The Weimaraner (WY-ma-rah-ner) is a sight to behold. These friendly, obedient dogs go by many names: Weims, Weimaraner Vorstehhund, Weimar Pointer, Gray Ghost, and Silver Ghost.
This breed is excellent with kids and is easy to train and groom. Its can-do attitude makes Weimaraners a great companion who is generally fearless.
Beware, though, that this is an incredibly active breed that needs regular, intense exercise.
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The history of the Weimaraner
The Weimaraner traces its origins back to early 19th century Germany, where Grand Duke Karl August, who held court in Weimar Town, started the breed.
He was an avid hunter who wanted an ideal hunting companion.
After crossing Bloodhounds with German and French hunting dogs, the Weimar Pointer, or Weimaraner, was born.
Weims were at first used to hunt big game, such as bears and mountain lions, but as Europe’s large-game population shrank, the Weimaraner became an all-purpose hunter good at retrieving birds.
This striking breed was kept secret for many decades and only began arriving at the United States in the late 1920s.
Their popularity skyrocketed in the 1950s, with the likes of Grace Kelly and President Eisenhower owning the breed. Eisenhower’s famous Weim was named Heidi.
In 1943, the Weimaraner dog breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). They are part of the Sporting Group.
Weimaraners come in blue to any shade of gray, but the AKC does not recognize distinctly blue Weims.
Check out this informative video on the Weimaraner:
Appearance of the striking Weimaraner dog
Weims are tall, agile, regal looking dogs. Their head is moderately long with a prominent occipital bone. Their eyes vary, but they are generally shades of gray or blue-gray, or light amber.
Their back is moderate in length and should slope from the withers. Their ribs are apparent and their abdomen is held firmly.
Their front and hindquarters are strong and stiff. Breed standard recognizes that their tails are docked and should be around 6 inches when full-grown.
How big will my Weimaraner get?
Weimaraners are large dogs who are not fully grown until around 6 to 8 months.
Male Weims are 25-28 inches tall and weigh 70-90 pounds; female Weims are 23-25 inches tall and weigh 55-75 pounds.
Given their large size and extreme exercise needs, Weimaraners are not suited to apartment living. They do best with plenty of space and, ideally, a fenced-in backyard to run around in.
What is the Weimaraner’s coat like?
Weimaraner’s get the Silver Ghost and Gray Ghost nicknames due to their coats. Their fur is a distinct short, smooth, sleek, flat, and solid-colored gray.
It is possible to get long-haired Weimaraners, though these are not recognized as part of the breed standard.
The long-hair gene is recessive, so it’s possible for two purebred, short coat Weims to produce long-haired pups, so long as they each carry that recessive gene.
When it comes to color, there is a wide spectrum, from blue to gray. Weimaraner coat color includes blue, gray (mouse-gray), silver-gray, and plenty in between, from charcoal-blue to silver-gray to blue-gray.
Blue Weimaraners are distinct from gray coat ones in that they appear to be a diluted black color. The difference lies in the tone of the color, not the deepness or darkness.
It is therefore possible to have a gray Weim who is darker than a blue one, although this is atypical.
Blue Weimaraners are rarer only because they are not recognized by the AKC and were largely bred out.
That said, the blue color is actually dominant to the gray color, so all it takes is one blue parent to have a litter with blue puppies.
In 1971, the AKC voted to disqualify blue Weimaraners, but a Weim of any color is welcome to participate in AKC registered events, including obedience, hunt tests, tracking, agility, and so on.
That said, any blue Weimaraner in the conformation ring will be disqualified.
It is possible to create a brown Weimaraner, but these are not purebred dogs. Keep in mind that it is also possible to breed Weims that appear to have a brown tint, but these are considered mouse-gray Weimaraners.
Pie-bald Weimaraners look like German Shorthaired Pointers that have gray instead of brown.
Fun fact: Weimaraner puppies are born with gray tiger stripes, but these fade within the first weeks of their lives.
Some Weims also have a small, white spot on their chest, but any large white spots mean they are no longer recognized by the breed standard.
What’s a Weimaraner actually like?
Weimaraners of both sexes make excellent companion dogs. They get along well with children and can be slightly wary of strangers.
They can be a bit standoffish around other dogs, but proper socialization from a young age helps prevent this.
Weims do not have a soft mouth like other breeds such as Golden Retrievers, so be very careful if keeping them around cats or small animals.
As with any dog, socialization from the start helps ensure your Weim is balanced and open to new experiences.
Take your dog to a variety of different scenes to meet many other people and dogs. The more experiences he has, the more tolerant your Weimaraner will be.
Weimaraners aren’t barkers, but they may get loud if left alone for prolonged periods of time.
