Week 5 – Das Silberne Lorbeerblatt

This week’s Infosheet theme is all about German athletes. What happens when an athlete in Germany performs exceptionally well? Let’s find out…


On the 23rd of June 1950 the German President of the time, Theodor Heuss, awarded the first Silbernes Lorbeerblatt. The first male athlete to receive this award was show jumper Fritz Thiedemann and the first female athlete to receive the award was tennis player Inge Pohmann.



The Silbernes Lorbeerblatt is awarded by the Bundespräsident der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (President of the Federal Republic of Germany) – currently this is Frank-Walter Steinmeier – to athletes who achieved outstanding sporting successes. This award is the highest achievement for top athletic performances in Germany. These outstanding successes include winning a title at a world championship or a medal at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, however, the award is not solely based on performance, but also on character: acting as an example for others is one of the prerequisites for being awarded with the Silbernes Lorbeerblatt. Another fundamental aspect of the award is that disabled and non-disabled athletes should be treated as equals. On the 23rd of June 1993 President Richard Weizsäcker, for the first time ever, presented both disabled and non-disabled recipients of the Silbernes Lorbeerblatt at the same ceremony. Weizsäcker stated that handicapped athletes are also top athletes in their field and should be treated as such. Shortly after he also became the first President to present the award to winners of the Deaflympics.



Since the Silbernes Lorbeerblatt was first awarded there have been many of recipients of it. Some of the most famous winners of the award include Boris Becker, Angelique Kerber, Uwe Seeler, Steffi Graf, Fritz Walter, Matthias Steiner, Dirk Nowitzki, Birgit Prinz and Kirsten Bruhn. However, athletes are not only able to receive this award for their individual achievements, but whole teams have received this award too, such as the German football team VfB Stuttgart for winning the German football championship in 1950, Germany’s national handball team for winning the world championship in 2007, Germany’s national football team (European Champion in 1972, 1980, 1996 and World Champion in 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014) and Germany’s women’s national football team (European Champion in 1989, 1991, 1995 and 1997, and World Champion in 2003 and 2007).





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Week 4 – Bavaria Film

Continuing on with this week’s movies and TV theme, let us introduce you to Bavaria Film – one of the largest European film production companies based in, you guessed it, Bavaria.

The studio was originally founded in 1919 (under a different name) and has since been home to some of the industry’s biggest names in film production. For example, did you know that Alfred Hitchcock shot his first film, ‘The Pleasure Garden’, here? Other world famous directors who have produced works at this studio include Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles and Oliver Stone.


EINGANG TAG Bavaria Film-Gelaende Foto: Bavaria Film/ Manfred Laemmerer

After being founded in 1919, originally named ‘Münchener Lichtspielkunst AG’, in a southern suburb of Munich – Grünwald – it was bought up in 1932 by investor Wilhelm Kraus who renamed it to the Bavaria Film AG. Many famous movies and TV shows have been filmed at the studios, such as the original ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’, ‘The Sound of Music’, and TV show ‘Das Boot.’

Today, Bavaria Film owns many subsidiaries, such as Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, which has produced many episode of German TV series ‘Tatort’, Bavaria Filmstadt, a tourist attraction where visitors can get a glimpse into the production of TV shows, Bavaria Media and Bavaria Pictures.

Although Bavaria Film is one of Europe’s largest film production companies, there are many others, for example Constantin Film. Constantin Film co-produced big names such as ‘The Never Ending Story’, ‘Seven’, ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘Dances with Wolves.’ The company also co-produced many of our German favourites, such as ‘Bibi Blocksberg’, ‘Das fliegende Klassenzimmer’ (The flying classroom), ‘Türkisch für Anfänger’ (Turkish for beginners), ‘Der Schuh des Manitu’ (Manitou’s Shoe – the most successful German film ever), and finally, the biggest German comedy of the year 2013 featuring Elyas M’Barek and Karoline Herfurth, ‘Fack ju Göhte’ (Suck me Shakespeare).

