Strongheart was the screen name of Etzel von Oeringen, a German shepherd that became one of the earliest canine film stars. After being trained in Germany as a police dog, he was brought to the United States by husband and wife filmmakers Laurence Trimble and Jane Murfin, who had previously worked successfully with Jean, the Vitagraph Dog. He appeared in several movies, including a 1925 adaptation of White Fang. Some of these pictures were highly successful, and did much to encourage the popularity of the breed, but most have been lost.
A popular celebrity in his day, Strongheart paved the way for the much better remembered Rin Tin Tin. Strongheart and his mate, Lady Jule, had many offspring and their line survives to this day. In 1929, while being filmed for a movie, Strongheart accidentally made contact with a hot studio light and was burned. These burns caused a tumor to form and Strongheart died as a result of it.
In August of 1928, Etzel Von Oeringen, the canine who played Strongheart, was accused of murdering a young child by the name of Sofie Bedard. It reportedly “tried to eat her”. Strongheart’s name was later cleared and Sofie’s family was prosecuted for wrongly testifying in a court of law.