These dogs can suffer from severe separation anxiety, so it’s best not to leave them alone for more than a quick run to the store.
Given their high mental and physical stimulation needs, these dogs can be destructive unless you’re giving them the exercise they require.
Weims are smart enough to get into real trouble without this. After 40-60 minutes of intense, daily exercise, your Weimaraner should settle down.
Weimaraners are extremely intelligent and boast high trainability. Given their high energy, these dogs thrive with mental stimulation in the form of training. Without it, this can lead to destructive behaviors.
Given their tendency for separation anxiety, crating your Grey Ghost when you’re gone is best. Start crate training your dog from a young age, associating the crate with positive experiences.
Feed your Weim in his crate and give him treats whenever he goes in.
Like most dogs, Weimaraners do well with consistent, positively-reinforced training from a young age. Start with the basics, like sit, stay, wait, leave it, and come.
Reward with food or a toy when a task is correctly performed, and don’t get frustrated when a task is incorrectly performed. With consistent effort, your Weim can learn whatever you teach him.
Weimaraners are strong dogs with an even stronger prey drive; remember, they were bred to hunt game.
There are three different methods for teaching a Weimaraner to hunt birds: the Wing It Method, Tame Bird Method, and Check Rope Method.
The Wing-It Method involves taking your dog out to the wilderness and exposing him to birds and gunshot sounds. You then start firing a gun, while holding your dog, when you see a bird or when a bird is flushed.
Further, if your dog freezes at a bird, reward him, and then eventually let him start fetching birds using a ‘fetch’ command.
The Tame Bird Method involves laying scent trails, using a pen to introduce a tame bird. And ultimately allowing your dog to find a tame bird in a controlled environment.
Eventually, you want to start directing your dog to birds using a command; reward for good behavior. Once this all comes together, take your dog bird hunting and continue honing his skills.
The Check Rope Method involves attaching a check rope to your dog’s flank so you can more easily control it.
Whenever your Weim sees a bird, step on the rope so it causes him to stop – this reinforces the freezing behavior when your dog spots fowl.
Slowly increase the freeze time until you feel like you can get your dog to respond off the leash.
Whichever method you choose really depends on personal preference and what you think will work best with your own dog.
Starting young help, since you can more easily mold your Weim’s behavior to produce the best gun dog results.
How much work will my Weimaraner be?
Weimaraners are extremely high maintenance given their extensive mental and physical needs. These dogs tolerate a wide variety of weather, but given their fine coat, they do better in warmer climates.
What kind of exercise do Weimaraners need?
Weimaraners are high on the energy level spectrum. 40-60 minutes of intense exercise each day will ensure your Weim is happy and healthy.
Although walks are great, they alone are insufficient. Weims need far more intense, mentally stimulating exercise.
Opt for agility, obedience, or a run instead. Remember to exercise consistently, or your Weimaraner will be up to no good at home!
How do I groom my Weimaraner?
Even though they are short-haired, the Weimaraner breed is not hypoallergenic. Long-haired Weims will shed, but the traditional short-haired ones do so a lot less and typically only seasonally.
Grooming for these active dogs is minimal. Brushing with a rubber curry comb helps stimulate the hair follicles and is a nice massage for your pooch. This should be done weekly to remove dead fur.
The biggest grooming need for this dog breed is nail trimming, which needs to be done regularly to prevent discomfort.
Since their ears are floppy, checking them often and cleaning them out helps prevent ear infections.
Bathing this breed every two weeks is generally sufficient unless your pup starts to smell sooner. Given their love for exploration and for the outdoors, it isn’t uncommon for this dog to stink rather quickly.
Make bath time fun by offering rewards and praise. Stock up on supplies such as towels, cotton balls, shampoo, conditioner, and ear cleaning solution.
What should I feed my Weimaraner?
Dietary needs vary drastically based on age. An adult Weimaraner requires around 1600-1700 calories daily, but this will be less if the dog is older or fixed.
A puppy weighing around 40 pounds needs only 1233 calories per day. Of course, more active dogs need more calories.
When feeding dry food, make sure the ratio is about 12% fat and 22% protein. At 8 weeks, feed your puppy ½ to ¾ cup of kibble three times per day to make sure they are being fed enough for their growing bodies.
An adult Weimaraner needs 2-3 cups of food twice per day, but this depends on exercise. Visually inspect your dog and cut down on food if he is gaining weight; Weimaraners should be quite lean.
Here are some great dog food options for your Weimaraner:
- Farmina Natural & Delicious Chicken Grain-Free Formula Dry Dog Food
- AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Revolving Menu Duck Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food
- ACANA Duck & Bartlett Pear Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Merrick’s Grain-Free Real Buffalo and Sweet Potato Recipe
For a Weimaraner puppy, consider these:
- Canidae – Life Stages Large Breed Puppy Duck Meal, Brown Rice & Lentils Formula Dry Dog Food
- Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula
For senior Weims, consider this:
- Orijen Senior Dog
Your dog may also need a special diet if he suffers from skin problems or other allergies.
