13 Classic German Dog Breeds That Make Great Companions

These German dog breeds are so cute and loveable that you're going to want to order matching lederhosen for the next Oktoberfest!

Guten tag, cute German hunds! Or, hello, cute German dogs! We love dogs from all over the world—be it Chinese dog breeds, Japanese dog breeds, Australian dog breeds, Italian dog breeds, or Russian dog breeds, so German dog breeds are in good company. Our list includes dog breeds that originated in Germany or regions that are now known as modern Germany. Learn about the German dog breeds that will steal your heart—and quite possibly your pretzels and sausages.

Portrait of a German shepherdAlan Tunnicliffe Photography/Getty Images

1. German shepherd

Whether the German shepherd is a family dog, a fellow soldier, or a service dog for the blind, they are undeniably one of the most loyal dog breeds around. They are calm and collected with an unparalleled dedication to love and protect their human or the entire family unit (including kids and feline siblings). That doesn’t mean they’re always in “work mode.” German shepherds love playtime and snuggling with their humans, too, albeit with an ever-watchful eye on their surroundings. There are five main types of German shepherds: American show line, West show line, West working line, East working line DDR, and Czech working line. Show line dogs compete in conformation dog shows, such as Westminster. Working line German Shepherds are bred and trained to work as military, police, or service dogs.

Breed Overview
Height: 22 to 26 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 50 to 90 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Miniature Dachshund DogNORRIE3699/Getty Images

2. Dachshund

Over 300 years ago, Dachshund was bred to hunt badgers. (“Dach” means badger and “hund” means dog). They used their narrow, long noses to investigate dens and their sharp claws and powerful short legs to excavate. Dachshunds are tenacious, clever, and never give up whether they’re waiting for a squirrel under the deck or going that extra inch to retrieve a toy rabbit under the sofa. They’ll keep barking until they successfully capture their “prey.” “Weiner dogs” as their affectionately known come in two sizes, miniature, and standard—both ideal sizes for if you’re looking for an apartment dog for small spaces.

Breed Overview
Height: 5 to 6 inches (miniature), 8 to 9 inches (standard)
Weight: 11 pounds and under (miniature), 16 to 32 (standard)
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Side View Of Doberman Pinscher At ParkTara Gregg / EyeEm/Getty Images

3. Doberman

We can thank a German man named Louis Dobermann for creating this beautiful and noble dog. As a tax collector in 19th century Germany, Dobermann wasn’t well-received when it was time to collect taxes, so he developed a dog that could protect him from a few other breeds. The extra “n” was dropped at some point.) Even though the Doberman is considered a guard dog, it is actually affectionate and sweet with its family (though it usually bonds with just one family member).

Breed Overview
Height: 24 to 28 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 60 to 100 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

German Rottweiler dog in the parkdageldog/Getty Images

4. Rottweiler

With their intimating size and powerhouse body, these guard dog breeds hardly seem like the warm and fuzzy type who likes to spend quiet evenings at home cuddled up on the sofa. Yet, they are super affectionate and chummy with their human family unit. Strangers might get a different perspective with a Rottweilers standoffish vibe. It’s not that they are mean dogs. They are dedicated and devoted to their family, and being reserved is their way of safeguarding their family. They’re also one of the smartest dog breeds.

Breed Overview
Height: 22 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 80 to 135 pounds
Life expectancy: 9 to 10 years

Portrait of german boxer sitting on field,Brno,Czech RepublicVladimirCizmar/Getty Images

5. Boxer

The boxer is an intelligent and fun-loving dog who loves to be busy, preferably with its family. It will find home life much more bearable if it isn’t left alone. Too much time spent solo, and the boxer will find ways to entertain itself—aka tipping over the garbage, destroying sofa cushions, etc.) Boxer’s popularity peaked in the 1950s when a Westminster-winning boxer named Bang Away became a celebrity. Then in 2019 and 2020, a boxer named CinniBon’s Bedrock Bombshell wowed judges and spectators taking home first place honors in the working dog class.

Breed Overview
Height: 21.5 to 25 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 65 to 80 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Portrait of german weimaraner dog breed at the park.romaset/Getty Images

6. Weimaraner

Known as the Gray Ghost, mainly from their color, stealth-like hunting skills, and speed, the Weimaraner is no couch potato. Well, at least not until after its exercise is met for the day. They are very active dogs and make great running and hiking partners. They thrive on human companionship so much that “me time” is a foreign concept. Some famous people, including Grace Kelly and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, have been pet parents to Weimaraners.

Breed Overview
Height: 23 to 27 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 55 to 90 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Portrait of german pomeranian dogDenis Ganenko/Getty Images

7. Pomeranian

What could be cuter than a fuzzy-wuzzy pint-size dog breed that looks like a fox? This tiny toy dog breed is ever so perky, friendly, and curious. Their curiosity also drives their desire to learn and perform tricks, as well as making them alert watchdogs. The Pomeranian has kept company with some notable figures of history, including owners Marie Antoinette, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Queen Charlotte, who passed on her love of the breed to her granddaughter, Queen Victoria.

Breed Overview
Height: 6 to 7 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 3 to 7 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

German Great Dane Puppy with MotherJim Craigmyle/Getty Images

8. Great Dane

Undeniably the tallest dog breed in the world, the Great Dane towers over four-legged friends and most humans when they stand on their hind legs. While other giant dog breeds might appear big and clumsy, the Great Dane’s elegant and regal gait rivals the top models on the catwalk. As gentle giants, this German dog breed’s heart is as big as its legs are tall. They are patient and affectionate with the short and tall humans of their family and reserved with strangers.

Breed Overview
Height: 28 to 32 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 110 to 175 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 to 10 years

German Miniature Schnauzer standing outsideSteve Clancy Photography/Getty Images

9. Schnauzer

Schnauzers come in three sizes and they’re all spirited and lively with a zest for adventure. All schnauzers need to expend their energy and put their keen intelligence to work with daily walks and playtime. Though eager to please, they are also a bit independent and may have their own way of doing things from time to time. Try a dog puzzle toy to keep them mentally engaged (and out of mischief). As family dogs, they are sweet to their family, get along wonderfully with children, and get along with other dogs.

Breed Overview
Height: 12 to 14 inches (miniature), 17.5 to 19.5 inches (standard), 23.5 to 27.5 (giant), inches at the shoulder.
Weight: 11 to 20 pounds (miniature), 30 to 50 pounds (standard), 55 to 85 pounds (giant) pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years (miniature), 13 to 16 (standard), 12 to 15 (giant)

Little german spitz dog standing on the pavement outsideDmitry Potashkin/Getty Images

10. German Spitz

The German Spitz is a versatile little fireball—it picks up on commands and can learn new tricks quickly. It’s truly a happy-go-lucky breed that loves the whole family, including other family dogs. They make great little watchdogs, but their built-in (barking) alarm system can be excessive. Did you notice how much the German Spitz looks like a Pomeranian? They’re dog breeds that everyone always gets confused about. Both are Spitz breeds, known for their thick double coats, fox-like faces, and a bushy tail that curls up.

Breed Overview
Height: 12 to 15 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 24 to 26 pounds
Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

german leonberger standing on a trail in the woodsAngelaBuserPhoto/Getty Images

11. Leonberger

If you want a larger-than-life, fluffy dog to hang out and snuggle with, the Leonberger is for you. Granted, at first glance, the Leonberger could pass for a dog breed that looks like a bear or a dog that looks like a lion even, but unlike those two wild animals, the Leonberger is anything but ferocious. They are exceedingly patient, and lovey-dovey with their family and make friends easily with those outside the family circle.

Breed Overview
Height: 25.5 to 31.5 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 90 to 170 pounds
Life expectancy: 7 years

German Short-Haired Pointer Looking AwayTara Gregg/Getty Images

12. German shorthaired pointer

If you would rather hike, run, swim, and explore the great outdoors instead of spending your downtime on the couch, the German shorthaired pointer (GSP) is a blue-chip candidate adventure companion worthy of your consideration. As a hunting breed, it’s naturally inclined to be a curious and enthusiastic explorer. They form solid bonds with their family and love to scout out the backyard with the kids or spend the day at the lake with the family.

Breed Overview
Height: 21 to 25 inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 45 to 70 pounds
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years

German White poodle dog in a fielddisqis/Getty Images

13. Poodle

You’ve heard the expression “French poodle” and have probably seen wall art with the quintessential “foo-foo “white poodle with the aristocratic demeanor strolling the streets of Paris. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the Poodle is actually one of the 47 dog breeds that hail from Germany and started out as a duck hunter. Poodles are exceptional athletes, especially when it comes to swimming and first-rate loving family dogs. Heck, they love just about everyone they meet and are even one of the dog breeds that get along with cats. On top of that, they are very bright, easy to train, and come in three delightful sizes.

Breed Overview
Height: 10 inches max (toy), 10 to 15 inches (miniature), over 15 (standard) inches, at the shoulder
Weight: 4 to 6 pounds (toy), 10 to 15 pounds (miniature), 40 to 70 pounds (standard)
Life expectancy: 10 to 18 years all sizes

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.