In 1817, Württemberg was divided into four kreise (districts), the southeastern one of which was named Donaukreis. The four kreise were in turn divided into oberämter. In Donaukreis, the most northern of these oberämter were Göppingen and, to its east, Geislingen. In 1938, the four kreise were abolished, and Geislingen was merged with Göppingen. During the communal reform of 1973 the district was not changed much, only a few municipalities from the districts Schwäbisch Gmünd and Ulm were added.
The district is sometimes called Stauferkreis, because the Staufen family had their roots in this area. However, when that family had no heir anymore, the land became part of Württemberg in the 14th century.
In 1990 a partnership with the district Löbau (now merged into Löbau-Zittau) in the Free State of Saxony was started, to help to build the administration according to western German standards. The municipality Boll already had a partnership with Herrnhut in Löbau before. After the districts started their partnership, several other municipalities of the two districts started partnership as well.
The lion is the symbol of the Staufen family, which had its roots in the district. The deer antler above is the symbol of Württemberg and symbolizes the change of ownership after the Staufer family died out.