Here is a list of foods Weims (and dogs more generally) should never eat. This list includes the likes of grapes, alcohol, baby food, chocolate or other caffeinated products, and so on.
What are common health problems of Weimaraners?
Unfortunately, Weims commonly suffer from a host of health problems. Here we discuss some of the most common.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)
This is the fancy term for bloat. The exact cause is unknown, but it is seen in large breeds who eat or drink too rapidly.
If you notice your Weim inhales his food, purchase him a slow feeder to prevent the onset of GDV.
This condition is serious. Medical attention is needed within minutes to hours of onset to save the dog’s life.
Weimaraners are one of the top three breeds that bloat most commonly, so be on the lookout. Symptoms include restlessness, pacing, swollen abdomen, retching with no substance, excessive drooling, and panting.
This is common in many large breeds and occurs when the hip bone doesn’t fit properly in the socket, thus causing it to grind.
This is a congenital disease, but diet, rapid growth, and environmental factors have an impact. If you notice your dog limping, take him in. X-rays are needed to properly diagnose this condition.
Similar to hip dysplasia, this occurs when the elbow bone doesn’t fit well into the socket. This is particularly common in large dog breeds and eventually leads to arthritis.
Dogs with this condition usually show signs as early as 5 months of age. Symptoms include lameness that worsens after exercise.
Ununited Anconeal Process:
This is a subtype of elbow dysplasia and displays the same symptomatology.
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD):
First seen between 7 weeks and 8 months of age, this is a developmental, auto-inflammatory disease that commonly affects large dogs, especially Weims.
With HOD, blood flow decreases to parts of the joint, meaning bones don’t harden properly. This is extremely painful and results in lameness; in more severe cases, it can lead to weight loss, fever, and depression.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD):
This refers to a deficiency in proteins needed to form platelets, which allow the blood to properly clot.
Many dogs do not show outward signs, but visible symptoms include the inability to clot blood after trauma or surgery and spontaneous nose or vaginal bleeds. A screening test is needed for proper diagnosis.
Factor XI Deficiency:
This also causes abnormal bleeding as a result of a deficiency in, you guessed it, the Factor XI protein. Symptoms are uncommon, but excessive bleeding is, of course, to be expected.
This is a rare condition found in very few breeds, unfortunately including Weims. Sometimes bleeding can be delayed up to 4 days after a procedure, so this is hard to spot properly.
This is another issue where blood does not properly clot. This can result in excessive bleeding and is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder. This is most common in Basset Hounds.
This is caused by Factor VIII, a blood clot factor essential for, you guessed it, clotting blood. This results due to spontaneous genetic mutation and, once it afflicts one dog, it can be passed down to many others.
Dogs afflicted with Hemophilia A often bleed spontaneously in joints or muscles, resulting in swelling or lameness.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):
PRA is a result of the degradation of photoreceptors in the eye. Over time, this leads to blindness. The cells in the eye either begin forming abnormally or do so over time.
This doesn’t cause any discomfort so it may go unnoticed. A common first symptom is night blindness, along with eyes that are reflective when hit with light.
This refers to an extra eyelash that develops in an abnormal location. The cause of this growth is unknown.
Sometimes the extra eyelash is soft enough that it causes no problems; in other cases, it can lead to inflammation, eye discharges, and pain.
Look out for excessive blinking or rubbing the eye, as serious cases are painful for dogs.
When the eyelid rolls inward, it is called Entropion. This causes substances on the surface to scratch the eye, resulting in painful corneal ulcers.
In severe enough cases, this starts to interfere with a dog’s vision.
This refers to several classes of conditions that cause haziness in the eye. There is not usually a course of treatment for this disease, as it rarely leads to blindness.
Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD):
This is a “malformation of the tricuspid valve and its associated supporting structures that assist in proper valve closure.”
Since this causes backflow of blood, the right side of the heart can become enlarged and cause right-sided heart failure.
Dogs with mild TVD live normal lives, whereas severe cases lead to death in the first few years of life.
Persistent Right Aortic Arch:
This is also referred to as a vascular ring abnormality. It’s a “disease that’s the result of an abnormal re-routing of the blood vessel in the artery that arises directly from the heart, the aorta.”
This restricts the esophagus and trachea and prevents solid food from getting down properly. Surgical treatment will be necessary.
Any other health issues? Sadly, yes
Other possible health issues include:
- Immune-mediated disease
- Spinal dysraphism
- Eversion of the nictitating membrane
- Mast cell tumors
- Pituitary dwarfism / dwarfism
- Skin allergies
- Renal dysplasia
Some more cursory health problems include:
- Accidental cuts, scrapes, sprains, and pulls.
