The current AKC Weimaraner Breed Standard does not do enough to preserve the Weimaraner as a hunting dog.
Let’s compare the GSP and the Weimaraner. Further, let’s all agree for now that the GSP is generally perceived as a more consistent hunting dog breed than the Weimaraner.
Now let’s compare the first sentence of the GSP breed standard to that of the Weimaraner:
One doesn’t need to read all the words to understand that the GSP standard provides more clarity. But, let’s read it anyway, and while we’re at it, we’ll highlight in green the statements that contribute to the preservation of the hunting dog:
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile hunter, an all-purpose gun dog capable of high performance in field and water. The judgment of Shorthairs in the show ring reflects this basic characteristic. The overall picture which is created in the observer’s eye is that of an aristocratic, well balanced, symmetrical animal with conformation indicating power, endurance and agility and a look of intelligence and animation. The dog is neither unduly small nor conspicuously large. It gives the impression of medium size, but is like the proper hunter, “with a short back, but standing over plenty of ground.” Symmetry and field quality are most essential. A dog in hard and lean field condition is not to be penalized; however, overly fat or poorly muscled dogs are to be penalized. A dog well balanced in all points is preferable to one with outstanding good qualities and defects. Grace of outline, clean-cut head, sloping shoulders, deep chest, powerful back, strong quarters, good bone composition, adequate muscle, well carried tail and taut coat produce a look of nobility and indicate a heritage of purposefully conducted breeding. Further evidence of this heritage is movement which is balanced, alertly coordinated and without wasted motion.
Now let’s conduct the same exercise for the Weimaraner:
The 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.
Sadly, the words “hunt” or “hunter” aren’t mentioned in the entire Weimaraner breed standard, let alone the first paragraph.
Now, let’s talk about verbs! (And here you thought grammar school was a thing of the past.) Verbs are like meters on a scale… their effectiveness can range from “ineffective” to “very effective.”
Now let’s go back and highlight some key verbs in red in both the GSP standard and the Weimaraner standard:
The German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile hunter, an all-purpose gun dog capable of high performance in field and water.
The Weimaraner should present a picture of grace, speed, stamina, alertness, and balance… The dog’s conformation must indicate the ability to work with greet speed and endurance in the field.
In summary, the GSP is a versatile hunter and all-purpose gun dog, whereas the Weimaraner should look like one.
The words “hunt” or “hunter” don’t even appear in the current Weimaraner breed standard. (It did in the 1944 breed standard, by the way.) Oh, and not to stab ourselves further, but the word “should” appears in the Weimaraner breed standard 18 times. It appears in the GSP breed standard… twice.
All this to say we’re basically a breed of gray dogs that should look like it can hunt, but there’s no standard that says we are, or we must.
No wonder we’re a mess.
So what do we do now?
Those that argue against revising the breed standard say that individuals should hold themselves to a higher standard than that of the baseline/guideline of the breed standard. In other words, people should self-police their own breeding programs instead of relying on what the breed standard tells them they should be doing.
Okay, that’s great and all, but how many of us are doing just that? If we take a look at the number of Futurity-nominated litters over the last 10 years, how many of those dogs grew up to contribute to the next generation of capable hunting dogs?
The above is one of my favorite quotes. It’s really an aphorism about the economy, but it’s relatable here in that if we lift the breed standard to a higher and better degree of quality, everyone’s individual standards must also be elevated.
Until such time that enough of us vote to change the status quo, not much will change.
In the meantime, Barrett Weimaraners will be holding ourselves to a higher standard. It’s all we can do.
P.S. For extra credit, compare the first paragraph of the Pointer standard to that of the Weimaraner. Here’s the Pointer:
The Pointer is bred primarily for sport afield; he should unmistakably look and act the part. The ideal specimen gives the immediate impression of compact power and agile grace; the head noble, proudly carried; the expression intelligent and alert; the muscular body bespeaking both staying power and dash. Here is an animal whose every movement shows him to be a wide-awake, hard-driving hunting dog possessing stamina, courage, and the desire to go. And in his expression are the loyalty and devotion of a true friend of man.
No wonder the breed is such a powerhouse.