The Mysterious Weimaraner

July 24, 2014

8 Months Old Gator 8 Months Old Gator

 

In researching Weimaraners, I read that these high-energy dogs are “bred to hunt all day, need an athletic owner who can meet his demanding exercise needs: running, biking, hiking, jogging, field work.” (www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/review/weimaraners.html)

Oh boy, did our Gator miss that boat! He certainly would have benefitted from younger, more active owners, but no one could have loved him more.

As it was, I rescued Gator from a backyard breeder situation that was less than ideal. He was the last of the litter and at 10 weeks, needed to leave his mama. His sire was locked in a good-sized pen with mama and baby and everytime the little puppy moved, the big male would snarl and jump at him. I was with my former daughter-in-law, supposedly looking for a second Weimie puppy for her, in the backwoods of the Arkansas hills. After getting lost and having to turn around in the drive of a doublewide with a sign over the front door with a sawed-off shotgun and the words “We don’t call 911,” we were grateful to reach the correct destination, only to find this abused puppy.

The baby left with us and my daughter-in-law told me he was a gift from her to me. (We had just lost our beloved Great Dane to cancer.) So Gator’s first days with me were spent in Arkansas. I bathed him, fed him, walked him, slept with him and we bonded.

Gator at 10 Weeks Gator at 10 Weeks

 

Weimaraners are among the more interesting dog breeds. With their silver-gray to brown coats and eerie, yellowish or light blue eyes, they present a rather imposing presence to strangers. These dogs are intelligent, but you sometimes have to work to get their attention. If Gator is outside and spies a squirrel or rabbit, we must be vigilant, because he is likely to take off in any direction to give chase. Small prey provide great interest to Weimies.

Experts say Weimaraners are not good with cats because of their strong prey drive. That has not been our experience. We brought Lucy home from a shelter at 6 weeks. Of course, we kept a close eye on her introduction to 3-year-old Gator, knowing that his breeding might be an issue. You can see from the photos that tiny Lucy was not the least bit intimidated by the big dog, and the big, bad Weimaraner was extremely gentle with the kitten.

Gator with Baby Lucy Gator with Baby Lucy

 

What we did learn early on when we brought Gator home was that, as advertised, he was definitely an alpha dog. Our 6-year-old Miniature Schnauzer was not amused by the little intruder’s attempts to exert his alpha-dog personality. Gator, however, went nose-to-nose with Jack, and the two of them battled often for the preferred spot on the sofa or to be lead dog on neighborhood walks. Jack eventually controlled the situation without it becoming too physical. Weimaraners tend to be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex.

Gator and Jack Gator and Jack

 

The breed is reputed to be rowdy, exuberant jumpers, but we never experienced any of that with our dog. Said to be suspicious of strangers, I can honestly say that Gator never met a human he didn’t love. The only dog that he heartily disliked was a very sweet Sheltie that lived next door. Sadie had a shrill bark that apparently hurt Gator’s ears, and he wanted to get to her in the worst way! One day, he pulled my husband down in the yard as he yanked the leash out of his hand. At 95 lbs, Gator is a strong animal! Fortunately, Jim reached the dog before he decided to go through the neighbor’s screened lanai.

Our Weimaraner’s one bad habit that is said to be common with the breed is separation anxiety. Some breeders blame it on lack of exercise and boredom. Gator’s separation issues were extreme. If we both left him alone for any length of time, he destroyed any object that belonged to me. Because he was extremely crate-phobic, we could not confine him that way. He ate basketball-sized holes in the garage drywall. He ate wooden door frames. He cleared any papers he could reach on my desk and ate them.

Despite all this, he is a very special dog. I recommend that anyone interested in Weimaraners make sure you are dealing with a knowledgeable breeder and ask to see proof of his lineage. Too much inbreeding can contribute to negative characteristics.  Gator was the product of backyard breeders whose only concern seemed to be making money.

Plan to provide your pet with toys that stimulate his mind. Weimies are clever animals and strong chewers, despite their gentle mouths. Look for Kong toys you can stuff with treats or peanut butter and toys that make him search for the treats hidden in them. Balls are good if he doesn’t destroy them. Some Weimaraners love stuffed animals as puppies, but Gator ate his.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Gator Loves His Disk

 

If you are a strong owner who is calm, assertive, confident and know how to gently handle a strong-willed but sensitive, high-energy dog, a Weimaraner could be an excellent choice. You must be able to provide him with plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation and someone should be around much of the day to avoid any destructive behaviors.  Our dog was easy to house-break and excelled in his obedience classes.  He knows hand signals and responds easily.

This breed is said to be prone to bloat, though we never experienced it. Never exercise your dog an hour before or after eating. When we first brought Gator home, the veterinarian told us to take out pet health insurance, because the breed is prone to ACL problems with knees. ACL surgery is fairly common with Weimaraners caused in part by their tendency to turn and take off “on a dime” when a small creature catches their eyes.

The other common health issue is tumors. As they age, unsightly masses pop up all over the animal’s body. Several were removed from Gator’s hips but because he was so large and so afraid of being crated, the veterinarian recommended we ignore any future ones. Anything suspicious is biopsied . So far, they have all been benign.  Gator may appear a bit rough these days with his many lumps, but he is a happy senior, 11-year-old dog and loving life.

Gator with Our Grandson Gator with Our Grandson

 

Weimaraners are wash-and-wear dogs, requiring only the occasional bath and brushing. They do shed but not excessively, if they are fed a healthy diet.

While breed and genetics certainly play a role in the overall make-up of the dogs, I believe that just as with children, how the animal is raised determines a great deal about his behavior and personality.

Weimaraners generally live 10-13 years. Our boy is now a senior citizen, but he’s healthy, active, loves everyone he meets and defies many of the breed’s traits.

Feed your dog a high-quality diet appropriate for his age and activity-level. Treats should offer healthy nutrients to add to his regular food. For an example of a very healthy dog treat, click here.

Make sure he is obedience-trained, gets plenty of exercise, and shower him with love. You’ll have a wonderful, confident pet.

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