Weimaraner hereditary health and longevity
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Weimaraner hereditary health and longevity

The Weimaraner is a large, regal looking and handsome breed of dog that was originally used for hunting by royalty in their home country of Germany. They are all-purpose gun dogs, which today, are also very popular as pets all across the world, including within the UK.

Tall, lean and athletic in appearance, the Weimaraner used to be one of the dog breeds that was traditionally docked, before the practice became outlawed in the UK. Today, the tail of the dog is left natural, and is long and straight, reaching as far as the hocks.

The coat of the breed is short, straight and very low maintenance, with a steely grey colour that can range from a light silver grey to charcoal blue, being the same shade all over with no white or other colours.

The male Weimaraner can stand up to 68cm tall at the withers, and weigh up to 37kg, with females being slightly smaller. The Weimaraner is an outgoing, bold dog that is inquisitive, intelligent and very active, but is also very loyal and protective of their families as well as being eminently trainable and keen to please.

If you are wondering if the Weimaraner is the right choice of dog for you and are considering buying or adopting a dog of the breed, it is of course important to do as much research into the breed as possible before committing to a purchase. This includes finding out as much as possible about the general health and wellness of the breed, and their average longevity. We will cover these factors in more detail within this article.

Weimaraner longevity

The average lifespan of the Weimaraner is 11-14 years, which allows for a reasonable amount of variance in terms of the general figure. As a large breed of dog, this range is considered to be within the acceptable norms, and at the top end of the scale, reflects a lifespan higher than that of most other pedigree dog breeds of a similar size and build.

Genetic diversity

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the Weimaraner is 8.3%, which is higher than the accepted average for pedigree breeds, being 6.25% or lower. While the percentage for the Weimaraner is not significantly higher than the norm, it does still reflect a degree of inbreeding, and should be reduced within breed lines where possible.

Conformation

The Weimaraner is a tall, leggy and rangy dog with a balanced build that is not considered to be exaggerated or overtyped. However, the deep yet narrow chest of the breed does place them at elevated risk of bloat, or gastric torsion, a condition that all owners of large dogs should familiarise themselves with.

The young Weimaraner is a fast growing dog, and as such, this places a lot of pressure on the growth plates of the legs while they are developing. This can increase the risk of metaphyseal osteopathy, causing inflammation and pain.

Health testing for the Weimaraner

The Kennel Club, the British Veterinary Association and Weimaraner breed clubs monitor the hereditary health and general wellness of dogs of the breed, and make recommendations for health schemes and screening programmes to improve the breed’s overall quality and health, and breed out hereditary health issues.

The following tests and recommendations for breeding are made for the Weimaraner breed:

  • Hip score testing, with the breed’s mean hip score being 10.8. Potential parent dogs of the breed should receive a hip score below this figure in order to be considered viable.
  • Breed clubs recommend that bitches under the age of two years not be used for breeding.
  • Bitches should also not produce any more than one litter within any twelve month period.

Other health issues

While hip dysplasia, tested by hip scoring, is the only hereditary condition that is considered to present commonly enough within the breed as to necessitate pre-breeding screening, a range of other health conditions are known to potentially present themselves within the Weimaraner breed too.

Health conditions that all potential Weimaraner owners should be aware of include:

  • Haemophilia, a blood clotting disorder.
  • Panosteitis, an inflammatory condition of the bones.
  • Neutrophil defects, a deficiency of the body’s white blood cells.
  • An autoimmune condition called polyarthritis, or meningitis syndrome.
  • Muscular dystrophy, which is a muscle wasting disorder that leads to progressive weakness.
  • Tricuspid dysplasia, a congenital heart disease caused by a malformation of the tricuspid valve, affecting male dogs of the breed.
  • Ehlers Danlos syndrome or cutaneous asthenia, which causes a propensity to wounding easily and dislocations.
  • Gastric torsion or bloat, due to the deep yet narrow chest of the breed.
  • Mast cell tumours, a type of cancer.
  • Demodicosis, a type of mange caused by the demodex mange mite.
  • Folliculitis of the muzzle, or a type of canine acne.
  • Urolithiasis, urinary stones.
  • Entropion of the eyelids, causing them to turn inwards and rub on the eyeball.
  • Distichiasis, in which the eyelashes grow a second row, which can rub on the cornea.
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