The Gray Ghost
Weimaraner owners will tell you that this “gray ghost” is an elegant dog with soulful eyes, a larger-than-life heart and an endless amount of energy.
Once a Weimaraner is welcomed into your family, he’ll stick to you like “Velcro” and will spend most of his time trying to please you. Bred to be both a skilled hunter and family companion, the Weimaraner requires a knowledgeable, patient owner who has a lot of quality time to spend raising him properly.
There is speculation that the Weimaraner can trace its roots to a dog breed in the late 13th century, during which time dogs were bred specifically for the noble, and to have an aristocratic appearance and proper hunting instincts. This Weimaraner ancestor was also a family dog, raised alongside the children inside the home so that it would develop a strong bond with its family — and fine tune its companion hunting instincts as well.
The modern-day Weimaraner was bred in the city of Weimar (now modern-day Germany) during the early 1800s for the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Karl August, who was an avid hunting enthusiast.
The breed (also called the Weimar pointer) was an expert large game hunter, tracking deer, boar and bear, but quickly became adept at hunting smaller game such as rabbits and foxes.
As popularity for this prized hunting dog increased over the years, other countries expressed an interest in breeding Weimaraners for themselves. Initially, Germany sent sterilized Weimaraners to America in order to prevent mass breeding from occurring — the country had always limited and restricted ownership in order to maintain its value, but over time restrictions were lifted as the breed became popular throughout Europe and America and breeding standards were instilled.
The breed excels athletically in canine sports, particularly on agility courses where it’s challenged not only physically but also mentally.
Daily exercise (and patience from its owners) is highly recommended to help keep the breed’s high energy level to a minimum.
The Weimaraner has a happy, energetic personality and a fierce loyalty to its family. Some Weimaraners may not be so welcoming to strangers, while others may literally bubble over with so much enthusiasm when meeting someone new that they may trample them in the process.
Daily exercise (and patience from its owners) is highly recommended to help keep the breed’s high energy level to a minimum. Without a way to expel the energy, the Weimaraner can become destructive if left alone. This breed does not like being kenneled for long periods of time and can become quite anxiety ridden in the process, making it a great candidate for doggy daycare — the companionship, socialization and exercise will benefit your Weimaraner.
Regular training from a young age is also recommended as the Weimaraner is a highly intelligent hunting dog that may stubbornly choose to ignore an owner’s commands and chase after small prey (your neighbor’s cat) or knock over small children while in the throes of playing.
Sometimes called the “Velcro dog,” a Weimaraner forms a very tight bond with its family, often following you around the house, leaning on you whenever possible, insisting on being a lap dog or cuddling with you at bedtime.
A Weimaraner has what has been described as a graceful and elegant appearance. The breed has a short coat, hard and smooth to the touch that can range in color from a silvery gray, a bluish gray, charcoal blue or taupe — earning itself the nickname “Gray Ghost.” Its eyes may be amber, gray or blue.
While the American Kennel Club does not recognize the long-haired Weimaraner, this variation of the breed is accepted in other parts of the world. The long-haired Weimaraner’s coat is silky to the touch. The gene for long hair is recessive, so a litter including long-haired Weimaraners will only occur if both the mother and father carry the trait.
Although the Weimaraner has an athletic build, its body is long and lean, preventing it from appearing stocky.
The average Weimaraner weighs 55 to 85 pounds, with males typically outweighing the females.
While these may be common medical conditions, your Weimaraner will not necessarily develop any of those listed below.
- Behavior disorders: Some Weimaraners suffer more so from separation anxiety than others. Anxiety indicators include excessive drooling, loud barking, broken teeth, cut lips and destructive behavior (eating small items such as socks, phones, paper, boxes or chewing on larger items such as furniture or walls). The breed has shown some resistance to behavior modification, although it appears that age can play a role: As your Weimaraner ages, these behaviors should decrease. Regular socialization from a young age can help reduce anxiety from developing.
- Elbow dysplasia is a malformation of the elbow joints that causes arthritis and is especially crippling in large breeds of dogs. Early surgical treatment is recommended to slow the progression of arthritis due to elbow dysplasia.
- Entropion, inward curling of the lower eyelid or ectropion, rolling out of the eyelid, can occur in the breed. The condition should be corrected surgically to prevent damage to the cornea of the eye.
- Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joints resulting in lameness and arthritis. It’s recommended that you make sure that the breeder from which you’re adopting your Weimaraner has had its dogs tested using OFA or PennHip methods.
- Hypothyroidism is due to a low circulating thyroid hormone level, which can result in skin, coat and weight abnormalities, behavior changes, and fertility problems.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): is an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness.
- Skin allergies have a tendency to develop in Weimaraners. Allergens can include pollen, food, dust or parasites, spores or even the cleaning solutions used around your house — all which can lead to persistent, itchy skin. If your Weimaraner shows signs of irritation (hair loss, constant itching or a rash), schedule an appointment to have your veterinarian examine your dog immediately.
- Stomach bloat (also known as gastric torsion) is very serious and often deadly condition of large breed dogs with deep chests. The stomach becomes painfully distended, usually following ingestion of a heavy meal, drinking large quantities of water and exercising after eating. The distended stomach has a tendency to rotate on its axis, trapping gas and fluid inside the stomach. The bloated and twisted stomach compromises circulation and results in rapid onset of cardiac arrhythmia and shock. Symptoms include, drooling, retching, abdominal distention, abdominal pain and sudden collapse following eating or exercise after eating. This condition requires immediate, emergency veterinary treatment. You can take preventive steps by feeding your Weimaraner small meals twice a day on a low surface (not raised) and prevent gulping water after eating. Above all, avoid exercise after eating.
- von Willebrand's Disease is a common inherited blood disorder, characterized by a deficiency in clotting factor VIII. The main symptom of vWD is excessive bleeding following injury or surgical procedures. Von Willebrand’s is prevalent in the breed and your dog should be tested for the disorder prior to elective surgery such as spaying or neutering.