The Weimaraner, also known as the Weimar Pointer, the Weimaraner Vorstehhund, the Greydog and the Grey Ghost, is a fairly young breed as dog breeds go, dating back only to the early 1800s. Some historians date it to the 1600s, citing an early painting by the Flemish artist Van Dyck. It is known for its distinctive, glamorous gray coat and its all-around hunting talents. The Weimaraner combines the best of both pointing and tracking gundogs and retrievers, and it also makes a sensitive family companion. This is a reserved, elegant, well-balanced dog that is said to learn rapidly and bore quickly. The Weimaraner was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1943, as a member of the Sporting Group.
The mature male Weimaraner is 25 to 27 inches at the withers; bitches are 23 to 25 inches in height. Any variation of more than one inch in either direction is a disqualification under the American breed standard. Adults typically weigh 65 to 80 pounds. The Weimaraner's coat is short, sleek and a solid deep metallic gray in color. Its long drop ears are often slightly lighter than its body. While the American Kennel Club does not officially recognize the long-haired coat variety of the Weimaraner, it does exist and is recognized elsewhere.
Today's Weimaraner is a product of many years of careful, selective breeding and decades of linebreeding to set type. Canine historians generally agree that the Bloodhound is among the Weimaraner's many ancestors, probably through its association with the Red Schweisshund. The Weimaraner shares ancestors with a number of other German hunting breeds, including the German Shorthaired Pointer, which is apparent in their similar body type. Some dog authorities suggest that the Weimaraner came from an albino mutation in some ancient German gundog breed. Other breed experts theorize that the Weimaraner descends from the German Braken, or from crossings between unnamed pointers (huenerhunden, or generic bird dogs), an unusual yellow pointer and possibly some French hounds as well.
Whatever its precise ancestry, the Weimaraner is generally recognized as being developed in a pure form at least by 1810, when it was well-known at the court of the Grand Duke Karl August of Weimar in east-central Germany. Nobles of that court enjoyed a number of different types of hunting and decided to develop one breed capable of expressing all of the traits they found desirable in an all-around hunting dog: a keen nose, good vision, great speed, stamina, courage, determination and brains.
Early in its development, sportsmen used the Weimar Pointer to hunt big game, including deer, mountain lion, wolf, bear, boar and bobcat. Breed enthusiasts during that time were wealthy and hunted for sport rather than profit. The Weimaraner was a rich man's dog. In 1897, the Weimaraner Club of Germany was formed to "protect" the breed and prevent its acquisition by the general public, or so-called "commoners." The Weimaraner Club adopted a breed standard to suit its members' hobby, which made it difficult for anyone else to acquire a Weimaraner in Germany and almost impossible to obtain one in any other country. The Club had strict rules about who could own or purchase a Weimaraner puppy. Litters that were not approved by club members could not be registered in the breed's studbook, and dogs from approved litters that did not turn out to be physically and temperamentally suitable (again, according to the Club) had to be destroyed. Of course, no one but club members was permitted to own a Weimaraner in any event. Obviously, these rules did not promote a surge in popularity of the breed.
As big game available for sports hunting in Germany dwindled, the Weimaraner was increasingly used to flush and retrieve game birds on land, and to retrieve waterfowl from lakes and streams. It became especially known and prized for its soft mouth. In 1929, Howard Knight, an American sportsman and dog breeder from Providence, Rhode Island, was permitted to join Germany's Weimaraner Club – only after he spent much time hunting with its members to prove his dedication to the breed. He imported a pair of Weimaraners to the United States. Apparently, unbeknownst to Mr. Knight, these dogs had been sterilized by their German breeders, so they obviously could not be bred.
Thankfully, this did not deter Knight, and while it took him nine more years, he eventually acquired acceptable breeding stock. Just before the beginning of World War II, Knight purchased a male Weimaraner named Mars and two bitches named Dorle and Aura. These three dogs became known as the foundation of his American Weimaraner "dynasty." Knight was instrumental in forming the first Weimaraner club in the United States – the American Weimaraner Club – in 1941, and he served as its first President. In 1943, the Weimaraner was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of its Sporting Group. The Weimaraner reached Britain by the 1950s and soon became popular worldwide.
Today's shimmering silver Weimaraner continues to be used in its homeland and elsewhere as a talented personal hunting companion that can track, point and retrieve with equal skill. It also excels in obedience trials, field trials, tracking trials, agility and the conformation ring. The Weimaraner makes an alert, fearless, affectionate and gentle family companion.
The average life span of the Weimaraner is 10 to 13 years. Breed health concerns may include bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus), elbow and hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), tricuspid dysplasia, peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernia, pododermatitis, generalized demodicosis, neutrophil function defect of Weimaraners, meningitis, spinal dysraphism, entropion, distichiasis, eversion of the cartilage of the nictitating membrane, refractory corneal ulceration and von Willebrand disease.
Weimaraners are highly athletic dogs with a lot of energy who bring an air of elegance wherever they go. They have been made popular in recent years by William Wegman, who photographs Weimaraners in costumes and wigs, acting out scenes as if they were human. This breed is not for just anyone, no matter how cute and expressive their faces may be. Weimaraners are demanding dogs who require strong leadership and a lot of exercise in order to maintain an even temperament. They are reliable hunting dogs and many people still use them in the field for both tracking and retrieving. Though they are active and require a lot of outdoor time, Weimaraners expect to live indoors with the family and soak up as much affection as they can get. For outdoor oriented families who have experience with dogs, the Weimaraner can be an excellent companion.
