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Small Munsterlander – A Bird Hunting Dog Profile

Small Munsterlander – A Bird Hunting Dog Profile

A Small Munsterlander retrieving a game bird.

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.

A Small Munsterlander at a NAVHDA event.

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.

Their coats can be liver and white, liver-white ticked, or roan.

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.

View Comments (9)
  • Short and sweet article,pretty much describes them in a few words. Both registry’s here in the US, Small Munsterlander Club of North American and Kliener Munsterlander, do hip certifications before approval for breeding, as such I don’t see where it’s a big concern, actually pretty low concern compared to other breeds. The one thing I don’t understand is the AKC reference, I don’t believe they have the SM’s as a registered breed yet, recognized but not registered, and hopefully they never will register them, because if they do then you will see health issues become a concern.

  • To my knowledge the sm is not in the akc. The club doesn’t desire to have the sm registered, for fears of going down the path of other “show” breeds that once were notable working dogs. The other general trait to mention is they are very biddable dogs that aim to please. They tend to be soft to harsh training. They will shut down under pressure that may be tolerable to other breeds. The article is accurate otherwise, especially in regards to the slowly developing point of the breed. Patience and wild bird contacts are important. The breed is versatile, loyal, and an excellent partner in the house and field.

    • Hey John, thanks for the feedback. You are correct that AKC does not register the small Munsterlander as we had no mention that they did. Per some research to clarify the subject a bit more. “On August 14, 2006, the AKC recognized the Small Munsterlander into its Foundation Stock Service (FSS) program, in response to a petition by an individual, not the SMCNA. This recognition by the AKC allows a purebred breed to continue to develop while providing them with an avenue to maintain their records. FSS breeds are not eligible for AKC registration. Some of the FSS breeds are approved to compete in AKC Companion Events which consist of obedience, agility, tracking and rally events.”

      • KLM-GNA which was founded about 5 years ago is chapter of the KlM club in Germany and is required to follow all of the German Club’s breeding and testing regulations. GNA must use the JGHV for their testing requirements which includes a significant amount of work on fur bearing animals. Their program works well in Germany because over 70% of the animals harvested annually are fur bearing.

        The SMCNA was founded by the first people who imported KlMs to the USA in the early 1970’s. By 1993, the Club had increased in size significantly. New breeding regulations, fundamentally based on the German Club’s, were formally adopted but modified to reflect how Americans hunt. The Club designated NAVHDA as it’s field testing organization because it’s national coverage (and their forms are in English).

  • I have had my SM for nearly three years. She was relatively easy to train, has great prey drive and a solid point. SM are great in the house and thrive with plenty of human contact. My dog routinely hunts with GSPs, while she tends to work closer she has not trouble keeping up with longer ranging dogs. SMCNA has done a great job of managing a breeding program. I would not consider a SM that did not come from a SMCNA OR Kleiner Munsterlander approved breeding. I hope SM never becomes an AKC breed.

  • this breed looks like a field bred springer spaniel. Is there any spaniel in their background? they sound like a springer as well in their training except that springers are flushing dogs rather than pointers. thanks in advance for any info.

    • It is possible that there was some spaniel in their background; accounts vary. Most likely the Brittany played a part in the early development of the breed.

  • I was just made aware of this article…. the two dogs featured In all photo’s are American Stark v die Hage tot Gouwe and Dizzy Miss Izzy v Loenerhof! Both imported from the Netherlands. Stark departed us in 2018 after 17 and a half strong years, he was tenacious, Izzy now 13 is still full of energy and a passionate hunter. These pictures were taken at her Navhda natural ability test In Bowdoinham, Maine, Thank you Nancy for taking these! i would be remiss in giving special thanks to Leana Amerian who was a great friend and mentor who taught me so much and without whom I would have never been able to get such enjoyment out of two great and very different from each other hunting dogs. She passed away last fall and left a great legacy behind. She is terribly missed.

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