Honestly? It ain’t easy to find a healthy, temperamentally sound Weimaraner without putting a little bit of time and effort into it.
Research the Breed
I’m going to assume you’ve already done a little homework on the breed since you’re here. If they’ve just caught your attention because they are pretty, I get it. But do a bit of reading on the breed before you get yourself into trouble!
If you are still unsure about the breed, or if a breeder might be trying to convince you that a Weim is a poor choice (The good breeders will!) then see if you can meet with their dogs. Many will make time for this because it’s better for someone to figure out that a Weim is NOT for them earlier than later.
Find a Reputable Breeder
So now that you’re sure you want to get a Weimaraner puppy, you need to find a reputable breeder. The truth is, the large majority of Weimaraner breeders are backyard breeders or even puppy mills. If you run into a Weim litter, whether browsing the internet or Facebook or whatever, regardless of the source, most puppies are going to look like great, healthy puppies.
Well…. Here’s the rub. Temperament issues usually crop up in adolescence. This is when you start seeing stuff like aggression, or you’ll see separation anxiety going through the roof, or maybe you start noticing that your dog is hyper, can’t settle, and is way beyond a “handful.” Maybe you start seeing excessive insecurities and fearfulness or other negative behaviors escalating to the extreme.
These types of characteristics can sometimes be hard to see in an 8 week old puppy, so don’t let appearances (and emotions of puppy fever!) sway you from making an intellectual choice when you chose a breeder. ALL puppies are cute whether they are poorly bred or well-bred. Just wait 6 or 12 months – after you’ve bonded to your dog – as THIS is when most people start seeing temperament issues.
Choose a good breeder that produces dogs that you can live with! Temperament is genetic. Yes, you have a lot of influence on a puppy by raising him correctly, but there is only so much you can do to change temperament. And your influence, sorry to say, is minimal, since you can’t change the genes!
Oh yeah, and health is the same way. You can control some of it by the way you raise your dog, but you can’t ignore genetics. You’re going to have over 12 years with this dog, so go to a breeder who is trying her best, tests her dogs and cares to understand how the genetics work!
Start with this article on how to find a reputable breeder.
And let me make it easy for you. Go to weimaranerbreeders.org to do a search of Weimaraner breeders that have been pre-vetted.
Okay, so you’ve identified a few good breeders, well now you need to know how the PROCESS works. How do you get a well-bred Weimaraner puppy? This part seems to be a mystery for many and understandably so. No one talks about this part for some reason, and it’s important! So, let’s get started!
Weimaraner Puppy Buying Timeline
Are you looking for a puppy for the summer when the kids are off? Do not start looking in April! It takes 4 months from when the male and female are bred to when puppies are ready to go home, so start contacting breeders at least 6 to 8 months ahead of time.
I tell people that good breeders breed for quality, not quantity. You don’t want to support a breeder that is mass producing and therefore constantly has puppies for sale, do you?
Reputable breeders are not threatened by people “shopping around” so by all means, talk to as many breeders as you can. You may be able to speed up your timeline by doing so, but really, you’d be best off budgeting at least a year for the whole process.
Also, just FYI. Reputable breeders all know each other. And sometimes they compare notes 😉 so be honest. Good breeders aren’t going to let their puppies go to just anyone. You want a great puppy, and a breeder wants a great home. They do their homework too.
Now that you’ve found some prospective breeders, time to contact them. Do it now, whether they have a litter or not. Even if they don’t have any breeding plans at all, they can refer you to other good breeders. And they will. See note above about good breeders not being threatened by your shopping around. Good breeders will pass on good homes to other good breeders if they don’t have puppies themselves.
It depends on the person, but many breeders prefer to be contacted by email. A phone call can be okay, but be prepared to leave a detailed voice mail message. Text and messaging through social media can also be fine for some, but remember that many breeders simply aren’t tech savvy, so don’t make it complicated. Send an email, or if they’ve published a phone number on their website, call.
How To Start a Dialogue
“Hi! My name is Anne and I would like to purchase a Weimaraner puppy next month. How much?” If you do NOT want a response, open your dialog with “how much.”
Many breeders will get offended at this question. The reason this question can be offensive is really somewhat emotional on the breeder’s part. The best breeders don’t breed for profit, and so asking about the price up-front usually makes them feel…. weird. These dogs aren’t a commodity!
Now all breeders want you to ask a lot of questions, and yes, you can, and should, ask about price, just don’t do it up front without knowing anything about the breeder, their dogs, the breed… and I’ll even go so far as to say the pronunciation or spelling of “Weimaraner”! (#petpeeve)
Many breeders will have you fill out a questionnaire or puppy application. There are usually a lot of questions on this questionnaire. Or they may do this all by phone.
Some questions breeders will ask are personal, such as your age, living situations, past pets, etc. Answer these as honestly as you can; there are no right or wrong answers. The purpose of the questionnaire is for the breeder to get a general idea of what kind of home you would provide for a Weimaraner and what kind of dog you are looking for.
