Deutsch-Drahthaars vom Altmoor

About vom Altmoor

Deutsch-Drahthaars that are friendly, happy, cooperative, biddable, easily trained, and have all the inherited natural abilities and drive that even the most demanding and experienced gun dog owner would want - that’s our goal at vom Altmoor. We KNOW that to be a top performer a Drahthaar NEED NOT be a headstrong hard case. The accuracy of our position is borne out by the JGHV testing system. Of the latest dogs that we have bred, trained and handled, each of their top scores in VJP were 68, 68, 70, 72, 72, 73, 76, 77, 77, 77, and 77, and in HZP were 173, 173, 173, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 185, 189, 190, and 191. As a frame of reference, straight ten's in VJP would result in a score of 70, and in HZP would result in a score of 180.

To expand on this perspective a little further, there’s the story of the young man in Germany just starting out with the breed. He approaches an old timer and asks, “When you’re looking for a stud to use, or if you want to purchase an adult female for your breeding program, what do you look for?” The young man is expecting to hear the old timer go on at length about test scores or conformation/coat ratings and various pedigree details. Instead, the old timer thinks for a bit and replies, “I like to take the dog for a ride in my car.” The moral of this story is, it doesn’t really matter how good a dog is in the field and water, if you don’t want to have it with you.

At vom Altmoor, our first priority is breeding DD’s that you want to have with you. That they’ll have all the natural abilities and trainability that anyone could want is simply a given. We bring to this effort the credentials of being one of the most experienced active Deutsch-Drahthaar breeders in the world, whelping our 107th (C5) litter as of mid-2019. As a husband and wife team we have combined totals of eight decades of VDD membership, four decades of NAVHDA membership, almost six decades of JGHV judge (VR) certification, and thirteen decades of gun dog training and breeding experience. Additionally, Nancy has been a Breed Show judge since 1994. We have hunted, judged, and/or tested dogs in Germany, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Maine, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Montana, Utah, and Missouri. In addition to having trained or helped train many more for others, as of August 2019, we have handled dogs which we trained 15 times in NAVHDA tests, and 110 times in VDD/JGHV tests, including seven through VGP, three through Btr’s, one in the Hegewald, and five through the Armbruster. (We stopped participating with NAVHDA back when they started their own registry.) We have been intimately involved with the breed and its continuing refinement for as long as VDD/GNA has been in full compliance with German standards. Over the years, we have given thousands of hours of volunteer service to NAVHDA (including various chapter officer positions) and to VDD service in particular. One or the other of us has served VDD/GNA as Vide-Chairman, Business Manager, Director of Testing, Director of Judge Development, and HD Program Coordinator. For the Atlantic Chapter, one or the other of us has served as Chairman, Breed Warden, and Webmaster. We have been Directors or Coordinators of innumerable tests and training days. We have served as translation checkers, editors, or authors of many GNA documents, including the original Judging Guidelines, Test Coordinators' Manual, Judges' Manual for Breed Tests, and a host of official policies. We are the developers of the membership database program that was still in use through 2018, as well as the test program database that was in use for many years. We authored the Drahthaar Puppy Manual, the most comprehensive English language guide to raising and training a Drahthaar and putting it through the German testing system.

Deutsch-Drahthaars from vom Altmoor have thrilled their hunting buddies from Greece and Spain to Nova Scotia, northern Quebec, Mexico, Argentina, Alaska, and across the continental United States. Our dual goal is to increase hunter awareness and appreciation of the breed while always vigorously supporting and pursuing the continuous efforts of Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar (VDD) to further refine and perfect it.
From our perspective, Deutsch-Drahthaars should not be raised as though they were spoiled children. Just as with any other breed of dog that has some “bottom” (heart, guts, determination, will) to it, Drahthaars should be raised in such a manner that they know they are dogs, and are on the bottom rung of the household pecking order. Some of the consequences of that are: You should have an outside kennel run where the dog can spend part of it’s time most days until it reaches maturity. It should be crate trained and spend some time in the crate most days until it reaches maturity. When it does something wrong it should be disciplined, and that often means a single quick whack; in other words, intelligent non-abusive corporal corrections are essential from time to time. (If, for any particular undesirable behavior, you’ve had to correct more than three times, you aren’t being firm enough.) Spouse and children must take part in the dog’s obedience training. Completion of group obedience classes during puppyhood and adolescence is essential. In other words, to say it again, the puppy must be raised knowing that it’s a dog and so that it is a good citizen. None of this is meant to imply that the dog shouldn’t also be your best friend, just as ours are to us. But, it must know its place.

