The Weimaraner, or “Weim” as they are lovingly called, has a highly recognizable and distinctive look thanks to their silvery-gray coat that's a dream to both look at and groom. They grow to be anywhere from 23–27 inches and are a very sturdy breed.
The Weimaraner is an up-close-and-personal kind of pup. They love to be right by your side—always within petting range—and have a deep need to be with you whether hanging at home or out on the hunt. Lack of attention and being left on their own can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behavior.
They're also very smart dogs, sometimes referred to as the “dog with a human brain” because they are independent thinkers and will constantly test your boundaries. A Weimaraner’s smarts need to be channeled for good, so supervision, training, and activity are essential. They may appear elegant in stature, but their sharp wit can transform them into disobedient pets that open doors, unlock fences, and escape from crates. Weims are eager to please, but may have a different idea than you of what it means to be a good dog. Be gentle—they are sensitive—but firm in your commands.
They also don’t have an off switch and need lots of activity, play, and exercise daily. They were bred for energy and stamina and it shows. Their loving nature, easy grooming, and intelligence can make them ideal pets, as long as you are committed to keeping your Weimaraner on the go.
Weimaraners’ looks are a big part of what makes people seek them out. They are muscular dogs with big ears that hang down the sides of their head. And of course they have a unique gray coat—that ranges from mouse-gray to silver-gray—that is smooth, short, and can occasionally feature white markings on their chest. Their nose is dark gray and the insides of their ears and lips are pink. Weims are also known for their signature light blue eyes when puppies; the color shifts to either amber or gray-blue as they age.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these dogs will weigh between 55 and 90 pounds, with male Weimaraners usually bigger. The female dogs will average about 24 inches in height, while the boys will be a tad taller (25-27 inches).
Weimaraners are intelligent, affectionate, and active dogs who love people and children. “They are super loving and very friendly, but they can be naturally more aloof than some of the other pointing breeds,” says Sierra Combs, Owner of Nosam Kennels in Kentucky. Quick to jump up and greet you or give you a standing hug, Weimaraners will not hesitate to climb into bed with you—and hog it—for the night. They are eager to be by your side at all times—an ideal sidekick. Often willful and wicked smart, Weimaraners can have a range of personalities, from laid back to ruling the roost. Male dogs tend to be sweet, while female pups have more spunk.
They are great watch dogs because they are protective and loyal, but can bark excessively if they aren't trained properly. In fact, they can take over the entire household if they aren't told otherwise. They are also suspicious of strangers and can be aggressive at times. Aggression and shyness should be dealt with early on to ensure your Weim is friendly, alert, and obedient. Fearlessness is a natural trait. Perhaps your best defense as an owner is a sense of humor, as this strong willed breed is sure to test you. It has been said that it takes a very smart person to stay one step ahead of a Weimaraner, and even then, there's still plenty of room to be outwitted. They are high-maintenance in the social interaction department and need to be kept busy, whether on a walk, run, or hike, or going on a hunting excursion or practicing agility drills. And when your Weim proudly gifts you a dead frog or bird from the yard, accept it without punishment, even as you cringe.
Weimaraners aren't the breed for everyone. “They are a versatile hunting dog bred to hunt upland game, but are also amazing family pets when paired with the right homes,” Combs says. As a breeder and certified trainer, she has been working with Weimaraners for the last seven years and has become very familiar with how Weimaraners adjust to family life. “They need training and exercise because they were bred to hunt. They are not for someone looking for a couch dog. They need an active family home or hunting home.”
A true companion dog, Weimaraners thrive on spending time with their humans. They will be your shadow and follow you from room to room. Puppies need to be supervised constantly so they don't chew up everything in your home. And Weimaraners should not be kenneled for long as they are prone to separation anxiety without a lot of interaction with their owner. Regular contact will prevent them from digging carpet or furniture in order to create a space where they feel safe.
Because they are such a handful—they're called "the perpetual 2-year-old" on the Weimaraner Club of America's website—Weimaraners are not ideal for first time dog owners. They also are not suited to apartment life—they need space to run and play. Because they are rambunctious, they are not ideal when you have young children in your home. And Weimaraners are not the right choice for families with cats, small dogs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, or birds. Their prey drive is strong and nearly impossible to redirect. They are likely to chase small children, joggers, and bicyclists.
