By PAMELA STACE
The “Grey Ghost,” “The Dog with the Human Brain,” and “The Shadow Dog” are words that have been used to describe the strikingly handsome and versatile Weimaraner. Because of their almost super-canine physical and mental abilities such as great intelligence, good eyesight, an excellent sense of smell, and extreme agility, Weimaraners need persistent, early training and a structured lifestyle. They are strong-willed and can be stubborn. Fortunately, they do have a cooperative spirit and can be trained to work together with their owners. They are loving and loyal and will never leave your side—unless of course you send them out on an “assignment.”
The Weimaraner was developed in early 19th century Weimar, Germany, by Duke Karl August. As a keen sportsman, the duke wanted to create the perfect hunting dog. Therefore, Bloodhounds were crossed with German and French field dogs, and perhaps Greyhounds and Great Danes. The result was a sturdy, athletic and intelligent dog capable of hunting both game birds, and fur-bearing animals such as foxes and hares.
The AKC recognized the Weimaraner in 1943, and some American GIs brought them back home from Germany after WWII. It was not until the 1950s however that the American Weimaraner population really took off. Both President Dwight Eisenhower and Grace Kelly were enthusiastic Weim owners.
“A Tired Weimaraner is a Happy Weimaraner”
Weimaraners need both physical and mental activity to fulfill them. They are not the best dog for apartment living because they really do need room to move and can, in fact, sprint at 35mph. Weims also need their minds to be focused on non-destructive behaviors. Without these two parameters, they will definitely take things into their own paws, finding their own fun. So leave them unsupervised at your own risk! For reasons of safety in the field, Weimaraners are asked to utilize their intelligence and loyalty by both thinking independently and following our human commands. Again, early training is very important.
Life at Home
Weimaraners are Velcro dogs. Not only must they be near us, they need to be touching us constantly to be truly happy. They are prone to separation anxiety, but that can be managed. Weims are also nosy and don’t want to miss out on anything that is going on around them.
Weimaraners are not unfriendly but can be somewhat aloof with strangers. They bark and are good watchdogs. My friend, former Weimaraner owner Marylou Mader, told me, “These are not aggressive dogs, but when it comes to intruders and protecting their family, a Weimaraner will let them in but will not let them out.”
Because Weimaraners were bred to hunt fur-bearing animals, having them around cats might not be a great idea. Weimaraner and cat interactions must be supervised and managed very carefully. They are good were kids, but where very young children are involved discretion is advised.
Weimaraners are general healthy but do suffer from some health issues. Among them are hip dysplasia, bloat and panosteitis. Because they are predisposed to vaccine reactions, a specific vaccine protocol is necessary, with timing being extremely important.
Weimaraner Activities Today
Today, Weimaraners participate in obedience, agility, field work, conformation, search and rescue, and cuddling.
Is a Weimaraner for You?
If you are looking for a little piece of history (or arguably art history) in a loving, sociable, handsome, and energetic dog, the Weimaraner just might be for you. Although Weims are not for inexperienced dog owners, if you do a little homework, know your challenges and prepare to follow through, a Weimaraner could be your kind of Vselcro!
Weimaraners in Art
Since the early 1970s, artist and photographer William Wegman has been photographing his beloved Weimaraners, sometimes in costume, always intriguingly posed and often appearing to be performing everyday human activities. Other celebrities who have owned and loved Weims include Dick Clark and Robin Gibb.
Original Job: Hunting fur-bearing animals & game birds, Pointing & Retrieving
Size: Males 25-27inches, 70-80 lbs. Females 23-25 inches, 55-77 lbs.
Coat Colors: Light silver grey, tan taupe, dark grey
Eye Colors: Blue, “bird of prey” or “lizard” (beer color)
Grooming: Minimal, but they shed a lot
Exercise: Good runs & long walks
Lifespan: 10-13 years