| Information on this page is concerned with buying puppies and breeding weimaraners. It is based on 20 years of experience in the breed. Breeders may not agree with all the points here, but they are drawn up to help prospective puppy owners and would-be breeders.
- Breeding from your weimaraner
Buying a puppy
One of the first things I say to somebody enquiring about a puppy is 'Why do you want a weimaraner?'. Unfortunately far too many people reply, 'I just love its colour'. At that point my heart sinks. I'm looking for owners who have done their research and know why they want to buy a breed that it is real challenge - and yes, I mean a challenge. The weimaraner is not a beginner's dog. Looking after a breed such as the lab and retriever is a doddle compared with the weimaraner. It a breed that needs plenty of attention, exercise and training. So, before you rush out and buy your puppy, take a long look at your lifestyle. Does it suit a dog? Be honest with yourself.The arrival of a dog will completely change your lifestyle, so think about the following points:
- do you work? What will you do with the dog all day while you are out. Do you have a partner or family member who will be at home with the dog? Weimaraners aren't a breed that you can leave at home all day, nor do they take well to being kept in kennels. So don't even think about buying a puppy if you are out of the house all day, even if a dog minder comes round to give it a walk. Its just not fair to an dog, especially a weim.
- do you have a garden? You really shouldn't buy a large dog such as a weim if you don't have a house with decent-sized garden and of course, a flat is completely unsuitable.
- do all the members of your family want a dog? I have heard stories of husbands / wives going out a buying a puppy as a surprise present for their partner who is then faced with some thing they may not want. Sometimes, it is the husband who wants the dog, but its the wife who is left to care for it or visa versa. So it is important that everybody who will be living with the dog is in agreement about buying the dog in the first place.
- do you have a young family? Can you cope with the demands of a weim puppy and young children. How will you manage to exercise the dog and give it the training it needs while running around after equally demanding children. Obviously there are many successful examples, but one of the more common reasons given for weims being rehoused is the difficulties of coping with young dogs and children. Some weimaraners can be quite dominant, even the bitches and so it vitally important that the dog is not allowed to dominate any family member, especially the children.
- can you afford a dog? Its not just the cost of buying a puppy, there's the on-going costs of keeping a dog. To start with your puppy will be to be vaccinated which costs about 70 pounds. Then there's food at a pound a day, pet insurance from 15 pounds a month, leads, collars, beds, feed bowls, toys etc. What will you do when you go on holiday? Can you afford the 8 -10 pound a day rate for putting the dog in kennels. So all this is probably going to cost you upwards of 600 pounds per year.
OK, you are convinced that you will make a great weimarnaer owner. All you have to do now is find a puppy. Whatever you do, don't rush out and buy the first puppy you find. Too many people make the decision that they want a weimaraner puppy and then they want to buy one straight away. They look in the local papers and often end up buying a puppy from puppy farmer or local pet shop. So take your time. There are plenty of weimaraner litters around so don't panic.
There are a few tips :
- personally I wouldn't buy a puppy from anybody who wasn't a member of one of the UK weimaraner clubs. Members of these clubs have to agree to follow a code of conduct. These clubs produce lists of members who have puppies for sale. If you can't find anything through these lists, then you could look on the Kennel Club litter list. Whatever you do, don't buy a weimaraner puppy from a puppy farmer or through a pet shop (yes - some pet shops still sell puppies!)
- how much should you pay. The price ranges between £550-£650. There is no need to pay any more unless the puppies come from exceptionally good litter with show potential. Prices in London tend to be higher, so I would look for puppies outside of the capital. There are stories of people paying as much as £800 but don't be tricked into paying too much. I have heard other stories of breeders increasing the price, having quoted a lower price and finding that there is a lot of interest (puppy gazumping!). A respectable breeder will stick to the quoted price and not muck you around.
- there are plenty of weimaraner puppies around. About 2500 are born each year, that's approx 300 litters. There will be some times of year where litters are few and far between, but during the summer and autumn there are lots of litters. However, you may have to be prepared to travel as litters can be quite rare in some parts of the UK.
- docked or undocked. This is a matter of preference. The majority of weims are docked, so if you want an undocked weim you may have to wait longer or look further afield. Some breeders will tell prospective owners that they will leave a puppy undocked for them. I don't like this approach. Docking takes place within the first four days, so it is impossible to tell what the dogs will be like, or indeed if they are going to healthy. It also means that you will have to have that puppy whether or not you like it.