And, while we are quite happy with the dogs that we produce, we also want you to understand that you should be able to get a similar puppy from most VDD/GNA breeders. We would never try to convince you that ours are the best.  (However, we might say that none are better than ours.) The vast majority of VDD breeders have goals similar to ours. And the very stringent German Breeding Regulations and testing system mean that no one can get too far afield. As with any organization, there are a couple breeders whose business practices we don’t think much of, and a handful that have breeding goals that we don’t think are a positive direction for the breed. But, differences of opinion are what makes life interesting. Only time will tell who was right. But, even the strict German system does leave some room for divergence and maybe there is no right and wrong; just differences.
We breed Deutsch-Drahthaars because we’re serious hunters. We don’t happen to hunt because we’re breeders. As dedicated hunters, young breeding prospects must prove themselves to us in field and water before they ever get to a test. We don’t test to see how good our dog is; we already know that before we get to the test. We train all our own dogs. Otherwise, how would we know what they had to start with, or how much effort it took to get them to where they are? In this respect, we feel that we, and as a result you the buyer, have a huge advantage over the increasingly numerous breeders who send their dogs out for professinal training or puchase already trained dogs (often imports) for their breeding programs. These folks are clueless as to how difficult or easy it was to train a particular dog and so they don't know how well the progreny can be trained by an amatuer. And, if you run into a training issue with a pup from them, where are they going to come up with the experience to walk you through a fix?
Our goals in breeding do not include intentional attempts to produce winners in international competitions. In our judgement such attempts often produce “hot” pups best suited for training by professionals. Does that mean that your vom Altmoor pup could never make it in international events? Of course not. - you need only take a look at the scores cited in the first paragraph and how well dogs have bred and personally trained have done in five Armbrusters and the Hegewald.

We also do not agree with those breeders who claim to be working on their own variation of the breed. We try to breed toward the ideal established by the Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar. If we miss perfection a given area, it's only because we consider temperament to be THE most important quality.
One of our goals is to produce pups which, with proper exposure and training, will always be a source of pride to serious hunters, even in comparison to the specialist pointing and retrieving breeds, and certainly in comparison to all the other versatile breeds. Does this mean that we’re likely to produce dogs that are too much for the average hunter - certainly not. Does this mean that we think DD’s are superior to all the other versatile breeds? Well, yes it does, with a qualification. That is, in every breed there are exceptional individuals which might out-perform the average DD. But, there is absolutely no doubt in our minds that the prospective puppy buyer has a much better chance of getting a very good or better gun dog from almost any VDD breeder, than would be the case with any other breed. There’s a reason these dogs far outnumber any of the other versatile breeds in Germany. And, the all-inclusive implementation of the German breeding and testing system in this country keeps the breed what it is meant to be, without the usual Americanization that has occurred in other breeds.

If you don’t hunt and just want a great family pet, can you get one from us? Nope. If you’re looking for a pup that will assuredly turn out to be a great guard dog, should you look to us? No, get a Shepherd or a Dobe. If you’re looking for a dog that will be a great catch or tree dog for hunting wild pigs, bear, or cougar, please look elsewhere; we value our dogs too much for that.

It’s probably impossible for us to list our breeding priorities in order, because we have so many that are of equal importance. With that qualification in place, we would have to say that genetically good health is perhaps at the top of the list. To us that means, an emphasis on proper hip joint conformation, avoidance of OCD, and absolutely no chance of hereditary bleeding disorders. It doesn’t matter how good a dog’s hunting qualities are if genetically poor health limits its ability to hunt. As evidence of our concern for health, we were the first Deutsch-Drahthaar breeders to bring public attention to the hereditary bleeding disorders (vWD and CHB), back in 1991. (These disorders occur in over 60 breeds, so please don’t start thinking it’s a DD thing.)

