They call it the Gray or Silver Ghost, but the Weimaraner is anything but. It is an elegant and beautiful breed, full of passion and zest for life, and has this insatiable energy that can only be matched by an equally strong-willed and very active pet parent. Very few in the dog world can match its stamina and physical endurance, allowing it to be the top hunter of the kingdom. It hunts, tracks, points, and even retrieve game whether it is on firm ground or in uncertain waters. But despite this topnotch hunting instinct, the Weim is never an independent breed as it loves to spend its non-hunting time with its owner. It shadows its owner wherever he goes; hence the Gray Ghost nickname. It is for this reason that the Weimaraner is a great family companion for those who know its nature.
History of the Weimaraner
Weimaraners are largely believed to have been created by the 18th to 19th century noblemen of the Weimar court (hence, the name). These members of the nobility loved hunting. As such, they wanted a dog that was intelligent, courageous, had stamina, super-fast, and had excellent scenting abilities. They wanted a dog that can be a trusted partner whenever they go to their favorite hunting grounds while at the same time stay by their side by the fireplace in the evening. This dog was called the Weimar Pointer and if you want to know its origins, sadly no one knows.
However, there are stories that the Weimar noblemen used a variety of purebreds in the creation of the Silver Ghost. These included the English Pointer, the Blue Great Dane, the Bloodhound, the silver-gray Huehnerhund, the red Schweisshunde, and the German Shorthaired Pointer. The Weimar Pointer was bred for the specific purpose of aiding noblemen in the hunt for deer, bear, and boar, as well as other large game.
As Germany (Weimar is a city in Germany’s state of Thuringia) moved towards industrialization, sizeable portions of the forests were claimed in the name of development and with it the decline in large game. As such, the Weimar Pointer was relegated to hunting smaller game like foxes, rabbits, and birds.
By 1897, Weimar Pointer breeders organized themselves and formed an exclusive club that will ensure the maintenance and development of the breed. Nobody can purchase a Weimaraner unless he or she was a member of the exclusive club. Weimaraner breeders are required to follow very strict guidelines in the breeding of the hunting-family companion dog.
An American sportsman, Howard Knight, was allowed to become a member of the Weimaraner breeder’s club in 1929 and brought with him two Weims back to the US. Unfortunately, Knight couldn’t breed the dogs because they were de-sexed by the club in an effort to contain the breeding of the Weimaraner only in Germany. This did not deter Knight, however. By 1938, he was able to acquire three female Gray Ghosts (Aura von Gailberg, Dorle von Schwarzen Kamp, and Adda von Schwarzen Kamp) plus a male puppy (Pars aus der Wulfsreide).
Other breeders followed suit and joined Knight in the establishment of the Weimaraner breed in the US. They were able to form the Weimaraner Club of America in 1942. By the end of that year, the American Kennel Club already recognized the Weim as a breed.
The Second World War made it difficult for German Weimaraner breeders to continue caring for and developing their dogs. As such, many of their dogs – the more outstanding ones anyway – were sent to the United States. American servicemen also brought home a lot of these dogs at the end of the war. This led to the increase in popularity of the breed. One of the breed’s most famous owners happens to be the former President of the US, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Then-General Eisenhower brought Heidi home to the US and lived with him at the White House when he won the presidency.
The growing popularity of the Weimaraner also brought a number of problems. Chief of these was the proliferation of irresponsible and unscrupulous breeders who sought to make money from the popularity of the Gray Ghost. This resulted in a drop in the quality of the Weim as well as issues in temperament. This pulled the popularity of the Silver Ghost that towards the turn of the seventh decade of the 20th century, the number of Weimaraner registrations was almost half of the registrations a decade earlier.
By the 70s and 80s, staunch supporters of the breed sought to improve its temperament, conformation, and health. By the 90s, Weim registrations slowly picked up. Today, the Silver Ghost currently ranks number 34 in AKC’s list of most popular breeds, besting the Border Collie (no. 38), Basset Hound (no. 39), and the Bloodhound (no. 50).
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The Weim is a hunter. But it is also a good-natured, family-loving four-legged fellow. While no one knows exactly how it was created, we do know the following:
- Male Silver Ghosts can stand as tall as 27 inches with a minimum of 24. Female Weims, on the other hand, are usually shorter by 2 inches.
- Males can weigh a minimum of 66 pounds, but never heavier than 88. Females max out at 77, although their minimum weight should be 55 pounds.
- Weims have brown fur interspersed with white. It is this blend of colors that give the Weimaraner its signature silver-gray tone.
- Majority of Weimaraners have short hair, although there are also those that can sport longer furs.
- The eyes of a Weim are colored like the sky on a bright sunny daylight blue.
- The Gray Ghost may look skinny, but the more appropriate term would be athletic. It sure cannot run after its prey if it were stubby or fat.
