Epps Kennels


History of Epps Kennels

The Beginning

The Epps family has been training dogs for over 60 years now.  Walter started his life-long dream of training dogs with a wonderful German Shorthaired Pointer named Meister Schau Speiler that he showed and trained.  For the first forty years of the Epps family professional careers, the kennel was named Schau Speiler Kennels. Walter started training Gundogs professionally and naturally progressed into AKC and American Field Trials.  Walter’s first two field trial dogs were German Shorthair Pointers named Ranger and Bo-Boy.  In his first field trial, Ranger placed 4th in his first AKC Limited All Age stake and All Age stake, qualifying him for the AKC National.  Bo-Boy was Walter's first entry in the AKC National Futurity and captured 2nd place. 

Schau, BoBoy and Flash

I             Meister Schau Speiler               I            Bo-Boy             I                 Flash Von Stauffenberg            I

 Walter got a dog in training named Flash Von Stauffenberg.  He had been worked by at least 3 other professional trainers that couldn’t break him.  In 1960, Walter was able to break Flash and finish him as AKC Field Champion.   Lou Prentice, Flash’s owner, had this wonderful plaque created for Walter’s effort and skill in doing what others said couldn’t be done.  Taking in dogs that others said couldn't be trained soon became a challenge and a success he would repeat again and again.

Lou Prentice Plaque


Schau Speiler Kennels

Walter's first professional kennel was named "Schau Speiler Kennels" and established near Pittsburg California.  Walter and his very patient wife, Mona, began raising 3 sons, Steve, Paul and Bruce and running the kennel full time.  The boys were indoctrinated into the world of raising, training and competing dogs from an early age.

Working with the 3 boys

 I     Walter with his 3 sons and AKC NFC Moesgaard's Angel        I          Steve and Schau at a Field Trial        I

In 1963, Walter achieved another major milestone in his training career, by winning the AKC National with Moesgaard’s Angel.  Angel was inducted into the GSPCA Hall of Fame in 1987.

AKC National Field Champion Moesgaards Angle

As Walter finished more and more AKC Field Champions, he also reached out to help the Pittsburg Police force with their German Shepherds.  He gave them force retrieving, enhanced obedience, and trained them to track missing children.

Pittsburg Police Officers and their dogs

During the late 60’s, Walter and family moved to Grizzly Island, CA.  They trained gundogs, ran major AKC Field Trail circuits and ran a large Pheasant and Duck club.  Here, the kennel was expanded and Steve, the oldest son, began training and handling professionally.  Throughout the 60’s, Walter continued to finish more Field Champions, place in the AKC Nationals and expand the number of States where actively competed.

Schau Speiler Kennels at Grizzly Island and National Futurity Champion Judy

I               Grizzly Island Kennel                        I  Walter & AKC National Futurity winner Judy Von SchnellbergI

In 1968, Walter hit another major milestone by winning the AKC National Futurity with Judy Von Schnellberg.

Expansion to Elk Grove, CA

Soon, Walter and family moved to Elk Grove, California where the kennel grew and they focused 100% on training gundogs and competing in Field Trials across the nation.  Here, Steve was training, handling and scouting a full string of field trial dogs and Paul learned to give obedience, retrieving and general gundog work as well as scouting for Walter and Steve in field trials.

Schau Speiler Kennels at Elk Grove

While in Elk Grove, Steve finished his first AKC Field Champion, Teena of Heidelberg.  Helen Case, Teena’s owner, ran a full page in the German Shorthaired Pointer News that read:


……Steve and Teena started out together when he was in High School and she was a puppy.  Four years later, a young professional finished his first Field Champion…   They did it one step at a time – Puppy, Derby, Open – each gaining confidence, experience, and the respect of judges and fellow trailers, Pro, and amateur, as they progressed.

……She finished with a 5-point Major in Limited All Age at Big Sky GSPC Trial in April 1974, just past her fourth birthday, her other win in open was five-points in Open Gun Dog at Bay area Weimaraner Club Trial in 1973 – So with Puppy & Derby Points, she earned 14 Championship Points, real proof of First-Class Handling and performance.  ……I don’t know of whom I’m most proud – Steve or Teena – but as long as a hard-working dedicated boy and a beautiful, eager, young bitch can take on all comers and make it to the top, the sport of Field Trialing is on the right track.

……Thank you Steve and Teena

   Helen B. Case


Field Champion Teena

As Walter and Steve placed many more dogs in the AKC Nationals, AKC Futurity’s, American Field and finished more Field Champions, their Field Trial strings and the number of Trials they competed in continued to grow significantly.  They campaigned coast to coast and border to border in AKC and American Field Trials.  In order to keep up with the expanding number of dogs and the extended trips, they had a 5th wheel trailer custom built that held 2 horses, tack, up to 48 dogs and living quarters for Walter and Steve to live in and compete from.

The gundog training was also expanding.  Walter and sons were training all breeds of hunting dogs including Brittanys, Setters, Shorthairs, Pointers, Wirehairs, Weimaraners, Vizslas, Labrador and Golden retrievers.  As the business expanded, gundogs and Field Trial dogs began to come in from Mexico and Europe. 

Walter and Paul began expanding into AKC Retriever Field Trials, which led to construction of a lake and further development of the 10 acre training grounds in Elk Grove.

AKC Field Trial Rig

 100 Acre Training Facility - 22 Miles North of Reno, NV

In just a few years, all 3 sons began training full time and it was once again time to expand the size of the kennel and the training facilities.  Walter and family moved about 22 miles North of Reno, Nevada, just off Hwy 395 in Long Valley, California, where they live and train today.  The property was chosen for its terrain, tranquility, location and access to almost limitless training grounds in California and Nevada.

The kennel and training facility was designed to provide the ultimate Gundog and Competition training environment for pointers and retrievers.

The Training Kennel:

  • The kennel was designed with 30 indoor/outdoor runs
  • 10 outdoor exercise pens that range from 20’x20’ to 40’x40
  • Has forced air heating in the winter and is naturally cool at 5,000 feet elevation in the summer
  • The sound system plays music with a beat of about 60 beats per minute to help new dogs adapt to the environment and helps to keep all of the dogs calm and more relaxed
  • The kennel was specifically located on a hillside so that the dogs in training would have a vantage point to watch others dogs perform their field and water work
  • There are solid walls between each kennel to ensure no aggression between dogs can occur.  The front of each kennel is open with a view of the training facility

The Training Facility:

  • Two custom lakes were built for Retriever Field Trial work and advanced Gundog training, with a bridge, two channels, a point and a full keyed dam
  • Both lakes have managed tulles, willows and other habitat
  • Cover is planted and designed for natural hunting conditions
  • The bottom land between the lakes is planted Orchard Grass, Clover and Great Basin Wild Rye with full irrigation
  • Natural and planted hunting objectives, including sage hedge rows, sage and Great Basin Wild Rye patches, planted and maintained in gullies, ridge tops and flats
  • We used heavy equipment to  contour rolling hills and gully’s to provide stages and setups for honoring, handling the wind, running birds, blind retrieves and other key training objectives
  • California Valley Quail are prevalent in the valley and Chukar in the ridges that surround the facility
  • Bob White Quail and Chukar pens are designed to allow coveys to home and therefore they can be used over and over again, providing more covey experiences for the dogs.

Epps Kennels

AKC Field Trials:

To date, the Epps family has trained and finished 2 AKC National Champions, 2 AKC Dual Champions, American Field Champions, over 40 AKC Field Champions, and more than 3,900 placements in registered AKC Field Trials.

Top AKC String in the US

Top: Mikio Tochioka & Family with FC Biff's Mark Von Schau Speiler  I  Dual Champion Schatzi's Eric Von Greif
Bottom: Steve & Silverado Sam at an American Field Trial                I  Dual Champion Big Island Sass-A-Frass

Emergence of National Bird Dog Circuit (BDC) and Epps Kennels

As time progressed, Walter and Steve eventually transitioned from the extensive travel and horse-back handling on the AKC Field Trial circuit to training competitive dogs for Amateur handlers in both AKC and the National Bird Dog Circuit (BDC) events.  Keeping up with changing times they decided to rename the kennel from Schau Speiler Kennels to Epps Kennels.

Bird Dog Challenge  Competitors

Take a look at our Client Photo Gallery to see their many outstanding accomplishments!

Walt and Steve

Walt and Steve live on site and are open 7 days a week by appointment, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Walter and Steve take reservations for training, generally no more than 10 Gundogs each at any one time.  This limit ensures they can spend quality time and bring out the maximum potential in your dog.  

When training is done for the day, Walt and Steve work on their strategic breeding program based on over 60 years studying bloodlines and genetics.  They study pedigrees, collaborate with others, and track AKC, American Field and BDC results to understand the results of other breeding programs, always working towards the next great litter of pups!

Walt, Mona and Steve Epps

If you have any questions or comments, please give us a call anytime!

Steve: 775.354.3996