Dy thin films are grown on Ge(0 0 1) substrates by molecular beam deposition at room temperature. Subsequently, the Dy film is annealed at different temperatures for the growth of a Dy-germanide film. Structural, morphological and electrical properties of the Dy-germanide film are investigated by in situ reflection high-energy electron diffraction, and ex situ X-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy and resistivity measurements. Reflection high-energy electron diffraction patterns and X-ray diffraction spectra show that the room temperature growth of the Dy film is disordered and there is a transition at a temperature of 300–330 °C from a disordered to an epitaxial growth of a Dy-germanide film by solid phase epitaxy. The high quality Dy3Ge5 film crystalline structure is formed and identified as an orthorhombic phase with smooth surface in the annealing temperature range of 330–550 °C. But at a temperature of 600 °C, the smooth surface of the Dy3Ge5 film changes to a rough surface with a lot of pits due to the reactions further.