Interview with Sharon and Steve Dattilio, Breeders of Shomberg GSP
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
We live in Hagerstown, Maryland (about 72 miles west of DC and Baltimore).
Both Steve and I have lived with dogs our entire lives. During early years together, we owned a Dachshund and brought home our first German Shorthaired Pointer. We’ve been in German Shorthairs since 1973. We have been actively breeding since 1976 and are AKC Breeders of Merit.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Our kennel name is “Shomberg.” We currently have three in our home; the fewest we’ve had since 1973.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
We’ve bred and owned multiple champions, multiple National Specialty winners, and multiple All-Breed Best in Show winners.
Among those that are noteworthy:
- CH Shomberg’s Snowy River;
- CH Riverside’s Mocha Von Shomberg;
- CH Oaklore’s Katja Von Shomberg (GSPCA NSS Winner and GSPCA Top Producing Show Dam);
- CH Shomberg’s Browning Citori ROM;
- All-Breed BIS CH Shomberg’s One Hot Ticket Von Deppe Haus;
- GSPCA NSC CH Shomberg’s Anything Could Happen (2021 National Specialty Best of Breed), Multiple All-Breed BIS GSPCA NSC;
- Multiple BISS CH Shomberg’s Some Like It Hot ROMX, who at 16 months of age (12-18 Month Puppy Class) went Best in Sweeps, WB, BOW, Specialty BOB, Sporting Group 1 (Connie Barton) and All-Breed Best in Show over an entry of 2,300 dogs under Ann Rogers Clark, and who finished her championship the following day by going BISS BOB and Sporting Group 2 under Bud McGivern.
We have had over 100 homebred Conformation champions to date and multiple Field and Performance-titled dogs among our Shomberg family of dogs.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
The most influential have been:
- CH Oaklore’s Katja Von Shomberg;
- CH Shomberg’s Browning Citori ROM;
- CH Shomberg’s Feather Duster;
- CH Shomberg’s Sparks Will Fly MH;
- MBIS NSC CH Shomberg’s Some Like It Hot ROMX;
- GCH Shomberg’s Too Marvelous For Words CD RM MHA CGC GSPCA VC.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Our facilities are our home. We do not have a kennel or kennel building. All of our dogs enjoy the comforts of our home.
Puppies are whelped and raised right here in our home. I sleep only feet away from their box for those first few weeks to ensure that the dam and her puppies have all needs met. Every puppy is born into our hands and is hand-raised, held often, and loved.
They are exposed to various stimuli and exposed to the noises and activity in a normal home environment. We use various toys and they enjoy their puppy gym from the moment they begin to walk. All puppies are trained to a litter box with alfalfa (grass) pellets, which helps them to transition to the outdoors far more easily. New owners truly appreciate that early training.
What is our “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?
Puppies are evaluated while still wet from birth, and the process is ongoing throughout their next 8-9 weeks under conditions that allow them to play and move freely as their behavior and interactions with siblings, older dogs, and numerous people move around in their world.
They are handled, stacked, and evaluated on an ongoing basis. At seven weeks, we invite other breeders for an evaluation day so that we have the opportunity to hear varying opinions and thoughts about each puppy. The following days are a time when puppies are matched with new owners, and if serious breeders and competitors are interested then their preferences are noted and given special consideration. Having lived with and raised these puppies over many, many years, I have a keen intuition and sensitivity to their temperaments and who they will become into adulthood.
We try to evaluate Performance puppies and Field candidates based on the characteristics and personalities of specific puppies. This will be needed to be successful in those areas of Performance for new owners. There are often multiple puppies that have the aptitude and traits that will allow them to succeed in multiple venues. It is all a matter of exposure, patience, and the skills of those who will guide them to ensure success in their chosen areas of interest. A really good breeder can “read” their puppies and they can also “read” perspective owners and their abilities as well. The right combination benefits everyone.
Do we compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
In earlier, younger years, I was able to be far more active in Conformation and Performance venues as well as actively hunting over our dogs. I’m currently enjoying Fast CAT and plan to pursue Rally, and possibly, some Agility with our youngest GSP who is just two years old.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to us?
