Cäsar von Gaiberg (“Tell”), born February 25, 1947, was the product of a mother – son breeding. As with all German breedings, this breeding was approved by the German Klub, and Tell came from excellent bloodlines, bloodlines represented in dogs owned by many of the German Klub officials at the time according to the investigation conducted by the Weimaraner Club of America in its Minutes of Meeting of Board of Governors of the Weimaraner Club of America, March 8, 1950 – PDF (MOM).
Captain Harry J Holt, an American stationed in Germany, purchased Tell because he felt that, “this was a dog that we should have back here in the States to be reproduced, and especially since it was inbred.” (MOM 56).
Holt was a German Shorthaired Pointer fancier and breeder who helped found the German Shorthaired Pointer Club in Kansas City. He had heard about the Weimaraner while in the States, and once in Germany, he befriended Mr. Fritz Kullmer, the Secretary of the German Weimaraner Klub.
It was on Kullmer’s recommendation and approval that Holt purchased Tell. Kullmer had owned a littersister to Tell’s dam who was a world champion, and Kullmer knew the bloodlines well. Tell’s mother was Int’l Ch Cilly v. Kreuzgrund, who was also the dam of Aura v. Gaiberg, one of four imported Weimaraners that constituted the foundation of American bloodlines. In the MOM, Holt notes that Kullmer “used to tell me about a great dog he had, a world champion… and this dog was mouse-gray” (53). Holt confirms that he took Kullmer’s comment to mean that both Kullmer’s world champion and Tell were the same color, mouse-gray (54).
There is conflicting documentation regarding how many puppies were in the litter. Dr. Werner Petri’s Der Weimaraner Vorstehhund notes that there was one puppy in the litter; Holt reports that there were three. According to the MOM, of the two puppies available, Holt chose Tell because “I liked the way he was put together” (MOM 54). The other puppy, Bodo, was gray, but Holt chose Tell over the litterbrother because Tell had a nicer rear and Bodo was “sickle-hearted” [sickle-hocked].” Holt says, “I was originally commissioned in the horse cavalry and I have dabbled in riding and I think I understand polo ponies and jumpers and I judge a hunting dog on the conformation of a thoroughbred horse, and bad legs, bad hind legs, sickle-heart [sickle-hock], and so forth are definitely a demerit. Ears are not” (MOM 58-59).
Paul Barry who was the Chair of the May meeting gives his opinion of Tell’s conformation on page 152 of the MOM:
“And I can say that he is lighter than I thought he was in eye, definitely. My criticism of him is that he lacks depth of muzzle… Now, in body, he has got a much better shoulder than a great number of Weimaraners… I consider that he has a good line, as I remember it. I consider that he has a reasonable amount of spring of rib. He is a trifle high in breast, though not bad, better than a lot of them. He has got straight legs, front legs, pretty good, way above the average in feet, and that his hind quarters are straight, and there is ample angulation, again better than most, and that his rear quarters are straight.”
Holt was a hunter and trained and hunted over Tell before bringing him to William Olson of Minneapolis in July of 1949. Registration papers were issued along with the transfer to Olson in January 1950 – PDF.
Tell’s German papers had the following qualification noted on it:
“Use for breeding permissible only if the qualifications for first or second prize under the regulation of the organization for Jugend Prüfung (Youth Trials) are subsequently approved. Since Cäsar von Gaiberg has a black nose, blackish tinge on his back, relatively proportionately short ears and his eye color is not pure amber, one should be careful concerning his descendants, and in doubtful cases, inform the office of the keeper of the stud book” (Carr).
Homer Carr, an early and renowned Weimaraner breeder, in his article on the Blue Weimaraner, mentions that this Youth Trial clause is not uncommonly seen in the papers of Weims imported to the United States. The second sentence describes some of Tell’s unusual characteristics, but there is no indication that Tell was cross-bred. Eric Kuhr, the President of the German Klub, would not have issued papers had he thought that Tell was a product of a cross-breeding, and the color indicated on Tell’s pedigree was “SGR” (Registration – PDF) which stood for silver-gray (MOM 161).
However, Dr. Werner Petri’s Der Weimaraner Vorstehhund notes more information in German Klub records, a typed report by Kullmer noting Tell’s “touch of black over the entire back, hair very short, eyes not of pure amber color.” After that there were also hand-written comments doubting the reliability of Tell’s breeder, and “Verdict: Useless for breeding most likely a Doberman cross.” (qtd. in Alexander and Isabell 53). It is uncertain who hand wrote these comments.
A copy of Tell’s pedigree can be viewed here – PDF.
Oddly, shortly after the papers were issued, Kuhr seems to have changed his mind about Tell.
In late March 1950, the Germans responded to questions from the WCA. According to Leon Arpin, “I went so far as to write him [Kuhr] a letter and tell him to send me a collect cablegram to the effect, “Did you see the dog?” Second, “Can you describe the dog? Were his color and ears known to you?” And third, “Would the dog be acceptable for breeding in Germany?” (MOM 160).
In response, Kuhr expressed his belief to the WCA that Tell was cross-bred, an “outlaw,” and that he should not be used for breeding (MOM 159). Why Kuhr changed his mind has never been fully explained. However, Elizabeth Wood suggests that the Germans were so eager to please the WCA and the American market for their dogs in the impoverished post-WWII era, and that “if the Germans formally rejected Cäsar von Gaiberg’s registration, they rejected it only after some members of the WCA had pressured them concerning the status of the dog” (Wood).
Regardless of the Germans, after reviewing his German registration and pedigree, the AKC issued Tell’s registration papers as a purebred Weimaraner. He is noted in the AKC studbook as “gray” – PDF.
AKC registering Tell did not put the controversy to rest, however, and the controversy grew more heated over the years.
Jack Denton Scott, in his book, The Weimaraner, offers a copy of the 1944 Weimaraner standard in which the Blue color is an accepted color. (“Color Gray (Silver, Bright, Dark, Yellow) the Dark Gray may be either ash or blue…”), but maintains that this standard was “clouded by inept translation from the original German and riddled with loopholes by the lack of foresight of the persons responsible for its acceptance” (109).
Speaking of Tell, he goes on to write, “…from the Midwest prodigious stud use of a blue-black male dog produced this off color offspring in large numbers. The stud dog himself had ears like a Dalmatian, black gums and mouth like a Chow, and was small and not shaped like a Weimaraner. Even his startling color wasn’t a true one. It was as if someone had poured a bottle of purplish-black ink over the poor beast” (131).
While the controversy over Tell and the blue coat color raged on, he gained a reputation of being an excellent police and tracking dog. An article that appeared in the New York World-Telegram and Sun on April 2, 1954 gives accolades to Tell as a “terrific trailer with a superlative nose.” Tell had acquired quite a reputation for helping the police, and “on 16 cases that we can authenticate from newspaper and police records, the dog laid the trail directly to where the missing person was found.”
Tell also started gaining a reputation for being an excellent sire. By June of 1953 he was tied 7th as top producing sire, having produced eight bench champions (Denlinger 126).
Indeed, Tell came from a well-known family line in Germany and is behind some of the most well-known and respected kennels in America, such as Valmar, Hoot Hollow, Smokey City and Silversmith (Wood, footnote 16). In a retrospective study done by Sylvia Voor of weimaranerpedigrees.com, blue dogs are behind 99% of all Weimaraners, not just in the U.S. but around the world.