Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hunting Dogs: Weimaraner

When I was growing up my cousins had a very large grey dog named Friend. Friend was a Weimaraner. Friend impressed me for several reasons.
First, he was very handsome and very friendly.
Second, he was incredibly obedient.

When he wasn't in the house Friend had a pen in the back yard with a fence that was so short I could step over it. When I asked my aunt why such a big dog would stay inside such a small fence she said, "Because he knows I expect him too."

She also explained her reasoning for his name, "I thought some people might be intimidated by such a big, grey dog. But it's much harder to be intimidated by a dog named Friend."

I've known other Weims and I've found this to be a very likeable breed. This is a very athletic breed, designed to spend a day in the field hunting anything from boars to birds. Friend's good behavior owed a great deal to extensive training and exercise that my aunt provided.

Weims have a very low rate of hip dysplasia, particularly for a large breed. They also have a high prey drive, as one should expect with a breed that has hunted so many kinds of game for generations. This is a breed that does best with active people who put the time into training.

The pay off is a lovely dog who is devoted to their family, so devoted that they don't do well with too much separation. Sensitive, attractive, athletic -- does this sound like a dog for you? Adoption is an option for this breed; they are to be found in shelters and through breed rescue.

For some really fun and lovely Weim pictures search out the work of William Wegman.


  1. Such a beautiful breed. One I'd enjoy owning some day.

    There is one down the block - this is one of the pair about whom the owner said they only walk them every couple weeks (last time I saw them walked was a year or two ago). And so every time we walk by the dogs go bonkers in the windows.

    Did you hear about the mastiff/ridgeback who killed the one year old grandson of his owner recently? Horrible.

    I guess I wonder about those breeds singly/together, about what signs the dog gave off (the father said he never growled or snapped, but he probably gave off subtler signs) - the toddler was pulling himself up on the dog after a hectic day and the grandmother leaned over them to pick up the baby. It doesn't sound like the baby was around when the dog was young.

    It supports the always supervise them rule, but in this case, they were being supervised - it happened very quickly. I guess the family shouldn't have taken the dog's tolerance for being crawled over for granted. Makes me think I should be even more careful of my dogs' body language around the neighborhood kids - I've never noticed an iota of discomfort in them, but I'll be that much more careful.


    1. Hi Kathy,

      I agree, the Weimaraner is a lovely breed that I would be willing to share a house with.

      I hadn't heard about this story, so I looked it up.
      First, let me say I feel great compassion and sympathy for this family. What a terrible tragedy.

      A six year old, large breed (120 pds. 54.5 Kilos) dog, aging and possibly sore, at least in the joints. A toddler and his grandma playing on the floor in the family living room when the toddler crawls over and starts climbing on the dog.

      Unfortunately, having an adult in the room does not equate to "supervision."

      Personally, I never allow a toddler immediate, unrestrained access to a dog. Aside from being very unstable on their feet, toddlers are not "people" to a dog the way an adult human is. Toddlers are small animals in a dog's world view and they are lower in the pecking order.

      The jerky movements of a toddler can also kick in a dog's prey drive.
      And I have seen too often that a dog has always been patient, aging and becoming painful, then biting a child that suddenly fell or climbed on them. The dogs in question felt sorry afterward, but they reacted in the moment and feeling bad afterward doesn't stop the physical or emotional scars.

      Supervision includes keeping a hand on the toddlers arm or back, or on the dog's collar when the two are interacting, or keeping space between them when one of them isn't in an alert adult's immediate hold. This modifies the behavior of both child and animal, and allows immediate intervention if one starts to misbehave towards the other.

      And I simply wouldn't leave a young dog, a sick dog, or an aging dog in the room with a toddler - or any young child - without direct supervision.
      Ditto for dogs not familiar with children - simply don't leave them without an alert adult ready to intervene, who is keeping a bit of distance between them, or within arm's reach. Bad things can happen too quickly.

      When a child is old enough to modify their own behavior, and the dog is healthy and well trained - then I feel more comfortable with them being in a room without adult supervision. But not for long periods of time unless they're both asleep.

      My dogs are youngish, healthy, and great with children. And I do not leave them alone together. Why would I put beings I love so much in any danger by letting their impulsive behavior lead to an accident that could end in a bite or worse?

      When I have very young, and older dogs, I stand next to the child and dog while they directly interact. When I can't do that, the dog goes out or into another room. Yep. No exceptions.

      In my opinion, there is a difference between trusting a dog and putting them in jeopardy. The more we do to remove the contexts that can lead to tragedies, the more we do to ensure our dog's well being. Kids and dogs can be together - but it requires thought and supervision for that to happen safely.

  2. Hi: Well said! As heart sickening as this event is for the friends and family, if it contributes to more of a discussion of child-dog safety, that could save pain and heartache for someone else.

    I think you touched on what made this case so striking - we've all heard of the injuries and deaths from dogs who were not supervised - the Presa Canarias in California who attacked the woman in the hall, the small children and multiple (known) aggressive dogs, but this was a situation with an adult right there.

    Reading about it and hearing your thoughts helped me to be more aware of what safety means when you have dogs and small children. All my dogs are exposed to children of all ages regularly - all have been around them all their lives, including before I got them. None are around kids unleashed or without me right there, but now I have more sense of how to be even more cautious with any of them, but particularly Ruby who is in pain. I'll think differently about how I position myself and how I watch the dog's body language and expressions.

    Thanks, Kathy

    1. My nieces and nephews have been raised with dogs always around and have been taught how to behave; I've still seen them do the "wrong" thing because they're young and learning. Kids and dogs just don't tend to spend a lot of time stopping to consider the consequences of all their actions. They live in the moment.

      Adults always need to do the thinking for the dogs and children in the room.

  3. Those are some GREAT Weimie pics!
    We have always been very fortunate, in that every dog we have had, except for Randyman's BCX have loved kids. The Maremma's of course, would like one for a pet! :)

    1. Lol, I think the Maremmas would become hoarders if they were allowed to keep every kind of pet they liked :-)