The original Weimar Pointers appeared in the 19th century. They were prized for their versatile hunting skills and remarkable character. In the early part of the century, the Nobles of Weimar were avid sportsmen and hunted a variety of big game. They required of the Weimaraner an exceptional tracking ability, speed, courage and durability. Their breeding programs developed these specific traits and qualities. More likely by accident, they produced the distinctive gray coat color that is the hallmark of the breed.
During the first century, the Nobles rigidly controlled the availability of the dogs. To insure the future of the breed, the German Weimaraner Club was formed. Membership was restricted and members only were permitted to own and breed the dogs. Few outsiders really knew much about the breed. Legends developed about the great gray hunting dog. Type and temperament was refined and eventually, during the latter half of the 19th century, the Weimaraner was converted from a bear and dear hunter to a ‘fur and feathers’ dog. However, much of the original hunting instincts remain today and must be taken into consideration when deciding to buy a Weimaraner.
In 1928 a New England sportsman, Howard Knight, applied for membership in the German Club. Despite his promises to protect the purity of the breed, the club sent Knight two sterilized dogs. He was determined to acquire foundation stock. Finally, in 1938, three bitches and a puppy dog were sent to him: litter sisters, Adda and Dorle v. Schwarzen Kamp; year old bitch, Aura v. Gaiberg; puppy dog, Mars aus der Wulfsreide. Others joined Howard Knight’s efforts and in 1942, the Weimaraner Club of America was formed, a standard was created for the breed. American Kennel Club recognition was applied for and dogs began exhibition in obedience. At the end of 1942, AKC recognition was granted and the breed had it’s coming out at Westminster in 1943.
An era of imports began in the forties. It may have been difficult to keep dogs in wartime Europe, so many quality dogs were sent to the states. The most outstanding of these was Aura v. Gaiberg (bitch) , the first companion dog titlist. Her son, Ch. Grafmar’s Jupiter, UTD was the first to complete all the obedience degrees. Thirty -six Grafmar dogs earned obedience titles in the next ten years. Weimaraners began attending field trials in 1948.
The last half of the fifties brought fame, fortune and problems to the breed. In some ways they were the glory years of the first big bench winners, multiple Best in Show and big running flashy field dogs. It seemed for a while, though, that all the hard work and careful planning of the early years had gone for naught. A Weimaraner was a status symbol and the more it cost to obtain the more status it afforded. While the boom was going on, many of the animals produced were ill bred, ill tempered and ugly. The once rare Gray Ghost ended up “free to good home”. The breed quality survived among the concerned and dedicated people who maintained breed standards of excellence. By the mid-sixties, the breed began emerging from this devastating growth period and breeders began working on correcting past abuses. Recovery, however, would not have been possible without the original strong gene pool.
Today, the Weimaraner is enjoying a renewed popularity. It ranks thirty-ninth in popularity in the United States. There has been a surge of the number of animals in rescue shelters and foster care. A short number of years ago, there were only a handful of dogs in need of homes, currently there are more than thirty listed. The responsible breeders are carrying the burden of the taking care of the animals unwanted by careless breeders and buyers. While the over-popularity is not as extreme as the 1950’s, both breeders and buyers need to educate themselves about the Weimaraner temperament and needs before selling or buying a friend for the dog’s life.
The Weimaraner Club of America has a growing membership of interested persons. The club encourages responsible breeding and dog ownership. Also, it serves as a collection point of information about some of the breed’s health and rescue issues. The club maintains a liaison to Germany and has members in Australia, Austria, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada and other places throughout the world. The Weimaraner Magazine is published monthly with a Blue Ribbon Issue published in June. A members directory is also published allowing members to keep in touch.