Meet Dogdom’s “Gray Ghost” — the Versatile Weimaraner – Dogster
Everything about the Weimaraner telegraphs speed, stamina and clean-cut beauty. Once seen, this striking dog is never forgotten. Here are seven fun facts about the wondrous Weimaraner.
The Weimaraner dog breed backstory
The noblemen of Weimar (today in the state of Thuringia, in modern-day Germany) were keen hunters who pursued a variety of big game, including bear, boar and deer. The original Weimar Pointers appeared in the 19th century and were valued for their versatility, superb tracking ability and courage. The nobles bred the dogs to enhance these many qualities, all in a distinctive gray package. Availability of the dogs was strictly controlled. The German Weimaraner Club was formed, with restricted membership, and only members were permitted to own and breed the dogs. Few outsiders knew much about the breed, but stories abounded touting their hunting prowess. In 1928, Howard Knight, a sportsman in New England, attempted to join the German club. He promised to protect the purity of the breed, but the club still sent him two sterilized dogs. Knight wouldn’t give up. Eventually, he was sent three females and a male puppy in 1938. Other admirers of the breed in this country joined forces with Knight. In 1942, the Weimaraner Club of America was formed, a breed standard was written and an application was submitted to the American Kennel Club for breed recognition. It was granted the same year, and the Weimaraner was exhibited for the first time at the famed Westminster Dog Show in 1943. Americans had timing in their favor, as they began importing Weims from breeders in war-torn Europe. The breed was well on its way in this country.
The Weimaraner’s signature nickname
The Weimaraner quickly developed the nickname of dogdom’s “gray ghost” for its light eyes and coat color and stealthy hunting style.
The Weimaraner as a status symbol
By the mid-1950s, the Weimaraner’s ever-growing popularity proved to be a mixed blessing. Their success as eye-catching show dogs and big-running hunters soon made them a canine status symbol. Price tags soared, often for dogs with bad temperaments and second-rate bloodlines. Many a Weim who was bought in haste ended up being offered “free to a good home.” It took a decade for the breed to rebound from this explosive over popularity, thanks to the determination of responsible breeders working with a strong gene pool.
The Weimaraner is a loving, energetic hunting dog. To repeat: The Weim is energetic. Tireless. Inexhaustible. They need lots of daily exercise and prefer to do it with you. They are not an independent breed and will not be content to sit in the backyard or a kennel run by themselves for hours. You must be willing to make the time to engage with them through games and play, providing an outlet for their energy. Otherwise they are prone to separation anxiety, which in turn can result in barking, whining, howling, digging, overall destructive behavior and even injury to themselves. As beautiful, sweet and faithful as the Weimaraner is, anyone considering the breed must commit to the need for training and owner engagement. More Weimaraners are surrendered to breed rescue for separation anxiety, most likely than for any other reason.
Another flavor of the Weimaraner
While the vast majority of Weimaraners have a short, smooth and sleek coat, there is also a long-haired variety, with a silky coat and an undocked, feathered tail. They are considered quite attractive by many, and you will find breeders in the United States who produce them. Although the long-haired dogs cannot compete in American Kennel Club dog shows, they can participate in all other AKC-sanctioned events like obedience, agility and rally. Long-haired Weims are accepted in the United Kennel Club’s dog shows here in the United States, as well as in Canada and overseas. The gene is recessive, so a breeding can produce long-haired puppies only if both parents carry the trait.
Am I blue?
Weimaraners also come in a dark, smoky or charcoal color called “blue,” in addition to the familiar shades of silvery gray that earned him his nickname. Many pet owners choose one gray and one blue dog, just for fun, enjoying the contrast in color. As with the long-haired Weims, blues can compete in all AKC performance events but are not permitted in the show ring.
Famous Weimaraner owners
With the Weimaraner’s sleek silvery coat, amber eyes and clean-cut physique, it’s not surprising that the breed has been favored by presidents, royalty and celebrities over many decades. President Dwight Eisenhower was accompanied to the White House by his Weimaraner, Heidi. Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco received a Weimaraner as a wedding gift before marrying Prince Rainier III. Celebrated producer and TV host of American Bandstand, Dick Clark, had Weimaraners. Adrien Brody, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Kendall Jenner and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta all own Weimaraners. The most famous Weimaraner owner is photographer William Wegman, whose striking dogs have graced the pages of fashion magazines and coffee-table books, as well as calendars and greeting cards, for years. If you’ve seen a Weimaraner pictured on roller skates or wearing a Marilyn Monroe wig, it’s due to Wegman’s fertile imagination and cooperative dogs.
A snapshot of the Weimaraner dog breed:
Where does the Weimaraner come from?
Germany. Weimaraners were bred as a hunting dog in the early 19th century and used by royalty for hunting large game such as bear, boar and deer.
How did the Weimaraner get its name?
It is pronounced WHY-ma-ra-ner. The name comes from the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Karl August, whose court, located in the city of Weimar (now in the state of Thuringia in modern-day Germany), enjoyed hunting.
What size is the Weimaraner?
Males are typically 25 to 27 inches, and 70 to 90 pounds. Females are 23 to 25 inches, and 55 to 75 pounds.
What is the Weimaraner like?
Friendly, fearless, alert and obedient. Very loving and people-oriented. They want to be with you. Without this essential contact, they are prone to separation anxiety, barking and destructive behavior.
How active is the Weimaraner?
Very active. This breed needs frequent, vigorous exercise with his owner and must have an outlet for his energy. Lots of interactive games and play.
Is the Weimaraner good at any dog sports or activities?
Yes! Smart and versatile. Obedience, agility, rally, dock diving. They have webbed feet and make great water dogs.
Is the Weimaraner good at dog jobs?
Yes! They are great at search and rescue, detection, make fine service dogs … they really can do anything.
Is the Weimaraner dog breed good for first-time dog owners?
This is a large and very strong, boisterous breed. Probably not ideal for most first-time owners.
Is the Weimaraner a good family pet?
The best match would be active owners who like exercise and have a fenced yard. The breed has a strong, instinctive prey drive, so watch the pet cats, birds and rodents. Strong and boisterous enough to knock over toddlers. Not recommended for most seniors. Not a breed to be left alone all day; single owners and working households must consider doggie daycare or a similar arrangement.
Is the Weimaraner a good apartment dog?
Typically, no. A large, securely fenced yard recommended, along with plenty of walks on leash and safe, supervised, off-leash exercise.
How easy is it to train a Weimaraner?
The breed is very smart and learns quickly. Is it “obedient?” That’s a learned behavior that must begin at a very young age. Obedience classes in a group setting are recommended to instill confidence in the owner and teach the dog to work with distractions.
Is the Weimaraner given to excessive barking?
He can be, without appropriate training. Barking is a sign of boredom and, if ignored, can lead to destructive behavior and separation anxiety.
Does the Weimaraner make a good traveler?
Yes, when training begins early. Crate training is essential for safe car and air travel, hotel/motel stays, overnight visits to the vet, etc.
Is the Weimaraner easy to groom?
Yes! Occasional brushing to remove loose hair, plus regular nail cutting, and cleaning of ears and teeth. Be prepared for seasonal shedding.
How popular is the Weimaraner?
No. 40 in the American Kennel Club list of most popular breeds (there are 200 AKC-recognized breeds in all) in 2021, based on annual registrations.