10 dog breeds that originated in Germany


Great Dane

No, not Danish. These gentle giants are actually German. They're the result of German royals breeding ever-larger hunting companions in the 17th century. Great Danes are the world's largest dog breed — pictured above is the world's tallest dog from 2013. Germans today call them "Deutsche Dogge," a linguistic reference to the canine's British ancestors from the 16th century.


American Eskimo

This dog suddenly became "American" after World War I, when the US dropped all references to its German origin. A territorial yapper, it became famous as a comic sidekick in US circus acts. Though the American Kennel Club calls this dog a unique breed, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in Belgium disagrees. They say it remains what it has always been: a German Spitz.



In the 1800s, three men in Munich bred a bulldog with a breed of unknown origin, and continued that experiment for a few more generations. The result is a dog with one of the most instantly recognizable faces in the canine world, one still defined by German guidelines written in 1902. The origin of the name "boxer" remains a mystery, though.



"Dachs" means badger, while dachshund dogs were bred to hunt. Even today, these canines, often called wiener dogs in English, still enjoy burrowing — but also biting. A 2008 study showed 20 percent of domesticated dachshunds have bitten strangers. German Emperor Wilhelm II owned one, and when he visited Austria's Archduke Franz Ferdinand, it attacked and killed the archduke's golden pheasant.


Munsterlander (small and large)

Small Munsterlanders (pictured) owe their revival in 1902 to a German named Edmund Löns, who saw in the neglected breed a fine-tuned hunting ability and a beautiful coat. They're the smallest of the German pointer/setter dogs, but, confusingly, are not at all related to large Munsterlanders. Small Munsterlanders are hard to come by, as high breeding standards keep them relatively scarce.



With their silver coats, piercing eyes and biological need for human affection, what's not to love about Weimaraners? They were first bred in Weimar, the city of thinkers and poets, as a gun dog that was also family-friendly — a rarity. So beloved was the breed that, prior to shipping them abroad, they were sterilized in the hope that they'd remain exclusive to the German empire. But they didn't.


Doberman pinscher

A half-day's walk from Weimar, in the town of Apolda, a court clerk named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann had a problem. It was the late 1800s, and as a tax collector and officer, he needed protection during his night duties. Fortunately, he also ran the local pound. Through the crossbreeding of Weimaraners, pinschers and pointer dogs, he created the guard dog we now call the Doberman pinscher.



Schnauzers are so closely related to pinschers that the two are considered a single group by the international dog authority, the FCI. In southern Germany, schnauzers served primarily as stall dogs, catching rats and mice. Since rodents have sharp teeth, the dogs' ears and tails were trimmed to protect them from bites. Today, "cropping" and "docking" are illegal in much of the EU and in Australia.



They protected cattle and wagons carrying meat, scared away thieves and wild animals — rottweilers were a medieval trader's fiercely loyal companion. And they were fierce. They were bred in Rottweil, Germany, a former trade center, to protect goods at all cost. Their jaws are the strongest of any dog, with 328 pounds of bite pressure (149 kilograms).


German shepherd

A dog named "Horand von Grafrath" is the pretentious first entry in the Breed Registry of the Club of German Shepherds in 1899. After World War I, the English rechristened them Alsatians, the US dropped the word German altogether, and for decades Australia banned them on fears they'd breed with dingoes. Their use by the Nazis further darkened their reputation: Over his lifetime, Hitler owned six.

Could you name 10 off the top of your head? DW walks you through some breeds whose origins are very much German, even if their names might suggest otherwise. They've since become famous around the world.

Some are cuddly, others might bite your hand if they got the chance. These dog breeds are popular the world over, but have one thing in common: their German roots. 

Click through the gallery above for more about some of the most beloved German dog breeds. In the gallery below, animal lovers will appreciate these Germans words that appear to be inspired by the animal kingdom — but, at second glance, don't actually have anything to do with furry or feathered friends. 

For more about German culture, language and lifestyle, visit dw.com/meetthegermans



Imagine tiny geese feet - the literal translation of the term - dunked in black ink. Then imagine the marks these feet might make if they scurried across a white sheet of paper. If quotation marks come to mind, you're right. "Gänsefuesschen" is a colloquial word for those two little dashes at the beginning and end of a quote.



A "water rooster" never crows, and it doesn't live on a farmyard either. It's a faucet or tap that controls the water supply of a sink or bathtub. In German, the valve that blocks the flow section is in older-model taps actually called a chick ("Küken"), so calling the faucet a water rooster is consistent with the imagery.



A spectacles snake? What on earth is that? There is, in fact, a snake by a similar name: the Spectacled Cobra. But in German, "Brillenschlange" is a rather sexist and dismissive term for a woman who wears glasses - and that in a country where more than 60 percent of the population wears corrective eyewear.



Germans sometimes add an animal name to a word to reinforce its meaning. "Bull's heat" - which can also be called "Affenhitze," or "monkey's heat" - is a colloquial way of saying that it isn't just hot. It's unbearably hot - a real scorcher of a day.



You've forgotten your boss's wife's name, the date of the Battle of Antietam, or your favorite uncle's birthday? What you need is a "donkey bridge" - a fool-proof phrase to help you remember. Supposedly the name comes from the Middle Ages, when people built simple bridges for donkeys to transport goods across rivers they didn't want to wade through. These days, donkey bridges are in your brain.



Here's another donkey word, the "wire donkey." If you take a look at the wire donkey's shape and what it is used for, it's really not that far-fetched at all. It refers to a bicycle, which is used all over the world to transport people and goods.



Literally a "savings fox," a "Sparfuchs" is a person who tends to be thrifty. But why not a savings dog or cat? Perhaps because foxes are regarded as cunning, smart creatures - just like people who know how to be economical.



"Affe" is German for monkey - but no, this has nothing to do with monkeys or apes. A "lacquered monkey" is a dandy - a pretty boy with one eye on the mirror. Unlike the fellow in the photo, he would have sported the shiniest of patent leather shoes. Being termed a Lackaffe is no compliment.

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