If you’re ready to add a dog to your home, you’ve likely already started your search for the perfect breed. Dog breeds hail from all over the globe, leaving families spoiled for choose when it comes to the selection of their ideal pooch. Many of the types of dogs we have come to know and love hail from Germany, a country with a rich heritage of developing different breeds. If you’re thinking you might like to add a pooch of German heritage to your home, you won’t want to miss our list of the top 10 German breeds.
The Affenpinscher is a beloved German breed that is known for his distinctive appearance that has been compared to that of a monkey. Affectionately known as “monkey dogs,” “ape terriers,” and even by the French handle “diablotin moustachu” (meaning mustached little devil), this unique looking little fellow has been been compared to Wookies and Ewoks, the mythical creatures from Star Wars.
A big dog in a small package, the Affenpinscher, sometimes referred to simply as “Affen,” stands at less than 12” at the shoulder. The breed can be challenging to train, requiring gentle wooing. His coat is intended to look intentionally dishevelled and is seen in several different color variations. A breed known for its stubborn nature, the Affenspinscher is also a very loving and affectionate family pet with a comical nature.
The Affenpinscher is not a terrier; however, his workmanlike origins required him to perform many similar tasks. In his native Germany, the Affenpinscher was given the job of keeping the stables free from rats and other nuisance creatures. Though their job originally took place in the great outdoors, they were eventually moved inside where their primary role was to exterminate the field mice taking residence in the kitchen.
In 2013, an Affenpinscher by the name of Banana Joe took home the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Show with his Best in Show.
The Dachshund, a breed available in two different sizes and several different coat varieties, is a much-beloved dog type that hails from Germany. His unique appearance is characteristic of the breed and has earned him the teasing term of “wiener dog.”
The Standard Dachshund is the larger of the two types and weighs between 16-32 lbs with the Miniature weighing in at 11 lbs or lower. Coat type can be smooth, wire-haired, or long-haired.
Due to their short legs, Dachshunds are not a breed intended to do strenuous activity such as running or jumping, but beyond these few limitations, the breed is up for any adventure you’ve got in mind.
The Dachshund is known for his intelligence and determination and has a fearsome bark contrary to his small size. The breed was developed to act as a hunting companion with sufficient independence to stubbornly trace down predators. As such, they can be focused to the point of their own peril.
The name Dachshund is German meaning “badger dog.” The breed traces its lineage to approximately 600 years ago in Germany when he was employed to rid his owner’s property of nuisance badgers, a job at which he excelled. Since digging inside dens was often necessary to trap and kill prey, the Dachshund’s long body which was low to the ground made him the perfect dog for the task at hand.
The Dachshund is considered the national dog of Germany.
Another distinctive German dog breed who is somewhat less common in the United States today is the Eurasier. The Eurasier’s lovely coat comes in many different colors; all are accepted according to the breed’s standard with the exception of the following: liver, pure white, and unusual white patches.
One of the hallmarks of the breed is his tongue which can range from purple to pink and even spotted. The Eurasier can have a dark face mask or a light one with the light referred to as a reverse mask. In temperament, the Eurasier is gentle, loving, affectionate, and deeply intelligent.
The breed was developed in Germany by a man named Julius Wipfel who was on a quest to create a dog similar to his black Spitz-like pooch and whose main characteristics included independence and a high intellect. In his ideal dog, he also sought to breed one which closely resembled the wolf in social skills and adaptability to his environment yet with the heart to bond with his family and enjoy their love and affection. The process took much time. It first began with the selective breeding of a Wolfspitz to a Chow Chow. In 1972, a Samoyed was added to the mix to contribute the quality of friendliness. It was decided to name the breed a Eurasier as a nod to the dog types in this new breed’s pedigree who hailed from Europe and Asia.
The German Pinscher has a sleek, muscular appearance that draws the eye. A dog of real sophistication in movement and demeanour, the German Pinscher is a no nonsense kind of pooch. Standing only to approximately knee-level against most adults, this dog breed is all about finely toned musculature which stands out against a rich coat which can be red or black and blue with red accents.
The German Pinscher is considered one of the oldest dog breeds in Germany. He was the precursor to the breed known as the Miniature Pinscher, or Min Pin, as well as the Doberman Pinscher. The name “pinscher” translates to pincer which means to nip. Since the German Pinscher’s original role was to kill rats, the name is quite apropos.
The German Spitz has an incredibly attractive coat that draws him lots of attention wherever he goes. The breed is known for the furry mane of hair growth around the neck that is referred to as a ruff as well as the thick hairy tail which he carries over his back.
The German Spitz’s fox-like head is an important distinctive of the breed. His coat can be white, black, cream, gold, sable, black and tan, and even chocolate brown. A dog breed that enjoys training, he is spirited and very smart but possessed of a strong mind of his own.
This dog breed is considered one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. The German Spitz comes in size variations and different kennel clubs classify him differently on this basis. Some kennel clubs regard the German Spitz as a member of the Pomeranian and Keeshond families depending on their size. The earliest known record of the German Spitz is in 1450 when he was referenced as an excellent watchman over his owner’s home, hearth, and fields. This comment was traced to the region of Pomerania, an area which figured prominently in the development of the breed.
Though this original German Spitz was small in size, he was big of bark and mental acuity. Because of these skills, they were highly sought after for fishermen who employed the dogs in guarding their goods. But the German Spitz was equally as desirable for work on the farm where his alertness and intense bark deterred intruders from sinister activity. To help their bark reach its furthest points, the dog was known to perch on top of any high post and sound an alarm. For this reason, the Germans nicknamed them mistbeller, a term which translates to dung-hill barkers.
