With great intelligence, much energy and highly developed tracking skills, they are classified by the American Kennel Club in the sporting dog group. Nicknamed the Grey Ghost, the name Weimaraner (correctly pronounced Vi-mer-ron-er) stems from the Weimar Republic of Germany, where the breed was first developed by the noblemen of the Court of Weimar in the early 19th century. Originally called Weimar Pointers, they were used to hunt big game, such as bear, deer and wild boar. However, when that food source became scarce, they were adapted to hunt small game and birds. The breed was developed from the Red Schweisshund, a descendent of the Bloodhound, and the German Shepherd Pointer, and controlled with an iron fist by its creators with strict regulations determining owners and breeders.
The Weimaraner was first introduced to America in 1929 by Howard Knight of Rhode Island, who, after admission into the German Weimaraner Club, was permitted to import the first breeding Weims. Subsequently, in 1942, the Weimaraner Club of America was formed and recognized by the AKC that same year. Weims were shown at Westminster for the first time in 1943. The dog’s population increased at the end of World War II, when returning service men brought them home from Germany. The breed became very popular when President Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced his Weimaraner, Heidi, to the nation. However, during the ‘60’s, their popularity dropped considerably and did not begin to climb until the ‘90’s.
The Weim is now one of AKC’s most popular breed. Weimaraners are large dogs, measuring 23-27 inches at the withers and weighing between 55-75 pounds. They range in color from silver gray to mouse gray, or taupe. Eyes are gray, blue-gray or amber. They have webbed feet for swimming. Their coat is short and sleek and very easy to maintain with daily brushing or occasional washing with a damp cloth. They are not heavy shedders. There are also longhaired Weimaraners, with a silky coat that can be slightly wavy or straight. Their tails are long, unlike the shorthaired Weim whose tail is docked. The coat of the longhaired Weimaraner is ideal for colder weather; the topcoat acts as a repellent against water while the undercoat provides insulation. However, the AKC considers long hair a disqualifying fault, as are Blue Weimaraners (breeding to achieve the beautiful blue color is discouraged by the AKC).
Weimaraners are subject to hip dysplasia, bloat, tumors, allergies, hernias and a bleeding disorder called von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD). They are used in capacities other than hunting dogs, such as police dogs in England and Germany as well as rescue dogs and service dogs for the disabled. Their life expectancy is 10-12 years. Due to their potential to bloat, it is recommended they be fed two or three small meals a day. It is important not to exercise a Weim immediately after a meal; this can lead to bloating.
Weimaraners are special dogs that require special people. They are very intelligent, yet highly manipulative. In fact, some owners complain their Weims always stay one step ahead of them. They can be headstrong to the point that they “out stubborn” their owners. They are loyal dogs and completely devoted to their families. They make wonderful watchdogs and are very protective. They require much attention and exercise and can be destructive if bored. They are affectionate and love nothing more than to drape their large bodies over their owners while relaxing or to sleep snuggled up against their owners. They tend to suffer from separation anxiety, so crate training is essential. They do poorly if confined in a kennel, where they can become restless and bored.
The best way to train a Weim is through reward (food or praise). They are eager to please and take well to this form of training. Disciplining through physical means such as hitting will result in the dog becoming afraid or wary of its owner, at which point, it will be almost impossible for training to occur by that person.
Weimaraners perceive themselves as a family member and not just a pet. Nothing makes a Weimaraner happier than to be side by side with his owner, wherever the owner goes. Although Weims are large dogs, they are strictly house dogs. Their intellect makes housebreaking and teaching house manners an easy matter. When outside, like most sporting dogs, they are prone to roll in anything smelly they come across. This is their instinctive way of covering their scent while they hunt.
If you want a dog that will stick by your side, adore you without reservation, and protect you against harm, the Weimaraner is one you might consider. However, be sure you have the time and energy for a Weim. If you’re like most Weimaraner owners, once you have one, you will never be without one. They are truly a special dog that deserves a special owner.
Rescue groups are wonderful places to find a Weimaraner that will fit your home. These groups have the dog’s interests at heart and make sure they match the Weim with the perfect owner. For more information, contact your local Weimaraner Rescue Group or animal shelter.