Weimaraners are active, high energy, medium sized dogs with short hair. But that’s not the whole story.
Allow me to describe what life with Weimaraners is like in a little more detail, and then really think about whether or not this breed’s for you. Warning, this post is a long one; grab a chair and a hot coffee… Or a cold beer.
Let’s start with some Weimaraner truisms.
Weimaraners aren’t your average dog. They have personality; lots of it. Mine are spunky, goofy, tenacious, crafty, sneaky, and quick. Sometimes, I think they’re clowns. They know how to dance, twirl, pirouette, speak, high five, jump, and spin. They perk up their ears when I talk to them. They turn their heads to hear me out. They groan when I scold them. They sulk when I bust them. And they huff when I annoy them. (Every now and again I annoy them on purpose… because I’m a jerk like that). In a way, life with Weimaraners is like life with toddlers. They can communicate, but they don’t always listen… They’re curious, but get into stuff… They’re hyperactive, then sleep like the dead. At the end of the day, I still love them, and they love me back… unconditionally.
Weimaraners are smart. My dogs understand phrases and complete sentences. I can’t say “let’s go to the car” without them freaking out (because they’ll think they get to come, too, and it gets them really, really excited). Instead, when I tell my kids it’s time to go, we have to “go to the c-a-r.” I also have to spell out w-a-l-k or d-i-n-n-e-r if I’m trying to exclude my dogs. They’re also exceptional in problem-solving aptitude and have a knack for opening various cabinets and helping themselves to whatever is edible. On occasion, they’re even sneaky enough to PUT THE EMPTY BOX BACK. They know how to open doors (with handle levers), sneak food off counter tops, and pick tangerines off the tree, peel off (and spit out) the rinds, and snack on the insides.
This is an ad Miss Britta did for Just Weimaraners. What’s really going on is that her water bowl was dry and she was bringing it to us for a refill. Weims are efficient like that.
They also use their eyes to communicate. It’s obvious Britta’s trying to get me to pity her here… too bad lady, no room for you!
Weimaraners don’t like to be alone. Dogs are pack animals; they want to belong to a group, whether it’s dogs or people, or both. Weimaraners take it one step farther; they take a very ACTIVE role in being part of the pack. REALLY THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU VALUE YOUR PERSONAL SPACE.
When I’m hanging out at the house, watching television on the sofa, my dogs aren’t happy just sitting nearby; they have to be on someone, if not wedged next to someone.
When I’m working at my desk, they’re usually under my feet.
When I get up to go, ummm… potty, they’ll follow me there, too.
I even get company at the stove.
The only success I’ve had with separating myself from my dogs is when I physically build a chairicade to keep them out. Or in.
Weimaraners like to be included. Actually, this one’s more on me; I like including my dogs. So we go places, we do things. When I travel, they usually come with me. When they can’t, my first choice is to leave them with other Weimaraner owners (because my average “friend who likes dogs” doesn’t translate into “friend who is qualified to watch Weimaraners”). While I have, in the past, kenneled my dogs, that’s not really the best place for them. Also, my dogs LOVE road trips, and they are really well behaved when we stay in rental cabins, lodges, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. On the occasion that we have to slum it in a motel, they’ve been great there, too.
When we’re tight on space, someone always has to ride in the trunk. It’s still comfy back there.
When the pup gets tired of being in the back, he slinks into the middle.
…and falls into the cracks. Dogs can sleep in the weirdest places.
Weimaraners need training. And it may not be easy. Mine can be stubborn and mischievous and have no trouble walking away from me if they’re bored with what I’m doing. My dogs are powerful and strong-willed, ESPECIALLY my girls (they don’t call them bitches for nothing) and they’re constantly testing boundaries. Owners have to be the take charge type, and be a good leader. If you can’t or won’t take charge and lead, then your dog will. Weimaraners are also sensitive, so training should involve a lot of praise, positive reinforcement, and treats. You also have to be confident (fake it if you need to). Note: Harsh discipline will make your dog ignore you. I will also add: Working with a dog trainer, especially if it’s your first time owning a dog, is CRITICAL. Are you willing to hire/work with a dog trainer?
Commands like “sit” are just the beginning.
Weimaraners need to be socialized. Actually, this is true for all dogs, and Weimaraners are no exception. Well-socialized puppies usually develop into safer, more relaxed and enjoyable pet dogs. This is because they’re more comfortable in a wider variety of situations than poorly socialized dogs, so they’re less likely to behave fearfully or aggressively when faced with something new. The wider the range of experiences you expose your puppy to, the better his/her chances are of being comfortable with a wide variety of situations as an adult. Note: I send my puppies home with a mulit-page socialization checklist. This takes TIME if you commit to doing it well. Are you up for this kind of time commitment?
Weimaraners are slow to mature. Think two, three or even four years. Actually, my girl Britta is FIVE, and sometimes, she still behaves like a puppy. So think about how long you’re willing to live through “the puppy phase.” And really, in a way, they’re puppies all the way to the end. [See also: Weimaraners aren’t your average dog.]
Weimaraners need their own space. I crate train mine and highly encourage everyone else to do the same; the benefits are monumental. My dogs especially enjoy retreating to their crates when I yell at them for doing something bad (…again…) or when I pull out the nail clippers. They hate manicures and know I can’t do their nails if they’re sitting in their crates. [See also: Weimaraners are smart.]
The crate is not a dungeon. It should be a place your dog likes to go to and spend time in, even with the door wide open.
Weimaraners are protective. Weimaraners have a more highly developed protective instinct than other sporting breeds. Mine are no exception. Britta and Friday like to stare out the window and will typically bark at strangers, other dogs, the UPS truck, and the UPS man. Speaking of barking…
“Get off my lawn!!!”
Weimaraners bark. My girls are quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound; I have to be equally quick to stop them. So far, my boy is a silent stalker. (There might be something to the theory that girls are more protective and boys are less weary.) If you’re sensitive to barking, you’ll have to do some training to deter/minimize the behavior; just know they’ll still get a few barks in here and there. Every now and again, my dogs also WHISTLE and WHINE at me, especially when they’re bored. It’s obnoxious. [See also: Weimaraners have personality.] If you work all day and have close neighbors, Weimaraners probably aren’t a good idea.
Weimaraners are hunting dogs. My dogs especially come from a long line of hunting dogs (including some AKC Field Champions and Senior Hunters) and have very strong prey drives. They have no problem going after small dogs, cats, and other little creatures. They also chase off bikers, joggers, and even cars and ATVs; pretty much anything that moves. This is an instinct that cannot be trained out of them, only be managed. I personally don’t trust my dogs alone with small cats (or other dogs).
On occasion, they’ll even bring me prizes. I’ll never forget the weekend I was home alone (husband away on a trip), and Miss Friday brought me not one, not two, not three, but FOUR DEAD BABY ‘POSSUMS. Gutted… on the living room floor. That was fun to clean up. I still get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.
Here’s one of my dogs learning how to hunt, for reals.
Weimaraners get along with kids; on the condition they’re either raised together, or acclimated with one another the right way (carefully monitored when they first meet). I currently have two foster children: a two year old and a four year old. We have very specific house rules about appropriate and inappropriate kid/dog behaviors. Generally speaking, I don’t let my kids play with my dogs in an unsupervised setting; too many things can go wrong. But overall, everyone in my house gets along together really well.
Miss Britta being really patient with toddlers.
She lets them tickle her, and even seems to like it.
Friday lets the kids lay all over her, and on her bed, too.
And she puts up with being buried under pillows.
Even the puppy’s with the program.
Weimaraners knock kids over. As much as my dogs love my kids, they just can’t help the fact that sometimes, they’ll run around the house and knock them over. Every now and again, the kids will cry about it. The dogs aren’t doing it to be mean; that’s just the reality of having Weims and kids. Is that appropriate in your household?
Two seconds after this shot taken, Boulder knocked my two year old down. Oops.
And then later… he tried to make it up to her by giving her a hug (and turning himself into a scarf). She wasn’t having any of it.