- a good way of finding a puppy is to visit a championship dog show and talk to the breeders. You may learn of litters that are due in the near future. If there is a particular bitch that you like, you could talk to the owner and get on their list of potential puppy purchasers.
- some breeders have lists of interested puppy purchasers and so their litters are virtually booked before the puppies are even born. Its fine to go on such a list, but don't feel obliged to buy a puppy once they are born.
- once you locate a possible litter, make contact with the breeder. Don't be surprised to be asked endless questions. The breeder will ask these questions in order to ascertain whether you are a suitable buyer of one of their pups. Most respectable breeders take a lot of time and trouble to find the right type of purchaser as they want their pup to go to a good home. They don't want the puppy to have to be rehoused. Remember to ask questions yourself as you need to find out about the bitch and the stud dog - their pedigree, hip score, eyes, general health, breeding record etc. Check that the pups are Kennel Club registered.
- most breeders don't let people come and see the puppies until they are three or more weeks old. There isn't much point seeing them when they are very young as their eyes are closed and they just shuffle around.
- when you visit, ask to see the bitch on her own before you see the pups. This way you can get a good look at her without the puppies getting in the way. When you see the pups, take you time and watch them play together before you interact with them. Pups tire quickly so ask the breeder not to play with them before you visit otherwise you could be faced with pooped out pups that show no interest in anything or anybody. Watch how the pups move, chase toys etc. You will probably find that one or two of the pups appeal more than the others. Most breeders will have some form of identification (coloured ribbon collars or painted toe nails) so you can tell which puppy is which. A digital camera is useful - a few pix will help you remember which pups you liked. Also do you get on with the breeder? Is he or she helpful. Are they going to offer advice once you have handed over the money and taken the pup away. Finally find out when they will be ready to leave mum. Will they be vaccinated. Will they be check over by a vet etc. Ask about their feeding regime.
- which pup? Not all breeders will allow you to choose the pup. In many ways it is better for the breeder to make the final decision, taking your preferences into account. They spend all day with the pups so are in a far better position to match the puppy with the buyer. Some pups are more laid back than others and may be more suited to a family home, whereas people who want a working dog may choose the more outgoing pup who likes exploring at the bottom of the garden and may be a little more independent. A show dog owner probably wants a pup that says 'look at me' and is a real show off.
- Breeders usually produce a pack of information telling you about the pup's diet, vaccinations, worming advice and general info about dog training and socalisation. Make sure you get a receipt and a copy of the pedigree as well as the Kennel Club registration form (sometimes this comes later in post). You have to complete the transfer of ownership on the registration form and return it to the KC so that the ownership in put in your name.
Breeding from your weimaraner
There are lots of issues to consider before you go ahead and get your bitch mated. Probably the most important question to ask youself is - why do I want to breed from my dog? Listed below are some points to consider when you are making this important decision.
- hundreds of weimaraners are rehoused each year and the numbers are on the increase so do you want to add to the burden on the rescue services. Could you take back and rehome any puppies that you have bred?
- too many people think that breeding a litter of puppies is a quick way of making some money. Wrong! Although the puppies sell for between 450 and 550 pounds, there are lots of costs involved in raising a litter of puppies - stud fees, vet expenses before, during and after whelping, costs of docking tails and removing dew claws, whelping boxes and fleeces, food, vaccinations etc. Also there is a chance that the bitch will produce a small litter of just 2 or 3 puppies . Its not always possible to find puppy buyers, especially for the male pups, and breeders often run on the puppies for 10 weeks or more.
- Is your bitch worth breeding from? Take a critical look at your bitch. Does she conform to the breed standard? Has she any faults? What is her temperament like? Has she suffered from any illnesses that could have been inherited? How fit is she? Have you had her hip scored and eye tested?
- How old is your bitch? Most of the Weimaraner clubs have a code of conduct that requires a bitch to be two years old before she has a litter. Probably the best age to have a first litter is about three years of age. Bitches older than seven should not be mated.
