Weimaraner vs Labrador – how similar are these breeds really? Both the Weimaraner and the Labrador Retriever are athletic, intelligent, and friendly dogs. They are similar sizes, and even have similar face shapes and floppy ears! But these breeds come from different parts of the world. They have different fur colors and very different grooming needs. So, let’s find out which breed is best for your family: Weimaraner vs Labrador!
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- Weimaraner and Labrador background
- Labrador vs Weimaraner appearances
- Weimaraner vs Labrador personality
- Labrador vs Weimaraner trainability
- Weimaraner and Labrador exercise needs
- Labrador and Weimaraner potential health issues
- Weimaraner and Labrador lifespan
- Labrador and Weimaraner general care
- Weimaraner and Labrador puppy price
Weimaraner vs Labrador Background and Purpose
Although both of these breeds have similar hunting purposes, they come from quite different parts of the world. Let’s take a closer look at the histories of these dogs. Starting with….
The Weimaraner breed comes from Weimar in Germany, hence their name! The first Weimaraner breed club began in Germany in 1897. But, even though our earliest records of these distinctive dogs stretch back to this time, It wasn’t until 1922 that Weimaraners were seen as a separate breed from the German Shorthaired Pointer. From 1897 to 1922 many people thought that the Weim was just a grey GSP!
There are some competing theories about Weims before 1897, but none of these are recognized as the breed’s true history. Weims fall in the sporting group as hunting, pointing, and retrieval gundogs.
Labradors are also gundogs that fall into the sporting group. Although they are best known for their retrieval skills, they also make a popular modern family dog. In fact, the Labrador Retriever is America’s favorite family dog breed, and has been for years!
This breed’s history stretches back to a very different part of the world – Newfoundland, Canada. Here, the Labrador was used to work alongside fishermen. In the early 1800s, modern Lab ancestors were brought across to England by travelling nobles. In England the Labrador breed was standardised to become the dog we know and love today.
Weimaraner vs Labrador Appearances
Both the Labrador and Weimaraner breeds can look quite similar from a quick glance! So, let’s look in a bit more detail at how the Weimaraner vs Labrador appearances compare.
Weimaraners will generally grow from 22 to 27 inches tall, weighing from 55 to 88 pounds. Labrador Retrievers can be slightly smaller. They grow from 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall, weighing 50 to 80 pounds.
Weimaraners will often look slimmer than Labradors. Weims have a ‘tuck up’ after their ribcage and deep chests. These dogs have an athletic appearance. Some people worry that their Weims look too skinny, but they often aren’t! Check with your vet if you are worried to avoid overfeeding. Labs are much stockier than Weims, especially show Labradors.
Both of these breeds have floppy ears and long legs. Although Weim ears can be a little longer than Labrador ears! Labradors have a wide otter tail, which is very different to the slim narrow Weimaraner tail. Traditionally, Weim tails were docked, but it is now common to see Weims with natural tails.
Labradors all have short, thick, waterproof coats. Labradors are moderate shedders, and require grooming once a week. Although, they may need more during shedding periods. Weimaraners also often have a very short coat that needs little to no grooming. But, there is such a thing as a long haired Weimaraner.
If you have a long haired Weim, you will need to groom them regularly to prevent knots and tangles, just like the Lab.
The standard coat colors for the Weimaraner are grey and silver. They can come with a white patch on their chest. Blue Weimaraners have a very dark grey coat that falls outside of the breed standard. You may have also heard of Weims with a brown or red coat, but these are the result of crossbreeding.
Labradors have three standard colors – black, yellow, and chocolate. These come in various shades. So, these two breeds are quite different colors. However, a dilute gene in the Labrador has produced a controversial silver Labrador coat that makes them look a lot more like the Weimaraner.
Weimaraner vs Labrador Personality
As both of these breeds are sporting gundogs, you may expect them to have very similar personalities! Both the Labrador and Weimaraner breeds are intelligent, athletic, and loving. In fact, Weimaraners are so affectionate towards their owners that they are often described as ‘velcro dogs’. However, things aren’t always straight forward when looking at dog temperament.
Variation Between Types
One thing to note when you are considering the Labrador breed is the difference between show bred dogs and working dogs. Working Labs are often more sensitive and serious than show-bred Labs. They may also be less playful. These traits are encouraged during breeding to make training easier. Show Labs are likely to be more playful and affectionate. They are very outgoing, which is great if you’re looking for a friendly family pet. But can be tough to manage when they’re maturing!
Both of these breeds have a passion for retrieving. So, they have a tendency to want to put things in their mouths! This can be great to help with training, especially if you’re looking for a retrieval dog. And great if you’re looking for a dog who will love playing games with you, such as tug. Both of these breeds may love to chew on things. So, be prepared for this if you get either dog! Your Lab or Weim may try to eat things they shouldn’t, especially if they’re stressed.
Both the Lab and Weim may experience natural instincts related to retrieving. But, the Weimaraner may also experience some hunting instincts. Socialization from a young age is really important to minimise any natural hunting instincts if you are keeping a Weim as a family dog.