- Just as the Weim is a prolific hunter, it is also a very social dog; almost to a fault. People refer to it as the Velcro dog since it ‘sticks’ to its owner wherever he goes. Interestingly, this is why they call it the Silver or Gray Ghost.
- Because the Weimaraner loves and craves for the attention of its owner, it’s very prone to separation anxiety.
- It is a very active dog; sometimes too active that it becomes a Houdini just so it can look for more interesting things to do.
- It’s sweet and affectionate, but never good with really small kids because of its hyperactive nature.
- The Weim can reach the ripe age of 12, although it’s not unusual that some may reach 15 years.
Things You Should Know
Silver Ghosts don’t come cheap, especially if you get them from a trustworthy breeder. Aside from its rather prohibitive price tag, there are other things you should know about this breed.
Bred specifically for the hunt is what people are saying about the Weim. This should also give you an idea of its intelligence. However, if you think training the Silver Ghost will be a walk in the park, you’ve got another one coming. It is intelligent, yes; but, only if you can keep up with its energy levels. It is not really that stubborn, but it has the tendency to be testy. It will test your limits, that’s for sure. That is why it’s imperative that you lengthen your patience and perseverance when dealing with a Weimaraner. Your best chance of a successful training is to start it as a puppy and to employ positive reinforcement principles. Be its leader and it will follow you. But if there’s any hint of weakness or hesitation on your part, the Weim can easily take control.
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On the average, a Weimaraner will need about 1,400 to 1,800 calories per day and divided into two to three equal portions. Depending on its activity level, this can either increase or decrease its calorie consumption. Some folks will tell you to give the Weim 2.5 to 3.5 cups every day. Unfortunately, this does not take into account the number of calories that they really need depending on the weight, activity level, health status, and life stage. It is best to give more frequent meals in smaller portions than one massive meal.
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Did we mention the Weim is a very active dog? One of its characteristics is stamina and speed. It doesn’t tire easily. It is through hunting that it gets to be a happy hound. Its energy levels are so high that it needs plenty of exercise or work; otherwise, it will use this excess energy into something more destructive. Couch potatoes beware! The Weimaraner isn’t for you. It thrives well in the company of someone who enjoys hiking, running, or at least jogging for a good 60 to 90 minutes every day.
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The Weimaraner loves being with its family. That’s why they call it the Silver Ghost because it will follow you anywhere. That being said, it will be especially aloof when other people or strangers are around. This can be easily addressed if you can socialize it early enough by exposing it to different sorts of people as a puppy. They can be at peace with other dogs, nonetheless. They have a strong prey drive, being hunters and all. As such, smaller pets like cats may not be a good idea to bring home with a Weim. However, if you can grow them together, there’s still a chance that peace in your pet kingdom will reign.
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The short-coated Weim is easy to groom. It doesn’t require daily brushing, although once weekly shouldn’t hurt just so you can remove dirt and debris from its coat. Longer-haired Silver Ghosts, on the other hand, may have to be brushed at least twice a week. Bathing every 3 to 4 months is always a good idea while clipping the nails every 3 to 4 weeks is crucial. Checking the ears and cleaning it every week is also part of a Weim’s grooming routine. Don’t forget to brush its teeth every day or at least every other day.
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Bloat and hip dysplasia are just two health conditions that are common among Weims; all the more reason to give the Weimaraner good quality dog food. Some may also present with spinal dysraphism, entropion, and Von Willebrand’s disease. There are also those that may have immune-mediated conditions.
Weimaraners are great for people who…
- Are experienced dog-owners
- Strongly believe in the power of positive reinforcement especially in teaching the Gray Ghost
- Lead a really active lifestyle including plenty of outdoor activities and exercise
- Can socialize and train their puppy
Gray Ghosts are not usually advised for individuals who…
- Have never taken care of or owned a dog before
- Tend to leave the dog alone in the house for more than 6 hours at a time
- Like to put their dogs in kennels
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First and foremost, the Weimaraner is a hunting dog. Its temperament is definitely that of a hunter – strong, intelligent, smart, and obedient. However, it is also a very likable hound, preferring instead to follow its owner wherever it goes. This can be especially annoying since you will most likely give up your sense of freedom as this hound is going to be shadowing you when you’re not on the hunt.
It is especially kind to kids, but mostly the older ones and those with high levels of energy. They can play all day without ever tiring. It’s not the best pet for families with little kids as its hyperactivity and boundless energy can easily translate to injuries to hapless little ones.
Male Silver Ghosts are sweet and affectionate while females are spunkier. Some can be easygoing while others are more work-oriented. They are the best when it comes to hunting as their prey-drive is unparalleled. Some have an insatiable appetite for man’s affection, making them excellent family companions.
The Weimaraner is not for first-time dog owners, for very obvious reasons. But if you’re willing to learn everything you can about responsible pet parenting and especially the care of a Weimaraner, this breed can be the ideal companion for your family and as your personal four-legged sidekick.
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