- Have you got the time? Don't underestimate the work involved in raising a litter. Believe me, it is exhausting! You will have to care for them for at least 8 weeks, possibly longer. They may get you up in the middle of the night. They make an amazing amount of noise for their size so you will need understanding neighbours. You will be tied to the house, only able to escape for a few hours unless you get somebody in to watch them. And, for the last few weeks all you seem to do is pump food in at one end and clean up the mess created by the other! Can you put up with the noise and smells!
- Have you got the space? Where will you raise the puppies? Its not too bad for the first weeks as the puppies stay in their whelping box and are cared for by mum. But from three weeks they will be running around and demanding attention. You will need somewhere inside the house for their bed and play pen and somewhere outside where they can run around. Many people find that a utility room near the back door is ideal. Its not in the main part of the house so the smells don't fill all the other rooms and it gives quick access to the garden after a meal.
Choosing a stud dog
If you have decided that you definitely want to breed from your bitch, the next step is to find a stud dog. You could look for a show dog with a proven track record or use a working dog or even a pet dog. If your aim is to produce healthy puppies for pet homes then you need to look for a good quality stud dog, but this is not necessarily a top show dog. However, one of the most important criteria is finding an owner of a stud dog who is prepared to help you and offer advice before and after the mating as well as support during the time when the puppies are being raised.
- your bitch's pedigree is a good place to start. You will be asked about the pedigree. Become familar with the names of the parents and grand parents. Make a note of any show champions on the pedigree. You are probably aiming to find a dog wth a pedigree that has some dogs in common but is not too similar. You don't necessarily want to breed to a close relative unless you are sure you know what you want to achieve.
- ask the breeder of your bitch for some suggestions regarding suitable stud dogs .
- you could go to a championship dog show and look at the dogs. Look for features that compliment those of your own dog or features that would improve those of your own bitch. For example, if you have a bitch with a short back you may want to find a long-backed dog. If your bitch has short ears you may try and improve this feature by using a dog with long ears. If your bitch is at the tall end of the standard (standard states 56 and 64 cm at the withers) you may want to use a medium sized dog to ensure that the puppies are within the standard. Short list a few dogs and then talk to the owners. See if there are any offspring being shown that have been sired by the dogs that interest you. And don't be shy of asking for advice. There will be a lot of experienced people around the show ring and many people will be happy to help.
- try to use a dog that has been 'proven' ie used successfully before. This will make things a lot easier if you own a maiden bitch. A pet dog may seem a good option as they can be a bit cheaper to use but a pet owner may not be in a position to offer advice.
- how much should you pay? The rates vary depending on the quality of the dog and whether or not it has already sired puppies. A good quality proven dog that has not necessarily been shown will probably cost 200-300 pounds. A top show dog will cost in excess of 500 pounds.
- there are a number of essential questions to ask the owner of a stud dog - is it kennel club registered, what is its registered name, can you have a copy of the pedigree, how old is the dog, has it sired any litters, has it been hip scored and eye tested (and if not ask why), has it had any recent illnesses that could affect his fertility, ask about its general medical history, ask about the dog's parents and grand parents (their age, medical history etc) as well as the stud fees etc. If it is a proven dog, ask about the litter sizes and the ratio of bitch to dog puppies. Ask when the last litter was born. If the litter was local and recent you could have a chance of seeing some of the dog's offspring.
- if the potential stud dog is local, ask to visit. Its best to visit on your own without your bitch or any children. Have a good look at him. As well as asking questions, get the owner to run him around so you can check that he is sound. Look at his teeth - check that the dog has all its teeth and that the jaw is not over or undershot. What's his temperament like? Does he mind being handled etc.
Once you have found a suitable dog, the next stage is to tell the owner when your bitch is due to come into season and check that the stud dog will be available. If the bitch is due to come in season during the summer months there is a chance of holidays clashing with your dates. Hence a reserve stud dog is a good idea. At this point you need to confirm the fees and check on the procedure. he bitch normally visits the stud dog twice during her season in increase the chances of a successful mating. It is usual for there to be an agreement which allows the bitch to visit the stud dog again during her next season if the frst mating prved to be unsuccessful. However, the stud fee is not usually refundable if a mating takes place but no puppies result. The stud dog owner is required to sign the KC registration form. This is either done at the time of mating or shortly after the birth of the puppies.
For more information on the genetics behind breeding see The Beginners Guide to Genetics