Wonderful Little Bird Dogs
Our wonderful little bird dog, to those that own them. The Small Munsterlander Pointer (roughly pronounced moonsterlender), is primarily known as the Kleine Muensterlaender Vorstehhunde in Germany and parts of Europe. The Germans abbreviate it as KlM. Historically it was called the Heidewachtel, and is still know as that in the Netherlands. It has also been referred to as the Spion in Germany, the Petit Epagneul de Munster in France, and the Munsterlander Pequeno in Spanish speaking countries. In North America it is called the Small Munsterlander Pointer, but many of its devotees simply call them moonsters.
The breed is thought to be over 500 years old, originating from the Munsterland area of northwest Germany. Market hunters demanded a dog that was very keen in finding game, tracking, and retrieving wounded game on land and in water. The breed was developed and bred to improve these traits. However, the breed was nearly lost when the market hunters could no longer compete with the wealthy for paying for land on which to hunt. Then in the 1800's, changes in the legal and social structure occurred in this part of Europe that created hunting opportunities for the common people. Once again, there was a need for a versatile hunting dog. Many people desired a smaller dog that would be well mannered in the house and these small, affectionate and outstanding hunting dogs became popular. It is no wonder because many of us believe that their affectionate personality and manners in the house are unmatched in the hunting dog world. Their field and water work in the northern German farming country became legendary, and the breed became the third most popular hunting dog in Germany.
Two separate lines of Small Munsterlander Pointers were being bred in northern Germany at the end of the 19th century. Although they were not separated by great distance, breeders of the two lines were evidently unknown to each other. The lines were not intermixed and each developed distinctive characteristics. One bloodline was rather slight of build and very agile. This Heitmann line, named after its breeder, was well known for their lively manner, fine hunting ability, sounding or vocalizing on track, and intelligence. The other line was referred to as Dorsten for the town in the area where they were being bred. These dogs were slower in search, had excellent noses, longer in the back, and a strong, bony structure. I believe we see evidence of these two separate lines to this day in some of our dogs in North America. After "discovering" these two lines, and recognizing them as the same breed, Edmund Lons took efforts to formalize the breed, document all known dogs, and establish breeding records. Sometime during the close of the 19th century, limited intermixing of the two lines was conducted to strengthen their genotype and improve abilities. During the late 1800's, very few females existed and breeding was limited. Most hunters preferred male dogs and females were not generally kept. The breeding program introduced by Mr. Lons and the formation of the German breed club Verband fur Kleine Munsterlander Vorsthhunde should probably be credited with saving and even improving the breed. With the devestation of World War II in this region, it was beneficial to have previously formalized the breed and breeding records.Intermixing of the two lines strengthened the genotype and expanded the gene pool.
The Small Munsterlander Pointer is often described as like a setter and like a spaniel. I would say somewhat setter-like in appearnance and with a spaniel type head, but better than both in the field and water. A truly versatile little hunting dog. They also are outstanding on furred game and as trackers of fur or feather. Of course, their temperament puts them in a class by themselves.
While the Small Munsterlander Pointer once again became popular in the 19th century, it is interesting that many versatile hunting breeds were developed during the 1800's, especially the last half of the 19th century in Germany. Such breeds as the Pudelpointer, Drahthaar (German Wirehaired Pointer in America), Kurzhaar (German Shorthaired Pointer in America), German Longhaired Pointer, Large Munsterlander (not related to the Small Munsterlander but is the black and white strain of the German Longhaired Pointer) and others. Other versatile breeds were also being developed in other parts of Europe such as the Spinoni. The Small Munsterlander is one of the oldest of the versatile breeds along with the Weimaraner, Brittany, Vizsla, perhaps the Cesky Fousek (although I have not nailed down the history of this dog, it does appear to be an older breed than most of the versatile breeds) and some other rare versatile breeds. The origin of the Small Munsterlander Pointer is somewhat uncertain. It is possibly related most closely to the French Brittany through possible common ancestors, the French Espaquenel and Spanish spaniels. It may also be directly related to the Drentsche Patrijshond or Deutch Partridge Dog, through common ancestors. What ever its roots, the purebred Small Munsterlander Pointer has developed into a high-quality hunting dog from the careful line breeding accomplished over centuries by the market hunters and breeders whose livelyhood depended on the ability of their canine workmates.
The Small Munsterlander Pointer has one of the best personalities of any dog. They absolutely love to be around people. They also love water and love to hunt. Small Munsterlanders all seem to have a great desire for retrieving and a strong pointing instinct. Although my bitch Angel did not show strong pointing instinct until about seven months, my puppy Bud pointed rather solidly at 9 weeks. Different dogs develop at different rates. The breed matures rather late. Most do not consider the dog to be mature until two and one-half to three years of age. The dog's have a smooth, soft coat with fringe hair on the back of the forelegs and pronounced feathering of the tail. The hair is wavy on the ears and sometimes on the back. The coloration is white with liver (brown) spots, white and liver ticked, or white/liver roan.
To date, there have been ten Small Munsterlander Pointers earn a Prize I in the NAVHDA Utility Test. Six of these dogs have run in the Invitational Tests in 1996, 1998 and 2000. Three are qualified to run in the 2002 Invitational. Fritz (top left) was the first Small Munsterlander Pointer to earn a Prize I in the NAVHDA Utility test. Fritz and four of his Prize I UT offspring are shown below. Hans (top right photo) became the first Small Munsterlander Versatile Champion. Hans, Aryan, Jaegerin, and Buddy Boy were from the fine breeding of Fritz and Blanka. Blanka was from Fero vom Lohebeeke X Catja vom Brunneweg. Fritz, Fero and Catja were the foundation dogs for the Sengpiel line of Small Munsterlanders. Fritz was honored as the Dog of the Decade for his outstanding performance and for his contribution to the breed. For more information on Fritz, please refer to the Dog of the Decade article.
Certainly more will follow as the breeds popularity grows and more owners commit to taking one of this fine breed to this level.
Jeff Turner states: “In my opinion, the German people have led in breeding fine hunting dogs and baking outstanding hearty bread. I know of some people that even like their beer. Of course, the Germans have made some very nice shotguns and rifles, although I find the Germanic styling of hunting rifles somewhat gaudy and lacking the grace and simple elegance of our classic style rifle. I have an old 16 gauge German guild shotgun that I really like. I traded a nice man from Duluth a piece of very nice English walnut for it. He had refinished the stock and recheckered it. I did a little more work on it, including lengthening the chambers and opening up the chokes for woodcock and grouse. I also refinished the wood as I like. I used the shotgun for a few years and can honestly say that I never missed with it, although my hunting was somewhat limited. I knew it was time to retire it, or put it away for one of the kids, when I saw a very nice 20 gauge Parker that had my name on it. That was a very rare time in a man's life (actually many men probably never experience it), when three things all occurred simultaneously. First, a gun I had wanted for more than ten years appeared in front of me. Second, I had the money. Third, my wife said I should get it. The planets must have been in proper alignment. The Parker is really nice to hunt with, but the old 16 may come out of retirement for an occasional trip, and if the 2000 season continues as it has, the old 16 double may see many days afield in the future. I just can't hit those ruffs this year it seems.