When it comes to grooming your Weimaraner, you’ll catch a break. Their beautiful coats are very easy to care for and wiping them down with a chamois cloth will make their silvery coats shine. Any dirt they do get into seems to fall right off, but they do shed. A once weekly brushing can help remove short hairs before you find them all over your home. While shedding isn’t a huge issue, they do tend to make big messes while drinking water, slobbering everywhere!
You should always check your Weimaraner’s foot pads for injuries after outdoor activities. And you’ll want to keep their nails trimmed short so you don’t get scratched when they enthusiastically jump to greet you. As with any breed with hanging ears, you’ll want to check and wipe out their ears weekly to prevent ear infections.
The time you save on grooming will need to be spent on making sure your Weim gets enough exercise. They are high energy dogs that love to run, needing more exercise that almost any other breed. They love to run, fetch, hike, and swim. Hunting trips are a favorite pastime and provide Weimaraners with plenty of exercise. It’s been said that a tired Weimaraner is a good Weimaraner. Making sure your pup gets enough exercise will prevent unwanted chewing, barking, and digging. When bored, Weimaraners become rambunctious, hard to control, and even destructive. Put them to work and praise them for it and you’ll have one happy pooch.
Weimaraners are very smart, which is good and bad news when it comes to training. They will test boundaries—they are independent thinkers—and can learn poor behaviors as quickly as they learn good ones. You'll have to be consistent throughout your weim's lifetime to reinforce that you are in charge. Be firm, but gentle with reinforcement as Weimaraners are sensitive and don't respond well to anger. In fact, they may avoid doing what you say in the future just to ensure they aren't harshly reprimanded. This is one dog you don't want to resent you. And they will need consistent socialization even as they get older.
Don’t forget that they are talented escape artists—known to learn how to open doors and gates and jump over or dig under fences—so make sure your outdoor spaces are secure. If they haven’t gotten enough exercise, they are likely to re-landscape your yard while digging for mice, moles, and bugs. They will be proud of themselves for it, too. And while they are more suited to spending time indoors, Weimaraners will find plenty of trouble there, too, getting ice from the refrigerator dispenser or opening doors. Their self-sufficiency would be great if it wasn’t so naughty!
One of the most common health issues for Weimaraners is bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), the AKC says. Other conditions that Weims face include hip dysplasia, hyperuricosuria—a predisposition to forming painful bladder and kidney stones—von Willebrand's Disease, eye and thyroid issues, and skin allergies.
Of course, with any very active dog, trips to the vet may be due to injuries, such as broken legs from stepping in holes while hunting.
There are a few health considerations to keep in mind with Weimaraner puppies. They like to chew and have been known to require surgery to remove unidentified swallowed objects. Their vaccination schedule is also important as a small percentage of Weimaraner puppies have an autoimmune reaction—fever, elevated white blood cell count, and inflamed tissues and joints— in particular to combination vaccines. Reactions occur most often at 12 to 16 weeks of age. The Weimaraner Club of America recommends that puppies be vaccinated only at eight and 12 weeks of age with four core vaccines: distemper, adenovirus 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. The rabies vaccination can be given at 16 weeks of age.
Weimaraners hail from Germany where they were first bred by nobles in the Weimar court in the late 19th century as hunting dogs for big game—think bears and deer—according to the AKC. They are close relatives of the bloodhound, the English pointer, the German shorthaired pointer, and the blue Great Dane so they have powerful noses. They also have exceptional speed, tracking ability, and resilience. Their signature coat is believed to be an accidental outcome of breeding.
Because of their courage and endurance, the dogs were prized and strictly guarded. Germans created a club—that was notoriously hard to get into—that exclusively allowed club members to keep and breed Weims, according to the Weimaraner Club of America (WCA). One club member, an American named Howard Knight, wanted to breed the dogs in the U.S. and started doing so in the 1930s. He also created the WCA. The Weimaraner was recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club in 1943.
- When born, Weimaraner puppies have dark grey tiger stripes that stick around for a few days before they fade, the AKC says.
- Weimaraners are great trackers and have been used in missing person cases and other search and rescue missions, including searching for missile parts during the Cold War. A Weimaraner named Dingo sniffed out small bits of missile after launches so scientists could recover and study them.
- Weimaraners earned the nickname “grey ghost” thanks to their ability to disappear from their owner’s view on foggy days.
- Photographer Williams Wegman introduced Weimaraners to many Americans though his work capturing photos of his dogs—Man Ray, Fay Wray, Chip, and others—in poses emulating classic art and pop culture.
- President Eisenhower had a Weimaraner named Heidi who lived in the White House.