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Week 4 – Deutscher Filmpreis

The USA has the Oscars, Germany has the Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Awards). The Deutscher Filmpreis is the annual German awards ceremony, traditionally held in the country’s capital – Berlin, honouring cinematic achievements in the German film industry. Although there are other film awards in Germany, this is the most important ceremony, with the ‘Best Feature Film’ being the most prestigious award.

Since 1999 the winners of the various categories, such as ‘Best Actress’, ‘Best Actor’, ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Documentary Film’, receive a copy of a statuette – the LOLA. The name of the statuette refers to Marlene Dietrich’s role in ‘Der blaue Engel’ (The Blue Angel), Rainer Fassbinder’s movie ‘Lola’, and Tom Tykwer’s movie ‘Lola rennt’ (Lola runs).

This year’s winner of the ‘Best Feature Film’ was the German comedy-drama film ‘Toni Erdmann’ which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was named the best film of 2016 by several cinema magazines and won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards: Best Film, Best Director (Maren Ade), Best Screenwriter (Maren Ade), Best Actor (Peter Simonischek) and Best Actress (Sandra Hüller) – a first for a movie directed by a woman. Toni Erdmann follows the story of divorced music teacher Winfried and his daughter Ines who is pursuing her career in business consulting. Throughout the movie Ines’ work-related stress and unhappiness in her personal life weigh down on her whilst her father takes on a playful role in her life as a character ‘Toni Erdmann’. At first she does not appreciate his humour, but eventually decides to go along with it. The movie ends at Ines’ grandmother’s funeral where she tells her father that she has quit her job and the two reflect on the nature of happiness. Director, Maren Ade, said that she thought the movie ‘always had both genres [comedy and drama] within in, because [Winfried] is playing a comedy [for Ines], but he’s doing it out of desperation.’

Watch the ‘Making of: Deutscher Filmpreis 2017’ below – from the announcements of the nominations to the red carpet and the Lolas themselves – see how many faces you can recognise from this week’s infosheet!

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Week 3 – Die Lederhosen

A few days ago we learned all about the history of the Dirndl and the different outfit elements – now let’s have a look at its male counterpart: the Lederhosen.

The Lederhosen also originated in the 18th century in the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria and were the trousers of the peasant community. They were popular among this community, because, as the Dirndl was very practical for the women, the Lederhosen were very practical for the men. Although leather trousers were worn by many hunters and riders throughout Europe at the time, the Lederhosen was unique, as it featured a flap at the front (first featured in Bavaria).

During the late 1800s it became fashionable for the rich to imitate the simple peasant life and so the Lederhosen were adapted by the upper class, however, there were still some key differences in the quality of the Lederhosen:

  • Peasants: the peasants wore a 3/4 length Lederhosen, also called ‘Kniebundhosen’, which were generally made of goat or sheepskin and dyed black
  • Nobles: the nobles, who were often skilled hunters, generally made their Lederhosen out of deerskin (which was much softer and a higher grade of leather) and decorated these to symbolise their nobility

As with the Dirndl, different regions adopted unique ways of decorating their Lederhosen, and soon people began associating Lederhosen with regional pride. In many regions the traditional ‘Tracht’ was taken extremely seriously and many men owned several pairs of Lederhosen for different occasions: Lederhosen for everyday life and Lederhosen for special occasions, such as weddings.

Whilst Lederhosen were popular for many years, they were eventually replaced by jeans, which, ironically, were invented by the Bavarian Levi Strauss after he emigrated to San Francisco. In recent years, however, Lederhosen have come back in style and people of all ages can be found wearing them at cultural festivals. Basic Lederhosen, usually made out of goat’s skin, start around 250€ but can go up in price to around 1,000€ for those made out of deerskin and with intricate embroidery.

Now let’s have a look at the outfit as a whole:

1. Die Lederhose (the Lederhosen)

The Lederhosen themselves are the most expensive part of this outfit since they are made of genuine leather, however, that being said, most men wear their Lederhosen for many years, if not for life, so they are a worthwhile investment. There are many options which you have when choosing a pair:

  • Quality of leather (the better the quality, the higher the price)
  • Lederhosen ending above the knee, below the knee, or going down to the ankles
  • With or without suspenders
  • Basic to intricate embroidery

2. Das Hemd (the shirt)

The most common colours of shirt worn with lederhosen are plain white with embroidery and bone buttons, or checkered shirts – often blue/white, red/white, or green/white. Whilst the colours traditionally represent different regions of Bavaria, simply choosing a colour which you like is the norm nowadays.

