|The Small Munsterlander Pointer (münsterländer), is primarily known as the Kleine Muensterlaender Vorstehhunde in Germany and parts of Europe. The Germans abbreviate it as KLM or 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 their dogs "Munsters."
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 that 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, outstanding hunting dogs became popular. It is no wonder, because many of us believe 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. We see evidence of these two separate lines to this day in 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, expand the gene pool and improve hunting 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 improving the breed. With the devestation brought on by World War II in this region, it was beneficial to have previously formalized the breed and breeding records.
The Small Munsterlander Pointer is often described as like a setter and like a spaniel. It is somewhat setter-like in appearance and with a spaniel type head, but better than both in the field and water. A truly versatile hunting dog, they are also outstanding on furred game and as trackers of both fur and feather. Of course, their temperament puts them in a class by themselves.
The Small Munsterlander is one of the four original versatile breeds, along with the Weimaraner, Brittany and Vizsla. 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. Whatever its roots, the purebred Small Munsterlander Pointer has developed into a high-quality versatile hunting dog from the careful line breeding accomplished over centuries by the market hunters and breeders whose livelihood depended on the ability of their canine workmates.
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 included the Pudelpointer, Drahthaar (German Wirehaired Pointer), Kurzhaar (German Shorthaired Pointer), the Deutsch-Langhaar (German Longhaired Pointer) and Large Munsterlander (not related to the Small Munsterlander, but is the black and white strain of the Deutsch-Langhaar). Other versatile breeds were also being developed in other parts of Europe such as the Spinoni.