Absolutely! Steve has been an AKC Hunt Test Judge, and he and I both believe that conscientious breeding assures that these dogs will possess the qualities that allow them to do what they were initially developed to do. We encourage our owners to enjoy their dogs and allow them to do what their inherent instincts tell them about their job in the field.
How would we define “conditioning” as it relates to our breed?
Conditioning goes beyond physical traits. It is a matter of achieving both physical and mental skills that will allow the dogs to do what comes naturally to them. It is a matter of providing the conditions and circumstances that enable these dogs to be fit, healthy, happy, stable, and well-rounded in every part of their development. A sound, affectionate temperament, balanced with correct physical structure and adherence to the Breed Standard, will provide the basis for a mutually satisfying relationship between dog and owner.
Are there any health-related concerns in our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Our breed, like so many others, suffers from elevated risks of various cancers. In more recent years we are also seeing higher incidences of seizures, and I think that while seizures are not a new health issue, we are seeing more cases because many less experienced “breeders” have not made it a priority to learn pedigrees and use some of the knowledge that older, established, longtime breeders have to share. As for nutrition, just a good, nutrient-based diet, balanced with probiotics and good joint supplementation as the dog ages, is needed. I try to do natural supplements when possible.
Do we think our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
At one time, yes, there were. I do not feel that there are sufficient preservation breeders at this time. In order to become a respected and knowledgeable breeder, I feel that it is critically important to become a “student” of the breed. It’s far less about winning ribbons and far more about doing the right thing, even when it might not be the popular choice. I’ve honestly been worried in more recent years.
Is our breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Absolutely, they are well suited to be family dogs. GSPs are wonderful family members, and unlike some breeds, they enjoy interacting with all of their family rather than being loyal to a singular member. They are happy, inquisitive, affectionate, and smart; sometimes too smart for their own good!
I think who people who are active, love the outdoors, and enjoy interacting with a dog that has an outgoing personality would be happy owning a Shorthair. The breed can be challenging, smart, and provide hours of comedic relief for those who choose to bring them into their life.
German Shorthairs truly enjoy an active lifestyle. Young families, couples, or just individuals who like the companionship of animals would certainly all enjoy having a German Shorthaired Pointer to share their life and home.
What is the biggest misconception about our breed? What is our breed’s best-kept secret?
I so often hear that German Shorthairs are “hyper” and that they have non-stop energy. I’ve seen and known a few, but they become what you allow them to become. This breed likes structure and a routine in their life. The key is training. They are extremely smart, so they are very capable of learning and following boundaries and guidelines. It is the duty of the owner to teach, train, and set the boundaries.
When this is done, the experience of living with this breed is a gift. While they are considered to be the athletes of the canine world, they still enjoy “down time” too. Their best-kept secret is they’re very intuitive and they are great “comforters” when they sense you might be having a rough time.
If we could share a comment or two with judges of our breed, what would we like to say to them?
Take the time to really look at the dogs before you realize that there can be more deserving dogs in your ring on any given day. You needn’t always assume that the highly advertised dog has any more breed type and correct structure than one farther down the line. I’m a breeder-judge, and I can assure you that it’s worth your effort to recognize that there is more than one correctly made dog in your ring that deserves a nod.
Do we have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
You’ll never last in this or any other breed unless you are in it for the right reasons. Study, study, and study, backwards to the generations you never knew and maybe weren’t blessed to see. If you are only chasing numbers, ribbons, and trying to make a “name” for yourself, then you’ll never become a guardian of our breed. You’ll simply lose the ability over time to know a great dog from a mediocre dog, and that will be your downfall.
Most longtime, well-known, and highly respected breeders never based their stature in the breed on numbers and wins, but more importantly, they developed a “style” with only a few dogs. And those few dogs gave them recognition… not in numbers and titles, but in a foundation and in the quality that so many chase but few ever really catch.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
My entire life with these dogs has been amusing (among so many other adjectives). Doubtful I could narrow it down to any singular experience other than to say that they just make me smile every day—and that’s enough for me.
Are you looking for a German Shorthaired Pointer 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 German Shorthaired Pointer 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.
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