Old Sultan, the farmer’s dog, overhears that he will be killed. He is to old to scare anyone away. His friend the wolf has a plan…
Old Sultan is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a dog who is too old to be of any use. His friend the wolf devises a plan in which the dog rescues the farmers child, proving his value. When nothing is given back, the wolf challenges him to a fight. In the end they become friends again.
Complete text Old Sultan
Old Sultan has to go
A farmer once had a faithful dog called Sultan. He had grown old and lost all his teeth, so that he could no longer hold anything fast. One day the farmer was standing with his wife before the house door, and said, “Tomorrow I intend to shoot Old Sultan, he is no longer of any use.”
His wife felt pity for the faithful beast and answered, “He has served us so long, and been so faithful, that we might well give him his keep.”
“Eh! what?” the man said. “You are not very sharp. He has not a tooth left in his mouth and no thief is afraid of him; it’s his time to go. When he served us, we fed him well.”
The poor dog who was lying stretched out in the sun not far off had heard everything. He was sorry that tomorrow was to be his last day.
He had a good friend, the wolf, and he crept out in the evening into the forest to him and complained of the fate that awaited him.
The wolf has a plan
“Come on, talker,” the wolf said, “be of good cheer. I will help you out of your trouble. I have thought of something. Tomorrow, early in the morning, your master is going with his wife to make hay. They will take their little child with them, for no one will be left behind in the house. They are used, during work time, to lay the child under the hedge in the shade. You lay yourself there too, just as if you wished to guard it. Then I will come out of the woods and carry off the child. You must rush swiftly after me, as if you would seize it again from me. I will let it fall and you will take it back to its parents, who will think that you have saved it. They will be far too grateful to do you any harm; on the contrary, you will be in high favor, and they will never let you want for anything again.”
The plan pleased the dog and it was carried out just as it was arranged. The father screamed when he saw the wolf running across the field with his child, but when Old Sultan brought it back, then he was full of joy. He stroked him and said, “Not a hair of yours shall be hurt, you shall eat my bread for free as long as you live.”
And to his wife he said, “Go home at once and make Old Sultan some bread-sop that he will not have to bite. Bring the pillow out of my bed, I will give him that to lie on.”
From that they on Old Sultan was as well off as he could wish to be.
The wolf likes something back
Soon afterwards the wolf visited him. He was pleased that everything had succeeded so well. “But, old talker,” he said, “you will just wink an eye when I have a chance to carry off one of your master’s fat sheep.”
“Don’t reckon upon that,” the dog answered; “I will remain true to my master; I cannot agree to that.”
The wolf, who thought that this could not be spoken in earnest, came creeping about in the night and was going to take away the sheep. But the farmer, to whom the faithful Sultan had told the wolf’s plan, caught him and dressed his hide soundly with the flail.
The wolf had to pack off, but he cried out to the dog, “Wait a bit, you scoundrel, you shall pay for this.”
The fight between Old Sultan and the wolf
The next morning the wolf sent the boar to challenge the dog to come out into the forest so that they might settle the affair. Old Sultan could find no one to stand by him but a cat with only three legs. As they went out together the poor cat limped along, at the same time stretching out her tail into the air with pain.
The wolf and his friend were already on the appointed spot. However when they saw their enemy coming they thought that he was bringing a sabre with him, for they mistook the outstretched tail of the cat for one. When the poor beast hopped on its three legs, they could only think every time that it was picking up a stone to throw at them. So they were both afraid; the wild boar crept into the underwood and the wolf jumped up a tree.
When the dog and the cat came up, they wondered that there was no one to be seen. The wild boar, however, had not been able to hide himself altogether: one of his ears was still to be seen.
While the cat was looking carefully about, the boar moved his ear. The cat, who thought it was a mouse moving there, jumped upon it and bit it hard. The boar made a fearful noise and ran away, crying out, “The guilty one is up in the tree.”
The dog and cat looked up and saw the wolf, who was ashamed of having shown himself so timid and made friends with the dog.
Tips for Telling Old Sultan
- This is a simple straightforward comforting story. Keep it short.
- In some countries nowadays it is considered cruel to put a dog to death when he is old. However in the time when this fairy tale was written, people did not have the luxury to feed an animal that was of no use. Maybe you need to give this context to your listeners.
- What do you think about how the dog betrays his friend, the wolf? Although it is a simple story, take as always the time to connect it with yourself.
All Questions Answered
This fairy tale was published by the Brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It was rewritten for the second edition. Their source was Johann Friedrich Krause.
The Brothers Grimm included it in the 1812 edition of the Grimm’s fairy tales, however the tale was told long before that.