Country of origin
The Weimaraner (English pronunciation: /ˈvaɪmərɑːnər/ vy-mə-rah-nər) is a dog that was originally bred for hunting in the early 19th century. Early Weimaraners were used by royalty for hunting large game such as boar, bear, and deer. As the popularity of large game hunting began to decline, Weimaraners were used for hunting smaller animals like fowl, rabbits, and foxes.
The Weimaraner is an all purpose gun dog. The name comes from the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Karl August, whose court, based in the city of Weimar (now in modern day Germany), enjoyed hunting.
HistoryToday's breed standards are alleged to have developed in the late 18th and early 19th century, although dogs having very similar features to the Weimaraner have supposedly been traced as far back as 13th century in the court of Louis IX of France. One theory is that the ancestor is the St. Hubert Hound (also known as the Bloodhound and Sleuth Hound). Though these dogs are black, they can produce a grey dog when bred. Like the Vizsla at the time, the breed was created exclusively for the nobility and alike. The aim was to create a noble-looking, reliable gundog. As ownership was restricted, the breed was highly prized and lived with the family. This was unusual, as during this period, hunting dogs were kept in kennels in packs. This has resulted in a dog that needs to be near humans and that quickly deteriorates when kenneled. The Weimaraner was an all purpose family dog, capable of guarding the home, hunting with the family, and of course, being loving and loyal towards children.
Originally, Germany was possessive of its skilled all-purpose gundog. Some of the earliest weimaraners, prior to being sent to America for breeding, were sterilized in order for America not to popularize their special breed. But starting in the late 19th century the breed became increasingly common throughout Europe and the United States. Although slower than many other gundogs, such as Pointers, the Weimaraner is thorough and this made it a welcome addition to the sportsman's household. The breed's happy, lively temperament has endeared it to families.With the rise in popularity, some changes have been made to the breed. Both in Britain and America (where the breed remains popular) breeders have taken care to breed to a standard.
The Weimaraner is elegant and athletic in appearance. All parts of the dog should be in balance with each other, creating a form that is pleasing to the eye. It must be capable of working in the field, regardless of whether it is from show stock or hunting stock, and faults that will interfere with working ability are heavily penalized.
Traditionally, the tail is docked to a third of its natural length shortly after birth. This is part of the AKC breed standard. However, these alterations have since been illegalized in several other countries; as such those dogs are shown with their natural tails (which is uncommon).
The eyes of the Weimaraner may be light amber, grey, or blue-grey.
Coat and color
This breed's short coat and its unusual eyes give it a regal appearance different from any other breed. The coat is extremely low maintenance, short, hard, and smooth to the touch, and may range from charcoal-blue to mouse-grey to silver-grey. Where the fur is thin or non-existent, inside the ears or on the lips, for example, the skin should be a pinkish tone rather than white or black.
In November 2009 and January 1, 2010 the United Kennel Club (UKC) removed the disqualification from both Blue and Longhair Weimaraners. A black coat remains an automatic disqualification, though a small white marking in the chest area only is permitted. However, dogs with blue coats are not disqualified from field competition and are recognized as purebred Weimaraners by the AKC. There is another incidental variety, described as having the 'mark of the hound', where the dog is the usual grey colour but with faint tan markings (similar to Doberman). It's said that early in the breed this was a common colour that was selectively bred out.
A long-haired variety is recognized by most kennel clubs around the world except in the American Kennel Club. The long-haired Weimaraner has a silky coat, with an undocked, feathered tail. The gene is recessive, so breeding will produce some long-haired puppies only if both parents carry the trait.
According to the AKC standard, the male Weimaraner stands between 25 and 27 inches (63–68 cm) at the withers.
Females are between 23 and 25 inches (58–63 cm). Of course, there are many dogs taller or shorter than the breed standard. The breed is not heavy for its height, and males normally weigh roughly 70-80 pounds. Females are generally between 55-70 lbs (25–32 kg). A Weimaraner should give the appearance of a muscular, athletic dog.
From adolescence, a Weimaraner requires extensive exercise in keeping with an energetic hunting dog breed prized for their physical endurance and stamina. No walk is too far, and they will appreciate games and play in addition. An active owner is more likely to provide the vigorous exercising, games, or running that this breed absolutely requires. Weimaraners are high-strung and often wear out their owners, requiring appropriate training to learn how to calm them and to help them learn to control their behavior. Owners need patience and consistent, firm yet kind training, as this breed is particularly rambunctious during the first year and a half of its life. This breed is known for having a penchant for stealing food from table and counter tops whenever given the chance. Like many breeds, untrained and unconfined young dogs often create their own fun when left alone, such as chewing house quarters and furniture. Thus, many that are abandoned have behavioural issues as a result of isolation and inferior exercise.
Weimaraners are generally good with children, but may not be appropriate for smaller children due to their tendency to knock a child down in the course of play. They also may knock over elderly people or children by accident. Early training to sit through positive reinforcement is critical to prevent jumping in the future.
It should never be forgotten that the Weimaraner is a hunting dog and therefore has a strong, instinctive prey drive. Weimaraners will sometimes tolerate cats, as long as they are introduced to the cats as puppies, but many will chase and frequently kill almost any small animal that enters their garden or backyard. In rural areas, most Weimaraners will not hesitate to chase deer or sheep.
This breed of dog tends to be very stubborn. However, with good training, these instincts can be curtailed to some degree. A properly trained Weimaraner is a companion that will never leave its master's side. The Weimaraner has been given the nickname "Velcro Dog", as when once acclimated to its owner, sticks to its owner at all times. Many Weimaraners tend to lean on their owner when sitting or standing, and most will insist on sleeping on their owner's bed unless trained otherwise.
Since they were bred to be true members of a family, some Weimaraners suffer from severe separation anxiety. Manifestations of this behavior disorder include panicked efforts to rejoin the owner when separation occurs, excessive drooling, destructive behaviors, associated injuries such as broken teeth or cut lips and barking loudly. Most just wait on the couch or by the window for their owner to come back home. Behavior modification training and medications may reduce the severity of symptoms associated with this disorder in some Weimaraners. However, the breed is generally resistant to such treatment and behavior modification training efforts. As individuals of the breed age the severity of separation anxiety symptoms decreases somewhat, but does not completely abate. More common, lighter manifestations of separation anxiety include wailing, which mimics
a high pitched crying tone. This is more pronounced when the Weim's owner has just left or is audibly returning home. If properly socialized young, the tendency for separation anxiety may be reduced.
According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Weimaraners suffer from low rates of dysplasia. The breed is ranked 102nd of 153 total breeds and has a very high test rate and a very high percentage of excellent rating among those dogs tested. It is generally recommended to acquire Weimeraners only from breeders who have their dogs' hips tested using OFA or PennHIP methods.
As a deep-chested dog, the Weimaraner is prone to bloat or gastric torsion, a very serious condition that can cause painful and rapid death when left untreated. It occurs when the stomach twists itself, thereby pinching off blood vessels and the routes of food traveling in or out. Symptoms include signs of general distress, discomfort, no bowel movement or sounds, and a swollen stomach. Immediate medical attention is imperative when bloat occurs and surgery is the only option if it is caught early enough.
One way to help prevent bloat is to spread out the Weimaraner's feedings to at least twice daily and to avoid any vigorous exercise right after feedings. It is also recommended that the dog's feeding dish not be placed on a raised platform to discourage it from gobbling its food too quickly and keep air from entering the stomach. Raised food bowls have been found to more than double the risk of bloat in large dogs.
Other health issues include:
- Elbow dysplasia
- Von Willebrands Disease
- Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
- Pituitary dwarfism
- Renal dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy