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The Weimaraner: A Guide for Owners

Larry Slawson received his Master's Degree from UNC Charlotte. He has 15+ years of experience with dogs and various pets.

The Weimaraner: A Guide for Owners.

The Weimaraner: A Guide for Owners.

Throughout the world, there exists only a handful of dog breeds that can be consistently described as well-behaved, obedient, and fearless. One of these dogs is the Weimaraner. Originally bred in the 1800s for the purpose of tracking large game, this breed continues to fulfill this role in the modern era and is a favorite for hunters and trappers alike.

This work examines the Weimaraner and provides an in-depth analysis of the animal’s behavioral patterns, temperament, and general traits. This includes a discussion of the Weimaraner’s health concerns, grooming and exercise requirements, as well as water and nutritional needs. It is the author’s hope that a better understanding (and appreciation) of this remarkable breed will accompany readers following their completion of this work.

Dog Quote

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

— Josh Billings

Scientific Classification

  • Common Name: Weimaraner
  • Binomial Name: Canis Lupus Familiaris
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: Canis Lupus
  • Subspecies: Canis Lupus Familiaris
  • Other Name(s): Weimaraner Vorstehund; Weim; “Grey Ghost”
Beautiful Weimaraner posing for the camera.

Beautiful Weimaraner posing for the camera.

History of the Weimaraner

  • Life Span: 10 to 13 years
  • Group: Sporting
  • Area of Origin: Germany
  • Date of Origin: 1800s
  • Original Function: Large game tracking
  • Family: Hunting Dog; Pointer; Gundog

Origins

The Weimaraner was first developed during the 1800s by breeders in the dense, game-rich forests of Central Germany. This area, known collectively as the Weimar Region, was the “exclusive hunting ground of the nobility” for several centuries (akc.org).

Seeking to develop a suitable hunting companion for their expeditions into the wild, breeders began to cross numerous dogs with intelligence, tracking, stamina, and speed in mind for their selection process. The dogs involved with this painstaking procedure included the Bloodhound, German Shorthaired Pointer, English Pointer, Great Dane, as well as the Huehnerhund. The end result of their efforts was the Weimaraner that we know and love today.

Due to their remarkable intelligence and tracking abilities, the Weimaraner’s population soared in the decades following its development. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1929 that the first Weimaraner was imported to the United States. Due to poor timing (with the onset of the Great Depression crippling the world economy), however, the dog’s strength as a hunting breed wasn’t fully realized until the end of World War II. By the 1950s, the Weimaraner had proven itself to be a fully capable and durable hunting companion for Americans, thus, elevating its overall popularity to unprecedented heights.

In the present-day, the Weimaraner continues to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of hunters and trappers alike. Due to its excellent companionship qualities and lovable nature, however, the breed’s role has also expanded in recent decades, as the Weimaraner is now a favorite for family-based environments due to their intelligence and love for kids.

Function

The Weimaraner was originally developed for the purpose of hunting (and tracking) large game. This included deer, bears, and large boars within the central forests of Germany. As big-game populations declined within the region, however, the Weimaraner’s role transitioned in response to newfound needs. This included the tracking of smaller animals such as pheasants and birds. Within this role, the Weimaraner is considered an incredibly gifted tracker and hunter, with few dogs capable of surpassing their superior sense of smell and alertness.

Weimaraner participating in a hunting expedition with their owner.

Weimaraner participating in a hunting expedition with their owner.

Appearance and Body Characteristics

Body

  • Weight: 55 to 90 pounds (male and female)
  • Height: 25 to 27 inches (male); 23 to 25 inches (female)

The Weimaraner is a medium-sized breed renowned for its “aristocratic” features of grace and balance (akc.org). Considered relatively long in stature, the Weimaraner possesses a muscular appearance with a slightly sloped back, broad chest, and well-sprung ribs. Abdomens should also be “firmly held” in place, with a tucked flank and brisket that extends toward the elbow (akc.org).

Head

The Weimaraner’s head is medium-sized with a prominent occipital bone and trumpets that begin around the eyes. Muzzles should be proportionate to the head, with a well-defined jawline and series of upper teeth that fall slightly over the lower ones.

The nose should be gray in coloration, with lips and gums maintaining a pinkish (flesh) shade. Completing the Weimaraner’s head is a series of light gray or amber-colored eyes, along with a pair of long (and slightly folded) ears that sit just below the jawline.

Forequarters

Forelegs on the Weimaraner are generally described as both straight and muscular in appearance, with lower and upper arms well-proportioned to one another in length. Completing the forequarters is a series of compact feet with well-arched and webbed toes (for easier swimming). These feet possess firm padding (for protection against rough terrain), along with short nails that maintain a gray coloration.

Hindquarters

The hindquarters of the Weimaraner follow many of the same features of the forequarters. Classified as well-muscled and developed, stifles are generally angled in appearance with the hocks maintaining relative straightness. The rear feet are nearly identical to the front, following a compact and webbed look, along with short nails and thick padding.

Tail

Tails should be docked at an early age and should measure nearly 6-inches upon maturity. Tails that are too short or too long are considered major faults with this breed.

Coat and Coloration

Similar to the Vizsla, the Weimaraner’s coat is both short and dense. Despite its relative thickness, however, coats are generally quite smooth to the touch and maintain a solid coloration. Mouse-gray or silver-gray are the primary colors for this breed, with lighter shades acceptable only in the head, ears, or feet. Although small white markings are permissible for the Weimaraner’s chest, white spots anywhere else are considered major faults, along with black or blue coats.

Pictured above is an adorable Weimaraner puppy.

Pictured above is an adorable Weimaraner puppy.

Is the Weimaraner Right for Your Home?

General Characteristics

  • Energy Level: 5/5
  • Exercise Needs: 4/5
  • Playfulness: 4/5
  • Affection Towards Owners: 3/5
  • Friendliness Towards Other Animals: 2/5
  • Training Difficulty: 1/5
  • Grooming Level: 1/5

Note: Scale of 1 to 5 (1=Lowest, 5=Highest)

Temperament

The Weimaraner is a highly energetic breed renowned for their playfulness and rambunctious behavior. Often described as friendly and affable, the Weimaraner makes for an excellent companion dog due to its devotion and loyalty. Potential owners should be aware, however, that this breed is commonly described by breeders as extremely “needy” and require significant attention to be fully happy (Coile, 51). Although generally a very obedient breed, the Weimaraner can also be quite stubborn, particularly when locked up for long periods of time.

Is the Weimaraner Good With Children?

Yes! The Weimaraner is a great choice for families with children due to their energy, friendly demeanor, and affectionate disposition. Although originally bred for the purpose of hunting, the Weimaraner has recently become a favorite for family-based environments and makes for a great companion. Due to their rambunctious nature, however, this breed is usually best-suited for families with kids over the age of five. While the Weimaraner certainly does well with children of all ages, kids from this age group are better-suited for the roughhousing preferred by the Weim.

As with all dogs, parents should always supervise their children when in the presence of a Weimaraner to prevent bad behaviors (such as tail pulling or mishandling).

How Smart Is the Weimaraner?

The Weimaraner is considered an exceptionally intelligent breed and consistently ranks in the “top 25” smartest dog breeds. They are highly trainable with the ability to learn a wide array of tricks and commands throughout their lifetime. The Weimaraner is so intelligent that they are often referred to as “the dog with the human brain.” As a highly alert breed that is capable of self-learning through observation, it isn’t uncommon for the Weimaraner to figure out how to unlock doors and fences, or to open refrigerators for snacks. Some owners have even reported the Weimaraner turning on sink faucets for a quick drink of water.

Weimaraner smiling for the camera.

Weimaraner smiling for the camera.

Grooming and Training Needs

Grooming Requirements

As a relatively shorthaired breed, the Weimaraner is extremely easy to maintain, as its coat requires only a weekly brushing to prevent shedding and matting. Nevertheless, regular baths should be given to prevent excessive dirt and hair from building up on the Weimaraner’s body.

Owners should also pay particular attention to their dog’s ears and nails. Ears should be checked regularly for excessive earwax buildup, dirt, and other debris (such as the accumulation of tiny hairs). Prompt removal of these substances is crucial for the Weimaraner’s health as it helps to prevent sores and infections from entering the ear canal. Regular nail trimmings are also important for this breed, as the Weimaraner’s nails are known to grow quicker than most breeds. Owners should trim nails at regular intervals, ensuring that the edges are short and smooth to the touch. Failure to do so can result in serious injury to your dog as long nails can become snagged on objects over time.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, owners should pay particular attention to their Weimaraner’s dental hygiene. This is a crucial area of grooming that is often ignored by many pet owners. Without regular dental cleanings, your dog will almost certainly develop gingivitis, gum disease, or tooth decay. Each of these dental issues can be extremely painful and detrimental to your Weimaraner’s overall health.

Exercise and Training

As a highly energetic breed, the Weimaraner requires approximately two hours of exercise (daily). This can be done in one sitting, or can be broken up into two separate segments of an hour each. Exercise should include off-leash activities such as running, jogging, or playing games (such as fetch). Failure to provide your Weimaraner with regular exercise will result in excessive barking, chewing, and digging as your dog attempts to “entertain” themselves.

In addition to physical exercise on a daily basis, the Weimaraner also requires a great deal of mental stimulation to prevent boredom. This is due, in part, to the dog’s exceptional level of intelligence. Through regular training, owners can teach their Weimaraner a wide array of tricks and commands throughout their lifetime. Potential owners should note, however, that this breed is also highly independent and stubborn (to a fault). This, in turn, often makes training a challenge for owners as the Weimaraner can become easily distracted (or refuse to cooperate altogether). For these reasons, the Weimaraner is best-suited for an owner that is firm, extremely patient, and gentle with their commands.

As a highly alert and sensitive breed, the Weimaraner also doesn’t respond well to anger or aggressive commands. On the contrary, this style of training will often lead to the development of shyness and timid behaviors with your pet. For best results, experts recommend using “praise and rewards” when training your Weimaraner. Learning sessions should also be kept short so that your dog doesn’t lose interest.

Nutritional Needs

As with most breeds, a high-quality dog food should always be the number one priority for your pet. These meals can be prepared by a manufacturer, or at home following the guidance and supervision of your dog’s veterinarian. And while it is certainly tempting to provide your Weimaraner with human-based foods each day (such as leftovers and table scraps), experts warn that many of these foods contain harmful substances and toxins that can be detrimental to your dog’s health over time. In particular, foods with bones, preservatives, and fatty substances can significantly lower your dog’s life expectancy when provided to them on a regular basis. The following list details 10 foods you should avoid giving to your Weimaraner (or dog in general):

Avoid giving these 10 foods to your Weimaraner.

Avoid giving these 10 foods to your Weimaraner.

How Much Food Should a Weimaraner Eat Per Day?

As with all dog breeds, feeding requirements vary significantly with every pet and depend greatly on your Weimaraner’s weight, energy level, and age. For this reason, owners should work actively with their veterinarian to establish a feeding cycle that fits their dog’s specific needs. Generally speaking, however, an adult Weimaraner usually requires 2 to 3 cups of dry dog food each day. This should be divided into two separate meals of approximately 1 to 1.5 cups for each serving. More active dogs will require slightly more food in order to recover lost calories. Less active dogs, in contrast, will require slightly less.

Feeding schedules for Weimaraner puppies is also quite different from the adults. At 8 weeks old, puppies will usually require 0.5 to 0.75 cups of food (three times a day). This amount should be increased on a regular basis until they reach a year old and switch to an adult feeding cycle.

Water Needs

Maintaining proper hydration is also extremely important for the Weimaraner. Nearly 70-percent of a dog’s body is comprised of water. Therefore, owners should pay active attention to their dog’s water needs throughout the day as their requirements can change in response to both outside temperatures and their daily activity levels (PetHelpful.com).

As with most breeds, standard water requirements are usually determined by your Weimaraner’s weight. For every seven pounds of weight, a Weimaraner should consume approximately 6 ounces of water per day. For example, a 70-pound dog would require (at minimum) 60 ounces of water in a day’s time. More active dogs will require additional water (in the vicinity of 100+ ounces), whereas less active dogs will require slightly less.

To ensure that you are providing your Weimaraner with appropriate water amounts, be sure to look for these symptoms of dehydration:

Signs and symptoms of dehydration in the Weimaraner.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration in the Weimaraner.

What Type of Home Is Good for a Weimaraner?

Choosing a Weimaraner as a pet is a major life-decision that should never be taken lightly. As a result, owners should carefully evaluate their living-situations before purchasing a Weimaraner as a pet. First and foremost, it is crucial to understand that this breed is a housedog, and doesn’t do well when forced to live outside. The Weimaraner is also a relatively large breed with a great deal of energy. As such, they are not recommended for apartments, condominiums, or townhomes. Instead, this breed does best in rural settings, and require large securely-fenced yards where they can run and play.

Finally, and crucially, the Weimaraner is not suited for individuals who are busy and incapable of spending regular time with their pet. This breed requires physical exercise (daily), as well as attention from their owner in the form of games, training, and one-on-one time. Failure to provide this basic need for your Weimaraner will result in excessive barking and the development of destructive behaviors (such as chewing and digging). The Weimaraner is also prone to “separation anxiety” when left alone for long periods of time. If nothing is done to correct this issue over time, severe personality changes (such as shyness and timid behavior) can result.

Are They Good with Other Pets?