Eventually, it was Miss Britta who sat next to her and made her feel better.
Weimaraners knock other things over, too. While this is especially true for puppies, my big dogs still do this from time to time. They can get excited, rambunctious, and every now and again, they’ll get to something… a stack of books, vase on the coffee table, framed-photo on the console, etc. Sometimes, things break. And every time this happens, I kick myself for leaving something in a place where my dogs can get to it. But that’s my fault. Someday, I’ll learn.
Weimaraners need physical exercise. I can’t stress enough how important this is. While walks around the neighborhood are great for an average dog, Weimaraners need room to run, hard and often. In other words, they need a lot of off-leash opportunities where they can get their calories burned. They might need wireless dog fence for controlling while running. You must have an enclosed space where they can run. And if you don’t, you MUST be committed to giving your dog other opportunities to get their energy out (by taking them to local trails, dog parks, the beach, etc.) Think Energizer Bunny on steroids. How often do you bike, hike, jog, or run? Would you mind taking your dog with you, all the time? Games of fetch are also fun. Note: not all Weimaraners like to fetch; I’m two for three on this one (Miss Friday looks at me like, “no… YOU threw it, YOU go get it. I’m going back to the sofa”). You may have heard the saying; a tired Weim is a happy Weim. This is 100% true.
Weimaraners love to run and get their energy out…
In Weim speak, we call it the zoomies.
They also like to chase other dogs.
Sometimes, exercise means “full-contact play.”
And sometimes, because Weimaraners are so active, playtime gets a little rough. Mine bark, growl, yelp, and nip/bite (without hurting). To me, it’s normal dog behavior. To someone else, it may be a little too much. Would you be comfortable being around a dog that does that?
Most of them like to play in the water, too.
Weimaraners need mental exercise. Smart dogs also need to exercise their minds. It keeps them happy, engaged, and deters them from being destructive. When I’m at home with my dogs, I hide treats around my house for them to find, fill a Kong or marrow bone with frozen peanut butter for them to work through, and work on short stints of Obedience. Teaching them a few tricks is also a good way to work their brains.
Proof that Weimaraners can learn dog tricks.
Weimaraners chew on things. Chewing isn’t horrible, as long as they’re chewing on the right kinds of things. I don’t mind when my adult dogs get into sticks when we’re out and about. At home, they get the (occasional) rawhide, antler, Nylabone, or Kong. The goal is to keep them busy on the right stuff, so they don’t start destroying the wrong stuff.
Sticks are okay.
Shoes are not.
An important note about chewing; when my dogs get my stuff, it’s not really their fault. It’s actually my fault for leaving things where I shouldn’t be leaving them. However, if I catch my dogs in the act (which doesn’t always happen), I’m quick to tell them that what they have is wrong.
Puppies will get into everything. That’s just how it works. So think about whether or not you’re okay knowing that despite your best efforts, there will be some losses.
Some more things I’ve learned about having Weimaraners.
If you run a tight ship, the following may not apply to you… but this is how it works in my house:
Weimaraners have no respect for personal space. But in their defense, I let them get away it; our “no sofa” rule went out the window years ago… and the “no dogs in the bed” rule was tossed shortly after. Besides, I LOVE that my dogs love being with me, so I’m all good with that. If this isn’t your thing, you can probably set a few boundaries [see also: Weimaraners need training] to keep it in check.
If I get up for one second, this is what my side of the bed looks when I get back.
Sometimes, they don’t even respect each other’s personal spaces.
Weimaraners are crafty. My dogs aren’t asshats on purpose, but sometimes, somebody (Miss Friday) will suck on the corner of her bed until it makes a hole, and then someone else (sister Britta) will step in to shake all the insides out. It happens quite fast, and turns my living room into a winter wonderland. This is totally avoidable for those of you who choose to forego dog beds.
It only takes a second… Especially when it involves a pillow and no supervision.
Weimaraners are thieves. They’re big enough dogs that they can easily reach the coffee table, the dining table, and most importantly, the kitchen counter. Mine have mastered the art of counter-surfing and won’t hesitate to take something when I’m not looking. If they’re feeling especially snotty, they’ll even do it right in front of me.
