There are over 20 breeds that originated from Germany, some of which make great hunting partners like the German Shorthaired Pointer, the Munsterlander or the Dachshund others make excellent guarding dogs like the Rottweiler, Doberman and Leonberger (the gentle lion) and some just make incredible companion dogs, for example the Pomeranian. The most famous breed developed in Germany is of course the German Shepherd, a medium-sized dog that slightly resembles a wolf. This breed is one of smartest in the world and can take on any given task. Due to its psychological and physical qualities, it can be used in the most varied fields of activity: detection, war, intervention, fires, tracking, search and rescue, guide dog and many many other activities.
Learning about German dog breeds not only gives you a great crash course in some of the most beloved and popular dogs of our day, but also offers a unique way to turn back time and learn more about these dogs’ home country and culture.
How many German dog breeds can you name? Let’s see:
- Affenpinscher (Monkey dog)
- Boxer (German Boxer, German Bullmastiff, Deutscher Boxer)
- Dachshund (Standard Dachshund, Miniature Dachshund, Toy Dachshund, Doxie, Teckel, Sausage Dog)
- Doberman (Dobe, Dobie, Doby)
- Eurasier (Eurasian Dog, Eurasian)
- German Pointer (Vorstehhund)
- German Pinscher (Deutscher Pinscher)
- German Shepherd (Alsatian, Berger Allemand, Deutscher Schaferhund, GSD, Schaferhund)
- Schnauzer (Schnauzer )
- Great Dane (German Mastiff, Danish Hound, Deutsche Dogge, Grand Danois, Gentle Giant)
- Hovawart (Hovie)
- Munsterlander (Münsterländer, Vorstehhund, Munsterlander Pointer, Moonster)
- Leonberger (Gentle Lion, Leo)
- Pomeranian (Deutsche Spitze; Zwergspitz; Spitz nain; Spitz enano; Pom; Zwers, Pom)
- Rottweiler (Rottie, Rott)
- Weimaraner (Weimaraner Vorstehhund, Weim, Grey Ghost)
First up on the list of German dog breeds is the Affenpinscher, often called Affens by enthusiasts. At first glimpse, this pint-sized pup seems to be all hair! Chewbacca, anyone???
Affenpinscher is quite a name for a pup that rarely tops 10 pounds. The name literally translates to mean “ape terrier,” a nod to this dog’s shaggy coat and terrier lineage.
These dogs were originally bred to be ratters on farms and in kitchens. But it didn’t take long for this pseudo-serious canine comedian to transition from kitchen help to constant companion. These dogs are great athletes and do well in the show ring as well as in agility training and service dog work.
The Affenpinscher may be small in size, but like many petite pups, he doesn’t seem to realize it. One anecdote describes a teensy Affen facing down a grizzly bear!
The Boxer is considered one of the bigger German dog breeds, weighing anywhere from 65 to 80 lbs.
These dogs are all muscle— incredible athletes who exhibit an unfailingly happy, positive nature towards their owners.
However, these dogs were born and bred to work on farms, in the military and police forces, with hunters, and in service work as guide dogs.
Therefore, they really do well when they have a job to do or lots of daily exercise and activity. Not surprisingly, Boxers make excellent guard dogs and watchdogs for many families today!
One fun fact about the Boxer is that this dog gets its name from the way it “boxes” with its front paws when play-sparring or hunting prey. The Boxer has a lovely short, neat coat that requires minimal brushing to maintain.
Is there any more classic representative of German hound breeds than the diminutive and distinctive Dachshund. It comes in two sizes: miniature and standard.
So depending on your Doxie’s lineage, she might weigh just 10 lbs or less, or more than 30 lbs! The name dachshund literally translated means “badger dog.”
This is a nod to what these dogs were born and bred to do—chase down badgers and extract them from their underground burrows. This explains their long bodies and low hanging ears, as well as short, sturdy legs. But today, the Doxie is mostly called upon as a lap companion, a job which these dogs are excellent at.
Dachshunds, like many small dog breeds, don’t realize they’re a tiny size and have loud, hound barks, which they have been bred to use. You can expect plenty of alerts from your pint-sized, sausage-shaped watchdog.
Dachshunds can have smooth or wiry-haired coats, short or long. So the amount of brushing and grooming your dog will need can vary depending on the type and length of their coat.