- Since Weimaraners are very active and boisterous, be on the lookout for injuries due to rambunctious activity.
- Mouth and gum injury
- Weims love to chew anything they can, and if the chewed item is sharp or rough, it can injure your dog.
- It is not uncommon for your dog to swallow unidentified objects, causing severe blockage and intestinal trouble. Always take your dog to the vet if you believe this to be the case.
- Adverse reactions to vaccines.
Health screenings and other occasional tests
The following are tests that should be done on all breeding Weimaraners to ensure no congenital diseases are being passed on to puppies.
You can also do these tests for your own Weim, especially if you are unsure of his genetic history, to catch any health issues before they become severe.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) runs a variety of tests. All reputable breeders will have their breeding dogs tested for:
- Hip dysplasia
- Note that PennHip certifications are also accepted for the hips.
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hypothyroidism (a thyroid disorder)
- von Willebrand’s disease
These are all severe, congenital issues that can easily be screened out of future generations.
Auburn University tests for Thrombopathia, and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) runs ophthalmologist evaluation tests on dogs.
The CERF runs alongside the OFA to provide breeders with eye diagnostics on any breeding dogs to maintain breed standards.
The UC Davis Genetics Lab can run DNA tests for Hyperuricosuria.
All breeders that are part of certified, AKC breed clubs will run these tests on their Weimaraners.
Given how many of these conditions are congenital, it is vital that you only adopt healthy Weims with great bloodlines. There’s a reason these Weimaraner clubs exist!
Weimaraners have a lifespan of 10-13 years and most commonly die from cancer, gastrointestinal issues, including bloat, old age, and cardiac issues.
The oldest known Weimaraner died at over 18 years of age, very uncommon for dogs, especially large breeds.
What will a beautiful Weimaraner puppy cost me?
Weimaraner litters average 6-8 puppies. Getting one of these furry bundles of joy will cost you between $500 – $1200.
Puppies cost around $3675 their first year; after that, your Weim will cost you around $1700 per year.
The best way of purchasing a Weimaraner is to go through an AKC affiliated breeder, or other reputable breeder. Please be cautious when buying puppies from pet stores, as they typically come from puppy mills.
Puppy mills are horrendous places where dogs are bred like cattle and kept in cages. Not only is this inhumane, but dogs from puppy mills suffer permanent physical and psychological damage throughout their lifetime.
Buying a dog from a pet store lines the pockets of those who further this practice and frees up space for another dog to fill. Never buy a dog this way.
When buying a Weim, budget for the following expenses:
- Grooming supplies
- Other supplies (beds, kennels, toys, bowls, leash, poop bags)
- Daycare or doggie boarding, either regularly or when you are gone
- Any registration fees (AKC, state)
- Apartment fees (deposit, monthly pet rent)
Some excellent Weimaraner breeders
As previously mentioned, it’s best to find an AKC certified breeder. The AKC holds breeders to extremely high standards and ensures only the best, healthiest dogs are being bred.
This helps you avoid the heartache and expense of a dog riddled with disease.
Start by perusing the AKC registry. Here are some breeders to consider:
The AKC does the work for you, but if you choose to find a breeder independently, inspect their practices closely. Do they let the dogs go home before 8 weeks of age?
What’s included in their bill of sale? Are their facilities clean and spacious? What socialization do they do in the first 8 weeks? Can you see their breeding dog’s health inspections?
Doing your homework now will save you a lot of time and money later.
Rescuing a Weimaraner
Another great option is rescuing your pup. Millions of dogs are euthanized each year because they simply cannot find homes.
Keep in mind, though, that rescuing a dog means he comes from an unknown genetic bloodline; this can be particularly risky with Weims, a breed that is prone to an array of health concerns.
Here are some rescues to consider:
Make a list of requirements for your new family member, as any good rescue organization will know their dogs very well.
This allows them to better place a Weim in your home that is a genuine fit for your family.
Consider what energy level, temperament, and behavioral tendencies you want in your new companion before adopting.
You can also contact the Weimaraner Club of America for a list of rescue organizations in your local area.
Is the Weimaraner right for me?
Although Weimaraners need extensive exercise every day, these dogs are fabulously intelligent and loyal. They are watchdogs who are easily trainable and eager to please.
If you are able to provide your Weim with adequate exercise, he will be well-behaved for you. Make sure to check his bloodlines, as Weims can suffer from a host of health problems.
Up for the challenge? Let us know below!
Check out these similar dog breeds!
Like what you see in the Weimaraner but still wanting to explore? Check out these other breeds:
- German Shorthaired Pointer