3. Accessorise

Ditch your sneakers when wearing the Lederhosen and opt for brown shoes, generally the Haferlschuhe (half-shoes). Socks worn with these shoes are usually cream or grey in colour and go over the calf. Finally, you can choose to top off your outfit with a green or black felt hat

Now you are ready to hit the Oktoberfest dancefloor and dance the night away to the Fliegerlied!

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Week 3 – Das Dirndl

What a week we had! We hope that you had fun learning about many German inventions throughout the last six centuries. This week’s topic is German Music and Fashion. Infosheet 3 will take you through classical and modern musicians in Germany, and introduce you to two of Germany’s favourite fashion icons – Heidi Klum and Karl Lagerfeld.

With the Oktoberfest Brisbane  just around the corner, our blogs this week will focus on our favourite German fashion items: the Dirndl and Lederhosen. Every year more and more Oktoberfest Brisbane and Oktoberfest for Teens attendees dress up in their Dirndl and Lederhosen – but where did these items of clothing originate, and how do you wear them properly? That’s what we’re here to tell you all about! Let’s start with the Dirndl…

The female traditional Bavarian outfit, the Dirndl, originated in the 18th century as a servant’s or maid’s dress. The outfit consisted of a blouse, bodice, full-length skirt and apron, which, at this time, was very practical for a woman’s job around the house or farm. The outfit was slightly adjusted for the winter and summer seasons:

  • Winter: long-sleeved blouses made out of heavy cotton, linen or wool, warm skirts and aprons
  • Summer: lightweight cotton, short-sleeved blouses and sleeveless bodices

In the late 1800s, around 1870, these simple dresses, made from practical fabrics, were slowly adopted by the upper classes of society and were transformed into stylish and colourful outfits, generally made from silk, satin, or other expensive fabrics. After a few years, the different regions also adapted the dress by using distinctive colours and/ or styles, and they were now also worn as a symbol of regional pride and tradition.

Today’s Dirndls range from very simple dresses with soft colours, to vibrant colours with intricate designs and embroidery. Whilst the dresses are rarely worn as everyday clothing, many women wear them for cultural or formal events, such as weddings or the Oktoberfest. In recent years, the Dirndl has become more popular among younger women. The Munich Oktoberfest is the perfect place to see the varying styles of today’s Dirndls. The Dirndl is worn by everyone here – from young to old, and from traditional to modern versions.

Now that you know a little bit of the history of the Dirndl, let’s have a look at the different elements of the whole outfit:

1. Das Dirndl (the Dirndl)

The most expensive part of purchasing the whole outfit is usually the Dirndl itself. The choice of Dirndls can be a little overwhelming if you have no idea what you are looking for – they come in vibrant or pastel colours, in simple colour blocks or bright patterns, with short, medium or long skirts and made from different materials. It is completely up to you which style you choose – if you’re like us, you’ll end up with multiple different Dirndls with different lengths and colours (during the day pastel or brightly coloured Dirndls are great, whereas for evening events darker Dirndls are often more popular).

2. Die Schürze (the apron)

Dirndls will (almost) always come with a matching apron, although one way to get more out of your Dirndl is to purchase one or two additional aprons in different colours – the apron can completely transform your outfit. For example, if you have a pastel pink Dirndl, you could get a white, pastel blue and pastel green apron to match – one dress, three different styles!

… but wait, there’s more! How you wear your apron sends a message to the world:

  • Bow on the right = Taken
  • Bow on the left = Single
  • Bow at the back = Widow or Waitress

3. Die Bluse (the blouse)

There are almost as many styles of blouses as there are Dirndls! Dirndl blouses are cropped and are generally white, although black blouses have also become increasingly popular. They can have puffed sleeves, be off the shoulder, and be long or short sleeved. They can be very plain, made out of lace, cotton or silk, have ruffles, sequins… you name it, they probably have it!

4. Accessories

Once you have your Dirndl, apron and blouse sorted, it’s time to accessorise (although this is not mandatory)! You can finish off your outfit with a heart-shaped purse (which often have cute messages written on them), a charm necklace, and a braided hairdo (which can be finished off with some flowers). Finally, when it comes to your shoes, think of the occasion – whilst your super cute high heels may match your Dirndl perfectly, we do not recommend wearing these to the Oktoberfest. With hours of dancing ahead, heels are definitely not practical. Ballerina flats are very popular, however, the main thing is that you are comfortable to dance the night away!

Congratulations! You are now ready for Oktoberfest!

Stay tuned for our next blog on the history and how to wear the Lederhosen.

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Week 2 – German Innovations (Part 2)

A few days ago we informed you all about Germany’s research climate, so let’s go back in time and look into why Germany is so good at not only inventing things, but adapting these inventions to create long-term business success.

Zwei Historiker arbeiten in der Bibliothek des Zentrums fuer Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam, 18.10.2016; Copyright: DAAD/Jan Zappner

There are three main reasons for Germany’s ability in creating globally successful innovations:

  1. Germany understands that for an invention to become widespread it cannot just be aimed at the high-tech sector of the moment, but rather, must result in productivity gains for the wider community. The country not only focuses on inventions which form new industries, but also spends a lot of resources on fuelling existing industries, such as the automobile industry.
  2. Germany has a variety of public institutions which help close the gap between research and industry across the entire industrial sector.
  3. Germany’s workforce is constantly trained. Companies understand that by continually training and educating their employees, they will find more innovative and sustainable ways to create and improve products. 

What are some other reason? Well, in addition to the big three there are other factors driving Germany’s research and innovation. Here are just a few of them:

  • Back when Germany was split into many kingdoms, kingdoms would rival each other in scientific advances to gain the upper hand. This motivated many researchers to become more creative and innovative than ever before.
  • Many ‘typical German characteristics’ contribute to their success in the research field, such as strong organisational skills, a process-oriented society and the high value of education.
  • Germany is a resource-poor country. You won’t find rich oil fields or large, high-quality coal mines in Germany, therefore, the country had to focus on research and development to utilise the few raw materials which were readily available.
  • Germany has a long history of very good universities and these universities are often the driving force behind innovations.
  • Germany has unfortunately seen many wars. Wars, as we all know, are incredibly destructive and Germany has learned to rebuild many times, each time utilising more efficient technologies.

Whilst it would take us hundreds of thousands of words to take you on a detailed journey of German innovations, we hope that these two blogs have given you some insights into Germany’s love for and success in research and development. Maybe we have even inspired you to pursue a research career in Germany!

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Week 2 – German Innovations (Part 1)

We hope that you enjoyed week 1 of our Oktoberfest for Teens learning materials. This week is all about the wonderful world of German science and technology.

Few countries have contributed so many innovations to the world as Germany has. Everything from cars and helicopters to aspirin and gummy bears – you name it, Germany invented it.

… but the real question here is why? How has one country managed to contribute so much in only a few centuries?

Since Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in Germany in 1440, the “Made in Germany” success story has continued. Centuries of inventions have helped shape the world in which we live in today and have promoted scientific, cultural, and economic progress around the globe.

One of the German government’s top priorities is investing in research and development, and there are numerous funding opportunities available for both German and international researchers in Germany. Research is performed at a variety of both public and private institutions. On the public side it starts with schools and moves up to universities, colleges and universities of applied sciences. General universities have a boarder approach, whereas universities of applied sciences have a strong focus on applied research. The non-public institutions include a variety of private and non-profit institutions such as academies, foundations, and centres for innovation and research.

In addition to above mentioned private and public institutions, the government itself invests a lot into research – from local to state and federal government. The government invests a lot into research to aid them in making policy and administrative decisions.

Finally, various industries play an important role in Germany’s research and development. More than two-thirds of Germany’s annual investment in research comes from the private sector – generally large companies who are investing in research for their own company, or joint with partner institutes from the scientific community. Most research from this sector is based on real-world applications which produce utilisable results.

Now that you have a better understanding of the research climate in Germany, stay tuned for our next blog where we will delve further into Germany’s history and into the roots of research in Germany.

