Interview with Kristi & Tony Libertore, Breeder of Whiskey Hills Bracco Italiano
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
Kristi Libertore: We live on Brays Island, South Carolina. This is a hunting community with 14 quail fields; perfect for us! My family bred dogs and horses, but I started on my own in 2007.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Kristi Libertore: I started Whiskeytown Wirehaired Pointing Griffons in 2007, but upon meeting my husband, together we started Whiskey Hills Bracco Italiano in 2016, which has been our primary focus. He’s been in the breed since 2010.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Kristi Libertore: I was fortunate to be awarded AKC Sporting Breeder of the Year in 2020 for my WPGs. We’ve had many top show and field dogs. With the recent AKC recognition of Bracchi, we are thrilled to have the first AKC Champion, first Grand Champion Dog and Bitch, and first RBIS winner along with multiple Group-winning and placing dogs and the first AKC National Championship BOB.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Kristi Libertore: RBIS GCH Lepshi Valente Harus JH has made his mark here for us, siring six champions already, almost half the total number of AKC champions so far. He’s also sired great field offspring too. In our foundation imports, you will find Compatriota Di Bonfini, Polcevera’s, and other top, longtime kennels in Italy and Hungary known for both field and show.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Kristi Libertore: Our dogs live in our home, with a large downstairs room dedicated for them. Our puppies are kept down there. We start introducing visitors at four weeks, and birds by five weeks.
What is our “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?
Kristi Libertore: I try to keep our top picks for breeding homes, ideally show and field homes. We begin at 5 weeks, grading each pup, but Bracchi are slow to develop. At 7-8 weeks we will stack them and go over them fully. For Field, we use a combo temperament and field test that involves looking at reaction times in new locations, searching, desire for birds, desire to retrieve, and cooperation.
Do we compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Kristi Libertore: Besides actively showing, we do AKC and NAVHDA tests. All of our breeding dogs are champions and have a field title.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to us?
Kristi Libertore: Field Trials are not common in either breed, although WPGs do participate in walking Field Trials. Parent Club Hunt Tests are conducted and are a great thing.
How would we define “conditioning” as it relates to our breed?
Kristi Libertore: We condition the old-fashioned way, getting them out in the field regularly. Our dogs hunt weekly during the season.
Are there any health-related concerns in our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Kristi Libertore: Kidneys, specifically Amyloidosis, is a concern. We check our dogs’ kidney values annually or prior to breeding.
Do we think our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Kristi Libertore: Worldwide, yes, but it’s so limited in the US still. I’ve been importing new lines and have been blessed to get frozen semen from Europe from great dogs. I get great support from breeders overseas!
Is our breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Kristi Libertore: They are wonderful family dogs. These guys hunt hard, but have an “off switch.”
What is the biggest misconception about our breed? What is our breed’s best-kept secret?
Kristi Libertore: The ears give them a hound appearance, but they are amazing pointers. Those ears and their big nose make them outstanding bird-finding machines in dry or poor cover. And that trot! To watch them work in a flying trot is mesmerizing.
If we could share a comment or two with judges of our breed, what would we like to say to them?
Kristi Libertore: Look for breed type: divergent planes on the head, making it uniquely Bracchi, correct topline with two lines to include a slope from withers to 11th dorsal vertebrae and a slight rise to the croup, and the fast, extended trot with great reach and drive. These are important hallmarks of the breed.
Do we have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Kristi Libertore: Find a mentor who will be honest with you. Learn the basics of dog anatomy and research pedigrees non-stop. Have a vision and a plan, and only breed to that vision.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
Kristi Libertore: I love outdoor shows, especially when birds are involved. I had a squirmy puppy freeze solid in a beautiful stack, staring at a bird! She went BPIS, lol.
Are you looking for a Bracco Italiano puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Bracco Italiano dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Bracco Italiano Breed Magazine
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