Weimaraner, aka Weim or Grey Ghost
Weims are muscular, moderately large dogs with large ears that hang down the sides of the head. They are often referred to as “grey ghosts” for their unique grey coat colors that vary in shades.
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Their coats are smooth and short with occasional white markings on the chest. Males range in height from 25 to 27 inches, while females are 23 to 25 inches. Weight averages for males are 55 to 70 pounds, with females ranging from 50 to 65 pounds.
The dewclaws are usually removed and the tails docked, but these practices are illegal in some countries and growing support worldwide seeks to outlaw them completely. Currently the American Kennel Club (AKC) website lists the breed standard to include removed dewclaws and penalizes any Weim that has not had its tail docked.
Weims originated in Germany as big game hunters for bears and deer and were used by the Nobles of Weimar for their exceptional speed, tracking ability and resilience. The dogs were prized and strictly guarded, and the Germans created a Weimaraner club to restrict access to the breed. Only members of the club were allowed to own and breed Weims. As large game decreased, the dogs were used as hunting companions and for smaller game such as birds.
American Howard Knight joined the club and wished to continue the breed in the United States. According to the Weimaraner Club of America, the first two dogs he was given were sterile. In the late 1930s three dogs and one male dog were said to be sent to United States and were bred to continue the breed standard. Knight formed the Weimaraner Club of America and created a breed standard. The AKC accepted the breed in 1943.
The breed was considered rare and a status symbol during the 1950s, and many people bought and bred them without much concern to maintain the breed standard. Luckily, there were people dedicated to the breed standard and sought to correct the breeding problems created. While the breed is still considered somewhat of a rarity, there are Weims in rescues looking for homes today.
Weims are active dogs that need exercise and attention from their families, and many owners acquire the breed without realizing the effort needed to keep them healthy and happy. This is one of the many reasons Weims are turned in to shelters and rescues.
Today’s Weims are family companions and participate in conformation, agility, tracking, obedience, and field and hunting trials. They are great with children and also work as therapy dogs for the young and elderly. Their tracking abilities are excellent for specific jobs, such as a Weim named Wally who was trained to detect bed bugs for an exterminating company.
Weims are intelligent, friendly, affectionate and active dogs that love people and children. Most Weim owners will tell you their dogs love to give standing hugs and typically take over the bed for sleeping if given the chance. They are protective and loyal and can be fearless at times. They are great watchdogs, but some may bark excessively and require additional training.
Weims are easy to train, learn quickly and have an innate desire to please. Since they are active dogs, proper training is always recommended. If left untrained they might consider themselves the pack leader and make future training difficult. Never use physical force or reprimands to discipline a Weim. They will remember it and go out of their way to avoid you or ignore commands and training. Positive reinforcement is recommended.
They are large enough to knock over small children and should be supervised when around them or small prey animals.
Weims were born to run and need consistent, daily exercise and play. Their instincts provide a desire to work that should be harnessed if possible. A bored Weim can become rambunctious, destructive and difficult to control. Most dogs of this breed are happiest when given a job or task to perform on a regular basis. They love to work and love to be praised.
They are prone to separation anxiety and do not do well when crated or kenneled for long periods of time. Outdoor kenneling is not recommended. Weims want to be with their family and may become distressed without regular contact.
The coat of a Weim is short and easy to maintain. Bathing can be limited to necessity, or a dry shampoo can be used more regularly if desired. Brushing once per week is usually sufficient for this average shedder, but different coats or the rare long-haired Weim may require more grooming. Trim the nails regularly and clean the teeth and ears. For Weims that work regularly or outdoors, inspect the paw pads and undercarriage for debris or injuries after every outing.
Common Health Problems
While the most common problem in medium to larger dogs is bloat, these other conditions have been noted for the breed:
Is the Weimaraner the Right Dog for You?
The most important things for owning Weimaraners are time, training and attention. These are loving and affectionate dogs, but they are also active and need an outlet, whether it’s consistent daily exercise or fulfilling a job role such as tracking or therapy. A bored Weim can be a destructive Weim, so make sure you can meet the needs of this breed before acquiring one as a pet.
They don’t do well when crated or kenneled for long periods of time. They are great with children and can be kept in apartments with regular outings to allow them to expel energy. They are easy to train, easy to groom and live an average of 12 years. If you can provide the time and attention this dog needs, you will be rewarded with a loyal and affectionate pet that loves nothing more than being by your side.
Check out this video slide show of Max the Weimeraner’s growth from 8 weeks to 8 months old:
Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you consider getting a Weimaraner for your next pet, check rescues and adoption resources first. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Pets Adviser’s adoption center.
Photo: Renee V/Flickr
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