Ge nanowires are playing a big role in the development of new functional microelectronic modules, such as gate-all-around field-effect transistor devices, on-chip lasers and photodetectors. The widely used three-phase bottom-up growth method utilising a foreign catalyst metal or metalloid is by far the most popular for Ge nanowire growth. However, to fully utilise the potential of Ge nanowires, it is important to explore and understand alternative and functional growth paradigms such as self-seeded nanowire growth, where nanowire growth is usually directed by the in situ-formed catalysts of the growth material, i.e., Ge in this case. Additionally, it is important to understand how the self-seeded nanowires can benefit the device application of nanomaterials as the additional metal seeding can influence electron and phonon transport, and the electronic band structure in the nanomaterials. Here, we review recent advances in the growth and application of self-seeded Ge and Ge-based binary alloy (GeSn) nanowires. Different fabrication methods for growing self-seeded Ge nanowires are delineated and correlated with metal seeded growth. This review also highlights the requirement and advantage of self-seeded growth approach for Ge nanomaterials in the potential applications in energy storage and nanoelectronic devices.