What Is The Best Dog Food for a Weimaraner?
The Ultimate Weimaraner Food Buyer’s Guide
Nicknamed “the gray ghost,” the Weimaraner was developed in Germany in the 19th century. The breed was once used to hunt large game animals such as deer, boar, and bear but as those animals became harder to find, Weims were bred to hunt smaller game and birds. Today they are used as an all-purpose gun dog and the breed is considered exceptionally versatile.
Weimaraners are medium-large dogs and need lots of exercise. They usually make great family dogs for active families. They do best with some obedience training because of their high energy level and prey drive. Weimaraners were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1943. Today they are the 34th most popular breed in the U.S.
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Male Weimaraners typically stand 25 to 27 inches tall at the withers; females stand 23 to 25 inches tall. Males usually weigh 70 to 80 pounds; females weigh 55 to 70 pounds. The breed is supposed to look lean, muscular, and athletic. Tails are docked in the United States. The breed comes in varying shades of gray and the coat is short and smooth. Shedding is minimal. There is a longhaired variety of the breed in some other countries. The eyes can be gray, blue-gray, or light amber.
According to information from the Weimaraner Club of America, the Weimaraner is one of the most versatile of all breeds. Many dogs and their owners participate in various events such as obedience, hunting, tracking, agility, rally, flyball, and other dog sports. Weimaraners enjoy being active. Lots of Weimaraners are still bred to hunt today, even if they take part in other events. This high activity level should be considered when you are choosing a diet for your Weimaraner, along with making sure that your dog is getting enough exercise.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Weimaraner weighing 70 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 1688 calories. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Weimaraner puppy weighing 40 pounds needs an estimated 1233 calories per day. However, an adult Weimaraner weighing 70 pounds, engaged in heavy hunting or other performance work, might require as much as 3751 calories because of the energy he is expending. Your dog’s activity level and other factors will make a big difference in how many calories to feed.
Weimaraners are considered to be a medium-large breed. They should be able to eat most good quality dog foods and foods made for medium/large dogs. All life stage dog foods should also be suitable. You should note that large breed dog foods usually have fewer calories than other dog foods so it’s not usually recommended to feed a Weimaraner a large breed food. This is not a breed that is particularly prone to obesity either. As long as your Weimaraner is getting regular exercise he probably won’t become overweight. On the other hand, some people like to feed a large breed puppy food to Weimaraner puppies to encourage slower growth. This is a breed that is predisposed to HOD (see below), so they benefit from growing slowly as puppies.
Feeding Your Weimaraner
Like most breeds, Weimaraners can usually eat many good quality dog foods. Since they are a medium-large breed, most people choose to feed a dry dog food because the cost of feeding a 70-lb dog canned food can be prohibitive. Weimaraners do require good quality nutrition in the food you select.
Some Weimaraners can have issues with allergies. You might like to read this page from a Weimaraner breeder’s web site. They point out that many Weimaraners do not tolerate corn, wheat, or even barley so they avoid those ingredients when choosing a dog food. Some Weimaraners are allergic to grains. They also point out that not every expensive, holistic food has worked well for them.
For most Weimaraners we suggest you should measure the amount of food you feed and leave it sitting out for about half an hour. Then remove it when your dog has finished. If your Weimaraner has some food issues or needs to gain weight you can leave the food out longer so he can nibble at it. Most adult Weimaraners do well eating two meals per day. Puppies can eat three meals per day until they are old enough to switch to an adult schedule.
Weimaraner Health Problems
According to the Weimaraner Club of America, Weimaraners can have health issues with hip dysplasia (HD or CHD – Canine Hip Dysplasia); autoimmune thyroiditis; Canine Hyperuricosuria (HUU) – elevated levels of uric acid in the urine. This trait predisposes dogs to form stones in their bladders or sometimes kidneys. Finally, the breed can have some eye problems such as corneal dystropy and entropion.
Hip dysplasia is not especially common in the breed but most breeders have their dogs x-rayed if they are thinking of breeding them. As with other breeds, if your dog has hip dysplasia (or any kind of osteoarthritis), it’s recommended to keep him slim. Carrying extra weight puts pressure on the bones and joints and can cause your dog to experience pain.
Weimaraners are one of the many breeds in which bloat (gastric torsion) appears. Bloat is associated with dogs that have deep chests. With this condition the stomach fills with air or gas and can sometimes become twisted. The dog can’t release the air and the blood supply to the stomach is cut off. This is a dangerous, life-threatening condition. It requires emergency treatment – often surgery – or the dog can die. Weimaraners should be fed several small meals per day instead of one large meal. Most people also suggest that you limit exercise just before and after the dog eats. There have been studies done about bloat and there are new studies about it, but people argue about the findings.
There are no specific dog foods made to avoid bloating but your dog might benefit from a food for sensitive stomachs. Many dog lovers also try to protect their dogs by feeding a dog food with more natural ingredients to try to keep their dog’s immune system as strong as possible. Many people recommend feeding a food that is free of some of the most common food irritants such as corn, soy, and wheat. These are not the most common dog food allergens – beef, dairy products, and chicken, for example, lead to more food allergies for dogs than corn, soy, and wheat. But many people like to avoid soy and grains in dog foods. There are many good grain free dog foods today if you want to feed one to your dog. Avoiding artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives is also suggested as a way to help keep the immune system stronger.
