Weimaraners are distinct because of their stark gray coat and strikingly pale eyes. But what’s going on below that gray-coated exterior?
1. The Weimaraner originates from Germany, allegedly bred in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
2. Its namesake is the Weimar Republic, which was a German nation state preceding World War I.
3. The Grand Duke of the Weimar Republic, Karl August, enjoyed hunting.
4. The breed began as a hunting dog used by German nobles.
5. The breed’s genetic pool was confined to the historical Weimaraner club, which was run by the German nobles to keep the breed pure.
6. The breed made it to America in the early 1940s because German soldiers found it hard to care for their dogs and American soldiers were able to ship many back home.
7. The breed was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1943.
8. They’re what’s called a “gun dog” which means they helped hunters retrieve game after they shot it with their guns.
9. This activity also earned them the status of “pointer dog.”
10. There is a theory they share common descent with the Bloodhound, another good tracking and hunting dog.
11. They’re mixed with pointer, setter, and hound dog blood.
12. There are a few Weimaraners of fame, including those featured in William Wegman’s freaky photos.
13. The Eisenhowers had a pet Weimaraner in the White House named Heidi.
14. They were prized as “wonder dogs,” showing great endurance and agility in obstacle courses and in fields.
15. Today, it’s the 41st most popular breed of pet dog in the United States.
16. They’re best known for their sleek gray coats. That earn them the nickname of “the gray ghost.”
17. Their coat color is incidental and wasn’t an intended outcome of the breeding.
18. If they are closer to dark blue or black, it’s considered a defect in the breed and not up to AKC standards. However, it is considered normal and there is no health problems associated with it.
19. “Brown” Weimaraners, on the other hand, are not purebred Weimaraners, but rather are German Shorthaired Pointer/Weimaraner mixes, or are the very similar Hungarian pointer, the Vizsla.
20. Sometimes Weimaraner’s have longer hair. While this is normal, some cases are considered not up to breed standard.
21. Weimaraners’ puppies’ coats have stripes which disappear as the dog reaches maturity.
22. If they’ve been injured, sometimes the fur around the injury will turn white. This is not considered a divergence.
23. They have striking blue eyes as puppies.As they get older, their eyes change color from white to gray or gray-blue.
24. Breed standard describes them as medium-size compared to other breeds.
25. The male stands between 25-27 inches and the female 23-25.
26. The male weighs 70-80 pounds while the female weighs 50-70.
27. They are the 21st most intelligent dog breed.
28. The breed has been nicknamed “the dog with the human brain.” This intelligence can make them disobedient if left unchecked.
29. These dogs do not do well left alone for long periods of time, their intelligence and high-energy levels may leave you will a messy house.
30. They can outsmart humans sometimes, allowing them to escape confinement, or to vie for more treats.
31. Being good hunting dogs, they also make great trackers for a variety of purposes.
32. This skill was put to use during the Cold War, when they were used to find parts of missiles. Two Weimaraners named Dingo and Count helped sniff out pieces of missiles so scientists could find and study them.
33. They’re extremely active, needing very frequent exercise; you’ll seldom find a lazy Weimaraner.
34. This makes exercise a necessity for all Weimaraner owners. If they’re not allowed to exercise, they’ll get very upset and unruly.
35. They’re among the fastest dog breeds, reaching up to 35 miles an hour sprinting.
36. It’s important for owners to learn how to calm their Weimaraners down from this physical excitability, too. Too much excitement can make them manic and volatile.
37. It’s also important to calm them from their emotional excitability, as they have severe separation anxiety—which may be helped by listening to specially-designed songs.
38. If left alone for too long, they will exhibit nervous behaviors which, in extreme cases, can lead to them harming themselves.
39. This has gained them the nickname “velcro dogs,” in addition to their other nicknames.
40. Another nickname reflecting their codependent nature is “shadow.”
41. They need to be kept in your company much of the time and they need to be touched.
42. For this reason, they shouldn’t be kept by owners who plan to be away from the house for long periods of time.
43. Because of their hunterly nature, they don’t make good companions with cats or other small animals, as they’ll sometimes try to hunt after them.
44. They’re also likely to chase after small animals in the backyard like squirrels and birds. This tendency to chase animals can also make them chase humans. It’s considered unsafe to let Weimaraners around toddlers because their chasing instincts might kick in, which can be dangerous to the toddler.
45. Any children planning on spending time around Weimaraners should be taught how to approach calmly to avoid exciting the dog.
46. Their athleticism and trainability make them great contenders for agility competitions.
47. Weimaraners are usually very healthy, but are prone to a few health conditions such as including hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, tricuspid dysplasia (a congenital heart disease), and eye problems like corneal dystropy and entropion.
48. Their main health issues relate to their deep-chestedness. They can very easily bloat because of this.
49. Related to this is the possibility to suffer from gastric torsion, which is a disorder that makes the stomach overstretch because of too much gas buildup inside.
50. Gastric torsion can be fatal if left untreated in Weimaraners.
51. A small percentage Weimaraner puppies develop an autoimmune reaction called hypertrophic osteodystrophy that affects the bones after being vaccinated. Therefore, unless a disease is prevalent in your area, it’s suggested that your puppy not be vaccinated.
52. Males can suffer from Cryptorchidism, which is where one of the testicles doesn’t descend all the way.
53. They can also have Von Willebrand’s Disease, which causes the blood to coagulate abnormally.
54. They sometimes have issues with their eyelids, manifesting in conditions such as Distichiasis, which gives the dog an extra row of eyelashes and Entropion, which causes the eyelid to grow inward.
55. They can go blind if these issues are left untreated. Also, they are at risk for retinal atrophy, which is where the retina of the eye stops working.
56. They are sometimes, if rarely, prone to kidney dysplasia.
57. But they don’t have to worry about canine hip dysplasia as much as other dogs might. It’s just part of their breed. Canine dysplasia is a disorder that causes enlargement of the hip socket leading to crippling and arthritis of the joints.
58. They’re one of the shorter-living dog breeds, only living until 12 years at most, or slightly older in rare instances.
59. They’re not hypoallergenic and they shed a lot, meaning if you’re allergic to dogs, you’ll have a bad time with a Weimaraner.
60. They’re not recommended as beginner pets for people who have no experience caring for dogs.
61. Their personality is assertive, so it’s important to train them early on. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile, in other words.
62. They are alternatively aggressive and shy, making for a bipolar dog when not correctly trained.
63. When they’re young, they need lots of activity and socialization to stimulate their growing brains. If deprived this, they may become mentally and socially stunted.
64. Weimaraners love to play in water.
65. Weimaraners are smart, sensitive and want to please their owners.
If you think you might like to take care of a Weimaraner, check out the Weimaraner Club of America for recommended breeders and sellers.