Couch potatoes look elsewhere - Weimaraners need at least one hour of vigorous exercise every day, but two is ideal. They are versatile dogs who enjoy walking, jogging, hiking and accompanying you on bike rides. Weimaraners don't always know how to swim, but once he learns he also enjoys a nice refreshing dip once in a while. Do not leave your Weimaraner in the back yard to entertain himself as he will probably destroy your yard and then try to escape.
Novice dog owners can get into trouble with Weimaraners as they can be quite a handful. The biggest reasons that these dogs become rowdy, hyper and destructive is lack of exercise. If your adult Weimaraner is out of control at home, it is most likely because he is not being allowed to burn off enough of his extra energy. Committing to a Weimaraner means committing to an active lifestyle.
Weimaraners can be a handful to train. They are stubborn and mischievous and have no trouble walking away from you if they are bored with the activity. Start your dog off young to establish leadership quickly – if you don't let him know you are in charge, he will naturally assume the position of leader. Training should involve a lot of praise and treats, but should be conducted with a confident air. Harsh discipline will cause your Weimaraner to disregard you completely, so make sure training is conducted by the most patient person in the home, as these dogs can test the patience of a saint. Novice dog owners may wish to consult a professional dog trainer who understand the nuances of the Weimaraner personality.
Weimaraners will chase anything that moves, and small neighborhood animals could be in peril in the presence of this breed. Keep your Weimaraner on a leash at all times and make sure your yard is securely fenced. It is best that you not introduce non-canine pets into a Weimaraner's home. They get along well with other dogs, when raised alongside them from puppyhood, but can be unaccepted of new dogs into the home, especially males.
As puppies Weimaraners are incredibly rambunctious and will bound clumsily all throughout the house, knocking down furniture and people. Without proper exercise and training, your adult Weimaraner will not outgrow this behavior.
A medium-sized gray dog, with fine aristocratic features. He should present a picture of grace, speed, stamina, alertness and balance. Above all, the dog's conformation must indicate the ability to work with great speed and endurance in the field.
Height at the withers: dogs, 25 to 27 inches; bitches, 23 to 25 inches. One inch over or under the specified height of each sex is allowable but should be penalized. Dogs measuring less than 24 inches or more than 28 inches and bitches measuring less than 22 inches or more than 26 inches shall be disqualified.
Moderately long and aristocratic, with moderate stop and slight median line extending back over the forehead. Rather prominent occipital bone and trumpets well set back, beginning at the back of the eye sockets. Measurement from tip of nose to stop equals that from stop to occipital bone. The flews should be straight, delicate at the nostrils. Skin drawn tightly. Neck clean-cut and moderately long. Expression kind, keen and intelligent. Ears--Long and lobular, slightly folded and set high. The ear when drawn snugly alongside the jaw should end approximately 2 inches from the point of the nose. Eyes--In shades of light amber, gray or blue-gray, set well enough apart to indicate good disposition and intelligence. When dilated under excitement the eyes may appear almost black. Teeth--Well set, strong and even; well-developed and proportionate to jaw with correct scissors bite, the upper teeth protruding slightly over the lower teeth but not more than 1/16 of an inch. Complete dentition is greatly to be desired. Nose--Gray. Lips and Gums--Pinkish flesh shades.
The back should be moderate in length, set in a straight line, strong, and should slope slightly from the withers. The chest should be well developed and deep with shoulders well laid back. Ribs well sprung and long. Abdomen firmly held; moderately tucked-up flank. The brisket should extend to the elbow.
Coat and Color
Short, smooth and sleek, solid color, in shades of mouse-gray to silver-gray, usually blending to lighter shades on the head and ears. A small white marking on the chest is permitted, but should be penalized on any other portion of the body. White spots resulting from injury should not be penalized. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification. A distinctly blue or black coat is a disqualification.
Straight and strong, with the measurement from the elbow to the ground approximately equaling the distance from the elbow to the top of the withers.
Well-angulated stifles and straight hocks. Musculation well developed.
Firm and compact, webbed, toes well arched, pads closed and thick, nails short and gray or amber in color. Dewclaws--Should be removed.
Docked. At maturity it should measure approximately 6 inches with a tendency to be light rather than heavy and should be carried in a manner expressing confidence and sound temperament. A non-docked tail shall be penalized.
The gait should be effortless and should indicate smooth coordination. When seen from the rear, the hind feet should be parallel to the front feet. When viewed from the side, the topline should remain strong and level.
Minor Faults--Tail too short or too long. Pink nose.
Major Faults--Doggy bitches. Bitchy dogs. Improper muscular condition. Badly affected teeth. More than four teeth missing. Back too long or too short. Faulty coat. Neck too short, thick or throaty. Low-set tail. Elbows in or out. Feet east and west. Poor gait. Poor feet. Cowhocks. Faulty backs, either roached or sway. Badly overshot, or undershot bite. Snipy muzzle. Short ears.
Very Serious Faults--White, other than a spot on the chest. Eyes other than gray, blue-gray or light amber. Black mottled mouth. Non-docked tail. Dogs exhibiting strong fear, shyness or extreme nervousness.
Deviation in height of more than one inch from standard either way.
A distinctly long coat. A distinctly blue or black coat.
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Sources: American Kennel Club