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Weimaraner vs. Labrador Retriever: Breed Differences & Similarities

Considering the Labrador Retriever or the Weimaraner for your next companion dog? These two breeds share many similarities but are also quite different from one another. Find out what you can expect when you adopt either breed.

Kelly Wilson

Last Updated: March 12, 2021 | 9 min read

Weimaraner vs Labrador

Comparing the Labrador Retriever vs. the Weimaraner for your next canine companion? If you’re looking for a new canine running partner or hunting companion, you’ve likely narrowed your choices down to a few breeds. Both Weimaraners and Labrador Retrievers are high-energy, intelligent dogs that make excellent pets; however, they are not the same.

A great deal of what makes a good pet is matching your needs with a breed that fits. If you’re a sedentary person, a very active dog won’t be happy in your home. It’s a bad idea to bring home a dog that’s not good with kids if you have young children around. Picking the right breed will make both you and your new friend happy partners for life.

Whether you’re just curious about these two dogs or are considering adding to your furry family, here’s the scoop on both breeds. You’ll find information about breed histories, health concerns, training, nutrition, and grooming needs. In short, everything you need to make an educated decision.

Breed Comparison

Weimaraner

  • Height 23-27 Inches
  • Weight 55-90 Pounds
  • Temperament Friendly, Social, Energetic
  • Energy Very Active
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-13 Years
  • Price $1500 and up

Labrador

  • Height 21.5-24.5 Inches
  • Weight 55-80 Pounds
  • Temperament Friendly, Active, Outgoing
  • Energy Very Active
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 10-12 Years
  • Price $1000 and up

Breed History

Scientists are not yet entirely sure, but research suggests we humans domesticated dogs over 15,000 years ago. That means humans have bred dogs to suit specific purposes for thousands of years. Those millennia of selecting for certain traits is what gives each breed its different qualities.

Weimaraner

Beautiful Gray Dog Standing Outside
The Weimaraner is an early relative to other pointing breeds.

These sleek, beautiful “silver ghosts” originated in Weimer, Germany. Their old name was the Weimer Pointer. Hunters used them to help bring down big game like bears and deer. They eventually became useful for smaller prey like birds and rabbits as well.

The Weimaraner breed was made famous in the 1970s through the portraits by photographer William Wegman. He’s been taking photos of his dogs ever since, dressed up as humans in various poses. These pictures were the first introduction many people had to these photogenic dogs.

Labrador Retriever

Chocolate Brown Dog Standing Outside
Labradors are one of the most loved dog breeds and are great for families.

According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador Retrievers have been America’s #1 favorite dog since 1991. That’s a long time to top the charts, especially when there are 197 other recognized dog breeds. But they weren’t originally meant to be hearthside companions.

Labrador is an area in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Long ago, it was a favorite spot of cold-hearty fishermen who spent their days at sea. Due to their short, oily coats and webbed toes, Labs were ideal dogs to keep them company. Labs are excellent swimmers, and the fishermen trained them to retrieve fish, ducks, and other watery game.

Appearance

Young Gray Dog With Blue Eyes and Young Black Dog
Both of these dogs have memorable features, but the most notable difference is their color.

Weimaraners have the nicknames “silver ghost” and “gray ghost” because of their very distinctive short, silver-gray coats. The color can even appear bluish or black on some dogs. Interestingly enough, Weimars are actually sometimes mistaken for a Silver-coated Lab, because of their similar appearances. In most cases, Weimaraners are the same color overall, but some can have a white spot on their chests.

Out of the two, the Weimaraner stands the tallest and is slightly heavier on average than the Lab. Both have short triangular ears that flop down to each side of the head.

Neither breed is loose-lipped or tends to drool like a Basset or a Mastiff. Weimaraners can have startlingly blue-gray or amber eyes that fade from the bright blue of their puppyhood.

One distinctive feature of the Labrador Retriever is its rudder-like “otter” tail. The tail helps steer the dog when in the water. It is significantly longer than the stubby tail of the Weimaraner. Labs have short, sleek coats that range from blonde to dark chocolate. Their eyes are kind and usually brown or hazel.

Temperament

Young Gray Dog Sitting With Older Black Dog
Both dog breeds were bred for hunting, making them energetic and active pets.

Both breeds are high-energy dogs that are happy as long as they get plenty of workouts. They are also both intelligent enough to invent their own activities if you don’t provide them. However, their idea of “fun” may not be the same as yours. Think holes in the backyard or the couch cushions.

Weimaraners should be socialized starting from young pups and extending throughout their adult lives. The more they’re used to being around people and other dogs, the more outgoing and friendly they are. If kept isolated, they become nervous and shy. They aren’t the best dogs around cats or other small pets as they have a strong prey drive.

A Lab’s temperament is part of the reason they’re America’s #1 dog. They are super friendly and outgoing, wanting to make friends with everything and everyone. A healthy Lab won’t snap at people or show much aggression; only offer plenty of cuddles. They’re great for children and typically don’t go after the other housepets.

Both breeds love to hang out with their people in the home. Weimaraners are known for following their owners around the house like four-legged shadows. You can expect both dogs to want to share your bed or curl up at your feet in front of the fireplace.

Exercise

Dark Gray Dog and Black Dog Playing Tug of War
Weims and Labs both enjoy playing outside, especially when you join them!

Both dog breeds are very active. They were bred as hunting companions, walking for hours with their owners and retrieving prey from land and water. Neither dog is happy when confined to the yard or a crate. If you don’t have room in your schedule for regular walks, runs, and games of fetch, you’re better off with another breed.

When you have to be away from home, be sure to supply your dog with plenty of toys to keep them busy. The best toys for these dogs will have a problem-solving element. While many puzzle toys involve stuffing them with treats, too many of these can make your dog overweight. So, mix it up with hide-n-seek style toys.