Soon this dog charmed his way into the aristocracy, King George the I entertained many German Spitz in his palace when visitors to his German wife brought their dogs along with them. In time, both Queen Charlotte and Queen Victoria became enamored of the breed.
The breed began to fall into decline in World War I. In 1975, the breed enjoyed a revival, and an increase in size, when the larger Keeshond was bred to too big for standard Pomeranians to continue the lines of the German Spitz.
The Giant Schnauzer is a noble looking dog with an elegant outline. The Schnauzer is available in three size varieties: the Miniature, the Standard, and the Giant. The Giant towers above the rest, standing at 27.5 inches at the shoulder.
The Giant Schnauzer is in possession of a beautiful double coat which is solid black or a shade variation known as “pepper and salt.” One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Giant Schnauzer is his rough coated beard and bushy eyebrows, giving him the appearance of a sage old man.
The breed originated in the Bavarian Alps in the mid-1800’s. The Giant Schnauzer was intended as a working dog to follow in the footsteps of the Standard Schnauzer whose main role was to assist with moving cattle to market. But Schnauzers also excelled as guard dogs, providing protection for shop keepers and farmers and their goods. When cattle drives no longer occurred, the Schnauzer continued his working ways, employed in police and military work.
A less commonly seen German dog breed, the Lowchen stands only slightly over a foot tall. His coat is clipped to resemble a lion including with a mane and feathered tail, giving him a unique yet lovable appearance. The Lowchen’s coat can be multi-colored or solid.
There exists some controversy about the origins of this breed. What is known is that the name of the dog is distinctly German; however, the Lowchen was a popular companion for wives of the aristocracy in France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Russia, and yes, also in Germany. The Lowchen is directly related to such lines that would later produce the Bichon Frise and the Maltese.
Though many believe that the Poodle originated in France, he is actually an elegant dog of German descent. The Poodle comes in three different size variations: Standard, Miniature, and Toy.
The Poodle is an athletic and intelligent dog that excels in water. He was originally intended to serve as a companion to assist his owners on their duck hunting adventures. It is believed the name Poodle is derived from “pudelin” which means to splash in water.
The Poodle began his development over 400 years ago in Germany. His coat served to protect him against the crispness of the water when he dove in to retrieve ducks for his master. Because many owners sought to move their dogs to the show ring as well as maintain their workability, a show cut was designed which would provide adequate protection against the cold water elements while still displaying the Poodle’s physique and unique style.
In time, the Poodle became the dog of fashion in many different countries but particularly in France where he found himself removed from hunts and placed in the parlor.
The Poodle is also highly prized for his excellent sense of smell. He is often utilized on truffle hunts to detect the presence of these rare and expensive earthen treasures.
The Weimaraner’s’ shimmering silver coat is a hallmark of this beloved German breed. A tall dog, the Weimaraner stands up to 27 inches at the shoulder.
A correct Weimaraner should be solid in color though a small splash of white is permissible. The breed is characterized by its stunning eyes which are a beautiful shade of amber or blue-gray.
Weimaraners make excellent family companions and are exceptionally patient and loving with children. They are affectionate, loyal, and easy to live with.
This breed first began its development in Weimar, Germany, in the 1800’s. The main person responsible was the Grand Duke Karl August, a gentleman whose focus was intent on the creation of the ideal hunting dog. To create this new breed, he combined strains of Bloodhounds as well as several different hunting breeds from Germany and France. This new dog was named the Weimar Pointer and later became known as the Weimaraner.
Originally, this noble breed was used to hunt big game including mountain lions, wolves, and bears. Over time, as big game hunts fell out of fashion, the Weimaraner assisted in all kinds of activities including pointing work and the retrieving of birds.
The German people kept their new hunting dog well under wraps for many years, but in time, they were introduced to the United States where they gained popularity in such households as that of Grace Kelly.
Germany’s Jagdterrier is a hunting dog that is highly prized for his versatility. His name means “hunt terrier.” A breed that excels at go to ground work, the Jagdterrier easily flushes prey from dens to continue a hunt. He is a small, well-built dog of immense flexibility.
The Jagdterrier’s coat should be wiry and dense and comes in several coat variations including rough and smooth. In color, he is most often black and tan, but occasionally, they are dark brown or grayish-black. His markings should be confined to his eyebrows, muzzle, chest, legs, and the tail base. Small white markings are acceptable if found on the chest or toes.
This breed was largely developed following World War I when a group of hunters sought to create a dog whose sole purpose was immense hunting prowess. The Jagdterrier we know of today is a direct result of selective breeding of two primary dog types: the Old English Wirehaired Terrier and the Welsh Terrier.
The Jagdterrier does indeed possess the heart, skill, and stamina of a hunter and is also a happy family dog who loves the water and is easy to train.
The Hovawart is a dog of immense size and substance who was originally intended to serve as a livestock guardian. The Hovawart may be blonde, black, and tan, or all black.
The personality of the Hovawart should exhibit alertness, loyalty, intelligence, and a spirit of fun. The breed is known for its stubborn ways, making him a challenge to train. A true working dog, the Hovawart excels when given a job to do. The Hovawart is a family dog in every sense of the word and thrives when in the company of his people.
The name Hovawart derives from several Middle High German words and loosely translates to yard watchman. The breed was developed through judicious breeding of dog types who were similar in appearance and personality with later inclusions of such breeds as the German Shepherd, Newfoundlands, and Leonbergers.
During World War II, the breed became in danger of extinction. Due to his large size, it was difficult for families to afford the necessary food and upkeep for a Hovawart. In 1948, a concentrated effort was made to revitalize the breed which is still one of the less commonly seen dog types today.
Thinking a German dog breed might be the right fit for your family? Check out our list of top 10 German dog breeds then contact a reputable breeder to learn more about your favorite today.