Would you believe us if we told you German dog breeds have a lot in common with Chinese dog breeds? Obviously, they’re all canines. Beyond that, Germany and China have bragging rights as home to some of the oldest sites containing evidence of domesticated wolves. They also span the gamut in terms of size, shape and coat type. However, unlike Chinese dog breeds who were primarily bred as workers and have more independent personalities, German dog breeds are overwhelmingly affectionate and active! Many are smart canines who were bred to fetch, retrieve and hunt. Anyone who wants a reliable, sweet companion should definitely consider a German dog breed first.

History of dogs in Germany

Just this year, in March of 2021, Science Alert reported on cave findings in Germany that could be the earliest evidence of domesticated wolves (future dogs) yet. The cave, called Gnirshöhle, is in southwest Germany in the Hegau Jura region near Switzerland. This area is known for its incredibly old (like 17,000 years ago old) fossils and artifacts. These new bones are so significant because they’re older than many previously discovered specimens and they have more genetic variety—meaning this could be the place and time where modern-day wolves, foxes and domesticated dogs really began to take shape.

Modern dog culture in Germany

Germans seriously love their dogs—no joke. According to The German Times, “Dogs are more than pets; they are the source of meaning and identity.” As of 2020, there were 10.7 million pet dogs in Germany.

Emma Hurt at NPR recently reported on the differences between owning a dog in Germany and owning one in the U.S. Aside from a dog tax (roughly $140 per year), it is illegal to keep your dog in a crate in Germany for an extended period of time—or chained up at all. Another law proposed in 2020 would require every pet dog to be walked or let out for exercise twice per day for a total of at least one hour. Hurt says there is even a German state that administers a test to potential dog parents before allowing them to adopt a puppy!

Perhaps regulations are more intense in Deutschland because pet dogs are allowed in tons of public areas (think: public transit, restaurants, hotels). Dogs must be well-behaved and trained rigorously to avoid nasty confrontations or issues. If your dog isn’t well-trained, Hurt at NPR says you should get ready to be called out and asked to leave. Unfortunately, at this time, Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers are not allowed entry into Germany as they are considered fighting dogs. Even Rottweilers, a German breed, are considered unpredictable Kampfhunds (attack dogs) in several states and are denied entry.

While most of the dogs on our list were bred initially as skilled hunters, many have turned into loving family pets who know how to learn and obey commands.

RELATED: The Most Affectionate Dog Breeds

german dog breeds affenpinscher
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1. Affenpinscher

Height: 9-12 inches

Weight: 7-10 pounds

Personality: Goofy, Proud

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Originally bred in the 1600s to chase and kill rats, Affenpinschers have become delightful and goofy companion dogs. They’ve definitely retained their bold, brave hunting instincts and may try to play with the big dogs (which could result in their feelings being hurt). Sensitive and smart, the Affenpinscher Club of America says they adapt and travel well.

german dog breeds bavarian mountain scent hound
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2.Bavarian Mountain Scent Hound

Height: 17-21 inches

Weight: 37-66 pounds

Personality: Devoted, reserved

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Talk about a hunter! The Bavarian Mountain Scent Hound has a nose so strong it can smell the difference between prey that is bleeding and prey that is not. The Bavarian Mountain Scent Hound Society of America says these unique dogs were bred because hunting techniques in the late 1800s changed and hunters in the mountains needed more nimble canines. Given their history and intelligence, it’s wise to provide them with ample outdoor time and mental stimulation.

german dog breeds biewer terrier
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3. Biewer Terrier

Height: 7-11 inches

Weight: 4-8 pounds

Personality: Smart, Loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 16 years

Say hello to one of the longest living dog breeds! These cuties can live well into their high teens if given quality care and nutrition. In the mid-1980s, a German couple (the Biewers) who were known for breeding Yorkshire Terriers produced a pup with unique blue, white and gold fur. They named her Schneeflockchen von Friedheck and embarked on the Biewer Terrier breeding journey. These are charming, sweet pups who love to play.

german dog breeds boxer
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4. Boxer

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 50-80 pounds

Personality: Active, Playful

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Boxers today are descendants of hunting dogs known as Bullenbeissers (picture a big Mastiff) who were popular as far back as the Middle Ages. The breed really came into focus at the first Boxer dog show in 1895 in Munich. Since then, these dogs have become lovable sweethearts who aren’t afraid to show their excitement when they see you. They make great family pets—as long as you train the “down” command early; otherwise they’ll jump on everyone.

german dog breeds dachshund
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5. Dachshund

Height: 8-9 inches (Standard), 5-6 inches (Miniature)

Weight: 16-32 pounds (Standard), up to 11 pounds (Miniature)

Personality: Curious, affectionate

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Ever wonder why Dachshunds are so long and skinny? They were bred to hunt badgers! Their wiener-dog shape made it easy to wiggle into badger dens, a skill they perfected centuries ago. These affectionate—albeit loud—watch dogs are considered national symbols of Germany and were recently honored with a museum.

german dog breeds doberman pinscher
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6. Doberman Pinscher

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 60-100 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, alert