You will likely have several phone conversations with the breeder, and some breeders will also do a home-check. This isn’t a one-sided thing. Your dialog with breeders isn’t supposed to be like an interview. It’s more like dating. Yes, like dating. There are some great breeders out there that you just aren’t going to connect with. And that’s okay! Move on to the next one.
Once you’ve had an exchange with a breeder, go ahead and ask about price. Usually all puppies are priced the same regardless of gender, color or registration.
I wrote about the cost of Weim puppies previously, and I have to say that most people were surprised at everything that goes into breeding a litter the right way. The big take away is that breeding the right way isn’t a money-making proposition, but these pups will still be expensive.
So, with that said, expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 to $2,800 for a well-bred Weimaraner puppy. For some perspective, and just for interest, when I got my first Weimaraner in 2000 from a reputable, well-known breeder, I paid $800 for him.
Are You Looking for “Just” a Pet?
One thing to keep in mind when you start looking for puppies is that you and a good breeder are going to want the same things, namely a healthy sound dog. You want a great pet, and the breeder wants a great home.
This has nothing to do with whether or not you are planning to do something with your dog, whether that’s to hunt him, show him, or participate in performance or companion events. If you have no desire to do any of that, be honest about it to the breeder and let them know you want a pet.
But do NOT go to a “pet” breeder. What?!? Yes, I know, it seems like if you want a great pet, then the puppy should be from pet parents. But it doesn’t work like that. There is a name for people that breed for the pet market only; they are often called backyard breeders, and this is a derogatory term. These breeders may love their dogs and take great care of them, but you are simply dealing with a nice person with (maybe) a nice dog that knows little more than you do.
Reputable breeders put loving homes first before any of the show or performance stuff. The right home is way more important than all the show accolades in the world. Sure some breeders may have a hard time putting their ego aside at times, but no breeder wants to get a dog back, so remember, it is in the breeder’s best interest to find a great home for their puppies, and if it means choosing a great home over a so-so home that will show… the great home will win every time. If you have any interest in showing, or perhaps letting your dog be shown, you may have a better chance at not having to wait as long, but otherwise, you can get a well bred pet dog. Be patient.
What About Contracts?
Most breeders have contracts, and every contract is different. Read the contract and make sure you understand it. Most of them are fair and protect the dog, and they protect you as well.
(Remember, we are talking about reputable breeder’s here. If we are talking about any ol’ breeder, the contract, if they even have one, may not be fair at all. Reviewing a contract ahead of time and seeing what is in there can help you weed out certain breeders. That is a topic for a future post!)
Contracts aren’t set in stone. If you want something else in the contract, then talk to the breeder about it and have them explain anything that doesn’t make sense to you or needs clarification.
Some of the typical things you will see in a contract are:
- Breeder’s number one obligation. Expect the breeder to have a clause in there stating that they will take the dog back at any time and for any reason. I know you are not planning on getting rid of your dog, but life happens, and it may be necessary. Wouldn’t it be a relief to be able to return the dog to the breeder rather than have to go to a rescue or shelter?
- Breeder’s other obligations. These can vary a lot! Some will only give a one-year health guarantee. (Total useless unless the guarantee is for at least two years or more!) Some will give you rebates for doing stuff with your dog. Some will give you a full refund for returning the dog for any reason even up to a few months or years.
- Your obligations. Most contracts are going to require you to take care of the dog, take him to the vet, give vaccines, not let him run loose, etc. This part of the contract is pretty straight forward.
- More obligations. Read carefully! Some breeders are going to request that they show your dog and may want to co-own the dog in order to show the dog for you. Some may require that your dog pass certain screenings or tests. I have even heard of some breeders requiring owners to send their dog to a professional trainer. In my personal opinion, some of the things that breeders require are over the top, and you can usually find an equal caliber dog and breeder without having to spend extra money or sharing ownership with the breeder. But!! Many times, these extra obligations are mutually beneficial. If you want to learn how to show a dog, and you co-own with the breeder, this makes total sense. If you are wanting the #1 field Weim in the country then a professional trainer would also make sense. But understand what the breeder is asking you to do before signing. And don’t sign if you have no intention of doing those things. You should be able to get a well-bred pet without crazy strings, but you need to communicate with the breeder. If the breeder’s conditions are too much for you, that’s okay! Let the breeder know and get a different puppy or move on to someone else.
And then there’s co-ownerships. A co-ownership is when you own the dog with the breeder. How bad could that be, right? Well co-ownerships have gone sour between breeders that are experienced, so suffice to say that this arrangement can be complicated no matter who you are. But it can be very rewarding and mutually beneficial as well. But you must be very clear on who does what, who pays for what and who is responsible for what.