Of course, the best games are the ones that get you outside and interacting with your dog. You can keep a Lab occupied for hours with a simple game of fetch. If you have a park with a pond, make sure the water is safe enough for swimming. It’s hard to keep a Lab out of the water, even in cold weather. Labs love long walks, so we recommend harness training with a properly fitted harness.

Weimaraners will enjoy a romp in the woods where they can sniff the wildlife. You can also train them to run alongside your bicycle or skateboard. Just make sure they can’t take off after other cyclists when their instincts take over.

Training

Well Behaved Dogs Sitting Outside
These breeds are very smart animals that can pick up new skills and be taught to do just about anything.

Even the smartest dogs require training. If you start with a puppy, obedience classes where they can interact with you and other dogs are a good idea. Keep reinforcing their training as they get older, and stay consistent. Mixed messages will leave your dog feeling anxious and unsure.

Weimaraners can easily pick up new skills and get bored when asked to repeat the same old tricks again and again. These dogs need you to be firm but gentle when giving commands. They’re known for being sensitive to shouting or harsh reprimands and don’t easily forget the slight to their feelings.

Labs are a bit more resilient where their feelings are concerned. However, shouting at your dog is never a good way to interact with them. Some dogs can take on this characteristic by shouting back at their owners. Try positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to behave.

Health

Adult Gray and White Dogs at the Vet
Each of these breeds is relatively hearty and healthy with only a few common health concerns.

Any purebred dog comes with its own set of health concerns. These concerns are mostly because the gene pool isn’t very diverse. Mixed breeds tend to be sturdier overall. If you decide on a purebred dog, it’s important to be aware of their specific breed tendencies.

Weimaraners are generally healthy dogs. There are a few things you do need to be aware of, though. Vaccines can cause an autoimmune reaction in this breed. There’s currently no way to tell if your Weim will react badly to a vaccine before they get one.

When you go in for the standard vaccinations, it’s a good idea to get one at a time to see how your dog will react. Your vet should be familiar with this breed’s predisposition, but certain vaccines aren’t recommended at all unless your dog is at higher risk of contracting a disease.

A second concern with Weims is bloating. It may seem like a simple gas problem, but it can cause a condition called gastric torsion. This problem can be fatal! Learn to recognize the signs and take your dog to a hospital immediately if you notice any symptoms.

Hip and joint dysplasia is the most common issue with Labrador Retriever health. It is a hereditary condition that happens with many larger breeds as they develop. Keeping your puppy at a healthy weight and exercising on soft surfaces can help keep your Lab from developing dysplasia later in life.

Nutrition

Gray and White Dogs Eating From Dog Bowls
You will find that both of these breeds have a sizable appetite, so be sure to feed them nourishing kibble.

Weims like to eat. After they gobble up the first bowl, they may even try to convince you that they haven’t been fed at all, only to get a second helping. Weimaraners typically eat around 1.5 to 3 cups of dry dog food per day. Steer clear of rich foods that can upset their stomachs. Keep an eye on wet food and feed small portions along with dry kibble.

Labs also like to eat. So much so, that you really need to make sure you break up their feedings into multiple sittings. They will eat everything in front of them and can get overweight in old age as they slow down. A typical Labrador’s nutrition needs will call for a similar food amount as the Weimaraner, about 1.5 to 3 cups of dry kibble per day.

Plenty of fresh water and high-quality dog food will serve a Lab well. Watch the number of treats you hand out. Table scraps aren’t a good idea for any dog, especially since some foods we eat – like grapes and chocolate – are potentially deadly for canines. If your Lab becomes overweight, it could aggravate joint dysplasia and cause pain.

Grooming

Gray and Blond Dogs Clean After a Bath
Being shorthaired, neither breed is tough to care for when it comes to grooming.

The Weimaraner is the easier of the two to care for because of its short coat. Brush about once a week and keep the nails trimmed regularly. You can wash them a little less often but don’t neglect the bath for too long.

Labradors do shed and can do with a good brushing, especially in the spring and summer. While you’re grooming, don’t forget to brush the teeth too. These dogs also need nail care. Because their ears don’t allow for a lot of airflow, they are prone to ear infections. Keep the ears clean, especially after a good swim.

Puppy Prices

Puppy Dogs Looking Up at the Camera
Expect to dish out at least $1,000 – $1,500, respectively, for these adorable pups.

If you’ve decided that one of these two pups is your favorite, the next step is to find out where to get a hold of one. The last place you want to get a dog is through a pet store or online. The main concern here is they could source their dogs from Puppy Mills, which are horrible places where dogs are badly mistreated.

Adoption is always a great option, and many breed-specific rescue organizations exist nationwide. That means you could give a purebred a second chance at a healthy home. If you decide to get a pup from a breeder, make sure they’re properly registered and certified.

Getting a puppy from a reputable breeder will cost you upwards of $1,000 for a Lab and $1,500 for a Weim. Weims tend to be more expensive due to demand, the cost of pedigrees, and medical testing.

Final Thoughts

Weims and Labs are both excellent dogs for people with active lifestyles. They like to be indoors, close to their human companions. Both dogs are smart and take to training with ease. Left alone, they tend to devise ways to escape and get into trouble.

Weimaraners are the more striking of the two as far as looks go. They’re sleeker and have very recognizable features. There’s just something about those pale blue eyes! Their prey drive is strong and they’re more likely to take off after a squirrel than a Lab is.

Labs are the better choice if you’ve got small pets at home. They’re also not quite as sensitive as Weims. Their temperament and geniality are part of what makes them such a popular breed. Labs are usually great with kids, other dogs, and visiting human friends. Either way, give your dog plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, and you’ll have a loyal friend for life.

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