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

The Doberman Pinscher Club of America says these pups first popped up in Germany in the 19th century. The exact lineage that led to the development of the Doberman is murky, but the breed as we know it today is a regal and loyal companion. They are super smart and have served alongside soldiers in war and as service dogs for people with physical and mental disabilities. Despite their short, sleek coats, Doberman Pinschers shed profusely.

german dog breeds longhaired pointer
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7. German Longhaired Pointer

Height: 22-28 inches

Weight: 55-80 pounds

Personality: Friendly, sweet

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

The German Longhaired Pointer Club of America says German art from the Middle Ages depicts these longhaired dogs hunting waterfowl. Not much has changed! Today, German Longhaired Pointers excel at retrieving ducks and geese during hunts and love water. They are calm and focused, but incredibly sweet and great with kiddos. As long as they get enough exercise, they’ll follow you anywhere.

german dog breeds pinscher
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8. German Pinscher

Height: 17-20 inches

Weight: 25-45 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, playful

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Though German Pinschers didn’t arrive in the U.S. until the 1970s, they were being bred in southern Germany nearly a century before. Fun fact: Schnauzers and Pinschers are almost the exact same dog. The German Pinscher Club of America says a single pinscher breed had been bred with two different coat varieties - wire-haired and smooth-haired. In the early 1900s, breeders decided the wire-haired would become Schnauzers and the smooth-haired would become Pinschers. These pups are affectionate, energetic dogs who are ready to play.

german dog breeds german shepherd
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9. German Shepherd

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 50-90 pounds

Personality: Loyal, confident

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

The German Shepherd is a striking animal with deep loyalty and high intelligence. Though their history doesn’t extend as far back as say, the Boxer’s, these dogs have earned the title of most popular German breed. German Shepherds first came to America in 1907 and have since served as bomb sniffers, therapy dogs, search-and-rescue dogs and so much more. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, though they can become so focused on tasks that they will be relentless playmates. Early training and socialization ensures their aloofness doesn’t become aggression.

german dog breeds shorthaired pointer
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10. German Shorthaired Pointer

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 45-70 pounds

Personality: Friendly, active

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

OK, think about a German Longhaired Pointer but smaller, with shorter hair. That’s the active and even-tempered German Shorthaired Pointer! Bred over centuries to track birds, the breed finally came to the American Midwest in the 1930s after hunters in Montana and Nebraska caught wind of their talents. Today, GSPs, as they are called, love to bond with their people and be in on the action.

german dog breeds spaniel
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11. German Spaniel (Deutscher Wachtelhund)

Height: 18-21 inches

Weight: 40-55 pounds

Personality: Loving, alert

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

These dogs are intriguing. Not only do they go by several aliases (German Spaniel, Deutscher Wachtelhund, German Quail Dog), it’s rare to find one in the U.S. or beyond hunting groups in Germany. They are more muscular and smaller than German Longhaired Pointers and have keen noses like Bloodhounds. They’re also more mellow than their fellow hunting dogs and enjoy less strenuous exercise indoors. Don’t keep the Deutscher Wachtelhund inside forever, though! They do love water.

german dog breeds spitz
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12. German Spitz

Height: 12-15 inches

Weight: 24-26 pounds

Personality: Lively, adaptable

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

These smiling little buggers are incredibly fun-loving dogs but may need a little time to warm up to new people or pets. Unlike so many other breeds on our list, the German Spitz is not a hunter. They are, however, watchdogs and have been since the 1400s. Get ready for your German Spitz to bark at intruders and anything unfamiliar. These pups are close relatives of Keeshonds and Pomeranians, hence their super fluffy coats.

German dog breeds German Wirehaired Pointer
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13. German Wirehaired Pointer

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 50-70 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, outgoing

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

The German Wirehaired Pointer’s coat is no accident. These dogs were bred specifically to hunt in all types of terrain and weather (fields, mountains, rivers—you name it). Ergo, their coats needed to be a bit more versatile than those of other hunting dogs. Not only are their coats waterproof, but their bangs also keep grass and branches from scratching their eyes! Even non-hunters will love their affectionate nature and up-for-anything attitude.

German dog breeds Great Dane
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14. Great Dane

Height: 28-32 inches

Weight: 110-175 pounds

Personality: Patient, friendly

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Perhaps one of the most recognizable breeds of all time is the Great Dane. These gentle giants were initially bred to hunt boars in Germany almost 500 years ago. Their regal stature and easy-going nature make them excellent family pets today (they’re also terrific watchdogs, so introductions to strangers should happen slowly). Be sure to provide optimal care with regular vet visits for your Great Dane to ensure a long life.

German dog breeds Hanoverian Scenthound
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15. Hanoverian Scenthound

Height: 19-21 inches

Weight: 80-100 pounds

Personality: Independent, even-keeled

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

A hunting estate in 17th-century Germany is responsible for the Hanoverian Scenthound we know and love today. The Hanoverian Scenthound Club of America says the Hanover estate wanted a Bloodhound-esque dog who could track wounded prey. Like all energetic hunting dogs on this list, it’s wise to get them outdoors and try agility exercises with them to keep them happy. While not super affectionate or social with their families, these pups love a canine playmate.

