Germany is a nation steeped in history and culture. Through its rich history run the bloodlines of more than 30 breeds of dogs. From the magnificent Great Dane to the diminutive Pomeranian, dogs with German origins are remarkably diverse. Every group classification within the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club contains one or more breeds with Germanic origins.
Some of the most well known working dogs originate in Germany. Doberman Pinschers, developed in the 19th century by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, are wonderful companions as well as superb police and military dogs. Rottweilers are loyal, alert guard dogs and intelligent, gentle family pets. The rare Leonberger's ancestors include the Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland and St. Bernard. Loyal and fond of children, they're excellent family pets and farm dogs. Other working dogs with German origins include boxers, German pinschers and giant schnauzers.
Sporting and Gun Dogs
Weimaraners, dubbed "grey ghosts" because of their speed and distinctive coat color, are strong, efficient hunting dogs as well as treasured family pets that love being part of the pack. As hunting companions, German shorthaired pointers exhibit confidence on land and in water. As family pets, they're friendly, intelligent and willing to please. Other German sporting dogs include German wirehaired pointers, German rough-haired pointers and German longhaired pointers, small Münsterländers, large Münsterländers and pudelpointers.
German shepherds, standardized by Captain Max von Stephanitz in the late 19th century, were first used to herd and protect flocks. Today they're valued as police and military dogs as well as loyal, affectionate family companions. Although not recognized by the AKC, white shepherd dogs are direct descendents of the German shepherd. The first white shepherd puppy appeared in 1882. These calm and intelligent dogs are primarily kept as companions.
Despite their close association to French culture, toy poodles have German origins. Initially bred as water-retrieving gun dogs, they are now almost exclusively kept as pampered family companions. Affenpinschers, affectionately dubbed "monkey dogs" because of their primate-like faces, were originally used as ratters on farms. Today these playful, affectionate dogs are popular companions. Other toy breeds from Germany include the Pomeranian and miniature pinscher.
Miniature schnauzers are most likely descended from crosses between standard schnauzers and affenpinschers. Developed as ratters, today they're kept primarily as spirited, lively family companions. Kromfohrländers are good-natured, docile little dogs with moderate hunting instincts. Sometimes reserved with strangers, they are wonderfully affectionate family companions. Jagdterriers were developed at the turn of the 20th century. More versatile than most terriers, these sturdy little dogs are adept at hunting, tracking and retrieving.
In German, dachshund means "badger dog." Originally developed to hunt and track badgers and other burrowing mammals, today these courageous, devoted little dogs are popular companions. Bavarian mountain hounds are German bloodhounds, capable of tracking a cold scent for hours, even days. The little known Deutsche bracke was bred to track large and small game, but is highly adaptable as a loving family pet. Other German hound dogs include plott hounds, Hanoverian hounds and Westphalian dachsbracke.
By Yvette Sajem
Worldly Dogs: Dogs of Germany
Dog Breeds of the World: German Dog Breeds
Dog Breeds List
United Kennel Club: Breed Standards
Animal Planet: Dogs 101
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The Humane Society of the United States: Top Five Reasons to Adopt
About the Author
Yvette Sajem has been a professional writer since 1995. Her work includes greeting cards and two children's books. A lifelong animal advocate, she is active in animal rescue and transport, and is particularly partial to senior and special needs animals.