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Week 1 – German Literary History (Part 2)

The ups and the downs of early-mid German literature lead from Germanic tribes and their sin, death and the devil focus, to the ‘courtly love’ era of the late 1100s and early 1200s, to deep love, death and corruption of the Baroque era. They had it all,  but more was yet to come – in fact the pinnacle of German literature and Germany’s answer to Shakespeare & co. as well as late 19th and 20th century authors who left their profound influence on even today’s world.



Nineteenth Century  

Weimarer Classicism: This period owes its name to Goethe and Schiller’s residence at Weimar and revolves around these two key figures in Germany’s literary history, but you can read more about these two in Infosheet 1…

Romanticism: The romantic period in Germany developed late compared to its counterpart in England, and, as the name suggests, was characterised by romantic works of literature, however, the German authors of this period, unlike the English ones, also brought humorous themes into their works. Whilst romance was the core theme of this period, some notable authors also brought strong cases of violence and heavy drama into their works.

Realism and Naturalism: After Goethe’s death, the focus of German literature yet again changed. A new group of younger writers wanted to have a direct impact on politics and society and their morals. The key literary forms of this period were pamphlets, essays, journalism and satire, and many of these authors, by agitating politicians, were actually prohibited from publishing their works in Germany and even imprisoned. The last two decades of the 19th century again brought upon changes in German literature with a movement towards naturalism – there was a newfound concern for social problems, particularly those of the lower class, and the nature of the human psyche.


Twentieth Century

German Modernism: The beginning of this century was made up of a combination of literary movements including expressionism, neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity), and Dada with expressionism being the best known. Expressionism was a powerful response to World War 1 concerning itself with the chaos and suffering of modern life. Literary works focused on images of war, oppression and illness.

Post-1945: The post-war literature from the area which became West Germany was strongly influenced by other European literature and American literature. The period saw many stage dramas written and performed tackling difficult topics which had emerged due to the war. Over the next two decades the themes of war and politics were heavily present throughout German literature.

Postmodernism and Reunification: The last decades of the 20th century were influenced by international postmodernism – a movement which attempted to appeal to both a popular and more sophisticated readership. Works included parodies, revisions of fairy tales, and ironic representations of contemporary feminism. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, writers again moved towards heavier topics, such as tensions in politics and society. There were stories of self-discovery, guilt, desires and violence.



21st century:

Congratulations for making it all the way to the present day!

In the past two decades German literary works have focused on a variety of different topics. Whilst there are still many works being published on political and social problems, and reflections on the war, there are popular German writers in all genres – whether you’re into romance, comedy, drama, mystery – there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy!



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Week 1 – German Literary History (Part 1)

Welcome to week 1 of our Oktoberfest learning materials.

The topic for this week is German literature – more specifically, the people behind Germany’s best literary works. Infosheet 1 takes you all the way from classics like Goethe and Schiller to contemporary authors such as David Safier and Cornelia Funke.

In this two part blog we thought we would take you on a short journey throughout the German literary periods. One trend which is immediately noticeable is that German literature has always been strongly influenced by what was happening in the country, with religion and politics having the strongest influence. So let the literary journey begin…



The Origins and Middle Ages

Pre-Christian and early Christian periods: Around the first century BC the Germanic tribes moved from mainland Scandinavia to the area which we know today as Germany. Their tales were generally orally transmitted, and all that remains are a few broken runic inscriptions. Years later, when Germans converted to Christianity, most literary works were religious texts, largely focusing on topics such as sin, the Devil and death.

Middle High German: Literary works from this era document a very civilized process – they highlight a significant transformation in ethics and values in the post-Roman western society. This transition was from the rough and brutal warrior values developed during the medieval period in Europe to a society filled with ideals of love, elegance and humanity. Throughout the years 1160 to 1180 German flourished as a literary language and there was a strong focus on ‘courtly love’ – a conception of love which emphasized nobility and chivalry (for example, knights going on adventures, such as slaying a dragon, for a lady due to their ‘courtly love’).

