The Weimaraner is a large hunting dog that was developed in Germany. It was bred specifically for hunting large game such as bear, deer and boar. It is also known as the ‘Gray Ghost’ because of its speed and color. They make excellent all round hunting dogs, and good family companions.
Male adults reach a height of 25 to 27 inches, and females a height of 23 to 25 inches. Males weigh 70 to 90 pounds at maturity, and females 55 to 75 pounds.
The name Weimaraner comes from the Grand Duke, Karl August, who enjoyed hunting and lived in the city of Weimar. Nobles of the court of Weimar wanted to develop a breed that would be good at everything needed for hunting – speed, courage, tracking ability, endurance and intelligence. It is thought that Bloodhounds were used in their breeding, as well as German and French hunting dogs. They didn’t want just anyone to get a dog like theirs, so they formed the Weimaraner Club. This had a strict breed standard and rules about who could own one.
An American called Howard Knight was allowed to join the club in 1929, and exported two dogs. Unfortunately though, members of the club had secretly sterilized them so that he couldn’t breed them. However he eventually managed to procure some dogs that could breed, and was the first president of the American Weimaraner club. In 1943 the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club. Famous owners have included the movie star Grace Kelly, and President Eisenhower. The photographer William Wegman has also made the breed popular through his photographs of Weimaraners dressed up as humans.
The Weimaraner is known for his energy and hunting drive. He needs a lot of exercise, combined with training, to keep him well mannered and calm. He is likely to chase any small animal he sees and probably kill it as well. Cats are usually not safe even if they are known well. Because this breed was unlike other hunting dogs when it was bred, and slept with its family, it doesn’t do well kennelled outside. They love affection and quickly develop separation anxiety.
Weimaraners are lean and muscular dogs, with webbed feet that help them to swim well. Their coat is gray, and short-haired, and they have eyes that are either amber, blue gray or gray. They have a gray nose, and their tail is usually docked. Bred for hunting, they have the stamina to keep going all day long in the field. But this also means that they get frustrated and bored quickly if they don’t get enough activity.
Weimaraners are not a good dog for a novice owner. They need firm, consistent training and a lot of exercise to ensure that they stay well behaved. If they are left alone for too long they may bark, try to escape, or become destructive. In hot weather they will need access to shade and fresh water. Also be careful, because their feet can burn on the hot pavement, and their coat can get sunburnt. They don’t have a double coat, so will also get cold in winter, and a waterproof coat is recommended for very cold weather.
Weimaraners are affectionate and love to be with their families. They are very energetic though, and not good around young children as they will tend to chase them. With their strong hunting drive, they will also chase and kill small animals. So a hamster or pet bird is not a good pet to have alongside a Weimaraner. They may attack small dogs, so you should always be vigilant when you are out with them. If they are raised alongside other dogs, they will usually get on well with them, but new introductions may not go so well. With strangers they tend to be reserved.
Grooming a Weimaraner is not too difficult. The most important thing is to keep their nails trimmed, as they can be difficult to get back to the right shape otherwise. A weekly brushing is a good idea to keep their coats healthy and remove dead hair, and a wipe down with a damp cloth will give it some shine. Bathing can be given as needed, and their ears should be checked and cleaned regularly.
Weimaraners are not the easiest dog to train. They can be headstrong and stubborn, so strong leadership is necessary, and they should be started at an early age. If you need help, you may want to consult a professional trainer who knows their personality. They are intelligent and learn well, but only when they want to. So you may need to be creative in how you reward them. They have a strong prey drive, and will chase small animals. They are also clumsy and tend to knock things over and bound around the house enthusiastically, so some training may be needed to help them behave well inside.
This breed needs a good hour of exercise a day, so they are not a good choice for people who prefer to stay at home and take it easy. They will enjoy jogging or running alongside you, and like to swim as well. If they are not given enough exercise they may destroy your home, and if they are left in the yard for too long they may try to escape. A good run should be built into their activity regime, and it will help them to burn off some of their energy and stay well behaved.
Because of the risk of bloat, Weimaraners should be fed more than one meal a day, and never exercised around mealtimes. If they gulp down their food too fast you may need to get them a special bowl that will slow them down. They can be messy with their food, so you might want to try feeding them outside if you live in a temperate climate. Fresh water should always be available.
Weimaraner puppies should be fed three meals a day till at least six months old. You can also wait till they are a year old to give them two meals a day. They should be fed large breed food that doesn’t make them grow too fast, otherwise they may have joint problems when they get older.
Corn, Wheat and Barley may produce insensitivities in your Weimaraner, so many breeders steer clear of these in their dog’s diet. There are three different options for feeding your Weimaraner – standard dry or wet dog food, raw food, or homecooked food. They all have good things to be said about them, but if you are going to feed them a raw or homecooked diet you will need to do your research. Otherwise your dog may not be getting all the nutrition he needs. If your dog suffers from allergies you could try the raw food diet, as some owners have seen their dog’s allergies go away with this change. However it does require a lot of work, and more expense.
Recommended daily feeding amount: 2.5 to 3.5 cups of high quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Many factors will affect how much food they need including their age, how much exercise they get, and whether they have been spayed or neutered. You can keep an eye on their weight by making sure their ribs aren’t too visible and they have a thin coating of fat.
Common Health Concerns
One of the dangers with this breed is that they are curious and may eat things they’re not supposed to – they can also counter surf, so watch what you have out on your counters. Like other large breeds, bloat (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus) is a problem. This happens when they gulp too much air, and the air in their stomach makes it twist on itself, cutting off the blood supply to major organs. It can be fatal, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms – such as retching, restlessness, lethargy and a distended abdomen. If you suspect it then get them immediate medical attention. You can also help to prevent it by making sure that they eat multiple small meals a day and not exercising them for an hour before or after meals.
Weimaraners are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Weimaraners in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Weimaraner rescue.