Socialization will help both Labs and Weimaraners be as friendly and outgoing as possible. This is especially important in Weimaraners, as they can be wary of other dogs.
Another potential problem with both breeds, but particularly the Weimaraner, is separation anxiety. Affectionate, loving dogs are great when you have plenty of time to spend with them. But, if you have to spend a lot of time away from your dog, your pup can suffer. Leaving your puppy alone too long can result in separation anxiety, which can cause destructive behaviors. These can include howling, barking, digging, and more.
Weimaraner vs Labrador Trainability
Trainability is important no matter what breed you get. Whether it’s your first ever dog, or your 10th, getting a breed that takes well to training makes everything easier! Labradors, especially working Labs, take to training really well. They are eager to please, and love spending time with you through training. Both breeds have high energy levels. Plus, they can be quite big dogs, so training will help control them around young children who could get hurt if they’re knocked over.
Positive reward training is the best method for both of these dogs. Make sure that training is consistent for the best possible results.
We briefly looked at socialization earlier. But, socialization is really important for both breeds. Even though these dogs are known for their lovely temperaments, socialization is important to encourage this to its full extent. This is especially the case with the Weimaraner, who can have hunting instincts, and who can be wary or aggressive towards other dogs. Any potential aggression can be minimised by good socialization as a puppy.
Weimaraner vs Labrador Exercise Needs
Both of these breeds are very active. They need plenty of exercise every day. Your dog can get some exercise through training too! But, thanks to retrieval instincts, these two dogs will also love playing games like fetch. The intelligence of these two breeds also means that they could enjoy canine sports like agility.
Weimaraner vs Labrador Potential Health Problems
Every single dog comes with some potential health problems. So, let’s take a closer look at the health of these two breeds.
Weims are generally pretty healthy dogs. And, there are some health problems that can be tested for to make sure your Weimaraner puppy is as healthy as possible. For instance, you can get hip testing for Weimaraner puppies. You should also check the Coefficient of Inbreeding (CoI) of any Weim litters you are considering. This will help you to avoid puppies from parents who are too closely related.
Some other health problems to be aware of include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- von Willebrand’s Disease
- Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
Labrador puppies can also be health tested for various potential issues. So, make sure to go to reputable breeders and see proof of health checks before committing to a puppy. Here are some of the health problems that Labradors commonly suffer from:
Weimaraner vs Labrador Lifespan
The average lifespan for Labrador Retrievers is around 12 years, coming in a little higher than Weimaraners who live, on average, to 11 years. As these are averages, your dog may live a much longer life than the figures suggest! But either way, these two breeds should live for a similar amount of time. Especially if you take great care of them.
Weimaraner vs Labrador General Care
Generally these two breeds have similar care needs. They both require plenty of exercise every day, and lots of time interacting with you.
Labradors tend to need a little more care when it comes to grooming. Their coats shed a lot more than a Weimaraner’s. So, if you aren’t ready to groom your dog each week, a Weim may be better for you. Labs are also known for being prone to over-eating. So, take extra care to make sure your Lab stays slim and healthy. If you are unsure about the general care of your dog, the best person to ask is your vet.
Weimaraner vs Labrador Puppy Price
No matter which breed you decide to buy, it is important to only purchase a puppy from a responsible, reputable breeder. Make sure you avoid puppy mills and pet stores. Puppy mills only breed dogs for a profit, they don’t care about the health of their animals. Beware of any puppy that is too cheap. If you can’t afford one from a reputable breeder, consider looking at rescue shelters.
As a rough guide, you can expect to pay anything from $800 to $1200 for a Labrador puppy. Whereas a Weimaraner may set you back anywhere from $800 to $2000.
Weimaraner vs Labrador – Which is Best?
So, which breed do you think is right for your family? Both the Lab and Weimaraner are friendly, happy, and energetic dogs, especially when socialized properly. They both need plenty of exercise, and Labs will also need regular grooming.
Do you already own either of these breeds? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments, and find out which dog you think makes the best family pet!
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References and Further Reading
- Adams, V. (et al), ‘Methods and Mortality Results of a Health Survey of Purebred Dogs in the UK’, Journal of Small Animal Practice (2010)
- Duffy, D. (et al) ‘Breed differences in canine aggression’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2008)
- King, M. ‘Etiopathogenesis of Canine Hip Dysplasia, Prevalence, and Genetics’, Veterinary Clinics Small Animal Practice (2017)
- Tivers, M. ‘Gastric Dilation-Volvulus Syndrome in Dogs, 1: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Stabilisation’, Companion Animal Practice (2009)
- Featherstone, H. ‘Common Eyelid Anomalies’, BSAVA Congress Proceedings (2017)
- Safra, N. (et al), ‘Clinical Manifestations, Response to Treatment, and Clinical Outcome for Weimaraners with Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy: 53 Cases (2009 – 2011)’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2013)