Smallest of the German pointers, the small Munsterlander is big on style and drive
This series of Project Upland hunting dog breed profiles focuses on the hunting characteristics that set one breed apart from another, understanding that within a breed individual dogs may vary in temperament, conformation, instincts and abilities.
Original purpose of the small Munsterlander
From the melting pot of tracking and retrieving breeds centuries ago, the small Munsterlander can claim a fragmented trace. More specific to its modern development, in the late 1800s a practically extinct small, long-haired pointing dog breed called a “Spion” was resurrected and refined, establishing the small Munsterlander as a distinct breed. Hermann Lons, one of the men who developed the foundation lines, referred to the starter dogs as “heartland quail dogs.”
The small Munsterlander – the smallest German pointing dog – is a breed separate from the large Munsterlander, not merely a size variant. Both breeds are skilled pointers, trackers, and retrievers, but their temperament, conformation and coat colors differ.
Compared to large Munsterlanders, small Munsterlanders have a deeper drive level attributed to their origins as “meat” dogs working strictly to put game on the table.
Hunting style and temperament of the small Munsterlander
Small Munsterlanders tend to hunt at a fairly close range. As a versatile breed, however, they can adapt to big country upland work and expand well. Their lovely long coats give them a stylish appearance on point with a staunch tail held no higher than “10:00.” Small Munsterlanders run at a medium pace and take to water enthusiastically. Tracking comes naturally to the breed.
The small Munsterlander’s hunting temperament has been described as excitable and leaning towards independence. The plus side of that temperament is that they can take more pressure in training than softer breeds. At home, the small Munsterlander is a delightful part of the family, a personable and willing companion.
Bird dog traits important to hunters
Size of the breed
Height at the shoulder should be 19-22 inches. Weight ranges 35-60 pounds.
The Munsterlander coat
The small Munsterlander coat is medium in length, flat and dense. It can be liver and white, liver-white ticked, or roan. Unlike the shorthaired and wirehaired German pointers’ coats, this one needs grooming. It is a burr and brush magnet.
Small Munsterlanders may be a bit slow maturing and may take time developing a strong point.
Health risks of the small Munsterlander breed
The only flag raised is for hip dysplasia. It is recommended that potential buyers check that a litters’ sire and dam have been tested.
Finding a good Munsterlander breeder
According to the AKC, the small Munsterlander is the third most popular versatile hunting dog in Europe. Here in the U.S., the breed is continuing to enjoy growth in popularity although it is important to research breeders and lines to get the best package of size, coat, and fundamental hunting instincts.
Nancy Anisfield is an outdoor writer and hunting dog photographer, creative director for the Ugly Dog Hunting Company, member of the Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever Board of Directors, and co-owner of the Track2Wing Project which grants Action trackchairs to individuals with mobility challenges who want to train and hunt with bird dogs. She and her husband live in Hinesburg, Vermont, where their lives are governed by her two German shorthaired pointers and his two German wirehaired pointers.