You Do What?

Tony Brezel Breeds and Trains West German Shepherds

The dogs are bred from a line of champions and sold to dog lovers all over the world.

By Ilene Denton October 18, 2016 Published in the September 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Image: Alex Stafford

Tony Brezel had a successful career in real estate and in national direct sales before launching a business that satisfies her true passion: breeding and training German shepherds. Not just any German shepherds, though; these are West German shepherds bred from a line of national champions, which she sells to dog lovers from all over the country, including to celebrities like Robert Wagner, Jill St. John and comedian Chelsea Handler.


“After I left real estate, I founded Starlight International [a dietary supplement distributor]. I was traveling to Europe quite a bit and wanted a German shepherd for added protection. I love the breed. In the mid-’90s, I brought over a beautiful female and male from Germany. I have a six-acre property east of town, so I started to have a litter from time to time, and [the business] grew. In 2000 I had the No. 1 German shepherd in North America, Burschy. Then my dog, Acka, became the No. 1 female. It opened a whole new world to me.” 


“I have my own stud dogs, and people from all over the country bring their females to me. My puppies go for $3,000 to $5,000. I still call this my hobby, but if you love what you do it’s not work, and if you make money at it, that’s just a bonus.”


“I do Schutzhund training for dog owners from all over Florida. The literal translation is ‘protection dog.’ This is extensive training. I do the foundation work with puppies, and I have an excellent trainer in South Carolina who comes down once a month, and then [the dogs and their owners] go to Germany to complete their training. There are three training components: tracking, where they have to show they have a strong nose; obedience, with a lot of focus; and the bite work—the protection work. This is not training them to be aggressive, it’s the opposite; it’s a courage test.”


“German shepherds are so kind, so loving, so gentle. They want to be where you are; they’re great with children. Many of my dogs have become therapy, and search and rescue dogs.”

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