Your emotions and that cute puppy are your worst enemies here, and can make you agree to things without thinking them through. So, the breeder asks you to show the dog? Sure! (But what about the expense? What if this means extensive travel and your dog is away from home a lot?) So, the breeder asks for puppies back from future litters? Cool! (But is it? How many litters and who does the work? Are you now saddled with litters that the breeder takes from you?) So, the breeder wants you to collect semen for AIs? Awesome. (But who pays? Not only for the collection itself, but storage can end up costing thousands over several years, so who pays for that?) You get the drift.
Which Puppy? How to Pick Your Puppy
Recently, a friend told me that they picked out their first Weim at 3 days old. Knowing better now, we had a good laugh about that one. All 3-day old puppies know how to do is eat and sleep. They cannot even go to the bathroom without mom licking and stimulating them, and they cannot see, hear or even walk. What was the breeder expecting them to choose anyway? Obviously, they just wanted the deposit.
Here’s the thing about working with a breeder that is knowledgeable and who really cares. It’s going to feel like they don’t want you to have a say in which puppy you take home. This part is really hard for people to understand, and I get it, it feels like control-freak behavior. Believe me, the breeders that just let you choose and walk away with whatever is NOT what you want, even if it feels like you had all the say in everything.
Remember how I said breeders don’t want puppies back? The money-centric ones certainly don’t — and they simply won’t. Once sold, your problem. The good ones don’t want them back either (although they will always take them back), and that’s why they always strive for the best MATCH. It’s not about just YOU, it’s about the best match for the dog too.
No good breeder is going to send the most alpha, and highly prey driven Weim puppy to an elderly home, for example. That puppy would likely be my pick, but he would be a very poor choice for others. Your breeder has spent loooong days and nights with the litter. They have raised and lived with the mom and likely several generations of dogs before her. Your breeder knows these puppies best. Let the breeder guide you with this!
Just because you may not be able to choose (or may only be able to choose from several, not all) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go visit the breeder or litter.
Most breeders want an in-person visit. For you, it’s an opportunity to see the mom of the litter and to see how the litter was raised. And you will get a chance to ask a ton of questions too. For the breeder, it’s a chance to see how you interact with her dogs.
For the both of you, it’s the best way to see if you guys click. This may not sound important now, and maybe it never will be, but if there is ever any issue with your dog, it’s so much easier to work with someone that you like and see eye to eye with.
That’s a Lot of Work!
Yes, it is a lot of work to go through this whole process, and it seems way more complicated than it should be. Gone are the days where you drove to some farm and picked out your own puppy, shook the breeder’s hand, and went home with a bundle of joy.
If you ask me, the process has changed because the world has changed. Advertising has become easier and so have snazzy marketing messages. As an owner (and as a breeder too!) the world is way too scary of a place to not go through some kind of screening process. There is no such thing as a Better Business Bureau for breeders, and referrals may or may not be trustworthy.
If you are willing to take some chances and don’t want to go through all of this work, then you may want to consider a rescue dog. Most people that want a pup instead of a rescue are looking for some assurances of health and temperament, and if that is the case for you, you have to go through the effort.
If you are willing to take some chances with the unknowns – and there are many wonderful, healthy rescues out there – then please, get a rescue. Raising a puppy takes a lot of time and work, and the bonding thing is a myth. Rescues and adult dogs bond just as much as puppies you raise do.
Maybe the dating analogy holds true here again, except when you get a dog from a breeder, it’s like marriage. You become part of the breeder’s larger family when you buy a dog from them. You may hear breeders call themselves “grandma,” and this is really what it’s like.
A good breeder is only a call away and will back you up in many ways, whether with help with training issues, help with answering questions, support if your dog gets sick (both emotional and oftentimes financial), etc. And even in the end… much as we hate to think about it, I, and many of my friends have been able to grieve our pets’ loss with our breeders in a way that perhaps no one else can understand. They feel the loss too. It’s a family thing.
You’ve Been Approved for a Puppy!
Once you know you’ve been approved for a puppy, most breeders will ask for a deposit. This is after you have had several conversations and have at least verbally gone over expectations from both parties. You may have reviewed a draft contract, and you have probably even met the breeder and litter. In other words, there should have been a lot of interaction before the breeder asks you for a deposit.
Only in rare cases will a reputable breeder ask for a non-refundable deposit. Good breeders have a long wait list, and can easily move on to someone else if there are issues with someone’s situation. And it’s not like they are breeding for profit anyway!
When the happy day arrives to go get your puppy, you will likely get a bunch of paperwork — registration paperwork, signed contract, health certificates, vaccination schedules, some puppy food, and a “puppy packet” to address common questions. What you get will vary among breeders but you will get a bunch of stuff along with your puppy.
Believe it or not, after you’ve gone through this process (and it isn’t always easy, and it’s certainly not fast) you will be a hundred steps ahead of the game and raising your new puppy should be easier as well.
What a relief to have a well-bred puppy whose deck has been stacked in your favor! And should something go wrong, what a relief to have your breeder there for you. Enjoy your new puppy!
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