Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Weimshepherd is a mix of two fine-looking German breeds, though tends to look a lot more like the Weimaraner than the German Shepherd. Not only is this hybrid a dependable and devoted family dog, it is also a razor-sharp student who can really excel during its training sessions, even from a very young age. An energetic and agile cross-breed, the Weimshepherd requires a good deal of daily exercise.

Weimshepherds are often black but can be grey and tend to have a short coat with straight fur. While they have strong and muscular physiques, their comically floppy ears and their long and somewhat ‘dopey’ faces mean they never look too serious. This is a large dog that can grow to 65cm or taller.

About & History

Though it is quite possible that the Weimshepherd originated in Germany much like its parents, there is no solid proof of this. As there is no need to register designer dogs with breed societies or Kennel Clubs, it can be difficult to accurately track their history. Thankfully, a lot is known about both their parents: The German Shepherd and the Weimaraner.

The German Shepherd

German Shepherds started off life as farmyard dogs who would both herd and guard livestock. They were prized for their dependability, as well as their independence and many farmers would leave them to their own devices on the farm. It’s difficult to discuss the history of the German Shepherd without mentioning a man named Max Von Stephanitz. This dog aficionado chose the local shepherd dogs who he felt best represented his ‘ideal dog’ and bred them together in a structured manner, eventually producing the dog we know today as the German Shepherd.

Unfortunately, in the creation of this new breed, there was a great deal of inbreeding of closely related dogs who were not screened for inherited diseases and today the German Shepherd is renowned for being prone to several health conditions, such as hip dysplasia, atopic dermatitis and several cancers. Despite their many health issues, these dogs have contributed to society in many ways, including as police dogs, rescue dogs and guard dogs.

The Weimaraner

Weimaraners are best known for their sleek, grey coats and solemn faces. Breeds that feature in their history include the German Shorthaired Pointer and the Great Dane. They were traditionally used as hunting dogs and their height was a great attribute when pursuing larger animals, such as deer.

They were a favourite of the upper classes within Germany who appreciated their regal appearance. Interestingly, the first of the breed who were exported abroad were sterilised as the Germans did not wish for them to be bred outside of their homeland. This practice stopped in around the mid 20th century and these dogs can now be found all over the world, where they are mainly kept as companion animals.


The Weimshepherd has a unique face that is framed by long and pendulous ears that flop about sweetly as they run. Their striking eyes may be green, amber or brown and are usually well spaced apart and ever watchful. They have long muzzles which end in dark coloured noses and many have prominent ‘whiskers’. They have long, thick necks and deep chests which lead to sturdy bodies. Their long limbs are well-muscled and give them an assertive and fast-paced gait. Their tail is relatively long and thick and should not be docked.

While hybrid dogs tend to have more variation in size than their pedigree counterparts, a typical Weimshepherd will measure from 58cm to 64cm and will weigh in at between 27kg and 35kg. While one may expect Weimshepherds to be either black and tan or light grey, most are a dark grey or black. Their fur is usually short and most have a healthy, glossy coat.

Character & Temperament

One of the first things owners will say about their Weimshepherd is that it is high energy. These dogs are not only very ‘physical’, needing lots of exercise, they are also highly intelligent and require a great deal of mental stimulation to keep them from becoming bored. They are full on and are not recommended for the first-time owner or for those who are unable to spend the majority of their time at home.

As the Weimshepherd has a relatively high prey drive and can be rambunctious, it is generally believed that they are not a suitable pet for those with young children or small pets, such as cats or rabbits. Ideally, they would be homed with adults only. With their master, they will typically form a very strong bond and will become protective of them when outside of the home.

Most Weimshepherds are suspicious towards strangers and protective over their territory so make superb watch dogs, as well as guard dogs. They rarely lack confidence and can become openly hostile if they feel threatened.


The Weimshepherd is a dog made for training as they are quick learners, versatile and get a kick out of pleasing their master. It is important that their training starts when they are young and that owners are fair but consistent. They thrive on routine and best results are achieved when all of the people in the home follow the same training programme.

Though in the past, some dog trainers would advocate becoming the ‘alpha’ of the pack and dominating the dog, this is no longer thought to be appropriate and, instead, we should focus on rewarding good behaviour when possible.


While there is no denying that designer dogs enjoy the classic ‘hybrid vigour’ that is seen in all cross-breeds in nature, there are still a number of health conditions that require monitoring within the Weimshepherd population.

Hip Dysplasia

This orthopaedic condition is one of the most significant health challenges facing the breed and one that breeders and owners need to take seriously if we are to ensure the Weimshepherd is to enjoy a healthy future.

Thankfully, hip dysplasia is easy to screen for as it simply entails taking a number of x-rays either under a deep sedation or a general anaesthetic. Screening programmes are the easiest way to help prevent future generations from being born with dysplastic hips.

DM (Degenerative Myelopathy)

DM is a progressive disease of older Weimshepherds that results in a wobbly walk and a lack of control in the hind limbs due to spinal cord degeneration. Tragically, there is no cure or treatment so all that we can do is keep affected dogs comfortable for as long as possible.

GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus)

GDV tends to be a disease of deep-chested, tall dogs but can theoretically occur in any breed. Signs come on within minutes to hours and dogs need to be treated the same day if they are to survive. Surgery is required to place the stomach back in its correct position and many vets will often perform a ‘gastropexy’ to prevent a GDV from recurring.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopy is a maddening skin condition that causes chronic itching and discomfort. It can mimic a number of other skin complaints including sarcoptic mange and flea allergy dermatitis. Once the condition is definitively diagnosed, it needs to be managed throughout a dog’s life as, for most, it cannot be completely cured.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Weimshepherd makes the perfect companion for the fitness fanatic as they will out jog even the sportiest of humans. Not only do they love to jog and run, they are also keen swimmers. Most will do well with one to two hours of exercise each day.

A big and boisterous breed, the Weimshepherd should be provided with a fenced-in garden in which it can run off lead to its heart content. Beware though, if under-stimulated, this cheeky canine will soon be digging up the lawn and chewing on the fence!


Luckily, the fur of the Weimshepherd is very low maintenance and owners need only brush it once a week for it to retain its attractive sheen. As their ears are large and droopy, they should be cleaned out about once a week with ear cleaner. This is because they are poorly ventilated and become quickly moist and humid when there is a lot of wax and debris inside.

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