The Doberman actually takes its name from its creator, Louis Doberman, a tax collector who wanted a canine companion to protect him during his rounds. Understandably, debtors were never too delighted to see him showing up!
The word “Pinscher” translates to “terrier,” which makes the Doberman a particularly large, sleek and powerful type of terrier. As it turned out, Doberman’s initial canine was very good at his job, and soon the Doberman Pinscher became a fixture in military, police, and service work.
The Doberman has a short, smooth coat that is very easy to groom and maintain. These dogs are also very smart and active and to thrive, require regular exercise.
It is a relatively new breed that was developed by crossbreeding the Chow Chow, Wolfspitz and Samoyed. It is a medium-sized dog, long rather than tall, with a brawny body. The head is strong and conical, similar to a wolf’s, with a flat skull and a frontal wrinkle. It has a conical muzzle and strong jaws. The eyes are medium-sized, slanting and dark. The ears are medium-sized, pointed, triangular, round-ended and erect. The tail is thick, bushy and carried on the back. The fur is double-layered, with a thick, short, fluffy inner layer and outer layer that has medium-length, straight hair that gives it a shaggy look. The hair is short on the muzzle, face and front side of the legs and long on the rest of the body. It can have any color except white and dark red.
It is an intelligent, quiet, well-balanced, alert, pretty friendly and obedient dog that doesn’t bark too much, but sometimes can have an independent thinking. It is affectionate and devoted to its family, it gets along with children, but it is careful and reserved with strangers. Generally it doesn’t have problems with other dogs or other household animals, especially if it was socialized with them from an early age.
Thanks to its name, the German Pointer is easy to identify as one of the German dog breeds! Like the Dachshund, another German breed, the German Pointer can sport both smooth and wire-haired coat, which can vary in length from short to long.
The wire-haired German Pointer is often slightly bigger and heavier than its smooth-haired cousin. The German Pointer was originally born and bred as a sport and hunting dog.
As such, these dogs are extremely smart and active—this is not a dog who will happily sit on the couch all day. German Pointers are great at agility and obedience training, service work, and tracking work.
The German shepherd is arguably Germany’s ambassador dog! What is less commonly known is that there are actually several different German shepherds. For simplicity, they can be categorized as either working lines and show lines.
It’s important to be aware that show lines are increasingly plagued with lower back issues on account of the steeply sloping back curve currently prized in the show ring. Overall, the German Shepherd makes a great family companion for active families that like to run, play, and exercise with their dog.
These dogs have thick, double layer coats that shed seasonally, but generally, weekly brushing is sufficient to maintain their coat. German shepherds bond closely with their owners and don’t do well left on their own or cooped up for long hours.
Even today, the Schnauzer is a staple on German farms. Schnauzers are bred in three sizes: miniature, standard, and giant.
All of them are extremely intelligent and share a wiry, close-fitting coat, exaggerated whiskers, and arched eyebrows. Schnauzers make very good family dogs and are great with kids. They are also excellent watchdogs.
It is important to hand-strip (manually remove dead or shed hairs) your Schnauzer’s coat rather than using electric clippers. This allows their coat to retain its protective waterproof properties. These dogs are very sociable and active and don’t do well when left on their own for long periods of time. You will also need to make time daily for exercise and play.
There are many opinions regarding the evolution of this breed. In 1876 the Great Dane was proclaimed Germany’s national breed. It is a large-sized dog, with a well-built, square, muscular, sturdy body and an noble and elegant look. The head is long with a square muzzle, equal in length to the skull. The eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, deeply-set and dark. The ears are medium-sized, drooping but can be cropped to stay erect. The neck is long and brawny. The tail is large and tapers from a broad base to a point at the tip, is kept low at rest and curves when alert. The fur has short, soft hair, close to the body and it can be brown, blue, black, harlequin, striped or with mantle (black with a white collar, chest, nose and feet).
It is a watchful, smart, enthusiastic, playful, calm and sensitive dog. It is very devoted and faithful to its family but especially to one person. Friendly by nature, it accepts other animals and dogs. It gets along well with other dogs. It is not very hospitable with strangers but the friends of the family are accepted straightaway. It isn’t a very noisy dog. It is a one-owner dog. If alienated as an adult, it will never be the same.
