They take their name from the Westphalian city of Embden and are an old breed. Pliny the Elder, the Roman writer of the first century AD, wrote about white German geese in his Natural History.
Harrison Weir, in Our Poultry (1912) describes Embdens and ‘very quiet.’ He cautions against crossing them with other geese, particularly Toulouse, to avoid, among other things, the development of the dewlap and lobe, “the large abdominal fat folds that now so often disfigure our Embdens of late years...” As shown in these drawings that illustrate the differences between Embden and Toulouse Geese, from Dr. J. Batty's Poultry Colour Guide, with paintings done by Charles Francis (second edition, 1979).
He documents their arrival in America to imports from Bremen to Boston in 1821. The two ganders and four geese were described as “being of the purest white – the bills, legs and feet, of a beautiful yellow.”
“I consider them the easiest sort of fowl to raise,” Weir writes.