Few dogs have as regal a history as the Weimaraner. This striking breed originated in the early 19th Century in Germany and was created exclusively as a gun dog for royalty. Their noble, elegant looks and great hunting instincts made them quite prized, which led to nobles of the time restricting availability of the dogs through an exclusive club. Only members could own and breed the dogs, and it was common practise to sterilize dogs meant for export to prevent others from breeding them.
Unlike most hunting dogs of the time, the Weimaraner was bred to live indoors with their royal owners. This resulted in an all-round family dog that needs to be around people and loves the outdoors.
Weimaraners are large dogs, with males reaching a height of between 61 – 69cm and females between 56 – 63cm when fully grown. These dogs are quite lean and only weigh about 25 – 32kg, with males being slightly heavier than females.
Also known as “Grey Ghosts”, Weims are probably best known for their beautiful grey coat and light amber, grey or blue eyes. They also have long, straight front legs and large floppy ears. Tails were traditionally docked, but it’s falling out of favour due to many countries, including South Africa, banning the practise.
Weimaraners are not very independent dogs and love being around their human family. They’re quite affectionate and happy, and get along with children. However, this is a hunting breed so be careful not to leave them unattended with smaller, non-canine animals like hamsters or rabbits. They also don’t get along well with cats.
Weimaraners are quite brave and protective, which makes them great watchdogs or guard dogs. They are also very intelligent and learn quickly, but tend to get bored easily. A calm, firm leader is needed to prevent them from becoming emotionally unstable, restless or destructive.
They also tend to suffer from separation anxiety.
Weimaraners are not at all suited to outdoor kennel life and prefer being indoors with the family. They are also relatively inactive when inside, which makes them suited to apartment living if sufficiently exercised. They will, however, do best in a home with a large yard.
Their hunting background means that Weims have great stamina and need to be exercised at least once a day with a long walk or jog. They also need plenty of opportunity to run free.
Weimaraners tend to bloat and can develop a painful, life-threatening condition called gastric torsion. To prevent this, it is best to feed them 2-3 smaller meals throughout the day rather than one large meal. It also helps to avoid any rigorous exercise an hour before or after meals.
They are less prone to hip dysplasia than most large dogs, but sometimes suffer from excessive, rapid growth.
Weimaraners have a life expectancy of between 10 – 14 years.