Where did you grow up? Do you come from a doggy family and, if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing purebred dog begin?
I was raised in Greensboro, N.C., and Richmond, Va., where I have my fondest memories of horses and horse showing. My family allowed me to have all kinds of animals that I rescued: cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, and assorted other creatures. If my parents tried to limit my growing menagerie, I found a way to hide the animals. I bred and showed Dutch Rabbits and developed a rabbitry of more than 200 rabbits. Although my family did not show dogs, they were supportive of my interest in breeding and showing animals. At age 13 I received my first AKC-registered dog. This bitch helped form my interest in training and I attended obedience classes with her. At age 14 I was able to make an agreement to breed my dog. When I sold the puppies, I had to explain that checks were to be made out to me. My parents expected me to take full responsibility for my “business.” I worked for a veterinary hospital during high school. My mom was supportive in that she chauffeured me many places. My family was supportive, although they did not necessarily have the knowledge of what I had learned or what I was trying to accomplish. I made friends with older people who were involved with animals and who were willing to share a ride. My family realized that my love of animals motivated me to focus on the future and they had a bargaining chip to motivate better choices in my behavior.
Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on their influence.
I have had many mentors in my years of breeding and raising dogs, starting with Becky Norton, Karmabeck Dobermans, who provided my first bitch, and the foundation of my breeding program. I chose a bitch from the litter and was told she was second pick. But she was exactly what I was looking for and she gave me 11 champions, two Best in Shows, and two Top 20 finalists. She remains the secret to my breeding program to this day. She was a linebred bitch and produced well from any dog to which I bred her. Another person I loved and learned from was Irene Bivin. I loved her knowledge and philosophies about dogs. If anyone pointed out a fault in a dog, she would say, “Don’t tell me how much you know by pointing out what’s wrong with them, tell me how much you really know by telling me what’s right with them. We are looking for virtues.” She enjoyed a smooth, one-piece Doberman that was poured into its skin. Like myself, she did not like overdone fronts, protruding forechests, and briskets too deep. It was all about balance. Overdone fronts get in the way of the rear-end drive and contribute to the loss of agility in a Doberman, a working dog. Irene felt one should never throw out the entire dog over one fault. She would say, “There are no perfect dogs.” This goes to some of the show judging of today. Some judges want to tell people what is wrong with their dog to validate their selections. They do not look at the whole dog when there is no perfect dog. One of the last things Irene said to me before her passing was, “Keep doing what we love to do and if you ever breed a great one, think of me.” She was very influential in Dobermans, to me, and to the sport of purebred dogs. She is someone I will always treasure in life and I miss her love of dogs.
The Phillmar Dobermans are widely known, highly successful, and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?
I try to breed to the standard. I breed for good temperament, good health, and balanced, one-piece dogs that are poured into their skin. Also, effortless movement and form to function.
How many dogs do you currently house? Tell us about your facilities and how the dogs are maintained?
Right now, I live with two Dobermans. I own a home in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., where I whelp puppies to be with them 24/7 while in the comfort of my home. Also, I own a dog boarding facility in High Point, N.C.
Who were/are some of your most significant Dobermans, both in the whelping box and in the show ring?
I have had so many great dogs through the years. Too many to mention in a limited space. Many dogs with the Phillmar name are out showing and specialing. I have bred 72 champions, nine Best in Show winners, and dogs I have owned or bred have been in the Top 20 for 15 years; every year since 2003 except one. I was the first person to have three Dobermans in the Top 20 in one year from the same litter. And three Best in Shows from one litter. Those dogs came from my top-winning bitch Ch Phillmar Thunderella, who was three years a Top 20 finalist and a multiple Best in Show winner. She produced 12 champions, three Best in Show winners and three Top 20 finalists. Thunderella was Number Two in the country all-breed when I bred her because breeding was more important than showing. Great show dogs are forgotten, but great producers live on. She did show and win the breed at the AKC Eukanuba show with Andy Linton when only the top 25 dogs were invited, and she had seven-week-old puppies back at the hotel.
Another great one was BIS SBIS Ch. Phillmar X-Static CD ROM. He was a history-making dog, being the first Ryan Award recipient and the second Doberman in history to be in the Top 20 in obedience and conformation in the same year. He produced the third winner of the same award with the only bitch to win the award. Only three dogs have ever accomplished these achievements. He also is a Gold level stud dog, which is the highest award given by the DPCA for stud dogs. He carries titles at both ends. X-Static was a Top 20 dog three years in a row. Another great Phillmar name is BIS SBIS GCh. Phillmar Sobe Monster WAC. Sobe was the Number One dog in the country in 2009, also winning the host show before the National. Sobe is still producing top dogs today. BIS SBIS GCh. Phillmar Ms Marvel won the Top 20 in 2016. Ms Marvel was four generations of my pedigree. There are so many great dogs from the Phillmar bloodlines, including BIS SBIS GCh. Phillmar Superman WAC, BIS SBIS GCh. Sisterella, SBIS Phillmar Monster Magnificent, BIS SBIS GCh. Lois Lane, Phillmar Belle of The Ball, OTCH ( four years Top 20 obedience ), and Phillmar X-Static Icon UD. I now have many young ones coming up, including “StatSon,” Res. BIS GCh. Phillmar So Good To Be Me CGC WAC. I hope StatSon follows in his sire’s pawprints as another Ryan award recipient. The list goes on and on. As they say, “the best is yet to come.”
Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching. What are your thoughts on the current state of the fancy?
I think the breed is in okay shape today. I would like to see breeders go back to more bone and more balance but overall, I think it is like a pendulum that swings from one extreme to the other over the years. As with many types of animals, once selective breeders find something they designate as special or an improvement to the breed, they go overboard; then they find that they have to go back to basics. I have seen the sport change drastically since I started showing Dobermans in 1996. There are fewer class dogs and more specials. Many people think if they finish a dog it becomes a special. Fewer class dogs tells us there is less breeding going on. Many people approach good breeders because they want to own a quality, healthy, companion Doberman, but they are met with contracts and restrictions to the point where they go to other breeders, or even other breeds. I always welcome
newcomers to our breed and do what I can to help them get a good dog. We want them to have a positive experience and possibly they will explore showing their dog. I breed for show dogs but I love my companion homes. If I have a puppy that I really want shown, I keep it and do it myself. I do not force people to do anything with a puppy I’m willing to sell to them.
Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two? And tell us a little about Philip Martin outside of dogs… your profession, your hobbies.
I do believe I consistently try to improve my breeding program as I aim to breed the perfect dog with good health, temperament, beauty and brains. My dog showing and breeding career started during my first career as a hair stylist in Atlanta, Ga. I was chosen one of the Top 20 stylists by Atlanta magazine. I left the styling business to pursue my love of dogs full time and I built a dog facility from scratch. Two years later I sold it and moved to Florida where I spent two years showing, breeding and enjoying my dogs. In 2006 I bought another boarding facility in Aiken, S.C., that I grew into a five paw resort. I sold that business in 2017 and spent another two years with my dogs. I recently purchased another kennel in High Point, N.C., with my sister, who is going to do the day-to-day management. I still have one horse and have hopes I will ride again in the future.
I’m not sure what the future holds but I have had a great life doing it my way. I do believe my love of all animals and my involvement in the care of so many different animals has made me wiser in my breeding of dogs. For now I will keep doing what I love and trying to live my best life.