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11 Noble Facts About Weimaraners

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It’s hard to miss a Weimaraner, thanks to their unusual gray coats and mesmerizing gray, blue, or amber eyes. Learn more about this dignified breed and its German origins. 

1. THEY WERE DEVELOPED IN GERMANY. 

A fairly new breed, the Weimaraner first came about in Germany in the 19th century. Nobles were attempting to breed the perfect hunting dog, with qualities like tracking ability, speed, and endurance; the signature silver coat was likely developed by accident. Originally called Weimar pointers, the dogs get their name from the Weimar Republic. The nobles of the Weimar court would keep the dogs as companions and bring them on hunting expeditions. Some say that the Grand Duke Karl August of Sachsen-Weimar single-handedly created this breed, but there is no mention in historical writing that he played any part.

2. THE GERMAN NOBLES WERE FIERCELY PROTECTIVE OF THE BREED. 

In order to keep the bloodlines pure, the nobles of the Weimar court were very careful in selecting who could have access to the puppies. The Weimaraner club formed in 1897 to help protect the breed’s integrity. Only members of the club could purchase a puppy, but it was difficult to gain access to the exclusive organization. The club did not promote itself or the breed, taking great pains to stay under the radar—sort of like the Fight Club of dog breeding. Only 1500 dogs were allowed to be registered at a time. 

Creating a club in the United States proved to be difficult due to the German fanciers’ protectiveness. It was not until Rhode Island-born Howard Knight discovered the breed in the ‘20s that the dogs showed any promise of ever making it to the States. Knight had heard of the breed through a friend named Fritz Grossman. He brought two dogs home, but the female proved sterile, making breeding impossible. Knight still kept and trained the dogs as a sign of good will, and in 1929, he became the first American member of the Weimaraner Club of Germany. Four more dogs were sent to Knight in 1938 and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1942.

3. THEY’RE CLEVER. 

Weimaraners are so smart that they’re sometimes referred to as "the dog with the human brain." Of all the breeds, they are 21st smartest in the dog world. While being smart can make training easier, it’s important to channel that intelligence properly at a young age. Left unchecked, a Weimaraner can use its brains to outsmart its owner. Unlocking fences, stealing treats, and escaping crates are just some of the shenanigans a delinquent Weimaraner can get into. 

4. THEIR EYES CHANGE WITH AGE.   

As puppies, Weimaraners have light blue eyes, but they don’t stay that way for long. As they grow up, the dogs’ eyes turn either amber or a gray-blue color. 

5. SOMETIMES THEY HAVE LONG HAIR. 

We mostly see the shorthaired version of the breed, but there are some fanciers who still breed Weimaraners with longer fur. Traditionally, the shaggier variation was used to hunt waterfowl; the longer coat would protect them from the cold water. Longhaired Weimaraners are not accepted by the AKC and the gene is recessive, so they’re very uncommon. Despite this, there are still some longhair enthusiasts out there keeping the trait alive. 

6. THEY HAVE A KEEN SENSE OF SMELL. 

These dogs are close relatives to the bloodhound—as well as the English pointer, the German short-haired pointer, the blue great Dane, and others—so it makes sense that they would have powerful noses. Their sense of smell came in handy when they worked as hunting dogs, tracking large game like boar, wildcat, bear, and deer. As hunting changed in Germany, the dogs were eventually used as bird-dogs. Today, Weimaraners dominate tracking contests; owners joke that it’s almost cheating because they’re so good at it.  

7. THEY PLAYED A PART DURING THE COLD WAR.

Weimaraners are great trackers and have been used in missing person cases and other search and rescue missions. Their reputation as skilled pointers probably led to one of them being chosen to help find missile parts during the Cold War. A Weimaraner named Dingo, along with a German shorthair named Count, helped sniff out small bits of missile after launches so scientists could recover and study them. The parts were coated in squalene, a shark-liver oil, which helped the dogs locate them in the desert sand. In the summer, the dogs wore special terrycloth jackets with pockets that held ice cubes to keep them cool while they were working. 

8. SOME PEOPLE CALL THEM THE ‘GRAY GHOST’ 

When a Weimaraner is out on a dreary day, they tend to get lost in the fog. Owners say that their dogs sometimes completely disappear into the landscape when they walk too far away.   

9. THEY NEED TO RUN. 

These are high energy dogs, so don’t expect them to lounge on the couch with you. Weimaraners need a lot of exercise and space to move around. According to the Iowa Weimaraner Rescue, these dogs need more activity than almost any other breed. That means daily and rigorous exercise is needed or your dog will get antsy and bored. Fetch, swimming, and other intensive activities should do the trick. 

10. THE PUPPIES HAVE STRIPES. 

Strangely, when Weimaraners are first born, they have dark grey tiger stripes. These don’t stick around for long: After just a few days, they fade away entirely. 

11. THEY MAKE GREAT SUBJECTS.

Many Americans were first introduced to Weimaraners through the work of photographer Williams Wegman. The artist would capture his dogs—Man Ray first, and then Fay Wray, Chip, and others—in poses emulating classic art, pop culture, and other amusing situations. On top of photography, he also made amusing videos, like trying to teach Man Ray to spell. Man Ray was such a good model that the Village Voice named the dog “Man of the Year” in 1982. The charming and witty videos found their way on to all sorts of television shows, from Saturday Night Live to Sesame Street

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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