-2, np
  16. ^ a b "News of the Week", The Spectator, volume 51, no 2608, 22 June 1878
  17. ^ William Beatty-Kingston, Men, Cities, and Events, 2nd ed London: Bliss, Sands, and Foster, 189, OCLC 2271789, p 258
  18. ^ "Man weiß, wie dir Rußlands Galahose zum Opfer fiel" - "It is known, how Russia's ceremonial trousers fell victim to you" Kladderadatsch 39, 25 August 1878
  19. ^ Wippermann, p 193, accepts this version of events and adds that Bismarck laughed and did not apologise
  20. ^ For example: Carl G Schillings, Mit Blitzlicht und Büchse: neue Beobachtungen und Erlebnisse in der Wildnis inmitten der Tierwelt von Äquatorial-Ostafrika, Leipzig: Voigtländer, 1910, OCLC 313349454, p 55 in German
  21. ^ Nancy Mitford, Wigs on the Green, 1935, Repr New York: Vintage, 2010, ISBN 9780307740854, p 13; Lisa Hilton, The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011, ISBN 9780297859604, np
  22. ^ Barbara Krug-Richter, "Hund und Student – eine akademische Mentalitätsgeschichte 18–20 Jh", Jahrbuch für Universitätsgeschichte 10 2007 77–104, pdf, p 4 in German

External links

  • Commons:Reichshund
  • dewikisource: "An den Reichshund"

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