HISTORY

THE WEIMARANER STANDARD FROM THE BLUE PERSPECTIVE

Blue Weimaraners as we know them today in the United States can be traced back to one dog, Cäsar von Gaiberg (“Tell”), imported from Germany in 1949. His arrival sparked immediate controversy over his dark coat color even though the 1944 Standard, obviously written prior to Tell’s arrival to America, specifically includes the Blue color in the “General Appearance” description: “Color Gray (Silver, Bright, Dark, Yellow); the Dark Gray may be either ash or blue.” The fact that in the following year the Weimaraner Club of America conducted a fairly intensive interview regarding Tell indicates that there was some serious concern and major controversy over this dog that Jack Denton Scott called the “black menace” (131). This interview is documented in the Minutes of Meeting of Board of Governors of the Weimaraner Club of America, March 8, 1950 - PDF, where the WCA attempted to address the accusation that Tell was not a purebred Weimaraner.

In this interview, Captain Harry J. Holt, the American who purchased and imported Tell to the United States, claimed that Tell’s coat color was not viewed as aberrant and was referred to by the Germans as “mouse gray.” (Please see article on Tell for more information.) The minutes documented in 192 pages ended with no formal conclusions. Later the same year, after an AKC investigation of his German papers, and after getting the 10 show points necessary, Tell was registered in the AKC studbook in September 1950 and as such was acknowledged as a purebred Weimaraner by the AKC.

By 1951 the WCA was distracted by another coat variety controversy, whether to accept the Longhaired Weimaraner. Emphasis was placed on the recessive inheritance as being the major reason for seeking disqualification (Wood). Attempts to change the standard to disqualify the Longhair were made in the early 50’s, with the Blue Weimaraner riding on the coat strings of the Longhair issue. The reason offered for seeking disqualification of the Blues was that the gray shade was preferred and that the acceptable Weimaraner color should be of a narrow range and not to include Blue (Wood). Though the WCA’s reasoning for disqualifying the Blues had nothing to do with the mode of inheritance (dominant), somehow around this time, perhaps solely to do with timing, blue was erroneously characterized as a recessive trait. And even though the AKC rejected the WCA’s attempt to disqualify the Longhairs and Blues (See proposed 1952 revision), both were subsequently classified as a very serious fault in the approved 1953 standard. The 1953 standard reads, “Any long-haired coat or coat darker than mouse-gray to silver-gray is considered a most undesirable recessive trait."

Homer Carr, a prominent and respected Weimaraner breeder informed the AKC prior to 1953 and again in 1957 that the statement in the Standard that blue was recessive was incorrect (Wood). Yet the minor 1959 standard revision continued to insist that the blue was recessive. The recessive statement was dropped from the Standard in 1965 when once again an attempt was made to disqualify the Blue with a membership vote.  AKC rejected the proposed standard which included the Blue disqualification.  In Elizabeth Wood's excellent article, she quotes an AKC "Memorandum" of January 1965, where the AKC acknowledges that there is “considerable sentiment against the [Standard] change.” Consequently, in the 1965 Standard “a color darker than mouse gray” remained a very serious fault.

This action left what the WCA later called “an unsettled condition.” There had been two unsuccessful attempts to disqualify the Blues, and in 1970 once again the issue of what to do about the Blues was formally addressed. The WCA took the position that “the continuous breeding of such Blue Weimaraners is detrimental to the breed” (December 5, 1969 Board Meeting Minutes - PDF) and continued to handicap the Blues by doing such things as banning advertising of Blues in the Weimaraner Magazine - PDF, the official publication of the Weimaraner Club of America as well as by preventing publication of letters which complained of the WCA's bias.  (See paid advertisement in the Graymatter publishing the omissions from the Board Meeting minutes - PDF.) 

In January of 1970, the WCA membership received official notice - PDF of a plan for a membership vote on whether to disqualify the Blues. Of note, the WCA did not present the club members with the opportunity to vote to classify Blue as a separate variety. WCA President Ted Jarmie in a letter dated January 27, 1970 to the Southland Weimaraner Club's Graymatter newsletter (February 1970) states that "The Board could see no reason for... recommending a contrary course [from the 1965 membership vote] such as accepting the blue dog or forming a variety for it."  In this official notice, the WCA Board "recommended disqualification" to the membership and presented a timetable of how the arguments would be presented before vote.

The first few months of the Weimaraner Magazines in 1970 published pro and con arguments for the disqualification, all the while the WCA Board took a strong stance of being for disqualification.  (See letter to all Weimaraner Owners from the WCA Board of Directors - PDF in the March 1970 Weimaraner Magazine.)  Despite the fact that the WCA continued to limit pro-Blue sentiment in the magazine, in the May 1970 Weimaraner Magazine - PDF, there is a small note in the Membership Meeting Minutes that “The referendum ballot was 588 to work with AKC to revise the existing standard disqualifying blue and black coats, while 422 voted to leave the standard as is,” and “President Jarmie said that the standard would stay as it presently is worded since there were not sufficient votes to constitute two-thirds of the membership voting.”

The WCA Board re-doubled its efforts. In the New Board Meeting Minutes published in the May 1970 Weimaraner Magazine - PDF, the Board took the position that they would “work toward disqualification of the blue.”  The Board refused to document pro-Blue sentiment discussed in Board meetings in their minutes and also refused to publish letters to the editor that pointed out the WCA's bias.  (See paid advertisement in the Graymatter publishing the omissions from the Board Meeting minutes - PDF.)  In reaction to complaints, the Board put a moratorium on the subject.  Many felt that the WCA was forcing its will on the membership.

Perhaps most damning to the Blue cause was a copy of a letter from the German Klub discussing Weimaraner coat color variations and its accompanying English translation which appeared in the April 1971 issue of the Weimaraner Magazine. The translation of the German letter is slanted towards the Board’s stance on the issue. The letter and translation are discussed further here.

According to Elizabeth Wood, “after two rounds of voting, and in spite of more than a hundred letters written to AKC protesting the change, the Standard was revised once again.” Results from the August 1971 vote - PDF as certified by the Jack Aulik Law Offices showed 711 votes for the disqualification of “a distinctly blue or black coat” and 245 votes against disqualification of “a distinctly blue or black coat.” On this basis, the Blue Weimaraner was disqualified. There have however been allegations that the WCA's ballot was deliberately unfair and inaccurate due to lumping black coats along with blue coats since many felt that Blue Weimaraners were purebred but black coated Weimaraners were products of cross-breedings.  There have been further allegations that the “against” votes that had the “black coat” crossed out on the ballot (so that the ballot read “against disqualification of a distinctly blue coat or black coat”) were considered tampered and not counted.

In December 1971 the AKC approved this change effective December 1972. AKC's letter approving the revision of the standard acknowledges that “a number of letters” were received from fanciers who favored Blues. The letter explains that one of the main reasons for approval of disqualification was to clarify for judges what “darker than mouse-gray” meant (which up until then was categorized as a “very serious fault”). While acknowledging that “the silver gray color of the Weimaraner coat is a distinctive feature of the breed,” the AKC never implies that the Blue coat color is aberrant nor incorrect – no value judgment is made. Indeed, the letter specifically mentions that Blues will still be registerable, and that there would be “no reason to fear that the outstandingly good qualities of any blue dog or bitch could not be passed on to future generations of the breed without retaining the darker color.”

The 1972 standard reads “Disqualifications - A distinctly long coat. A distinctly blue or black coat.” The 1972 Standard is our current standard.


       


CÄSAR VON GAIBERG

 
About Tell, the Progenitor of Blues
    

THE STANDARD
 
The Original Standard and 1944 Revision
Standard Changes
    

THE ARGUMENTS
 
Pro and Con
The German Klub Letter
    

RESOURCES
 
WCA Minutes of Meeting (Holt Interview) - PDF
Elizabeth Wood Article - offsite
WCA Board Minutes 12/69 - PDF
WCA Letter to Membership 03/70 - PDF
Certification of Disqualification - PDF
AKC Letter on Disqualification - PDF
Longhaired Weimaraner - offsite

 

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