Tolle Tiere: 40 great German nouns for animals

Tolle Tiere: 40 great German nouns for animals

by Rebecca Dean

Updated November 7, 2022

One of the best and easiest ways to expand your German vocabulary is to learn words that are related to each other. And what better subject than German words for animals? If you think Tiere sind toll (animals are great), then stay tuned!

When you learn the nouns, make sure you study the article (der, die, das) as well. You’ll need this later to declinate the words correctly, so it’s always best to memorize the two as a unit. 

Here are 40 of our favorite German animal words.

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We’ll start off the list with the words for beliebte Haustiere (popular pets) in Germany. Here goes:

  • der Hund (dog)
  • die Katze (cat)
  • der Vogel (bird)
  • der Wellensittich (parakeet)
  • die Hamster (hamster)
  • das Kaninchen (rabbit)
  • das Meerschweinchen (guinea pig, literally translates as “sea pig”)
  • der Goldfisch (goldfish)

German farm animals

Old MacDonald hat ‘ne Farm in Germany too! Here are some great German farm animals to learn.

  • die Kuh (cow)
  • das Pferd (horse)
  • der Hahn (rooster)
  • die Henne (hen)
  • die Gans (goose)
  • die Ente (duck)
  • das Schwein (pig)

Wild animals in Germany

Learning words to describe wildlife in Germany is also a great way to get to know the country’s nature. So what animals actually live in Germany? Here’s a list by habitat.

German animals: Wasser (water)

  • der Frosch (frog)
  • der Molch (newt)
  • der Hai (shark)
  • die Wasserschildkröte (water turtle)
  • der Wels (catfish)
  • der Karpfen (carp)

German animals: Land (land)

  • der Wolf (wolf)
  • das Wildschwein (wild boar)
  • der Rothirsch (red deer)
  • der Dachs (badger)
  • der Fuchs (fox)
  • der Bär (bear)
  • das Eichhörnchen (squirrel)
  • die Schlange (snake)

German animals: Luft (air)

  • der Adler (eagle)
  • die Krähe (crow)
  • der Spatz (sparrow)
  • die Taube (pigeon)
  • die Schwalbe (sparrow)
  • der Storch (stork)
  • die Wespe (wasp)
  • die Biene (bee)
  • der Schmetterling (butterfly)
  • der Specht (woodpecker)
  • die Libelle (dragonfly)

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Animal parts in German

Whether you’re in the barnyard, at the zoo or the vet, you can impress your friends if you know how to say which part is which. Here’s a list of useful vocabulary for animal parts in German.

  • der Kopf (head)
  • die Zähne (teeth)
  • die Augen (eyes
  • der Schnabel (beak)
  • die Kralle(n) (talon(s)/claw(s)
  • der Schwanz (tail)
  • die Schnauze (snout)
  • der Rüssel (trunk, like on an elephant)
  • das Fell (fur)
  • die Schuppen (scales)

Tips for learning German animal nouns

Learning the gender for nouns in German can definitely be challenging for English speakers. Like we mentioned above, you should really always learn the article together with the word to spare yourself some grief in the long run.

The bad news? For the most part, you just need to memorize which article goes with each noun.

The good news? A few article-learning hacks do exist. Here are two that can help make your animal vocabulary-learning life easier.

Nouns ending in -chen are always neutral

Diminutive -chen endings are common for animal names. These nouns always take the neutral das (e.g. das Meerschweinchen, das Eichhörnchen, das Kätzchen (kitten) )

Nouns ending in -e are (almost) always feminine

Many animal nouns end in -e, and they almost always take the feminine die (e.g. die Katze, die Schnauze, die Schlange)

Ein Herz für Tiere

Whether you truly have ein Herz für Tiere (are fond of animals) or you’re just looking to expand your Wortschatz (vocabulary), German animals are definitely great words to learn. So head off to der Wald (woods) and track some bears if you dare, or to die Ostsee (Baltic Sea) to watch die Möwen (seagulls) glide through the air – and bring your Karteikarten (flash cards) with you!

Learn languages at your pace

Rebecca Dean is a freelance writer originally from California who specializes in writing about travel, education, culture and language learning. A long-time Wahlberlinerin (Berliner-by-choice), Rebecca became a dual US/German citizen in 2019. In her free time, she writes fiction, makes jewelry, sings and hangs out with family and friends. You can find Rebecca professionally on LinkedIn and personally on Instagram.

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