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Prost! How to Celebrate Oktoberfest With Your German Shepherd

Posted by Billy Francis

This article was updated in September 2021.

Oktoberfest started in 1810 as a wedding ceremony for Crown Prince Ludwig of Germany and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The royal couple invited the citizens of Munich to attend a huge celebration in front of the city gates, and the rest is history! The festival spread like a lively chicken dance (a traditional Oktoberfest event), and you can now pay homage to your Shepherd’s Germanic ancestry at destinations all over the U.S. Fido’s lederhosen are not mandatory at these awesome pet-friendly Oktoberfest celebrations, but they are definitely recommended.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat

Frankenmuth, MI
“If I jump high enough, I think I can pop them!” Photo by Candilynn Lockhart

The Bavarian Belle Riverboat is a popular attraction for visitors to the German-themed town of Frankenmuth. A featured attraction in the latest edition of our book, Ruff Guide to the United States, this handsome vessel invites tail waggers to join in the fun. Board with your pup to enjoy views of town from the Cass River and learn more about the history of the region. The authentic, stern-driven paddlewheel riverboat has an open-air canopied upper deck and a fully enclosed lower deck. Plan ahead and visit during the annual Dog Bowl Festival at the end of May when the company offers a special ‘Canine Cruise,’ or take a float during breaks at Frankenmuth Oktoberfest. The annual event pays homage to the town’s German theme by hosting competitive Wiener Dog Races, authentic music and delicious treats. After your ride, head next door to the River Place Shops, where furry friends are welcome inside many of the retail stores. Stop by Hello Cats & Dogs to pick up a yummy treat for your good boy.

Nicknamed ‘Michigan’s Little Bavaria’ for its German heritage and architectural style, the town of Frankenmuth is home to many Bavarian-themed shops and attractions. Extend your visit with Fido by staying at the Drury Inn & Suites Frankenmuth. Located on Main Street, within easy walking distance to all the downtown attractions, the hotel offers comfortable rooms, free hot breakfast, and a nightly happy hour.

La Mesa Oktoberfest

La Mesa, CA
“I knew I’d get another use out of my Doggy Parton costume!” Photo by @lamesaoktoberfest

The biggest Oktoberfest celebration in San Diego County, La Mesa Oktoberfest brings the best of Germany to the Pacific Coast. Sink your teeth into traditional eats from more than 40 food vendors and wash it down with a frothy stein of beer in the biergarten. The live German Polka Bands provide the soundtrack for a trip to the Dackeldorf Dachshund Village. The dog-centric area of the festival hosts classic canine activities like a doggie fashion show, trick contest and wiener dog races. Your pup can also try her hand at some traditional yodeling in the Howl-deling contest.

Book a weekend stay at this unique vacation rental that proves there’s no place like dome.

Denver Oktoberfest

Denver, CO
Wines and wieners. What more could you ask for? Photo by Facebook.com/DenverOktoberfest

With the exception of snakes, all pets are welcome at Denver Oktoberfest. This joyful celebration of sauerkraut, brats and Bavarian brunch is an awesome excuse for you and your pooch to stuff your faces and party like it’s 1810 all over again. Don't miss the much-anticipated Long Dog Derby, which is held on artificial grass racetrack to ensure the ultimate race conditions. All breeds, shapes and sizes are invited to cheer on the speedy wieners from outside the fenced-in area.

Rest and recover at the beautiful Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver, where four-legged guests are welcome with treats, beds and bowls.

Mount Angel Oktoberfest

Mount Angel, OR
“You’ve got a bit of sauerkraut on your face, let me help you with that!” Photo by @sarahegiles

The Old World buildings, authentic eateries and picturesque churches make any visit to Mount Angel feel like a trip to a Bavarian town, and there’s nowhere better to toast the German flag than the official Mount Angel Oktoberfest & Wiener Dog Races. Join the crowds for the traditional street dances, biergarten brews and two days of Dachshund heats. The weekend of bite-sized bolting culminates in the Northwest Champion Wiener Dog Race on Sunday afternoon.

Settle down for the night at the Grambusch Family Home in nearby Silverton. The fenced yard is a nice play for your pooch to practice his traditional German dance of the Schuhplattler without a leash holding him back.

Cullman Oktoberfest

Cullman, AL
Zero to 5 mph in around 10 minutes. Photo by Facebook.com/cullmanoktoberfest

Cullman Oktoberfest & Wiener Dog Race in Alabama encompasses all the best things about this boozy European bash. Dogs are invited to ride in a wagon with their owners, soak up the sun in the biergarten, and enjoy traditional German music. The main event is the much-celebrated Wiener Dog Race. There’s no better way to honor your Dachshunds’ Deutsch roots than to enter them into this pint-sized sprint to the finish line. Which wiener will have the legs to finish first?

If you want to try stargazing with your pooch after the day's festivities, this hidden mini home at the top of a pasture is a great place to start.

Hermann Oktoberfest

Hermann, MO
Dressed for the occasion. Photo by @hermann_the_cowboycorgi

German immigrants settled in Hermann in the 1830s, bringing with them the traditions and architecture of their homeland. When you arrive in town for Hermann Oktoberfest, you’ll see a sprinkling of European flavor on every corner of town. The festival is celebrated every weekend in October, giving you and your pooch ample time to wander the booths of handcrafted items, surrounded by the sounds of traditional music and excited revelers. The fall colors in this scenic area are a treat for the eyes, too.

Enjoy all that Hermann Oktoberfest has to offer by extending your stay at the Hermann Hill Vineyard & Inn. Dogs are welcome at this picturesque vineyard and inn year-round, where they host pet-friendly wedding ceremonies, bake dog biscuits with their own special recipe, and welcome two- and four-legged guests to stay overnight.

Ready for a Road Trip?

Photo by Linda Segerfeldt


The editors at BringFido have dedicated themselves to digging up the best dog-friendly things to do across the country. And we've assembled it all in our new book, Ruff Guide to the United States.

Now in its second edition, the book features over 365 of the best places to stay and play with your dog in all 50 states. Order your copy today and save 50% off the retail price when you use the discount code PROST.

How are you and your dog celebrating Oktoberfest? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!