The Genetic Focus

Weimaraner Klub of Gauteng

The genetics of a ‘purpose bred’ dog breed is a fundamental differentiating factor creating unique aptitude both from a physical and mind capacity perspective. Such a breed has been created to satisfy critical factors the significance of which, dog breeders and fanciers underestimate to their detriment.

Genetics in this context relate specifically and most importantly to domesticated dog breeds, specifically bred for predetermined functions and it is critical that owners of ‘specialised’ breeds such as Weimaraners, have a knowledge of this in order to really understand the breed and the resultant instinct and physiological involvement. In other words, what they may expect from the dog.

It is at the same time important for the Klub to focus attention on these developments, always mindful of the underlying factors but bearing in mind that change must happen in order to allow breeds to continue to evolve and to adapt to evolutionary change. This could be in owners’ lifestyles and, as in the case of Weimaraners, hunting styles and preferences. It is likely that this has already happened in the lineage of the Weimaraner, because the roots of the breed were established in times when it was common, particularly among the nobility in Europe and specifically Germany to hunt larger game species for instance deer, bears etc. It then became critical to evolve the breed to hunt smaller game such as wild rabbits and especially game birds. Although this change was used to enhance existing instinctive behaviour it was found that the basic instinctive behaviour could, with minimal manipulation be used to provide capability in the way in which hunting was to evolve.

It is sadly true that especially, certain hunting breeds have become extinct because their value as such has deteriorated to such an extent because its circumstances have changed so much that the breed has no real value left. It is for this reason that purpose bred hunting breeds should continue to be used for hunting and that their associated instincts, physiological and psychological characteristics be promoted.

In nature, there have evolved various breeds of ‘indigenous’ dog.

In Africa, for instance the ‘Canis Africanus’ has, over 40 000 years or more of interaction with humans, evolved and consequently developed an extraordinary inter-dependent relationship in this partnership. The naturally evolving dog has changed to conform with its environment. It may vary in appearance depending on the circumstances of its development, influenced by factors such as the physical climate and topography, that specific task for which it was required in the partnership with humans (whether it be herding, hunting, or tracking for instance). These required changes were directed by the natural selection process.

Humans in various parts of the world have simultaneously developed specific breeds of dog to fulfill various sought after attributes which the humans saw in them and which they chose to enhance to satisfy their specific requirements. These are ‘Specialised’ dog breeds and are human creations.

Weimaraners were bred to fulfill specific hunting requirements which revolved around their ability to scent game of various kinds which were being hunted. They are very effective in doing this, bearing in mind, for instance that dogs’ sense of smell may be up to 100 000 times better than a human’s and their hearing is able to pick up sound up to four times further away than humans can hear. If one takes these amazing attributes into account one can become aware of the very different world a dog perceives when compared to that which we have come to know as humans. These attributes combined with the dog’s speed over the ground and its natural instinct to work with humans and if one combines its capabilities with its human companion’s expectations, a suitable dog makes it potentially a very potent hunting companion for humans. It will be capable of finding a quarry, bringing it to ‘bay’ and in retrieving it, or following a ‘blood spoor’ which allows the hunter to acquire a wounded quarry.

These capabilities together with the dog’s capacity to be trained were taken into consideration and enhanced by a rigorous programme of selective breeding to create a breed meeting predetermined hunting attributes. Associated with this were, of course aspects such as the temperament of selected dogs, because it is not possible for instance, to hunt with a highly strung or aggressive dog. It is ideal to have a dog which may serve as a hunting companion which can be trusted in all situations and which may be well socialised, but with ‘hunting drive’. Therefore Weimaraners were selected for temperament as well.

It is these attributes that we find so appealing, together with the fine appearance of the Weimaraner. The Weimaraner is also relatively well suited to harsh and warm field conditions.

These attributes together with the anticipated conformation of the breed is very important and must also be a part of the genetic conformation.