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Weimaraner

From Royal Hunting Dog to Beloved Family Companion

Weimaraner

From Royal Hunting Dog to Beloved Family Companion

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 silvergray fur and matching ethereal eyes, are devoted family dogs and companions with an aristocratic bearing and delicate elegance.

History

The Weimaraner was developed in Germany's court of Weimar. Noblemen wanted a dog whose courage and intelligence would facilitate success in hunting, including the skills to excel in big-game pursuits. These accomplishments would require speed, stamina, and a bloodhound's "nose" or keenly-developed smelling instincts. How the Weimaraner was developed is not documented, but it is 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 its evolution.

Noble owners strictly controlled the dogs' breeding during the 19th century, but by the time Germany's game began to dwindle, Weimaraner fanciers had already started the German Weimaraner Club, with great devotion to the preservation of the dog’s characteristics. Acquisition of a Weimaraner was quite difficult because of the club's attempts to keep the breeding lines pure. It was necessary to be a member of the club before purchasing a Weimaraner, which limited the existence of the breed. Few outside of the club even knew Weimaraners existed.

That changed when U.S. citizen Howard Knight became a member of the club and subsequently imported two Weimaraners 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 such a status symbol, Weimaraner puppies became very expensive to obtain. As a result, 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 ardent devotees maintained the breed’s original, impeccable 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.

Appearance

Athletic, willowy 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 fixed 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, in the majority of cases. In rare instances, it can be longhaired. Occasionally, a Weim will have a small white marking on its chest. In adulthood, Weimaraners stand 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds.

Temperament

Cheerful, loving, and affectionate, this dog is very good with small children. Be advised, though, that a Weimaraner will need lots of exercise and plenty of attention – and a firm, experienced handler, including formalized training in puppyhood if an owner is truly conscientious. Once trained, this pet is so eager to please to get your approval that it will literally jump at the chance to do so. However, be aware that the Weimaraner is highly sensitive and does not need harsh discipline at all – in fact, you could psychologically damage this vulnerable puppy if you do so. Instead, provide firm, but calm and gentle guidance at all times, and your pet will respond with lifelong obedience and devotion.

The Weimaraner retains its strong hunting instinct, so you shouldn't adopt 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 be able to overcome these inherent traits. Above all, don't leave your pet alone for long periods of time. As a result of its devotion to you, it can experience extreme distress and separation anxiety if it feels abandoned. In fact, the Weimaraner has been called the "shadow" dog for good reason. Once bonded, your pet will truly 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. But if you’ve gently and clearly established firm boundaries and make sure you don't leave this lovely and loving dog alone for extended periods of time, the dog’s behavior should be exemplary.

With a high level of intelligence and devotion, Weimaraners have proven to be good watchdogs, guard dogs, service dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs.

Health

Relatively hardy, 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 growth, which has an excellent prognosis for grades 1 or 2 which 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.

Grooming

The smooth, sleek fur is very easy to take care of. Simply brush with a firm bristle brush regularly to control its moderate shedding. Dry shampoo occasionally, or bathe infrequently, only if necessary.

References

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

RetrievedJune 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/

RetrievedJune 16, 2013.

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