To be fair, this photo was staged. But you get the point.
But this one was real… they really did eat my entire batch of chocolate chip cookies. The good news: An occasional dose of chocolate in small batches isn’t enough to wreck them.
Weimaraners are beggars. In the case I’m actually sitting with my breakfast, my dogs won’t hesitate to give me the look. Pity me… I’m hungry… I want some too. [See also: Weimaraners have no respect for personal space.]
This also illustrates the following: Weimaraners don’t like to be by themselves.
…not kidding… it can be a little creepy to have eyes following your every move…
…even the puppy learned at a young age what the protocol is…
Weimaraners mess up the house. Before dogs (and kids), our house was actually nice. Nowadays, it’s decorated in nose art and scratch marks. The nose art, we can clean with a spray of Windex (which we do really, really fast when we’re expecting people). The scratches on the door… just add to the “rustic charm” that is our house. If you choose not to train your dogs from jumping on the doors and pawing when they want to be let in, are you okay with your house looking like this? Neat freaks need not apply.
Nose art on the back patio doors. Notice how high they go up. That’s because Weimaraners CAN and WILL jump.
Here’s another look at one our backyard doors. Scratches and mud stains galore.
Weimaraners get banged up. Active dogs have a knack for getting bumped, bruised, scraped, cut-up, and otherwise; that’s reality. I have a budget set aside for vet visits to get my dogs “repaired” on an as-needed basis. It happens a few times a year. This also brings up the point: Weimaraners aren’t cheap. If finances are tight enough that you don’t have a budget for “unforeseen expenses,” think twice about getting a Weimaraner.
Boulder Man on the way home from having his nose stitched up at the vet. Bonus points for sitting in the kid’s car seat. #safetyfirst
On the upside…
Weimaraners don’t need a lot of grooming. Monthly visits to the groomers? Not required!!! I also rarely bathe my dogs; they only get hosed off when they step into poop or swim in the ocean. Their nails, however, are the one thing I’m fanatic about. I keep them trimmed, religiously. It’s better for their toes, and better for my wooden floors. Note: My dogs HATE it when I trim their nails… but I do it anyway.
Miss Friday with her manicure.
Things that happen to Weimaraner owners.
Weimaraner owners are a special breed of people, too. If you decide to get one, here are some things that may happen to you:
You decide you want your dog around all the time, too. So you start to go places where dogs are welcome. This is us at a dog friendly winery in Temecula, CA.
Sometimes, taking them places backfires. Here are my dogs LAUGHING at me right after they LOCKED ME OUT of my week-long rental cabin up in the mountains. I stood outside, barefoot, with my phone, while my husband drove to town to get the backup keys from the rental office.
(And then when they’re not looking… I retaliate. Note: I always get the last laugh.) [See also: Weimaraner owners are crafty, too.]
You start making them homemade treats… and then go out of your way to make them Weimaraner-shaped.
In extreme circumstances, you’ll wake up one day to find that your purse matches your dog. And you’re actually proud of that. #grayforlife
When you see your dogs doing cute things, like synchronizing movements, you grab your phone to take a picture.
…and then you realize that you take a lot of pictures, because they do these silly things, a lot. #identicalfeet
You think it’s really cute when they “nook.” Nooking is a Weimaraner-specific character trait where they knead and suck on their beds and stuffies. (That’s Friday, nooking on the right.)
You start making travel/vacation plans around your dogs. This is me and Britta… about 1,000 miles away from home. Hiking… in the middle of NOWHERE… because Britta likes to get out, and who am I to deny her?
You start to wonder if they’re people in dog suits. Seriously, what other dogs sleep like this? By the way, this is what I see when I open my eyes every morning. It doesn’t get any sweeter than this, people. (!!!)
You take up the art of photography just so you can memorialize how beautiful they are.
Weimaraner on the move.
One last note. I love these dogs, and I can’t imagine living my life without them. If you’re brave enough to start the journey, I wish you much love and joy, too.
My boy, my heart, my love.