Anyone who has spent any amount of time around a Weimaraner knows this: You either love the breed or you hate it.
Despite their regal good looks, they often act quite the opposite. They can be goofy, rambunctious, naughty, manipulative, hellish and super energetic. They ain’t for the weak!
Overall, they are a relatively healthy breed with a good life expectancy. There is a lot to love about the Weimaraner, and if you’re here to learn more about them, this article is a great place to start!
Table of Contents
- Weimaraner Breed Development
- The Weimaraner’s Character
- Weimaraner Health and Life Expectancy
- The Regal Weimaraner
The Breed’s Development
Ask any Weim owner, and they’ll definitely say this breed is not for everyone.
A little insight into the Weimaraner’s development as a German hunting dog will explain some of the standard “behavioral issues” that can include things like:
- chasing the family cat
- barking at the neighbors, cars passing by, or the mailman
- escaping the yard or crate
- “separation anxiety” (describing a plethora of Weim-like behavior such as following you around from room to room to a true clinical disorder)
- obsessive fetching or digging
- stealing food
- eating poop
- and on and on….
But you have to remember what they were bred for to understand much of their behavior. Weims are medium-sized, powerful sporting dogs, considered “continental” or “versatile” gundogs. These “jack of all trades, master of none” dogs were originally used for many types of game and were bred to have multiple jobs.
(If you want to read a well-researched (and gorgeously photographed!) post on the origins of the breed, please see Craig Koshyk’s Breed of the Week: Weimaraner posts on his Pointingdog Blog.)
Weimaraners needed to be courageous and think independently in order to do their job in the field or in the water. At the same time, they needed to be able to follow instruction, and work cooperatively with their owner.
Though they are hunting dogs, Weimaraners were developed with the additional responsibility of being watch dogs and companions in the home. They are excellent family dogs and generally great with kids.
Roger Caras was famous for saying that the only thing really wrong with the breed is that Weims can be smarter than their owners! Weims can be pushy, manipulative and hell on wheels if the owner lets them be “that” dog. Top that off with a pretty keen prey-drive (even those not particularly bred for hunting), and no wonder why some people hate this breed!
But if the Weimaraner’s zest for life, curiosity, energy, intelligence and devotion, sounds like your kind of dog, this breed might be for you. Read on!
The Weimaraner’s Character
The Tenacious and Intelligent Weimaraner
Weimaraners are a thinking breed that can use their smarts for good or evil — and seem to come with a highly developed “conniving gene.”
Staying one step ahead of your Weimaraner is the key to living in peace and keeping your house intact. A bored Weimaraner with too much mental energy to burn is going to get creative. Fences are barriers to be jumped, counters are nothing more than a flat surface from which to steal food, cabinets can be easily pulled open, “dog proof” trash cans are considered a challenge, and humans can often be seen as mere treat-dispensers.
As a hunting breed, give your Weimaraner a job and they will do their best to please you. They tend to be sensitive — a stare of disapproval can wither some Weimaraners — but being as smart as they are, if they sense any lack of follow through, they will ignore you. And then proceed to walk all over you.
The Velcro Weimaraner
Weimaraners want to be with you, and they’ll bug you (and bug you) for attention. They will follow you everywhere, and when you sit, they’ll either be on top of you or at least touching every inch they can. They’ll happily smother you in bed, more than likely sleeping width-wise with their feet poking your back. They’re nosy too, gotta see what you’re doing and what’s going on.
In contrast to their neediness and clownish character towards their owners, they tend to be aloof and even snobbish to people they don’t know.
It can be difficult for those who have not spent considerable amount of time with Weimaraners to describe this dichotomy of needy and aloof traits, but it’s fair to say that because this breed is owner-oriented, their devotion, if not managed correctly, can lead to behavioral problems, namely separation anxiety. SA is not a breed characteristic per se, but the breed has a tendency towards it, and it can definitely explode into a full blown problem if the owner doesn’t address this issue from the get go.
The Sneaky Weimaraner
Weimaraners are smart dogs as mentioned earlier — and can definitely be too smart for their own good! If you’ve been duped by a Weim, you aren’t the first, and you aren’t the last.
Weims will take advantage at every opportunity, and are smart enough to know who the push over is in any situation! Case in point, I actually TRAINED my Weims to counter-surf (It was an accident!!) because I was always one step behind my crafty two.
Weimaraners are also very curious and will get into things. They will resort to being sneaky if it means they have learned that doing something behind your back would be the best way to accomplish their task. Yes, sneaky and determined.
That’s why crate training is really a must with this breed, especially a puppy!
The Goofy Weimaraner
You must have a sense of humor in order to own a Weimaraner because there WILL be times when they best you, and it’ll be a laugh or cry situation.
Staying one step ahead is a common theme with these dogs, because they are known to be pretty inventive if left to their own devices. Results may vary. (And usually it’s not what you want.)
What all this means is that training is a must. Training isn’t only about controlling your Weim and teaching him to be a good canine citizen; it’s just as much about keeping that busy mind occupied and keeping boredom at bay.
Weimaraners are quite trainable and respond well to positive methods.
The Game Weimaraner
Weimaraners are hunting dogs! Even those kept as pets have mostly retained this heritage to some degree or another. Understanding this will go a long way in living peaceably with this breed.
In order to be good hunters, the breed was developed with:
- Strong prey drive – Can translate to chasing other family pets, killing critters or obsessively fetching
- Strong determination – Can translate to stubbornness in training
- Strong work ethic – Can translate to a Weim that will develop it’s own version of “ethic” if not consistently obedience trained
- Physical size and power – Can translate to knocking over people and things
- High energy – Can translate to “hyper” behavior if the Weimaraner is poorly bred or if he’s not exercised
The breed is highly energetic! If Weims are not used for hunting, there must be an alternative outlet for their energy whether it is as a jogging or hiking companion or as a competitor in various dog sports. The bottom line is that Weimaraners need to be doing things!
“A tired Weimaraner is a good Weimaraner!”
Weimaraner Health and Life Expectancy
Weimaraners are generally a pretty healthy breed with life expectancy of around 12+ years. 10 and 11 year olds are often still spry. Living to 14 or 15 isn’t that uncommon. The oldest Weim I’ve personally heard of lived to 18, and I can think of a handful going to 16.
The most common health issues with Weimaraners tend to center around auto-immune issues. We know that due to the recessive gray coat color, there had to have been fairly severe in-breeding in the early development of the breed in order to keep the color homozyous for the recessive color. We also know that the breed was almost decimated after WWII in Germany, and naturally, in-breeding needed to be utilized then in order to bring the breed back.
Whether this is the reason the breed tends to suffer from auto-immune issues is up for debate. Regardless, the common health issues with Weimaraners tend to revolve around sensitivities to vaccination (or over-vaccination), sensitivities to some drugs (such as flea medications), poor digestion and irritable bowel disease. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy and autoimmune thyroiditis are also in this family of immune system issues that plague Weimaraners.
As a larger breed, hip dysplasia comes up now and then, but breeders have been doing a great job in testing for this, and in my observation, “bad hips” are less common now that we are seeing more testing.
Health Testing That the Weimaraner Club of America Recommends
- Eyes (extra eyelashes, inverted eyelids)
- Hips and elbow dysplasia
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Spinal Dysraphism
Other Weimaraner Health Issues
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Gastric torsion or more commonly known as Bloat
- Umbilical hernias
- Diaphragmatic hernias
- Poor bites and/or missing teeth
- Cryptorchidism (one or both testicles not descending)
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Follicular dysplasia
The Regal Weimaraner
Most people are immediately attracted to the Weimaraner’s look. They are gorgeous dogs that require little grooming — this probably the only area that they are low-maintenance!
And who can help but not melt at the sight of a Weimaraner puppy! Those blue eyes! Unfortunately, the blue eyes change as they grow up, fading first and then start turning into an amber color that can be light or dark amber. Some Weims’ eyes will stop changing color earlier and stay a light blue, but no adult Weim will have those piercing blue eyes like a puppy!
The hallmark of the breed is its gray coat color, and if you are in the United States, the quintessential Weimaraner is a short-coated gray dog. What we call “gray,” by the way, in terms of color genetics is dilute chocolate/brown. However the breed actually comes in different colors, coat types and aren’t just short-coated gray dogs!
Take a look at the American Kennel Club (AKC) Weimaraner Standard for a description of the “ideal look” for a Weimaraner. Standards are not “created” by the AKC. They are approved by the Board of Directors of the Weimaraner Club of America by member vote and adopted by the AKC.
If you want to go a little deeper, here is the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Weimaraner Standard. This what people mean when they say, “the German Standard.” But it is really the standard for almost everyone else in the world and is referred to this way because the Weimaraner breed originated in Germany.
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