The Weimaraner is a relatively new breed, dating back to the early 19th century. With bloodhound almost certainly in its ancestry, it's no surprise that the royals in Germany's 19th-century courts favored the breed to accompany them on their hunts for Germany's abundant game. The Weimaraner is the result of breeders' careful efforts to produce a dog that had good scenting ability, speed, intelligence, and courage. Today, Weimaraners, also called "Weims" or "Gray Ghosts" for their distinctive gray or silver-gray fur and light gray, blue gray or amber eyes, are devoted family dogs and companions with an aristocratic bearing and elegance that can't be denied.
The Weimaraner was developed in Germany's court of Weimar; there, nobleman wanted a dog whose courage and intelligence would stand him/her well in hunting pursuits, along with the talent to be an excellent big-game hunting companion; speed, stamina, and a bloodhound's "nose" or ability to smell were also required. It's not quite known how the Weimaraner was developed, but it's believed that the English Pointer, Bloodhound, Blue Great Dane, silver-gray Huehnerhund or "chicken dog," and the German Short Haired pointer are all included in the breed.
Noble owners strictly controlled the dogs' breeding during the 19th century, but by the time Germany's game began to be scarce, Weimaraner fanciers had already started the German Weimaraner Club, devoted to the breed. It continued to be hard to get a Weimaraner, because of the club's attempts to keep the breeding lines pure; you had to be a member of the club before you purchased a Weimaraner, making it difficult to continue with the breed at all. Few outside of the club even knew Weimaraners existed.
That changed when US citizen Howard Knight became a member of the club and then imported two of the breed to the United States. These two dogs were sterile by design, but in 1938, he was sent two females and a male; in 1942, the Weimaraner Club of America was established, along with a standard for the breed. At the end of 1942, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed and it was shown at Westminster in 1943.
In the 1940s, imports began in earnest. By the second half of the 1950s, however, the popularity and status of the Weimaraner breed led to some problems. Because the Weimaraner was so popular and such a status symbol, Weimaraner puppies became very expensive to obtain – and therefore, unscrupulous breeders began to cash in, with disastrous results. Puppies were born that were not up to standards either in personality or physicality, and soon, the once esteemed "Gray Ghost" breed saw puppies offered "free to good homes." Nonetheless, breed quality survived simply because devotees maintained breed standards; because of that, the 1960s saw a resurgence of the noble, loyal, courageous, and elegant Weimaraners that were always the best of the breed. Today, the "Weimy" remains a popular breed among those willing to truly "parent" this demanding, courageous, loving and exceedingly loyal dog.
Athletic, elegant and refined, the Weimaraner is moderately large and lean. All Weimaraners are some shade of silver-gray or gray, with eyes of gray, blue grey, or amber. Wide set and earnest, your Weimaraner's eyes are truly the "windows to the soul," expressive and usually trained on you, the equally devoted owner. Ears are long, fall forward, and hang down alongside the head. Feet are compact and webbed.
The Weimaraner's coat is sleek and smooth, usually; rarely, it can be long-haired. Occasionally, a Weim will have a small white marking on the chest. In adulthood, Weimaraners stand 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 50 to 70 pounds.
Cheerful, loving, and affectionate, your pet is very good with small children. Be advised, though, that he or she needs lots of exercise and plenty of attention – and a firm, experienced hand, including formalized training in puppyhood if necessary. Once trained, though, your pet is so eager to please and to get your approval that he or she will literally jump at the chance to do so again. The Weimaraner is very, very sensitive and does not need harsh discipline at all – in fact, you could psychologically damage your loving and sensitive family member if you do so. Instead, provide a firm but gentle, calm hand at all times, and watch your devotion returned tenfold.
The Weimaraner retains its strong hunting instinct, so you shouldn't keep a Weim if you've got small pets like hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs in the house. Even the most well behaved Weimaraner will not necessarily overcome these instincts. Above all, don't leave your pet alone for long periods of time; he or she will be absolutely devoted to you and can experience extreme distress and separation anxiety. In fact, the Weimaraner has been called the "shadow" dog for good reason; once bonded, your pet will truly become a "shadow" to you and will want to follow you everywhere.
Weimaraners can be destructive and restless if they are left alone a lot, not because they're bad dogs, but because they are simply expressing their loneliness and dismay. Again, provide firm, gentle boundaries and make sure you don't leave this lovely and loving dog alone for extended periods of time, and you should be fine.
Because of their intelligence and devotion, Weimaraners make good watchdogs, guard dogs, service dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
Relatively long-lived, the Weimaraner has a life expectancy of about 10 to 14 years. The breed is prone to mast cell tumors, a particular type of malignant skin tumor, which has an excellent prognosis for grade 1 or grade 2 tumors that can be completely removed. Bloat is also a problem for this breed, which can be fatal very quickly if not diagnosed and taken care of immediately. Hip dysplasia can also occur for this relatively large breed.
The smooth, sleek fur is very easy take care of; simply brush with a firm bristle brush regularly. Dry shampoo occasionally if necessary, or bathe infrequently if necessary. The Weimaraner does shed, but only moderately so.
AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Weimaraner. http://www.akc.org/breeds/weimaraner/index.cfm. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
Brief History of the Weimaraner Breed. http://weimaranerclubofamerica.org/main/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38&Itemid=139&lang=en. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
Canine Mast Cell Tumors. http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/deptsOncology/owners/mastcell.aspx. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
Weimaraner. http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/weimaraner. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
Weimaraner. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimaraner. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
Weimaraner Shorthaired and Longhaired. (Weimaraner Vorstehhund) (Grey Ghost) (Gray Ghost) (Weim) (Weimer Pointer). http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/weimaraner.htm. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
Weimaraner Characteristics. http://www.iowaweimrescue.org/weimaraner-characteristics/. Retrieved June 16, 2013.