No. While the Weimaraner generally tolerates larger dogs within the home, this breed is not suitable for families with smaller animals (such as cats, gerbils, rabbits, or birds). This is largely due to the Weimaraner’s original function as a hunting breed. To the Weimaraner, smaller animals are viewed as potential prey that needs to be “caught” and “killed.” Preventing this behavior is virtually impossible, as it is a natural instinct resulting from years of selective breeding. As such, smaller animals (including many dogs) should always be kept away for safety reasons.

Are They a Good Guard Dog?

No. Although some of the earliest Weimaraner dogs served dual roles as guardians and hunting companions, this breed is generally not suitable for the role of a guard dog. This is due, in part, to the Weimaraner’s natural friendliness towards family members and strangers alike. They do, however, make great watchdogs and will actively bark at strangers or unusual noises around the home. Owners seeking a dog for protection, however, will be better served by a breed such as the Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher for this particular role.

Health Concerns

Recommended Medical Tests and Evaluations:

  • Hip and Elbow Evaluation
  • Eye Exam
  • Thyroid Function Test

Although considered a relatively healthy breed, the Weimaraner is prone to a variety of health issues and concerns. This includes gastric torsion, hip (and elbow) dysplasia, eye problems, as well as thyroid disorders.

Cancers are also problematic for mixed breeds, as well as spinal dysraphism, distichiasis, and entropion.

Perhaps one of the biggest dangers to the Weimaraner, however, lies with accidental scrapes, cuts, and sprains. As a highly energetic breed, the Weimaraner can easily get hurt while running or spending time outdoors.

Their love for chewing also makes them prone to various mouth and gum injuries that will need to be monitored by owners closely.

For these reasons, owners should work closely with a qualified veterinarian to establish routine tests, evaluations, and dietary plans suitable to their dog’s particular needs. With proper care and support, owners can generally expect their Weimaraner to live in the vicinity of 10 to 13 years, with some dogs living 15 years or more.

Signs and symptoms of illness in the Weimaraner.

Signs and symptoms of illness in the Weimaraner.

Pros and Cons of the Weimaraner

Pros:

  • Highly intelligent breed capable of learning a wide array of tricks and commands in their lifetime
  • Great family dog that does well with children
  • Highly versatile breed suitable for hunting, companionship, and family life
  • Minimal grooming required

Cons:

  • Extremely energetic breed that requires a great deal of exercise on a daily basis
  • Can develop “separation anxiety” when left alone for too long
  • Tendency to bark excessively
  • Doesn’t do well with smaller pets and animals

World's Greatest Pet?

In closing, the Weimaraner is a wonderful pet suitable for a wide array of individuals. Renowned for their affection, playfulness, and devotion towards owners, the Weimaraner is also an exceptionally intelligent breed capable of adapting to nearly any household environment.

For these reasons, the Weimaraner is a favorite of hunters, families with children, as well as the elderly. And while this breed can certainly be stubborn and independent-minded (to a fault), owners will be hard-pressed to find another dog capable of displaying the love and admiration offered by a Weimaraner towards their family. For these reasons, the Weimaraner will likely remain a favorite of dog lovers for the foreseeable future.

Works Cited

  • American Kennel Club. The New Complete Dog Book 22nd Edition. Mount Joy, Pennsylvania: Fox Chapel Publishing, 2017.
  • Coile, Caroline. The Dog Breed Bible: Descriptions and Photos of Every Breed Recognized by the AKC. Hauppauge, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 2007.
  • Dennis-Bryan, Kim. The Complete Dog Breed Book. New York, New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2014.
  • Larkin, Peter and Mike Stockman. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Dogs, Dog Breeds, & Dog Care. London, England: Hermes House, 2006.
  • Mehus-Roe, Kristin. Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog. Irvine, California: I-5 Press, 2009.
  • O’Neill, Amanda. What Dog? A Guide to Help New Owners Select the Right Breed for their Lifestyle. Hauppauge, New York: Interpret Publishing Ltd., 2006.
  • Schuler, Elizabeth Meriwether. Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Dogs. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, Incorporated, 1980.
  • Slawson, Larry. “The Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds.” (PetHelpful). 2019.
  • Slawson, Larry. “The 10 Best Dogs for Children.” (PetHelpful). 2019.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Larry Slawson

Comments

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 19, 2020:

I have always thought this is a beautiful dog. I didn't realize they could weigh up to 90 lbs. You have written a very good, thorough article that gives every possible fact you would need to know if you were thinking of getting this type of dog. You have written so many good article about different breeds of dogs, Larry.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on August 19, 2020:

Your experience really comes through. Thank you for these articles I am learning so much.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 19, 2020:

Another great one friend. What a dog. My dad never had one but used some for hunting. My name being Dierker this is a known breed.