Animals with funny names in German

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02:51 mins.
17.01.2018

Animals with funny names in German | Meet the Germans

In German, a flying dog is not a dog and a washing bear is not a bear. Meet the Germans host Kate Müser explores some of the cutest - and most curious - German animal names (with the help of some stuffed friends).

Every other week, DW's Kate Müser explores the quirks of everyday life and language in Germany. Originally from the United States, Müser has lived in Germany for over 13 years. Follow Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/meetthegermans.

While dogs aren't among the animals that have unusual names in German - they're simply called "Hunde" - they are a popular pet. And German breeds are popular throughout the world. Do you know which breeds originated in Germany? Click through the gallery below to find out.

Culture

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.

Culture

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.

Culture

Boxer

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.

Culture

Dachshund

"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.

Culture

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.

Culture

Weimaraner

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.

Culture

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.

Culture

Schnauzer

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.

Culture

Rottweiler

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).

Culture

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.

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