Tempting as it is to make “Herman Munster” jokes about these breeds, there’s nothing funny about the work ethic and appeal of the Large and Small Munsterlanders, two separate and unrelated breeds that can be traced back to distinct breeding stock.
The Small Munsterlander, a descendant of Falconers’ bird dogs, was originally bred exclusively for noble families. It became increasingly rare during the 1800s despite its intelligence and “team player” spirit. Happily, a few Small Munsterlanders started to appear in the U.S. and Canada in the 1970s. The Small Munsterlander Club of North America was formed then, and the popularity of the continues to grow.
The Large Munsterlander was the result of 19th century German Longhaired Pointer breeders living in Munster, Germany who choise to ignore a rigid rule in a new breed standard. The rule stipulated that only liver, or liver-and-white colors be allowed. Because this left out black and white pointers, the breeders decided to continue producing the black and white dogs based on performance and not appearance. They formed their own club in 1919 and called their breed the Munsterlander.
Anecdotally, we’ve read that Large Munsterlanders are softer hunting dogs, while Small Munsterlanders can be more independent, if not stubborn. Small Munsterlanders have excellent close searching and pointing drive, while Large Munsters are well-rounded hunters that point, retrieve and perform general duties in the field.
Large Munsterlanders are a little taller than Small Munsters, but the real difference is in their legs. Small Munsters have a bit longer bodies and shorter legs, while Large Munsters have longer legs and shorter bodies. For hunters, this may mean that Large Munsterlanders can hunt for a bit longer in the field since long legs cover the same amount of ground with less energy.
Both breeds have breed clubs in the United States: The Small Munsterlander Club of North America (www.smcna.org/), the Large Munsterlander Association of America (www.largemunsterlander.org
Image: Kleine Munsterlander from a vintage 70’s German book.