Equally high in our priority list is to produce pups which have a cheerful temperament, make wonderful family companions, get along great with other people and other dogs, and are astonishingly calm in the house and car. It doesn’t matter how great a gun dog is if you don’t want to have it with you, or get an ulcer because you have to constantly watch it like a hawk in certain circumstances.

We haven’t yet talked about specific hunting traits. Well, the fact is, as we said earlier, you’re almost certainly going to get a pup with very good or better hunting traits from almost any Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar breeder. We honestly believe that you’ll have to work at it to make a mistake in picking a breeder or a litter. That said, we take it as a given that all the pups leaving here have equal potential to get top scores in EVERY category in the VDD/JGHV hunting test evaluation system. If they don’t, it’s more likely that they weren’t properly prepared for the test than that they had any genetic weakness. Where we might differ from some other breeders is that we put a huge emphasis on cooperation, while expecting strong natural field search, strong natural retrieve and water love, intense natural pointing, and great nose. We put relatively little emphasis on tracking scores because on this continent, in our judgement, it often cannot be evaluated accurately - cottontails or pheasants are not European Hares. Obviously, trainability is also hugely important. But, when it gets right down to it, to say it once again, cooperation is the key. Almost all DD’s have all the hunt you could want, but we also want the “easy” dog, the one that throughout it’s field search always has one eye on you and is always at least equally concerned with what you want. Ignorant dogs, or those that have to have their spirit broken to be useful, have no place in our breeding program.

At vom Altmoor you won’t find mathematical computations of “percentage of line breeding”, or hear long dissertations on how we’re trying to reproduce such and such a great-grandparent from over in Germany that was a winner of such and such. We’re not interested in paper dogs - those whose pedigree or even test scores look great, but you really wouldn’t want to live with. Our concern is with the “dog in hand” (each of the parents), and with there being no glaring faults or patterns of deficiencies in the littermates of either of the parents. Then we’ll take a look at grandparents. If we had to make a choice we’d rather breed the average dog from the exceptional litter than the exceptional dog from a below average litter. We normally breed only to studs that we have spent some time getting to know in person, and, whenever possible, prefer breedings where we have had personal contact with many dogs on the pedigree. As good as the German system is, with all its numerous evaluations by unbiased and expert judges reducing their observations to scores on paper, there are still some traits that can slip through the system without being noted. A couple examples might include SLIGHT tendencies toward hyperness, or unfriendliness, or dog-sharpness, or the dog that just won’t quit barking while its waiting its turn in its crate. There simply is no substitute for having had personal contact with the dog. And, being an integral part of the organization means that we often hear about those other things that don’t go down on paper, such as the dog with several dysplastic littermates or several OCD-affected littermates, and thus can avoid making bad decisions.

You also hopefully will not find us making firm predictions about the characteristics of the pups of a given breeding, as so often happens with other breeders, particularly the inexperienced. We realize that dog breeding remains more art than science, and that the German system, while systematic and methodical in its approach, is designed to make incremental improvements in the breed over time. It precludes producing huge numbers of pups in small periods of time, and thus doesn’t lend itself to prediction-making accuracy. On the other hand, it also prevents negatives from being injected into the breed in huge quantities and to such an extent that they could only be removed over several decades. So, when it comes to making predictions we sometimes have to remind ourselves of the time we were watching one of the big horse races on TV, maybe the Preakness or something. When it was over they interviewed the breeder of the winning horse, a guy in his 80's. They asked him the secret to his success. He replied, "Well, for 60 years I've been breeding the way everyone said you should. This time it worked." We’d modify that to say that, we try to breed the way we think it should be done, and most of the time, it works. Breeding fruit flies, where you can produce thousands in a day, can be a pretty exact science; it just ain’t that way with larger critters.

We also don’t share “import worship” to the same degree as many other breeders. We don’t think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. While the infusion of “new blood” from Germany is probably a good thing for the breed in this country, the fact is that there are certain cautions that should be taken when not intimately familiar with a dog and its near relatives. With dogs bred over here, word of problems is likely to spread. Having imported over a dozen dogs, and having had only one make significant contributions to our breeding program, we normally prefer to let others do the experimenting these days, and thank them for their efforts.

We also think that our “eye for a dog”, and substantially greater experience in breeding, training, and judging MIGHT help us make better breeding choices than the next guy. (Some Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar breeders don’t even train their own dogs, don’t handle their own dogs at tests, and are not judges. We’re not entirely sure how such a breeder would even know what he really has, or hasn’t.) Our participation as judges and at training days lets us see first hand what other breeders are producing, and beats the heck out of just looking at numbers on a sheet of paper.
Our experience also gives us the confidence to offer one of the better guarantees around, and our longevity and reputation mean that you can be assured that the guarantee will be honored. There was one instance where we went so far as to give one owner a free replacement even after his vom Altmoor dog had given him a full lifetime of quality hunting. In contrast, we know of one recent puppy buyer whose pup was sick when he picked it up at eight weeks or so, and which cost him several thousand dollars to get well, with no offer of help from the breeder. While unusual, this kind of thing does happen, even in the VDD system - VDD is not the Better Business Bureau; from the organization’s perspective, it’s only responsibility is to the breeding regulations, not breeder-buyer relations after the sale.

As you do your research with other Deutsch-Drahthaar breeders, bear in mind that a certain percentage will try to make their pitch by bad-mouthing the other guy. As with any organization, we have our fair share of negative sorts, instant experts, one-dog wonders, and those who think the best way to glorify themselves is to make the other guy look bad. Of these, be especially cautious about those who bad-mouth a kennel name. The fact is that most VDD kennels that have been around for a while breed along several different lines, with a variety of unrelated or distantly-related individuals. In our judgement there is no North American VDD breeder who has yet established their own “line” of dogs.  (However, as this is updated in 2019, we might have to say that we are now the sole exception.) So, to paint all of any one breeder’s efforts with the same brush is normally false, or stupid, or both. Now, there can be cases where individual dogs have been shown to generally throw certain traits, good or bad, and perhaps observations about those individuals may be legitimate, or not. As Grandpa Maverick used to say, “Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.” So, be careful what you accept as gospel. You’ll probably find that the breeder who is negative about another breeder is usually negative about several, and at that point he’s actually denigrating the breed as a whole, so why is he involved?

Does that mean we’re above it all and never critical of other individual breeders (as opposed to kennel names)? Well, not exactly. There’s at least one breeder in the club who has a well documented reputation for shady dealings, and we’d hate to see you go that route. We also wouldn’t want you to deal with a breeder who doesn’t provide you with documentation of both parents being free of the hereditary bleeding disorders. (Just because a breeder says that “results for genetic disorders are available” does NOT mean that those results show the dog to be clear of the disorders.) And, you should also probably take a look at guarantees - if there isn’t one, that’s fine, so long as you know it at the start. And finally, there’s the method the breeder uses to determine who gets what pup; we don’t object to how any breeder does it, so long as you are aware of it up front.
Our German kennel name, vom Altmoor, can roughly translate to “from the old swamp”. This is a reference to the grand old undisturbed swamp behind our house, as well an effort to emphasize the exceptional water work abilities of the Drahthaar, which a couple decades back weren’t as widely recognized by the American hunter as they are today.

A lifelong hunter and outdoorsman, Roger has owned gun dogs since early childhood, and has professionally trained them part-time since the '60's. During the '70's he bred gun dog strains of Brits and Springers under the Chippewa kennel name, and then briefly, GWP's under the Oldmarsh kennel name. He served the Delaware Valley Chapter of NAVHDA as both Secretary and President. He received a NAVHDA Handler of the Year Award in 1985. He served VDD/GNA as HD Program Coordinator from 1988 through 1995, and as Vice-Chairman/Director of Testing and Director of Judge Development from 1993 through 1995. He received the VDD Silver Hegewald award in 1996. After 27 years as a cop (20 of those as a Police Chief), Roger now runs our dog training supply business and handles the day to day operations of our VDD kennel.

Nancy, an equestrienne turned hunter and versatile gun dog fan, like Roger, hunts with gun, bow, and black powder. Nancy served the Delaware Valley Chapter of NAVHDA for two years as Test Secretary, and also received the 1985 Handler of the Year Award. In 1989, she successfully handled a dog of our breeding in VDD's prestigious Hegewald in Nettetal, Germany. She served VDD/GNA as Test Secretary for two years, and in 1996 received GNA's Exemplary Service Award in recognition of her research and education of the membership regarding genetic bleeding disorders. She served as GNA's Business Manager from 1997 to 2000 and was awarded the silver Hegewald pin in 2000. The award was very special to Nancy in that she was nominated for it by a member of the VDD e.V. Executive Board, Frau Hannchen Terboven, who served many years as an exemplary Business Manager to the VDD in Germany. Nancy recently served as VDD/GNA’s Atlantic Chapter Chairman, and Webmaster, and beofre that as Chapter Breedwarden. In 2009, she received VDD/GNA's Distinguished Service Award for her assistance with translations related to test regulations.  Nancy has handled or judged in all but one International Armbruster since 2008. She was awarded VDD’s Gold Hegewald pin in 2018.  A former police officer of 15 years, Nancy has been employed at a veterinary hospital since 1996 and is currently the Practice Manager.

Our home is located on the edge of the 130,000 acre Wharton State Forest, in the Jersey Pinelands. Decades ago, within twenty minutes of our home, a limit of native quail in just two or three hours was normal and pheasant hunting equaled that anywhere in the country. In fact, on Roger’s first hunt as a licensed hunter at age ten, the first piece of game taken was a European Hare - New Jersey even had those. Although farmland habitat in the area is declining, and European Hare and wild pheasants here are just a memory, woodland and marsh hunting opportunities are practically limitless - we can, for example, hunt deer from early September through the last day of January, and take an unlimited number. While not our thing, turkey hunting opportunities also abound. Within a one-hour drive we have access to tens of thousands of acres of State Wildlife Management Areas, on which the State does a great job of stocking pheasant and quail. When the time is right, those WMA’s, as well as the huge NWR’s, can offer terrific woodcock hunting, and some of the best waterfowl hunting in the East is routine. Some of the East’s finest commercial hunting preserves are right around the corner, and great grouse hunting is just four to six hours away (local grouse are now gone too, it seems). Barnegat Bay, Great Bay, Absecon Islands, and all the tributaries running into Delaware Bay are where we hang out. For 29 years we were members of one of the most exclusive duck clubs in the region, located just three miles from our home. (The property has now been sold.) When we aren’t hunting or training, we’re working the coastal waters for stripers, blues, and weakies.

As Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar breeders, one of our greatest sources of satisfaction is to be able to look at a dog from one of our breedings and see in it individual ancestors who were our best friends. (This, more than anything else, is probably the main reason we continue to breed a couple litters each year - we don’t want to lose what we have.) Then there’s the tremendous satisfaction that comes from the proud reports we continually get from owners of our dogs. But perhaps most of all is the sense of satisfaction we get when we look back over the years and try to list just how many key figures in VDD/GNA started down their Deutsch-Drahthaar path with a vom Altmoor pup. Quite a few prominent members, past and present, have at some point owned a vom Altmoor pup, and the vom Altmoor kennel name regularly appears on the pedigree of many litters whelped in this country today. We’re proud of our dogs and the accomplishments of their owners, whether within VDD or simply in the fields and marshes. We hope that you’ll want to share in this experience.

Roger and Nancy


Ducks Unlimited
Ruffed Grouse Society
Law Enforcement Alliance of America
NJ Retired Police & Firefighters Association
North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association
Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar / Group North America
Verein Deutsch-Drahthaar / Group Canada
New Jersey Waterfowler's Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Rifle Association - Life
Recreational Fishing Alliance
The Nature Conservancy


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