THE VERSATILE WEIMARANER
It was not until the post-World War II years that any substan- tial number of Weimaraners entered the US. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Weimaraners racked up impressive wins in bench, field, and obedi- ence competitions. The Weimaraner was embraced by its enthusiasts, and its abilities were developed, honed, and celebrated. The Weimaraner Club of America (WCA), in recognition of the multi-faceted abilities of the breed, established the new par- ent club titles of Versatile and Versatile Excellent in 1972. To earn these designations of “V” and “VX”, a dog had to have a combi- nation of accomplishments in field, bench, and obedience. Rec- ognition was given for American Kennel Club (AKC) titles and WCA field ratings by assigning point values. The more difficult the accomplishment, the higher number of points were assigned. For example, an AKC bench championship was awarded more points than those for a dog that had won some championship points but had not attained the title of Champion. The Versatile Excellent title (VX) required more points than the Versatile (V) title. As the number of dog sports continued to expand, the WCA’s Versatility titles were revised to include Tracking and Agility. Wei- maraners more than rose to the occasion and demonstrated abilities that were only limited by the training ability, degree of interest, and available resources and time of their owners. There are so many pos- sible activities, and owning the versatile Weimaraner puts no limits on which competitive activities can be pursued. Earning Versatility titles takes a great deal of training and effort on the part of the owners. It requires not only versatility on the part of the dog, but also by the owners. You would think that there are few people willing and able to undertake the pursuit of versatility titles. Looking at the WCA’s awarded Versatility titles over the past ten years, on average, 56 are bestowed each year. Considering the multiple talents that are required for a Versatility title, only a breed with a wide variety of inherent aptitudes could accomplish this.
As the nineteenth century progressed, hunting with firearms took a firm hold with the German aristocracy. As large game became less prevalent in their territories, there was a need for a dif- ferent type of hunting companion. The hunting of birds and small game required skills very different from the old days of boar, bear, and deer hunting. Versatility enabled the Weimaraner to make a transition as hunting changed. For the balance of the nineteen century and into the early twen- tieth, the existence of the Weimaraner was kept “close to the vest” by its German developers. They prized their newly designed breed, bred it to strict standards, and restricted who could own one. Wei- maraners were a rare commodity and its developers endeavored to keep it that way. It was not until the late 1920s that two specimens were brought to the US. This importation took Herculean efforts by the American sporting enthusiast Howard Knight. Unbeknownst to Mr. Knight, this first pair of imported Weimaraners had been steril- ized in Germany before they were released to his ownership. It took almost ten years of persistence before he was finally able to obtain initial breeding stock and bring them to the US. The Weimaraner made its debut in the late 1930s amid pub- lic relations hype that would have made P. T. Barnum blush. The versatility of the breed was pumped up from the time a few were first brought to the US. The breed pushed celebrities off the cov- ers of magazines and was credited with super hunting prowess, uncanny intelligence, and trainability. The Weimaraner arrived as a novelty, was ballyhooed as the new wonder dog, and became the “dog-de-jour.” As with many over-blown exaggerations, reality sets in with the passage of time. Tall tales fade away and what is left, in this case, is the reality of a marvelous, multi-talented Sporting breed. The Weimaraner received AKC recognition in December of 1942 and the public first got to see them make a splash at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden in 1943.
332 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2021
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