Are Weimaraners Good Apartment Dogs?
I was talking about our new Weimaraner, Booker, at a party the other night and it happened again.
A friend — and owner of a Havanese — said “I really want to meet your puppy, but I can’t believe you live in an apartment with him.”
I asked why. He answered with a question “Don’t they need space? They’re so big!”
I sighed and said “No apartment or house is going to be big enough for a Weim to exercise in. They treat their indoor spaces as their home. You have to take them outside.” People always assume large dogs need a big space to live in, but that’s not really the case.
So, if you’re thinking of choosing a Weimaraner to be your Urban Dog, read on and learn about Weims, exercise, temperament, health, and more from real life city-dwelling Weim owners.
The Gray Ghost
I met my first Weimaraner about 15 years ago and there’s been no looking back since. Whenever we’ve been in the position to get a new dog, we’ve always considered other breeds, usually Vizslas, but we keep going back to the Weimaraner well.
According to the American Kennel Club they are the 40th most popular breed in the United States. They are not super common in New York City. The NYC Department of Licensing says there are currently 559 Weims registered with the city.
Weimaraners are beautiful, muscular, intelligent dogs. Males stand about 24 to 26 inches at the shoulders and weigh about 66 to 88 pounds; females are 23 to 25 inches tall and weigh 55 to 77 pounds. They come in a number of shades of light gray. There are also Blue Weimaraners that come in a a very dark shade of gray (those dogs are not allowed to compete in dog shows.) They live from about 11 to 14 years old generally. One of ours lived to be 16, the second died at nine.
Two of the breed’s nicknames are “The Gray Ghost” and “The Dog with the Human Brain.”
They are also known as “Velcro Dogs.” They want to be with you at all times and stick to you like glue.
Weimaraners originated in Germany as big-game hunters, tracking bear, boar, and deer. As time went on and those big animals decreased in number, Weims were used for smaller game, such as birds. It’s believed they were first bred by the Grand Duke of Weimar (their original name was the Weimar Pointer) in the 19th century, but there’s some art that suggests similar looking dogs existed as far back as the 13th century. German nobles controlled the supply of Weimaraners very strictly. It wasn’t until the first part of the 20th century that the breed was available in the United States. They were recognized by the AKC in 1942. For more about their history visit the Weimaraner Club of America website.
Some famous Weim owners include President Eisenhower and the movie star Grace Kelly.
Photographer William Wegman has built a large part of his career around photographing Weimaraners. Lots of people remember his videos for Sesame Street.
Do Weimaraners Make Good City Dogs?
People with small dogs or folks who don’t own dogs frequently question the decision to have a large, or even a medium-sized, dog in an apartment. What they don’t understand is that dogs, large or small, do not get their exercise inside the home. All dogs need some type of outdoor exercise and stimulation, some more than others, but it’s not dependent on size. There are plenty of small breeds that need tons of exercise. (Here’s looking at you, Jack Russell Terrier!)
Having a house or a yard is not the answer. Especially with a Weimaraner. You need to engage and interact with your Weim. I want to quote Booker’s breeder Anne Taguchi; she is the founder of the Just Weimaraners website and an expert on all things Weim:
“If you think that you can put a Weim in a yard and he will run around exercising himself, think again. Your yard cannot exercise your Weimaraner for you… [your bored Weim] is going to dig holes, terrorize and bark at whatever passes him by, jump the fence, and generally be a nuisance. Repeat after me: Weims are time intensive, not space intensive.”
Your Weimaraner will view your apartment as his den. It’s your job to make sure that these intelligent and energetic dogs are fully engaged. That means frequent walks, trips to dog parks to run and play, obedience classes, etc., etc., etc. Keep your Weim busy!
My advice to any apartment dweller considering a Weim: if you can spend A LOT of time with your Weimaraner, then they can be perfectly good apartment dogs.
Do Weimaraners Bark a Lot?
University of California / Davis researchers Benjamin and Lynette Hart devised a system of ranking breeds along a line of thirteen different attributes. A score of one means that the dog in question was unlikely to exhibit a particular trait, a ten means that the dog had a high probability of demonstrating that quality.
In terms of barking at inappropriate times, Weimaraners get a seven rating. That means they have a better than average tendency to bark when you don’t want them to, but that they are not really known as serious nuisance barkers. The Harts also give them an middling score when it comes to watchdog barking.
Of our three Weims, both Kendall and Bodhi were largely oblivious to strangers and noises outside the apartment and never barked. The jury is still out on six-month-old Booker, though when someone knocks on the door, he barks.
Are Weimaraners Easily Trained?
It’s very important for your Urban Dog to be well-behaved. City dogs come in contact with people, other dogs, moving objects, garbage — you-name-it — all the time. You want your dog to “sit” in the elevator and to “drop” that nasty sidewalk chicken bone.
Weimaraners score in the top quarter of brightest dogs when it comes to understanding new commands. They obey first commands about 85% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes fewer than five repetitions for them to learn new commands.
The Harts disagree somewhat, saying Weims fall in the mid-range of trainability among breeds.
The Harts also say Weims are a bit difficult to house train, scoring a three out of ten.
Our experience? They are super smart and super easy to train. You just need to be consistent.
How are Weimaraners with Strangers, Children, and other Animals?
The consensus among Weim owners I know is that they are pretty good around kids. Dog Time gives them a four out of five stars. Vet Street gives them five out of five stars.
Dog Time gives them three out of four stars for friendliness toward other dogs. Vet Street gives them five out of five stars.
In both categories, the Harts are a bit less forgiving, awarding a score of seven out of ten for “snapping at children” and “aggression toward other dogs.”
Our three Weims have been good around kids and pretty neutral toward other dogs.
You do have to be careful with Weims around small animals. They can have a seriously strong prey drive and might give chase.
Do Weimaraners Require a lot of Exercise?
If I haven’t been clear, these are very active, smart dogs. Weims require a lot of exercise and stimulation.
Booker gets three to four walks a day. On at least two of them, we walk two miles for about an hour. He also gets to go to parks, horse trails, and the beach where he runs off-leash. We plan on teaching him to swim. And he’s enrolled in obedience training, with an eye to maybe moving on to agility training.
Taking Care of Your Weimaraner
It’s pretty easy to take care of Weimaraners. As with any dog, keep their teeth and ears clean, and clip their nails periodically. We bathe ours pretty infrequently. Brushing is also a good idea. People think because they have short hair they don’t shed. Not true.
One thing to be aware of is that some Weimaraners are susceptible to auto-immune diseases. Our second Weim, Bodhi, had one. You can read about that here. Anne Taguchi writes about this on the Just Weimaraners site, click here for more. I strongly urge you to read all you can about Weims and vaccines. There is evidence that vaccines need to be administered carefully and on a strict schedule.
A lot of people say Weims are prone to separation anxiety. That might be true, but we’ve never had a problem with it.
Another thing to note: they are the sloppiest drinkers! They splash and slosh about in their water bowls and generally make a mess.
For a complete take on Weim care, visit the website of the Weimaraner Club of America.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line? We have had three Weimaraners in apartments. They are amazing dogs. Yes, they can be a handful, but if you have the time and energy, they can make great Urban Dogs.
Click here to visit the website of the Weimaraner Club of America for more about Weims.