Late Middle Ages/ Early Renaissance: In the late middle ages, after many years of literary works focusing on courtly love, the theme of death, yet again, became the focus of German literature. Whilst the renaissance period began – famous for its rich art and architecture – it was a poor time for German literature, with only a few notable works being written in this period.



Early Modern German Literature

Reformation: The 16th century in Germany marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible. Almost the entire century’s literary works focused on religious topics which were now able to reach larger audiences due to the invention of the printing press (but more about that next week…).

The Baroque: The 17th and early 18th centuries in Germany were another poor period for German literature. The era was a time of chaos filled with contradictions and extremes: particularly extreme religious views and differences in wealth. German literature from this period reflected this state of chaos by focusing on extremes such as deep love, death, corruption and the illusory nature of life (the idea that life is an illusion is very prominent in Baroque literature).



Eighteenth Century

Age of Enlightenment: The enlightenment period brought with it drastic revolutions in in science, philosophy, society and politics with strong ideals of freedom and equality spread throughout the masses. This period was rich in literature around Europe, including Germany: from poems to plays, to short stories and novels. There were dramas, tragedies, comedies – you name it, the enlightenment period had it!

Late Enlightenment – Sturm und Drang: The Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) movement extends the ideas of the early enlightenment period and focused on topics such as natural law (a system of right or justice for all humans, regardless of status, and derived from nature, rather than from the rules of society), constitutional government, and the rights of the middle-class (particularly those of middle-class women!). There was a further trend towards bourgeois tragedies, historical dramas and dramatic satires, with authors attacking political and social conditions.



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Cliché 16 – Es gibt nur eins, was besser ist als ein Hund – zwei Hunde!

Think of a German dog breed.

Now think of another.

Ok, now think of a third.

Starting to struggle? You’re not alone!

Most people think of the German Shepherd when they think of German dog breeds, but there are many more!

Which ones are the 5 most popular around the world? Read on to find out more…



  1. German Shepherd

Of course the German Shepherd is among the top 5 most popular German dog breeds. They are a rather large breed of dog, able to perform a variety of activities – from herding sheep, to police work (you may be familiar with TV’s most famous German Shepherd – Kommissar Rex!) and helping people with disabilities. German Shepherds are known for their high level of intelligence and their reliability. Their history dates back to 1890 when cavalry captain Max Emil Frederick worked on developing a working dog breed which had a noble appearance.



  1. Boxer

Boxers are a medium-sized dog breed and are known for their loyal character. They are very patient dogs and make great family pets. The first Boxers appeared around the late 19th century and were bred by crossing two, now extinct, dog breeds – the Brabant Bullenbeisser and the Old Bulldog. Boxers were originally used as messenger dogs and to carry wounded soldiers.



  1. Pomeranian

One of the world’s favourite toy dogs also originates from Germany – the Pomeranian. There are three main types of Pomeranian dogs: fox-faced, teddy-faced and doll-faced. They are a very noble and affectionate dog breed and require constant attention from their owners. They originated in a small area between Poland and Germany, called Pomerania – hence their name. Although they used to be much larger and used as cattle dogs, they are now quite a small breed and thus very popular in larger cities where most people live in apartments.



  1. Rottweiler

Rottweilers are medium or large dogs with a very strong and athletic appearance. They are often considered as a dangerous dog breed, however, they have only gained this reputation due to irresponsible owners who have positively reinforced aggressive behaviour. In general, Rottweilers are very obedient and intelligent dogs and can be incredibly lovingly and friendly if raised properly. Their origin dates back all the way to the Holy Roman Empire where their ancestors where used for shepherding and protecting. The first Rottweiler breed was born in Germany in the region of Rottweil.



  1. Dachshund

Who could forget the Dachshund – also known as Sausage Dog? Its name in German literally means ‘badger dog’ and the breed is characterised by their long body and short legs. Their history dates back to 1888 where they were officially entered into the first German breed club. Although they are generally very friendly and playful dogs, they have a natural drive to prey and often chase small animals and attack them.


Other popular German dog breeds include: the Schnauzer, Miniature Pinscher, Great Dane, Doberman and Weimaraner.


Is the German Shepherd a popular German dog breed? Of course! Is it the only popular German dog breed? No!

This myth has definitely been:


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