Our breed standard indicates that a Weimaraner is “a medium-sized gray dog, with fine aristocratic features. He should present a picture of grace, speed, stamina, alertness and balance. Above all, the dog’s conformation must indicate the ability to work with great speed and endurance in the field.”
We think a really great way to show great speed and endurance in the field is to field-trial. Of course, in order to field-trial, we need to breed dogs who are capable of competing in the sport.
Above photo: Boulder, my very first field-trial prospect dog… who also happens to be a Grand Champion on the show side. He’s my first shot at a Dual Champion Weimaraner. Special thanks to the WCA for featuring us on the cover of the Weimaraner Club of America’s “Weimaraner” magazine.
Barrett Weimaraners has the ultimate goal of breeding a Dual Champion Weimaraner, the title of which is earned once the same dog has completed both his show and field championship. It’s a big deal because in the history of our breed, there are just a handful of them who exist (because it’s a very hard thing to do), and we’re working to be someday added to the list.
Below is a Q&A we recently had with a prospective owner of a Barrett dog about field trial Weimaraners. We’re posting it here in hopes that you may find the dialogue of what a field trial Weimaraner is all about, useful:
Why would you recommend I get on one interest list for a puppy, but not another?
Each dog is bred for a different purpose. 🙂 For example, in Summer 2015, I had a litter of field trial dogs, meaning I bred them specifically to be competitive hunting dogs. This was a very special litter for me. NONE of those puppies were sold to pet homes, so I didn’t even bother making an interest list for them. In Spring 2016, I then had a litter of show dogs, meaning those dogs were “bred to be pretty.” I can’t with a straight face promise that any of those puppies would be competitive in the field trial circuit. They should, however, EXCEL in the show ring. Those puppies not selected for show homes are available to the right pet home.
What are “field trials?”
Here are some introductory articles, from, Wikipedia, Ames Plantation, and AKC. Also, here’s an article from Pheasants Forever about the difference between a hunt test and a field trial.
Why is it hard to have a Dual Champion Weimaraner?
Typically, competitive dogs from field trial lines aren’t pretty enough to be shown, and competitive dogs from show lines don’t have what it takes to run in the field. To complicate matters, there aren’t a lot of breeders who are trying to produce dogs who can do both (show and field), so the numbers just aren’t there.
What can you tell me personally about field trials?
Field trials are awesome. We go into the desert, camp out with our rigs and tents, carry around shotguns, and shoot birds for our dogs to retrieve. And when they do that well, we win stuff. 🙂 At night, we camp out, drink beers, BBQ really good food, and hang out with great friends. In the morning, we start all over again. What’s not to love?!
Why do you field trial?
I participate in field trials for three reasons:
1. MY DOGS LOVE IT. My dogs light up when they get to field trial. They live to run, find birds, and have a good time in the wide open spaces.
2. IT’S NECESSARY. I believe that the sport is valuable to prove that Weimaraners are capable of competing in the venue. (Full disclosure: one of my mentors is a field trialer, so I came into dogs through the lens of what she does and values.)
3. I ENJOY THE PEOPLE. The breeders, owners, trainers, and handlers (and their spouses) that make up the field trial community are the kindest, most supportive, enthusiastic, and passionate folks I have the pleasure of knowing. While we come from all walks of life, none of that matters when we come together for our dogs. The camaraderie is amazing.
What kind of effort is required?
Participation in the sport is a lifestyle. It’s also expensive and time consuming. Plan on having your dog worked/trained consistently during the spring and fall (when the weather is favorable), and putting in a good 3-5 years of work and competition before you “finish” a dog, meaning the dog has earned the elusive title of a “Field Champion.” In absence of being available to train on a consistent basis, you can also send your dog out to a professional trainer and field trialer. I do a combination of both. I train the young kids on weekends and send my older ones out to a pro to keep working with them. If you plan to use a pro, budget about $800/month in expenses for training and trialing dogs. If you do it yourself, most of your expenses are in gas/travel to get to the training grounds every weekend. (In other words, fairly minimal!) If your dogs do well, you’d have to make a pilgrimage to Oklahoma every December so your dog can compete at the National Field Trial (two of my dogs appear in this set of photos)
What’s the difference between a show dog and a field dog?
Weimaraners are very, very different between bloodlines. I can’t stress enough how CRITICAL it is for a breeder to send the right puppy to the right home. (And good breeders should know how to do that.) When breeders get it wrong and aren’t around to support their puppy buyers, folks end up dogs that weren’t right for them to begin with and nobody is happy (the new owners or the dog). I know because I run a rescue
and see plenty of people who give up on their dogs. (Gah!)
The general public wants a Weimaraner that can fit easily into their home/lifestyle. Think of a pet Weimaraner as a Toyota Highlander. If bred correctly, it’s versatile, goes where you want it, does what you need it to, easy to handle, easy to maintain. For the average family, this is great. And there’s nothing wrong with it!
Show Weimaraners are like the Lexus RX. They’re from the same line of dogs (Toyota) but slightly elevated… prettier… shinier. They’re also more to upkeep: Must have coconut oil! Must be lean! Must have short nails! Must scrape teeth! Must use oatmeal shampoo! Must get beauty rest!
Then there’s FIELD TRIAL WEIMARANERS. Think performance. They’re like the Porsche’s or Lamborghini’s or Ferrari’s of Weimaraners. Lots of extreme edges (structurally speaking). They also run so effing FAST they’ll disappear in the blink of an eye. BUT – these are special dogs, and only the most dedicated should have them. These dogs were bred for serious competition, and therefore require more work to handle, maintain, and keep in tip-top condition. (Premium food, athletic conditioning, time to bond, etc.) Unless you are a field trialer or have the active lifestyle of a field trialer, stick with the Toyota Highlander. 🙂
Now… imagine blending a show dog and a field dog to produce the DUAL, beautiful working dog. For me, that’s the Aston Martin. Polished, shiny, sleek, (costly, ha!), elusive, and FAST.
Hammer, one of the Autobot Six, in May 2016.
More links to Field Trial Weimaraners:
Cheers! – Kim