The Hovawart is a medium to large size German dog breed. The name of the breed means “an estate guard dog”, which is the original use for the breed. The breed originated in the Black Forest region and was first described in text and paintings in medieval times. It is a large-sized, strong dog, with a robust build. The head is medium-sized, with the muzzle equal in length to the skull and with a wide, rounded forehead. The eyes are medium-sized and dark. The ears are triangular with pointed tips and drooping. The tail is bushy and long, but without touching the ground. The fur is double-layered, with an outer layer made of soft, glossy, slightly wavy, medium length hair, longer on the neck and tail. It can be black, black with a patch, black with yellow to golden, with a white patch on the chest and the tip of the tail.
It is a brave and watchful dog with a very good sense of smell, well balanced and playful. It is gentle, affectionate, loyal to the family and attached especially to one person. Playful and patient with children, it is reserved with strangers and accepts them only with the master’s approval. It accepts other animals and other dogs, even treating them with indifference if it was socialized from an early age.
It is the descendant of the “Hawk dog” from the Middle Ages and the result of the crossbreed between Pointers, Wachtelhunds and Stoberhunds. It was developed mainly in the region Munster from Germany, where comes the name. Through supervised selections were the current specimens were obtained which are very appreciated in Germany and Switzerland.
The Large Munsterländer is a large gundog originating in Germany. It gained recognition in the early 1900s. It differs from the Small Münsterländer due to its size and color, as the breed is only found in solid black or black and white (with black ticking spots allowed).
The Small Munsterländer is similar to its larger cousin but isn’t closely related. The breed was developed in Germany as a gundog capable of hunting on land and in water. They were first used by royal families to hunt alongside their falconers. The breed comes in white and brown with brown ticking acceptable.
The Leonberger sure is a looker among German dog breeds! This extra-large fluffy dog can weigh anywhere from 90 to 170+ pounds as an adult, but their long manes make this dog look even larger.
The Leonberger is considered one of the aristocrats of the German breeds and although this dog may be huge in body, they are truly gentle and patient in spirit. Sometimes referred to as Leos by their fans, the Leonberger is a fabulous family dog as well as a great working dog. And a surprisingly good swimmer!
The Leonberger takes its name from its birthplace, the town of Leonberg, Germany. The dog’s creator, Heinrich Essig, wanted to breed a dog that looked like the Leonberg town’s mascot, a lion. When you see this dog, you’ll see he succeeded!
No discussion of German dog breeds would be complete without including the Pomeranian, the miniature dazzler hailing from what was once Pomerania and is now part of Western Germany.
In some parts of the world, the Pomeranian is called the Zwergspitz, a nod to the dog ’s Spitz ancestors.
However, it’s fairly safe to say that the Pom, as many fans call them, is hairier than any spitz dog on the planet! Pomeranians are incredibly smart but can be stubborn. They are, however, easy to train. Pomeranians, like many miniature dog breeds, just don’t seem to realize their size, despite the fact that Pom could be described as a big ball of fluff on legs.
The Pomeranian became popular outside of Germany after Queen Victoria, smitten with the breed, took Poms back to England to breed them. Pomeranians require a lot of combing and brushing to maintain their luxurious coat.
This breed is the result of the crossbreeding between the dogs brought by the Roman legions and the German shepherd dogs. The name comes from the town Rottweil, the center of cattle and grain merchants, whom they accompanied and protected. It is widely spread in Europe and also in the USA, where it is very loved.
It is a large-sized dog, with a strong and muscular body that inspires strength. The head is medium-sized, wide, with a short and strong muzzle. The eyes are almond-shaped and dark. The ears are medium-sized, pointed, triangular and drooping. The neck is strong, of medium length and the chest is prominent, wide and brawny. The tail is docked. The coat is short, thick and rough. It is black with reddish-brown patches.
This dog is intelligent, brave, obedient, watchful and steadfast. It is very protective and devoted to the family, but especially to one person and if it was socialized with children from an early age, it will be a great playmate for them. The Rottweiler will defend its master and its territory until the end.
The Weimaraner is called the “Grey Ghost” in its home country of Germany. These truly gorgeous dogs and there are many Weimaraner supermodels that have been immortalized by artists.
With their short close coats, Weimaraners are easy to groom. But you’ll need to make time weekly to check and clean your dog’s ears since they hang closely over the ear canals and are prone to infection.
The Weimaraner is a smart, high-energy dog that really needs a lot of daily exercise and activity! If it’s not provided, you can expect your intelligent dog to find her own fun, which may include remodeling your interior décor and perhaps your lawn and garden as well.