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Joseph and Brenna Carlisle are AKC Breeders of Merit Bronze and AKC Bred with HEART breeders. Their kennel, Heritage Hounds, is located on about 80 acres just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Brenna has bred and shown Standard Longhaired Dachshunds her whole life, and Joseph has bred Treeing Walker Coonhounds and competed in competition hunts with them his whole life. They met when Brenna was showing her first Coonhound, a Bluetick named “Julep” (CNC GCH CCH Evenstar N Heritage Mint Julep) at a coonhound bench show. From there the war between “Walkers” and “Blueticks” raged on and somehow blossomed into a love story of two dog lovers who have a passion for breeding and competing with their dogs. 

How did you get started in breeding dogs?

Brenna: When I was young, I was mentored by Anne Carson, a Platinum Breeder of Merit, who provided me with all the building blocks to start a small breeding program of Standard Longhaired Dachshunds. It is still at ground level with just a few generations, but I am looking forward to the future with some new babies arriving soon! I got my first Bluetick girl from a breeder not far from where I live now. She was all I could have hoped for and more, and with some work she became a breed winner at Westminster, Royal Canin, and also the FIRST Dual Champion (Conformation/Night Hunting Champion) for the breed in AKC’s history. She has had two litters, which have produced many champions, and they are now producing their own champions.

Joseph has hunted with dogs his whole life, from foxhounds hunting deer to coonhounds. He has dedicated a major part of his life to producing some very nice Treeing Walker Coonhounds. His dog Bandit won the Alabama State Championship in 2012 for the hunting portion, and he has been in the Top 100 in the world a good many times with Bandit’s father. Joseph is the president of the Ragland Alabama Coonhunters Club which hosts a variety of events. He also enjoys giving back to the coonhunting community and to the youth in the sport.

What are the most important things to know about your breeds?

Brenna: Dachshunds are a working breed – they are very smart! They can also be very stubborn and need a lotof patience. Dachshunds are not for first-time dog owners. They are a wonderful breed, but they definitely need some sort of job. Our line of Treeing Walkers is wonderful and sweet, very smart, and are often very easy to train. They are less stubborn than my Blueticks who can be a bit defiant, sometimes too smart for their own good. They do well having tasks and not being bored.

How has AKC Marketplace helped you find puppy buyers?

Brenna: The AKC Marketplace has been a wonderful resource where I have met many wonderful families. They can check us out before they even contact us, and they know what questions they have for me and they are prepared to answer my questionnaire. They can also see that we are Breeders of Merit Bronze and members of our breed clubs.

What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?

Brenna: Are you prepared to invest in this puppy financially, mentally, and wholeheartedly? I also go on to say that I am involved with their pups for their lifetime! I will answer questions, have a conversation, or hold their hand through tough decisions.

What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?

 Brenna: I always look at the breeds they have owned in the past. Many people have never had a hound, and there are big differences between hounds and sporting dogs. I also ask if they have a fenced yard. This is very important for me because hounds are prone to following their noses. It is not unusual for a night of coon hunting to consist of a dog covering one to two miles or more in just hours, hunting their desired game.

What is the best advice you would give to novice breeders?

Brenna: Have a goal and keep going. You will, undoubtedly, run into roadblocks but keep pursuing your dream and always keep your options open. Talk to veterans who have been in it a long time, gain knowledge from them, get your dogs evaluated, learn to take constructive criticism, and grow from it. Do not be weak or sensitive because somewhere breeding will test everything you know about yourself.

Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?

Brenna: Our dogs compete in Conformation, Night Hunts, Coonhound Bench Shows, Dachshund Field Trials, and many more events with many titled dogs in each of these events. I competed in Junior Showmanship from the time I was old enough to the time I aged out. I hope our son, Marty will also have the desire to compete in youth events with the dogs!

What do you like best about breeding dogs?

Brenna: The thing that I like best about breeding dogs is the preservation of a breed and the knowledge that my dogs can go out into the world and be not only awesome pets, show dogs, and hunting dogs but that they are bred to my interpretation of the breed standard. I love seeing my puppies grow from babies to adults and the satisfaction knowing that the puppy I brought into this world has possibly impacted a person or family for life. I also find joy in placing puppies with military, whether active or retired. Because I come from a military family, I feel this is one little way I can always give back. I also have donated three puppies throughout the years to police and detection K9 agencies in the US and Canada.

Do you have a favorite breeding story?

Brenna: In 2017, when I was driving home from Royal Canin in Orlando, Florida, I got a call from a husband who was frantic looking for a Bluetick puppy for his wife. He said their Bloodhound had passed away and he wanted to surprise her with a Bluetick. I told him I had a litter, but my females were going to show homes. He asked what that entailed. I explained and after some more thorough questioning we decided that one of these would be going home with them… they had no idea the rabbit hole they went down.

They are hooked and I love it! CH Heritage Annie Oakley “Annie,” owned by Matt and Liz Barnes of Lizella, Georgia, went from zero to 100, becoming a top-five Bluetick and competing at Westminster in 2020. We hope to breed her soon, and they will have another show puppy. Finding a puppy home is great, but it’s even better when a family can see your vision and they take it and run!

Related article: Tips for Finding and Working With a Responsible Breeder
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