You might not know his name, but you probably know his face. The Weimaraner is the silver ghost of the dog world, made famous by the photography of William Wegman. But however distinctive his looks, a Weimaraner isn't an ornament: He’s an active energetic dog with a deep need to be with his human family and a drive to hunt something, anything.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Weimaraner is a silvery gray dog with a sleek, short coat and long ears framing an extremely expressive face. He sheds a bit, but his grooming needs are pretty simple: A weekly brushing, occasional nail trims, and care to make sure his ears are clean. Females weigh between 55-70 pounds, while males can hit 85.

There are two things you need to understand about the Weimaraner: He has no "off" switch, and he's not at all happy being alone.

Bred in Germany as a hunting dog and family companion, the Weimaraner would love nothing more than to spend a long, hard day hunting -- every single day. With you. All day long. And failing that, he'll settle for obedience training (unless it's boring) with you, agility with you, hiking miles every day with you, or participating in all kinds of canine sports and activities, most of which he excels at, as long as it means he can be active and with you.

If you're getting the idea that Weimaraners want to be with their owners all the time, you're right. The tendency to separation anxiety is a serious problem in the Weimaraner, and is something a prospective owner needs to consider carefully. Some Weimaraners become so distraught when left by themselves that they bark, dig, escape and become destructive to the point of injuring themselves.

They can also be tough to house-train, stubborn and demanding. They're frequently not safe with cats or small pets, and if he doesn't get a lot of exercise every day, he's going to go stir-crazy.

If you're asking why anyone owns a Weimaraner, the answer is simply this: They're incredibly smart, loyal dogs who bond very deeply with their owners. The depth of that relationship, coupled with the unique looks of the breed, make them the only dog for some people.

Variations of the Weimaraner

"Blue" Weimaraners cannot compete in the American show ring, but the color is otherwise normal and not associated with any health problems. It's not really blue, but more of a very dark gray bordering on black. "Brown Weimaraners," on the other hand, are Weimaramer/German Shorthaired Pointer mixes, and not purebred Weimaraners.

Health Issues Common to Weimaraners

While less common than in some other breeds, Weimaraners can suffer from hip dysplasia, a crippling malformation of the hip socket that requires costly surgery to repair and that can result in painful arthritis later in life. Also, Weimaraners can suffer from a number of eye problems,

Weimaraners can suffer from bloat and torsion, a condition in which the stomach twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Bloat strikes very suddenly, and a dog who was fine one minute can be dead a few hours later. Watch for symptoms like restlessness and pacing, drooling, pale gums and lip licking, trying to throw up but without bringing anything up, and signs of pain. Bloat requires immediate veterinary surgery, and most dogs who have bloated once will bloat again. That means it's wise to opt for the procedure known as "stomach tacking," which will keep the stomach from twisting in the future. This procedure can also be done as a preventive measure.

A condition known as hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) can also affect young Weimaraners, causing pain, stiffness, swelling in the legs, and sometimes fever, lethargy, and vomiting. Most dogs eventually outgrow the symptoms, but it's painful and can in some cases lead to permanent problems or even require euthanasia. It's known to be genetic but there is no screening test available for HOD in the Weimaraner. No affected dog should ever be bred, even if he outgrows the condition.

There is a similar but less serious condition that affects Weimaraner puppies, known as hypomyelinogenesis. The covering of the nerves doesn't form properly, similar to Parkinson's disease in humans. Unlike that disease, however, the nerve coverings regenerate in Weimaraner puppies, and they can go on to lead normal adult lives.

To protect yourself from the expensive vet bills associated with these conditions, you'll want to purchase pet insurance for your Weimaraner before they show symptoms or are diagnosed.

| Condition | Risk Profile | Cost to Diagnose and Treat
| ---------- | ---------- | ---------- |
| Entropion | High | $300-$1,500 |
| Hip Dysplasia | Low | $1,500-$6,000 |
| Bloat | High | $1,500-$7,500 |
| Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy | High | $200-$1,500 |
| Panniculitis | Medium | $1,000-$3,000 |

7 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Weimaraner Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Start your search on the website of the Weimaraner Club of America, which offers resources for finding a good breeder; choose one who is a member in good standing and has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and requires them to take lifetime responsibility that every dog they breed has a home.

Choose a breeder who can provide you with written documentation that your puppy's parents parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Breeders must have written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that their dogs' hips and elbows are free of dysplasia, and ideally should also have OFA clearances on the parents' thyroids and hearts. Your puppy's parents need to have eye clearance within the previous year from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF).

Seek out a breeder who has American Temperament Test Society (TT) certification on her dogs since temperament is so important in companion dogs.

Don't fall for the lies of a bad breeder. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of all these problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Weimaraners. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Weimaraners aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Puppy or adult, take your Weimaraner to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Weimaraners

Pet insurance for Weimaraners costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Weimaraners are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Weimaraners are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Weimaraner is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.