Weimaraner: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Adult weimaraner outside

Dado Daniela / Moment / Getty Images

 

One look into the captivating amber or blue-green eyes of the Weimaraner and you’ll be hooked. This beautiful and athletic dog breed sports a uniform coat that is steel grey in color. Originally bred to be a sportsman's companion, the Weimaraner—or Weir, for short—is a versatile dog breed that is happy on the hunt but loves to be part of your home life.

Well-built and solid, these dogs epitomize grace and strength. A deep chest and long legs make it clear that the Weimaraner is born to run. If you can provide enough exercise, these dogs are otherwise relatively easy keepers, known for being loyal, trainable, and relatively healthy. 

Breed Overview

Group: Sporting

Height: 25 to 27 inches (males); 23 to 25 inches (females)

Weight: 70 to 90 pounds (males); 55 to 75 pounds (females)

Coat: Short and stiff

Coat Color: Various shades of gray

Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

Characteristics of the Weimaraner

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Weimaraner

While many sporting dogs trace their heritage back several hundred years, the Weimaraner is a more recent addition. With a certainty, it can be said that the breed originated in Germany sometime in the 1800’s. Nobility in and around Weir, Germany set out to create the ‘ultimate’ sporting dog and it’s believed that they relied on both French and German sporting dogs to create the silvery sporting dog we know today as the Weimaraner.

Looking at the conformation of this German-bred dog, it’s not a far stretch to believe that early progenitors of the breed relied heavily on the German shorthaired pointer (GSP) when developing the Weimaraner. In fact, Weimaraners were originally registered in the GSP studbook.

It’s also commonly believed that bloodhounds were introduced for additional tracking and hunting capabilities. The oversized ears and soulful eyes of a Weimaraner puppy certainly seem to resemble characteristic features of bloodhounds. At any rate, the results of this breeding initiative produced an eager and intelligent hunting dog that was originally used for large game, including bears and wolves.

Over time, the breed also became widely known as a general gun dog, adept at pointing and retrieving game birds. In 1897, the breed was officially recognized and the German Weimaraner Club was formed. The Weimaraner was highly prized by the Germans, but also highly sought after by sportsman outside of Bavaria. With much persistence, a man named Howard Knight was eventually able to import the first breeding Weimeraners into the United States in 1938. Only four short years later, the breed gained AKC recognition in 1943.

It should be noted that several recessive traits sometimes alter the nearly uniform look of today’s Weimeraners. While most feature sleek, short coats in a silvery gray hue (which is actually a dilute brown), the breed has the potential for producing dogs with a very dark gray coat, often referred to as ‘blue.’ The blue is, in fact, a dilute black. Perhaps even more rare are longhair Weimaraners, which feature longer body hair along with feathering of the ears, legs, and tail. Both longhair and blue Weimaraners are not recognized within the AKC breed standard and are disqualified from conformation competition. Nonetheless, these striking varieties are still sought after by some breed enthusiasts and pet owners.

Weimaraners rank within the top 40 most popular breeds of the AKC. But many people may recognize the breed from the work of modern photographer William Wegman. Starting in the 1970’s, Wegman has become known for capturing his personal pet Weimaraners in all modes of human fashion and function. The dogs have sported everything from farming clothes to haute couture garments. Without a doubt the arresting gaze of the Weimaraner, which gives these dogs a nearly human expression, has played a large role in their success as photography subjects and an international art phenomenon.

Display of William Wegman Weimaraners
John Parra / Getty Images

Weimaraner Care

Wily might be one way to describe the wit of the Weimaraner. While this dog breed makes a wonderful companion, they’re incredibly intelligent and know how to use their brain power to get what they want. Weimaraners have been known to open doors, unlatch gates, turn faucets on, and more. Owners must be prepared to stay one step ahead of this smart dog breed and provide opportunities for both physical and mental exertion. It’s often been said that a tired dog is a good dog, and this is particularly true for the Weimaraner!

When you keep in mind that the Weimaraner was bred to be a sporting dog and hunting companion, you’ll have a better understanding of how to provide proper care and training for this breed. These dogs excelled because they had the drive and endurance to hunt predators as powerful as a bear, but at the same time were a kind, loyal companion to their human handlers.

