Frankenhaus German Shepherds

how we became known as frankenhaus

John Ayotte
Dec 2003

I have related the story of how our kennel came to be known as Frankenhaus several times in the past, but decided it was time to fill in a little more detail.

The more complete version of the story is as follows. When we started in German Shepherds in the early '70s, we began using Rohan as a kennel name. This was selected from "The Lord of the Rings" books by JRR Tolkien. The trilogy, while a classic in fantasy literature, was much less well known to the general public than it is today. We had also named our foundation bitch, a sable Beau of Fran-Jo daughter, Brandywine of Rohan, after the Brandywine river in the books. We bred four litters and registered a couple of dozen puppies under that kennel name.

Later in the seventies we stopped showing and breeding dogs while we raised our kids and became occupied with other things. During the time that we were inactive in German Shepherds (though we were only without at least one GSD for 6 months in the next 10 plus years), Bobby Kindy established her kennel using the Rohan name (never knowing that we had used it previously). She has had much success under that name, and I only wish that I could have bred some of those beautiful animals myself.

When, in the early 90's we decided that we wanted to show and breed German Shepherds again we realized that we would need to select a new kennel name for our efforts. We discussed many possibilities, before realizing that we had a perfect choice.

When Teri and I were first married, I was serving in the military. In fact, just one week after our wedding, I left for my tour of duty in Germany (Teri joining me about three months later, in December of 1970). We lived in southern Germany (Bavaria) until September of 1972.

The Bavarian countryside.

The first year was near Nurenburg, and the second near Augsburg. It was in the spring of 1971, while living in Germany, that Teri and I purchased our first German Shepherd. Although he came home with us when I got out of the Army, and he was the inspiration for our lifelong dedication to the breed, he was by no means a show dog. (There are pictures of him on the article index page of this web site).

Our first apartment in Germany was a renovated section of a 200+ year old barn, and it was our landlord that introduced us to Franken wines, produced in the neighboring region of Frankonia. Franken wines became my favorites (Teri leans more to a good Reinhessen).

Thus, as a tribute to our time in Germany, to our first GSD, and to my favorite German wine, we became Frankenhaus (shortened to Franken when it won't fit on the AKC forms).

a bit about franken wine

The region of Frankonia is centered on the city of Wurzburg, and runs along the river Main before it joins the Rhein river. The region has short summers and extensive frost.

The distinctive traditional Franken wine bottles (Bocksbeutel) are used for dry wines that are not very aromatic, but are honeyed and earthy flavored, clear, and bright-gold with fresh scents of apple and damp wool. Crisp and clean, these fruity and very tart wines are good companions with food. They are more akin to the Chablis of France than typical German wines.

The distinctive Franken wine bottle.

Considered by many Germans to be their country's finest, Franken wines are not well known in North America; almost all Franken wine is purchased in Germany, so little is available for export.

Most Franken wines come from limestone soils along the Main Valley. Some of its greatest wines come from the heavy gypsum and marl soils of the forested slopes of the Steigerwald Hills. Franken is geographically distinct from the other wine-regions of Germany, having once been a part of the kingdom of Bavaria, and the wines echo the rococo splendor of that culture.

The Bocksbeutel (which was introduced in 1718 to guarantee the authenticity of its Franken heritage) is the squat round bottle of Franconia (which, with a bit of Germanic ribaldry, is named after the part of the goat that goes over the fence last).