Can Weimaraners Live with Cats?

Weimaraners make great family pets, but may attack or kill cats.

Weimaraners make great family pets, but may attack or kill cats.

Smart, loyal and active, a Weimaraner makes a great addition to your family, unless you've got cats. Even with extensive training, this breed has an extremely high prey drive and often kills cats. Your best bet chance for peaceful cohabitation is to raise a Weimaraner puppy. Vigilance is required, though.

A Hunter's Heart

Today, most people know Weimaraners as family-friendly companions and small game hunters, but it wasn't always so. These speedy, graceful dogs come from German stock and were originally employed by the aristocracy to hunt wolves, deer and bears, according to the American Kennel Club. Weimaraners—nicknamed "gray ghosts" for their short, sleek gray coats—are highly trainable, but require lots of exercise, or else they get restless and act out. They retain a strong, practically inexorable prey drive.

Tough Decisions

If you've got cats and a Weimaraner, you've got a problem. Even the most well-behaved, well-trained dogs of the breed have been known to kill cats. As a general rule, if you've got a Weimaraner, don't bring cats home. If you've got cats, don't bring a Weimaraner home. If you decide to mix the two anyway—hey, pet forum anecdotes and Internet videos show some peaceful pairings—you must be prepared to answer a basic question: What will you do with your Weimaraner if he kills the cat? If you're not willing to keep him, bringing him home isn't fair to the dog, you or your family in the first place.

The Puppy Approach

The results of a Tel Aviv University study reported in 2008 may help you successfully integrate Weimaraners and cats in the same home. The study found that if properly introduced and socialized, dogs and cats can get along. The trick is to adopt a young cat first—say one less than 6 months old—and then to introduce a young dog—say one less than a year old. Even then, this doesn't mean your pets will enjoy each other's company—they may just be indifferent to one another. In order for this approach to work, you've got to adopt or buy a Weimaraner puppy and stick to a rigorous training routine. Your dog's natural hunting instincts have been honed across generations: you'll be fighting an uphill battle.

Training and Discipline

When introducing your Weimaraner and cat, keep the former confined to one or two rooms with a baby gate and make sure the latter has safe perches and escape routes. Put the dog on a leash and stay calm. This is standard practice for all dog-cat introductions. Weimaraners are highly sensitive and highly trainable. Use positive reinforcements like praise, affection, toys and treats. Consider clicker training. Build on successes by expanding and extending play dates. Never let your dog bark, lunge at or bite a cat. Stop all such behaviors with firm "No" and "Sit" commands. Your Weimaraners' feelings are easily hurt, so don't over-scold him. After all, he's just doing what's natural to him. Avoid disciplining a cat who attacks a dog; this can spur lifelong scorn and antagonism that provokes the animal's own demise.

 

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