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) can also occur in Weimaraners. HOD is a bone disease that can affect dogs (usually puppies) in fast-growing, large breeds. The cause of HOD is not really understood though it might have something to do with the immune system. It usually appears in puppies between 3 and 6 months old. Treatment involves supportive care. HOD is a serious condition that causes painful swelling in the growth plates of the puppy’s leg bones. Symptoms can clear up on their own but some dogs can suffer permanent damage. It is possible for a puppy or dog to die in severe cases. Since this is a health problem that occurs in fast-growing puppies, Weimaraner puppies should not be encouraged to grow rapidly. Many people like to feed them a large breed puppy food. These foods have fewer calories and moderate protein and fat compared to regular puppy foods.
About 15 percent of owners report that their Weimaraners have problems with separation anxiety, according to a survey conducted by the Weimaraner Club of America. While separation anxiety isn’t a health issue, it can affect a dog’s health so it’s something that you should work on from the time your dog is a puppy. Socializing your puppy while he’s young helps to reduce problems with separation anxiety. You can enroll your puppy in a puppy kindergarten class with other puppies and people; take him places where he can meet friendly people; take him places with you, and so on. Anxiety can also affect a dog’s digestion. It’s believed that fearful, anxious dogs are more at risk of developing bloat.
You can find more health information for Weimaraners on the parent breed club web site.
According to a 2004 breed health study conducted by the Kennel Club in the UK, the median age at death for the Weimaraner was 11 years and 2 months. The most common causes of death for Weimaraners in the survey were cancer (24 percent), gastrointestinal (14.9 percent – this would include bloat), and old age (13.6 percent). Weimaraners are usually reported to have an average lifespan of 11 to 14 years in the U.S.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
Protein and fat are the main ingredients in the diet for the Weimaraner, as they are for most dogs. However, not all proteins and fats are the same. It’s important that the protein and fat in the dog food comes from good sources if you want your dog to be healthy.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Weimaraner may still be able to eat an alternative grain. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Weimaraner
Every dog is an individual. Even dogs in the same breed can have different food needs. Some dogs need more calories than others. Some dogs will do better with more protein or fat than other dogs. No matter which food you choose for your Weimaraner, it’s important to watch his condition. You may have to adjust how much food you are feeding, for example. Or you might notice that the food doesn’t agree with your dog.
We are recommending a variety of foods for the Weimaraner Some have grains and some don’t. We have selected foods without corn, wheat, and soy unless otherwise noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s diet needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to accommodate him.
Best Dog Foods for Weimaraner Adults
Farmina is a terrific Italian brand of dog food that has been available in the U.S. for a couple of years. We think it would be good for lots of dogs and it could be very good for Weimaraners. This formula is grain, gluten, and GMO-free. It uses no peas, lentils, chickpeas, or pea protein. 95 percent of the protein comes from animal sources. The first five ingredients in this food are deboned chicken, dehydrated chicken (source of glucosamine & chondroitin sulfate), potato, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dehydrated egg product. The other meat source in the food is herring. We know people who have tried this food and they rave about it. If you have a Weimaraner who needs to avoid grains, we think this food is a good one to try. Crude protein 37 percent, crude fat 18 percent, crude fiber 2.6 percent, moisture 10 percent.
Avoderm has several foods in their “revolving menu” line and this is one of them. The foods can be rotated so your dog gets different meat proteins. The foods are grain free and gluten-free so they should be good for any Weimaraners who need to avoid grains. They use garbanzo beans and peas as carb sources. You don’t need to worry about avocados for your dog. The green flesh of the avocado will not hurt your dog. It’s only the pit and the green skin that pose any risk. Avocados are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fatty acids and other nutrients. The first five ingredients in this food are Duck, Duck Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, and Pea Flour. Crude protein 25 percent, crude fat 16 percent, crude fiber 6 percent, moisture 10 percent.
We’re not sure why Acana dog foods don’t show up when you search for foods without corn, wheat, and soy or gluten-free foods on Chewy.com, but this food is grain free and we think it would be a good food for Weimaraners. Acana is made by Champion Pet Foods, the same company that makes Orijen. Their Regional formulas, like Duck & Bartlett Pear, are 50 percent meat/fish from local sources – in this case, 50 percent duck. The first five ingredients are duck meal, deboned duck, green lentils, red lentils, and duck liver. Acana is made in Champion’s own facilities and the company has an excellent reputation. This particular food has 27 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat; with 6.5 percent crude fiber. Metabolic Energy of ACANA Duck & Bartlett Pear is 3358 kcal/kg (403 kcal per 120 G cup). It is AAFCO-approved for all life stages. If you like these ingredients with a higher protein percentage you can check Acana’s new Heritage line or Orijen.