Meeting the needs of a dog with such a varied persona is the challenge of Weimaraner owners. You must give the dog ample exercise to utilize his natural strengths, but also provide a warm, nurturing environment where the breed’s sweet personality can flourish. Weimaraners require positive reinforcement training tactics, but you must be consistent. The breed’s intelligence means that it can also become stubborn and resistant without clear pack leadership.

Most owners will find that a solid hour or more of daily exercise is necessary for this dog breed. Of course they make lovely walking partners, but you really should plan to give your Weimaraner time and space to run. They make ideal running partners for this reason, but you can also incorporate some sprinting sessions in your fenced backyard or at the dog park. These dogs also excel in canine agility, fly ball, dock diving, and other dynamic canine sports.

With family members, the Weimaraner is devoted and attached. They do well with children, though their size and strength means you’ll want to watch them around smaller kids. They generally get along with other dogs, but you should socialize them early and often. Many also live with cats or other small household pets, but keep in mind that this sporting dog was bred to hunt and an innate prey drive may cause them to chase smaller animals.

Prospective owners of Weimaraners should know that this breed sometimes suffers from separation anxiety. As mentioned earlier, the breed was developed to be a loyal hunting companion. As such, these dogs have a deep desire to be with their people. They can become distressed or even destructive when left alone for long or extended periods of time. Like other behavioral problems, the extent to which your dog is well-exercised and well-trained can go a long way towards off-setting the effects of separation anxiety. However, it’s definitely something to be on the look-out for within the breed.

Some Weimaraners are avid chewers and will get mouthy with just about any object. Teach your dog from an early age what is acceptable to chew on and what is not. Definitely make sure that you provide safe options for chewing behavior to save your shoes and also minimize the chance of your dog swallowing a foreign object.

Grooming a Weimaraner is about as easy as it gets. The sleek short coat will benefit from an occasional brushing with a rubbery dog brush to remove loose hair. Once in awhile, or when your pooch is a little stinky, you might also consider a dog bath. However, the Weimaraner’s coat is relatively maintenance-free. Just be sure to clean the ears, which can be prone to wax build-up, and keep the nails trimmed and teeth brushed. 

Weimaraner puppy outside
 Digihelion / iStock / Getty Images
Longhaired Weimaraner puppy
 Arco Petra / imageBROKER / Getty Images
Blue Weimaraner full-grown
Anjajuli / iStock / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Weimaraners are relatively hearty and healthy. These dogs don’t have an overly long list of health concerns, but it's still wise to look for a quality breeder that places an emphasis on health and temperament. The National Club for the breed recommends that you look for a breeder who can provide health testing for the thyroid, eyes, and hips for parents of the litter.

Other occasional health problems for this dog breed include:

Diet and Nutrition

An active breed like the Weimaraner should be fed a quality high-protein diet. However, this breed is subject to bloat. Some owners find that feeding several smaller meals a day is beneficial for reducing this risk of gastric torsion. You might also choose to feed from elevated food bowls or ‘slow feeder’ dishes.

Keep in mind, too, that the Weimaraner has a way of convincing you to do its bidding. These dogs love a treat, but keep a close eye on their diet to ensure they don’t become obese. It’s best to only give treats in moderation and never share food from your plate to prevent begging behavior or table surfing. 

Pros
  • Adept at hunting and canine sports

  • Excellent family dog

  • Low maintenance coat

Cons
  • Prone to mischief

  • May suffer from separation anxiety

  • Can be destructive chewers

Where to Adopt or Buy a Weimaraner

The Weimaraner is a popular dog breed with a devoted community of breeders, owners, and enthusiasts. However, this unique canine isn’t right for the lifestyle of all owners. As a result, some Weimaraners wind up in rescues. If you’re looking for a Weimaraner, start your search by checking local or regional rescue groups for dogs in need of a second chance.

The national breed club or regional breed clubs may also have links to rescue groups. In addition, these clubs can also be a good place to start your search for a breeder.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Has the Weimaraner won your heart? This striking dog breed is hard to ignore. Just be sure that you do your research before committing your home and heart to a weir.

Check out these other unique and high-energy dog breeds: