CANADIAN/AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB BREED STANDARD
A medium-sized grey 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.
HEIGHT: Height at withers - dogs, 25-27 inches; bitches, 23-25 inches. One inch over or under the specified height
of each sex is allowable but should be penalized. Dogs measuring less than 24 inches or more than 28 inches and
bitches measuring less than 22 inches or more than 26 inches shall be disqualified.
Moderately long and aristocratic, with moderate stop and slight median line extending back over the forehead.
Rather prominent occipital bone and trumpets set well back, beginning at the back of the eye sockets. Measurement
from tip of nose to stop to equal that from stop to occipital bone. The flews should be straight, delicate at the
nostrils. Skin tightly drawn. Neck clean-cut and moderately long. Expression kind, keen and intelligent. Ears long and
lobular, slightly folded and set high. The ear when drawn snugly alongside the jaw should end approximately 2
inches from the point of the nose. Eyes in shades of light amber, grey, or blue-grey, set well enough apart to
indicate good disposition and intelligence. When dilated under excitement the eyes may appear almost black. Teeth
well-set, strong and even; well developed and proportionate to jaw with correct scissors bite, the upper teeth
protruding slightly over the lower teeth but not more than 1/16 inch. Complete dentition is greatly to be desired.
Nose grey. Lips and gums pinkish flesh shades.
The back should be moderate in length, set in straight line, strong, and should slope slightly from the withers. The
chest should be well developed and deep with shoulders well laid back. Ribs well sprung and long. Abdomen firmly
held; moderately tucked up flank. The brisket should extend to the elbow.
COAT AND COLOUR:
Short, smooth, and sleek, solid color, in shades of mouse-grey to silver-grey, usually blending to a lighter shade on
the head and ears. A small white marking on the chest is permitted, but should be penalized on any other part of the
body. White spots that have resulted from injuries shall not be penalized. A distinctly long coat is a disqualification. A
distinctly blue or black coat is a disqualification.
Straight and strong, with the measurement from the elbow to the ground approximately equaling the distance from
the elbow to the top of the withers.
Well-angulated stifles and straight hocks. Musculation well developed.
Firm and compact, webbed, toes well arched, pads closed and thick, nails short and grey or amber in colour.
Dewclaws should be removed.
TAIL: Docked. At maturity it should measure approximately 6 inches (25cm) with a tendency to be light rather than
heavy and should be carried in a manner expressing confidence and sound temperament. A non-docked tail should
The gait should be effortless, ground-covering and should indicate smooth coordination. When seen from the rear,
the hind feet should parallel the front feet. When viewed from the side, the topline should remain strong and level.
The temperament should be friendly, fearless, alert and obedient.
Tail too short or too long. Pink nose.
Doggy bitches. Bitchy dogs. Improper muscular condition. Badly affected teeth. More than four missing teeth. Back
too long or too short. Faulty coat. Neck too short, thick, or throaty. Low tail set. Elbows in or out; feet east and west.
Poor gait. Poor feet. Cowhocks. Faulty back, either roach or sway. Badly overshot or undershot jaw. Snipy muzzle.
VERY SERIOUS FAULTS:
White, other than a spot on the chest. Eyes any other colour than grey, blue-grey or light amber. Black, mottled
mouth. Non-docked tail. Dogs exhibiting strong fear, shyness or extreme nervousness.
Deviation in height of more than one inch from the standard either way. A distinctly long coat. A distinctly blue or
WHAT IS TEMPERAMENT?
Temperament is the inherited predisposition for a dog to react socially and to the environment in a given manner. It
is determined by a combination of inherited behavioral traits and early life experiences. Temperament is firmly
established by the age of 3 months and remains relatively constant throughout the life of the dog. Some indicators
of a pup's final temperament can be tested for at 7 weeks of age by a puppy aptitude test (PAT) along with
observation other personality and working ability tests.
The predispositions that a pup inherits will determine what its aptitudes will be - which types of work and activities it
is likely to succeed at and to enjoy doing, and how sociable and trainable it is likely to be. Of course, appropriate
socialization, exposure and training will be required to bring these natural abilities to fruition.
In order for a dog to be able to cohabit and thrive in the company of people and dogs, all dogs must have a
'sound', also referred to as 'stable', temperament, meaning a nature that allows the dog to behave safely and
predictably in the company of people and other dogs. In addition, in order for a Weimaraner to be useful and
trainable for its working purpose, it must also have a 'correct' temperament, that is displaying all of the breed-
specific temperament traits.
The Weimaraner was developed to be a multi-purpose gun dog for hunting small furred game and upland birds,
pointing upland birds, retrieving upland birds, waterfowl and small furred game, trailing live running or wounded
birds or game and protecting the owner. Producing dogs that are capable of handling this varied workload required
selective breeding to produce dogs with strong hunting, pointing, retrieving, trailing and protective instincts. A tall
order to fill!
OPTIMAL WEIMARANER TEMPERAMENT
Some of the inherited traits that make up canine temperament are common to all breeds:
1. Excitablitity vs Inhibitability
This refers to the inherited tendency to make a dog more or less responsive to environmental stimuli such as novel
sounds, sights, smells, and touch. A dog that reacts actively, with gusto and limited self-control, to touch or novel
sights, smells, and sounds is very excitable. A dog that ignores such stimuli is inhibited and a dog that responds
with fear and withdrawal from such stimuli is very inhibited. This type of dog may be referred to as 'touch-sensitive',
'sight-sensitive' or 'sound-sensitive'. A balance midway between the two extremes produces a poised, calm,
assured dog and that’s what a Weimaraner should be; alert and confident in its environment without being shy or
2. Active Defense Reflexes vs Passive Defense Reflexes
This refers to the inherited tendency to make a dog react when personally threatened by fighting back, freezing, or
fleeing. A dog that readily fights back when threatened by biting has very active defense reflexes. A dog that flees
or freezes and will only bite when cornered or in other instances of extreme duress has very passive defense
reflexes. In the inherited tendency to display more active or more passive defense reflexes a Weimaraner should
have relatively passive defense reflexes - it should handle game with a soft mouth and should require strong
provocation in order to overcome its inhibition to bite.
3. Dominance vs Submissiveness
This refers to the inherited tendency of a dog to attempt to have authority over members of its 'pack' or to willingly
submit to the leadership of others. A dog that displays a lot of mounting, mouthing, marking, and posturing
behaviours to people or other dogs is strongly dominant. A dog that willingly cedes authority to other dogs and
people by nudging, pawing, rolling over or other pacifying behaviours is strongly submissive. In the inherited
tendency to be more dominant or more submissive, a Weimaraner should be midway between; it should not
constantly challenge the authority of people or dogs senior in age to it.
4. Independence vs Social Attraction
This refers to the tendency of a dog to keep a greater social distance from people or dogs, or to desire a closer
contact and more frequent interaction with them. This is often also referred to as 'pack drive' and in the extremes is
seen as a “Velcro dog” or even outright separation anxiety. In the inherited tendency to be more independent or
more sociable, a Weimaraner should be midway in between the two, it should not be so sociable that it is unable to
work away from people or other dogs yet it should desire it's masters approval and guidance.
A Weimaraner with the correct temperament for its breed is useful for the purposes for which this breed was
developed and will show strong evidence of all of the following unique characteristics common to the versatile
Hunting instinct - the inborn tendency for a dog to range out away from their owner to explore their environment. In
any new or natural environment a Weimaraner's curiosity and nose should lead them into the unknown without
requiring birds or other game, toys, or another dog to draw it out.
Pointing instinct - the inborn tendency for a dog to 'freeze' on the scent and/or sight of game. Expression of this
trait does not necessarily require exposure to birds or other game - puppies will often point plastic bags fluttering
by, songbirds, or cats.
Retrieving instinct - the inborn tendency for a dog to pick up and bring tossed or found objects and game back to
their owner, including objects or game thrown into water.
Trailing instinct - the inborn tendency to follow a human or animal track with nose to the ground. In Weimaraners,
trailing of furred game is often accompanied by 'giving voice' when on the trail.
Protective instinct - the inborn tendency to protect their owner, his or her family and their possessions. This trait is
generally not apparent until later puppyhood, and Weimaraners, while never aggressive without cause, should
show good judgment to bark or bite in those situations which warrant protection.
BREEDING TO THE STANDARD FOR WEIMARANER TEMPERAMENT
Just as a Weimaraner ideally has the 'look' which conforms to the breed conformation standard, so too should it
'act' with a sound and correct temperament which will allow it to be adaptable and trainable and to excel in the
purposes for which the breed has been developed. The temperament qualities referred to in the breed standard
required for a conformation and field championship are: bold, confident, fearless, independent, alert, keen,
intelligent, obedient, friendly, kind, and protective. Viciousness, strong fear, shyness, and nervousness are listed
as severe faults.
Until the last few decades, temperament was likely the primary deciding factor in determining which dogs would be
bred. For example, Weimaraners that had keen noses, ran fast, hunted hard, took direction well, pointed
staunchly, got along well with people and other dogs were the ones which were most useful in putting food on the
table and therefore were bred. Unfortunately, in recent times, many breeders have placed more emphasis on the
physical appearance of their dogs and less emphasis on temperament and working ability in selecting breeding
Most breeders do not fully assess temperament in their breeding stock, and some do not assess it at all. The
result? A deterioration in temperament, with far too many cases of 'lawn-ornament' Weimaraners, who may have
the chest depth, front and rear angulation, topline, foot structure and size that, as it says in the breed standard,
'above all...indicate the ability to work hard in the field', but which do not hunt, point, trail, or retrieve, or are too
hyper, too skittish, too dominant, or too submissive to be trainable, or that lack the boldness and independence
essential for usefulness in the field.
A Weimaraner that lacks either a sound temperament or a correct temperament for the breed is no different than a
dog which fails to meet the breed standard by having severe cowhocks, a roached back, or being grossly
oversized, or missing many teeth. A Weimaraner with both a sound temperament and a correct temperament for
the breed is a pleasure to live with, easy to train, and readily is made into a useful hunting partner.
If the goal of a breeder is, as it should be, "improvement of the breed", temperament characteristics should be
given equal weight with both conformation characteristics and health characteristics, in planning a breeding.
Fortunately, many serious illnesses are uncommon in Weimaraners, including most cancers, heart disease,
diabetes, diseases causing blindness, and hip dysplasia. However, as a breed, Weimaraners are prone to a few
health issues including bloat, low thyroid, mast cell tumors, poor bites, eyelid and eyelash disorders, and
especially, auto-immune reactions that are often linked to vaccination.
Bloat is a medical emergency in which the dog's stomach distends with air and gas. This condition requires
immediate veterinary care where a tube can be inserted into the dog's stomach to relieve the pressure. This
distention alone can be enough to cause shock and death, however, in some cases the distended stomach twists
on its longitudinal axis, blocking off circulation to vital organs. The result is gastric torsion - a life-threatening
condition that requires emergency surgery.
The official name for bloat is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, where gastric refers to the stomach, dilatation refers to
the distention and volvulus refers to the torsion. Bloat is a possibility in all breeds but is far more common in
deep-chested breeds such as Weimaraners.
Bloat presents as an obvious, visible, swelling on the left side of its abdomen. The swelling is very firm to touch and
the dog is stressed and in obvious pain. The dog may lie in the 'praying' position with both forelegs stretched fully
forward or may vocalize and thrash and throw itself about to relieve the discomfort.
Bloat requires immediate, rapid, transport to a veterinarian where clinical diagnosis can be confirmed with X-Rays.
Any delay in obtaining treatment increases the severity of shock and reduces the likelihood of survival.
There are many theories as to what causes bloat and how to prevent it, with no definitive research to date. Some
of the factors thought to increase the likelihood of bloat are inherited tendencies, drinking large quantities of water
after exercise, a diet of dry kibble, and vigorous exercise after eating.
Weimaraners as a breed are prone to Auto-Immune Diseases of various types, conditions in which the dog's
immune system mistakenly considers its own tissues to be foreign and turns on itself. The presentation can include
some or all of the following: fever, hives, swollen lymph nodes, hot ears, hot feet, reduced appetite, food allergies,
skin allergies, red skin, and frequent vomiting of bile. It may also cause a condition in puppies called HOD, or
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy that is characterized by painful, swollen joints, lameness, fever and lethargy, often
occurring within days or weeks of vaccination or a condition called MMM, or Masticatory Muscle Myositis, that is
characterized by stiffness and pain on opening of the jaw.
Auto-Immune Disease is thought to be most commonly triggered in Weimaraners by stressful events and/or
vaccination reactions. The Weimaraner Club of America has made a recommendation for a vaccine protocol that
minimizes vaccinations and avoids giving vaccinations during the 12-16 week of age period.
Treatment of auto-immune disease requires ongoing care by a veterinarian who is well versed in these conditions
in Weimaraners. Meedical treatment with steroidal or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics may be
EYELID AND EYELASH DISORDERS
There are numerous eyelid and eyelash disorders that are common in the Weimaraner breed.
Both entropion, inward rolling of the eyelids, and ectropion, outward rolling of the eyelids, are fairly common
abnormalities. Although entropion and ectropion are hereditary disorders in many breeds, their mode of
inheritance is complex. No one gene controls the development of eyelid conformation. Instead, it is a combination
of genes that control eyelid size and shape, depth of the orbit (eye socket), size and shape of the eyes, head
conformation and amount of facial skin. All of these genes work in concert to determine the relationship of the
eyelids to the eye.
Ectropion, unless very pronounced, does not lead to severe diseases of the eye itself. However, the droopy eyelid
may collect debris such as dust, pollen and plant material from the environment. This may cause ocular irritation
that leads to discharge and a red eye. This is particularly pronounced in hunting dogs or dogs that are outdoors
much of the time.Because of increased exposure of the eye, dogs with ectropion are prone to develop allergic or
bacterial conjunctivitis - inflammation of the thin membrane that covers the periphery of the surface of the eye and
lines the eyelids. Affected dogs may develop 'dry eye' due to lost ability to wet and clean the cornea. In addition to
the sagging of the eyelids, dogs with ectropion commonly have a discharge in the eye, reddening of the exposed
conjunctiva, and decreased tear production.
Entropion is frequently is a cause of ocular pain and corneal damage, particularly if the eyelid is rolled inward
sufficiently so that the hairs of the eyelid rub on the eye. Entropion most commonly affects the lower eyelid the
lower lid. The problem is usually evident before a year of age. Discomfort from entropion will cause increased
tearing and squinting. The dog may be sensitive to light and may rub at its eyes. Chronic irritation by the turned-in
eyelid may cause corneal ulceration and scarring which is painful and, if not corrected, can impair vision. The
inrolling of the eyelid(s) is readily apparent on visual inspection. Generally both eyes are affected. The veterinarian
will use of topical ophthalmic anaesthetic to anaesthetize the cornea and conjunctiva in order to fully evaluate the
problem prior to surgical correction. If possible it is best to do a temporary tack with a few sutures to provide
comfort and prevent corneal scarring but to delay corrective surgery until the dog is an adult since the involved
facial structures are still growing and changing.
The Weimaraner breed is prone to several types of eyelash abnormalities - distichiasis, trichiasis, and ectopic cilia.
With any of these disorders, the clinical signs relate to irritation of the cornea (the surface of the eye) by extra or
abnormally placed eyelashes. The degree of discomfort varies greatly, depending on the number of abnormal cilia,
and whether the eyelashes are very fine or coarse. The mode of inheritance has not been established. Often the
extra eyelashes are very soft and fine, and cause no problems. However if there is reduced tear production or if
the hairs are coarse and stiff, you will likely see signs of irritation such as reddening of the conjunctiva (the inside
of the lid), excessive tearing, and squinting. Your dog may paw or rub the eyes. Corneal ulceration may occur, and
this will increase the dog's discomfort. Ectopic cilia are particularly irritating and likely to cause corneal ulcers. Very
bright light and magnification are required to see the extra eyelashes. Cryosurgery is the most effective treatment
for severeeyelash disorders.
MAST CELL TUMORS
Mast cell tumors are a skin tumor that is histamine sensitive. In this condition, variable sized lumps arise in the skin
and their size can go up and down depending on the levels of circulating histamine in the body. Diagnosis is made
by biopsy with excision sometimes recommended. While in some breeds this condition is rapidly lethal, in
Weimaraners it is a far less serious affliction and rarely affects the life span or life quality of the dog. The genetics
Weimaraners are thought to have originated from the tracking (on lead) and trailing (off lead) 'grey hounds of
King Louis' of France used to hunt big game over 500 years ago. Although they were called grey only some of
the dogs were totally grey with the remainder having white markings or reddish-tan markings in the pattern seen
in Dobermans. This Dobe-marked pattern continues to show up rarely today and the dog looks exactly as you
would imagine a Weimaraner-Doberman cross would appear. These dogs are sometimes also referred to as
having 'the mark of the hound'.
The contribution of hound origins in the breed are still evident in the long, thin, folded ears, the flat cheeks and
the moderately long head which characterize Weimaraners, in their excellent tracking ability and in their
enthusiastic pursuit of furred game. Many Weimaraners prefer fur to feathers and many give voice when on the
chase of rabbits or deer - another hound trait. Left undocked, a large proportion of Weimaraners' tails would be
carried high and slightly curved over the back in hound fashion.
With the advent of guns in the 18th century, these 'grey hounds of King Louis' were crossed with vrious bird dogs
of the time to produce a lighter-framed, faster, versatile pointing dog. Subsequent crosses with the Spanish
Pointer are thought to have caused the Weimaraner's light yellow or light blue eye colouration and the
occasionally seen patches of white on the throat, chest and feet as well as the occasionally seen shorter, thicker,
pointer-type ears. Crosses with setters of the time are thought to have introduced the recessive longhaired gene
to the breed. Longhaired Weimaraners continue to occur occasionally from breedings of shorthaired parents. The
coat of these dogs resembles that of a field setter, with the coat on the body 2-2.5" in length and longer
feathering on the ears, legs, abdomen and tail. The tail is docked only a few inches or left undocked.
The mixture of pointer, setter and hound influences resulted in a dog capable of tracking, trailing, pointing,
retrieving, and capable of working both small and large game and both upland and wetland birds. One hallmark of
the breed that was evident in the earliest times and continues to the present is its strong attachment to its master.
While this created a protective, trainable, closer ranging hunting dog known for thoroughness, intensity and ease
of handling in the field, it also created a breed unsuited for kennel life.
Beginning around 1850 the Weimaraner was developed in the Weimar region of Germany to stringent and more
stringently controlled standards for performance, health, temperament, and conformation.
Weimaraners were introduced to North America largely by returning WWII servicemen. These dogs became
renowned as "wonder dogs" that were "virtually born trained to perform amazing feats tracking, in the field, and in
the obedience ring". Some of the claims were true - puppies were known to show a finished field performance
from their first contact with birds and in 1943, the first American Kennel Club Weimaraner show champion also
earned an American Kennel Club obedience title at 6 months, 2 days old - the youngest dog ever of any breed to
Everyone wanted a "grey ghost" and registrations went from 300 in 1947 to over 10,000 in 1957. However, the
price of popularity was high as it led to generations of nonselective breeding, or breeding with only success in the
show ring in mind. The result was marked erosion in the breed's natural instincts and working ability over the next
several decades. As the breed faded in favour, serious breeders began to have a stronger influence.
Unfortunately, some breeders focused exclusively on show performance and others solely on field performance
resulting in a drift toward division into 'show-bred' and 'field-bred' Weimaraners. In recent years, an increasing
number of Weimaraner breeders are mixing show, field and German lines - a positive trend benefitting the breed
in all respects.
There are three coat variations present in the breed, a 'blue' coat, a 'Dobe-marked' coat, and a 'longhaired' coat.
The American breed standard for Weimaraners describe coat and colour as short, smooth and sleek coat in
shade of mouse-grey to silver-grey, usually blending to a lighter shade on the head and ears with a small white
mark allowable on the chest, but not on any other part of the body and any long-haired coat or coat darker than
mouse-grey to silver-grey considered a very serious fault. The German and Canadian breed standards have a
similar description of coat and colour with two exceptions - long-haired coats are permitted and Dobe-marked
coats, although not a disqualification as in North America, are considered a severe fault.
The so-called 'blue' Weimaraners, are shorthaired dogs with a very dark blue-black, almost charcoal coloured
coat. The first known blue-coated dog was born in Germany and sold to the United States. Controversy and
speculation surround the mating which produced this dog, with some of the opinion that the blue coat resulted
from a cross mating with a Doberman and others of the opinion that it was a result of a naturally occurring genetic
mutation. Blue-coated Weimaraners have not been produced outside North America since that original
blue-coated import, but have continued in small numbers on this continent as the blue colour variation is
dominant to grey. While blue-coated dogs can be registered in North America, it is considered a disqualification or
very severe fault in breed standards worldwide.
Dobe-marking and longhaired coats both occur as a result of recessive genes, and both have been considered
undesirable in the breed in the US. Decades of selective breeding to eliminate both variations on this continent
have not been successful, Dobe-marked and longhaired pups continue to periodically crop up and surprise the
breeder because the genes responsible are carried by dogs that do not exhibit the marked or longhaired
patterns. Recently a genetic marker test for longhair carrier status has been developed and this will greatly assist
breeders wishing to either produce or avoid longhaired pups.
As the Dobe-markings currently remain a severe fault according to breed standards worldwide, it is not
considered acceptable to breed Dobe-marked dogs. The breeding of longhaired Weimaraners is more
controversial. Due to the discrepancy between their full acceptance in the breeds country of origin (Germany),
and recently Canada, and their disqualification in the US, some are adamant that longhairs should not be bred
while others actively endeavour to produce them. One argument in support of the acceptance of longhaired
Weimaraners is that this recessive trait contributes positively to the density of coat in shorthaired carriers. The
primary argument against acceptance of the longhairs is the worry that these dogs will be bred with only coat in
mind, with a resulting deterioration in temperament and usefulness.