German dog breeds Hovawart
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16. Hovawart

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 65-90 pounds

Personality: Protective, loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

The Hovawart Club of North America calls these dogs “handsome,” and we can see why! You might mistake a golden-hued Hovawart for a Golden Retriever. These working dogs (whose name in Middle High German literally means “yard watchman”) are incredibly devoted to their people. Their watchdog instincts are strong, so be ready to train them to behave themselves around strangers. Though enormous (they’re related to Leonbergers and German Shepherds), Hovawarts rarely bark and do love to cuddle.

German dog breeds Kromfohrla  776 nder
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17. Kromfohrländer

Height: 15-18 inches

Weight: 20-35 pounds

Personality: Smart, playful

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Though officially developed in Germany in the 1940s and 1950s, U.S. troops serving overseas in World War II were the first to fall in love with Kromfohrländers. These dogs were companion animals for many soldiers and are believed to have initially been a mix of many breeds in Europe at the time. Today, these scruffy yet loyal lovebugs want nothing more than to play with their favorite people.

German dog breeds Leonberger
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18. Leonberger

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 90-170 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, goofy

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Now, here is a dog literally built for companionship. In 19th century Leonberg, Germany, politician Heinrich Essig, created a loving, intelligent companion dog by breeding St. Bernards and Newfoundlands. These sweet giants are great with kids, patient with new faces and always ready for a long nap. Be prepared for lots of shedding, too.

German dog breeds Lo  776 wchen
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19. Löwchen

Height: 12-14 inches

Weight: 15 pounds

Personality: Social, affectionate

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Non-shedding

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Five centuries ago, if you wanted a lap dog who was obsessed with you and didn’t need much exercise, you’d probably have a Löwchen. These compact creatures pack in a whole lot of dog, and love! Though outgoing within their families, they’re known as “little lions” for a reason. Löwchen are brave pups who are used to living among royalty.

German dog breeds Pomeranian
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20. Pomeranian

Height: 6-7 inches

Weight: 3-7 pounds

Personality: Lively, Adaptable

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

The American Pomeranian Club says these furry pups are the descendants of Icelandic spitz-style dogs. Eventually these dogs ended up in Pomerania along the Baltic Sea. They were then bred to be more compact companions and became favorites of royalty. Today, they are super lively and protective dogs who aren’t afraid to bark at strangers. Get ready for lots of cuddles and a pup who will travel with you anywhere.

German dog breeds Poodle
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21. Poodle

Height: 15 inches

Weight: 40-70 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, active

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 10-18 years

Uh oh, did you think poodles were French!? Mais, non! They are German and were originally bred as duck hunters (the French call them Caniches, or “duck dogs”). Even their fancy cuts these days originated from a hunting perspective. According to the American Kennel Club, hunters didn’t want fluffy Poodle fur tripping them up in the water, but they did want their extremities and torsos insulated from cold weather. These dogs still retain their energetic dispositions; they’re also incredibly friendly, sweet family pets.

German dog breeds Pudelpointer
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22. Pudelpointer

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 45-70 pounds

Personality: Sweet, calm

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

A cross between a poodle and a Pointer, the Pudelpointer (clever name) is a hearty breed of dog ready to perform a duty without a hitch. The Pudelpointer’s calm demeanor makes them very adaptable and obedient. While affectionate, they may not make the best of playmates for children.

German dog breeds Rottweiler
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23. Rottweiler

Height: 22-27 inches

Weight: 80-135 pounds

Personality: Confident, loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years

As true watchdogs, Rottweilers will not shy away from a chance to protect their family members. They were bred from Mastiffs hundreds of years ago as herders and guardians. It’s no wonder they retain a cool confidence and sweet loyalty today. Because of this protective nature, be sure to train and socialize them early.

German dog breeds Schnauzer
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24. Schnauzer (Giant, Standard, Miniature)

Average Height: 13 inches (Miniature), 18.5 inches (Standard), 25.5 inches (Giant)

Average Weight: 15.5 pounds (Miniature), 40 pounds (Standard), 70 pounds (Giant)

Personality: Friendly, Obedient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Schnauzers come in three unique sizes—and all are obedient, affectionate and generally good with kids. Their hypoallergenic coats also make them appealing to allergy sufferers. Schnauzers were bred to chase rats out of barns, herd cattle and act as working farm dogs. They make loyal playmates—though you’ll have to keep an eye on their high prey drive.

German dog breeds Weimaraner
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25. Weimaraner

Height: 23-27 inches

Weight: 55-90 pounds

Personality: Friendly, obedient

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

A Weimaraner’s sleek, silvery gray coat is the first thing you notice. The second is their extreme friendliness and sociability. They love to be around families, kids and other pets! Weimaraners are also incredibly intelligent and obey commands easily. Bred in Germany in the early 1800s to hunt bears and deer, Weimaraners finally arrived in America in the early 20th century. We’re so glad they did.

RELATED: These Are the 15 Longest Living Dog Breeds

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