Victor has several formulas that are grain and gluten-free for adult dogs. Any of them might be a good choice for a Weimaraner that needs to avoid grains. Most of the foods also provide plenty of protein and calories so they would be a good choice for a very active dog. Victor’s Ultra Pro 42 Grain Free formula uses no grains and it’s GMO-free. It’s nutrient-dense with 81 percent of the protein coming from meat, fish, or poultry. It has just 17 percent carbohydrates. The first five ingredients are Chicken Meal, Beef Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Peas, and Bison Meal. It has 42 percent crude protein, 22 percent crude fat, 2.7 percent fiber, and 9 percent moisture. This looks like a good food for an active Weimaraner. You can check out some of Victor’s other foods, too.
Merrick has some dry dog foods that might be good to consider for Weimaraners. The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Buffalo, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Salmon Meal (source of Omega 3 fatty acids), and Sweet Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 460 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat and fish ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, soy, or wheat. No gluten. No poultry by-products, no artificial preservatives. It has 38 percent crude protein and 17 percent crude fat.
Best Dog Foods for Weimaraner Puppies
We suggest a large breed puppy food for Weimaraner puppies to encourage slow growth. The recommended calcium to phosphorus ratio should be about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1. You can usually begin switching your Weimaraner puppy to an adult food when s/he reaches about 90 percent of his or her adult size. This is usually around 10-12 months of age.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Weimaraner puppies.
Similar to Fromm’s Large Breed Gold Adult formula, this large breed puppy formula contains no corn, wheat, or soy. The first three ingredients are duck, chicken meal, and chicken. The food is formulated for puppies who will grow to be over 50 pounds as adult dogs. Protein and fat in the food are moderate, and so are the calories, to help large breed puppies grow slowly. The technical analysis for the food shows the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio for large breed puppies. Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula also has added DHA-rich salmon oil for good brain and eye development in puppies. The USDA-inspected ingredients for the food are delivered fresh each morning. Since Weimaraner puppies can have problems with HOD if they grow too rapidly, we think that Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula would be a good choice.
Many breeders recommend Canidae to their puppy owners and feed it themselves. You can feed an All Life Stages food or you can feed a large/giant breed puppy food such as Canidae’s Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula which features duck meal, brown rice, and lentils. It’s specially designed for puppies that will grow to be over 50 pounds as adults. Duck meal is high in omega-3 fatty acid which is good for reducing joint inflammation. Lentils are a non-grain, gluten free source of carbs. The food is also lower in protein and fat so it helps keep large breed puppies slim – which can help prevent joint problems later in life.
As a puppy food, Canidae Life Stages Large Breed Puppy formula also contains high levels of DHA to help with cognitive development. And the food has no corn, wheat, soy, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. These are all things we look for in a good food for Weimaraner puppies.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Weimaraners
As noted, it’s not unusual for Weimaraners to live into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your dog as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older Weimaraner’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise. We haven’t actually seen an overweight Weimaraner, but they must exist.
On the other hand, very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Weimaraner. It remains the best food for older dogs that we have seen so far. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Weimaraner’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older.
Best Dog Foods for Weimaraners with Skin Problems/Allergies
Weimaraners are a breed that can have some skin problems related to food allergies and sensitivities. Since the breed can have various skin problems, if your dog is having skin trouble, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet and get a diagnosis. This can ultimately save you a lot of money – and help your dog. You don’t want to keep buying expensive dog foods thinking your dog has a food allergy if he really has a problem that’s not food-related.
If your dog’s skin problems are food allergies, here is a food we think might help. It is free of ingredients that commonly result in allergic reactions.
A Weimaraner suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – and has less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that Weimaraners with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
Best Dog Foods for Weimaraners with Sensitive Stomachs
Some dogs are susceptible to food sensitivities that affect their digestion and excretion. If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different form a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
If your Weimaraner can eat potatoes, we recommend >Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
Blackwood also has several formulas for dogs with sensitive stomachs. No corn, wheat, or soy. No artificial preservatives or colors.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Weimaraners
We’ve already mentioned that we have never seen an overweight Weimaraner but they must exist. If you have one of these rare dogs, you can help him lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise.
If your Weim needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Weimaraner who needs to lose weight we recommend >Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. We think it’s a healthy food for a dog that needs to slowly lose weight.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
Weimaraners make wonderful companions and great family dogs for active families. They are still doing the job they were bred to do today and they are in high demand as gun dogs. They are smart, full of energy, and they are one of the most versatile breeds of dog in the world. What’s not to like? Plus they have that cool, sleek, athletic appearance. We hope the information here about the breed and their nutrition helps you choose a good food to feed your Weim.
Below is a list of Products reviewed in this article
- Farmina Natural & Delicious Chicken Grain-Free Formula Dry Dog Food
- >AvoDerm Natural Grain-Free Revolving Menu Duck Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food
- >ACANA Duck & Bartlett Pear Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- >Victor Ultra Pro 42 Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- >Merrick’s Grain-Free Real Buffalo and Sweet Potato Recipe
- >Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold formula
- >Canidae – Life Stages Large Breed Puppy Duck Meal, Brown Rice & Lentils Formula Dry Dog Food
- >Orijen Senior Dog
- >Wild Calling! Xotic Essentials Rabbit Meal Recipe
- >Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Potato & Duck Formula Dry Dog Food
- >Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe