The Development of the
Small Munsterlander
by Edmond Lons  


originally published as "Der Kleiner Munsterlandische Vorstehhund und seine Zucht"
Deutche Jager-Zeitung, 8 December 1912. (In English by Paul Jensen)

My earlier writings about our smallest pointing dog have been received with tremendous interest by hunters. Many hunters have joined the club, and the future looks promising for our historically "old" breed of dog, for which we have good breed stock today.

We started the breed registry with the well-developed dogs bred by Mr. Heitmann, who kindly told me of all the dogs he had line bred. To his knowledge, I added information up from other breeders. I viewed not only young dogs, but their parents, grandparents, and even great-grand parents. And after I had studied them well and compared them with other "Watchel-dogs", I came to the conclusion that in the small "Spy" we had the remains of an old national working dog breed with good hunting instincts. I reported that conviction and my experiences in the papers.

Understandably, the sudden appearance of the little pointing bird dog that people believed extinct was a surprise and even a disappointment to many cynics. Equally surprising was that there suddenly was a demand for the small bird dog, and many tried to discredit the club. But hunters who heard about the dog made trips to experience for themselves the excellence of the dogs, and we received only acknowledgments and praise from them. Our growing membership is the best proof that there is a seemingly unlimited demand for our little bird dog.

In the course of my research and writings, I also learned about the other line of our Heidewachtel. We had known about the existence of this line and the great hunting abilities of these dogs, and now I can serve my readers with a more accurate account.

Both breeders and potential breeders of our favorite dog surely will be interested in learning more details about both lines, their characteristics, and their differences. A strange fact- and one possibly unique in breeding history- is that both lines of this old Heidewachtel have been bred entirely privately by families that had the intent of maintaining pure line breeding and avoided other mixed breedings with other similar breeds. So appreciated was the hunting ability of these small dogs that breeders even violated
the age old rule against back-breeding (which can have detrimental effects) in their determination to maintain pure breeding.

The dogs from which our Dorsten dogs are descended were bred for years in the area around Belen, Relken, and Coosfield, and where it is believed that they were well known on the surrounding moors and bogs. Originally, these dogs came from the same lineage as Heitmann's dogs (there is only a few hours travel between the locations of the two breeders). However, no crossbreeding apparently took place for many years, and the result is that the two lines show distinctive traits. In addition, there were few dogs in each line, because not too many people were breeders and bitches were not very popular.

The Heitmann line, whose dogs often became too light and fragile, sometimes needed a sound blood infusion which, of course, could not be gotten from outside the breed. The new blood was available in the Dorsten line. Single breedings took place between Dorsten dogs and the
best of Heitmann's dogs, and visa versa. In this way, two parallel lines were continued, and when a new infusion of blood was needed, it could be obtained from the other lines.

I am told that a retiree named Ludwig von Hainem of Coosfield in Munsterland bred these pointing bird dogs. Some of his puppies were bought by an avid hunter named Feldhaus, who was a lawyer in the community. He, in turn bred his dogs and sold some to a watchmaker, Heinrich Bruning of Tunglo near Gescher in Munsterland in early (unreadable date). The Bruning family has continued to breed these dogs.

Today, a single bitch- unfortunately sterile- still lives with Mr. Brunings brother. Mr. Bruning himself died at an advanced age in 1910, shortly after he in 1907 had sold a male and two bitches to a game warden named Wohlberg in Hervest-Dorsten. The Wohlberg dogs were named "Rino" and "Mirza I," and they were from the same breeding as that of another previous pair "Caro" and "Polly". Both were excellent hunting dogs. "Rino" is presently owned by the artist Dr. C.C. Haniel in Bonn, and he is well known among hunters, especially because of his excellent retrieving work. "Mirza I" died of poisoning and Dr. Haniel tried in vain to find another bitch. He failed because Mr. Wohlberg did not know about the existence of the Heitmann line.

In the course of the breeding, the dark brown markings became dominant, because breeders preferred dogs with heavy markings. In addition, since the best dogs were selected for breeding, it was possible to improve the hunting abilities to the extent that in the middle of 1860 the Munsterlander has become famous in hunting circles, and male dogs from the Bruning's breedings obtained higher prices than had ever been heard of when they were sold to the Dutch court.

The ancestors of our Heidewachtel were the dogs of meat hunters, people for whom hunting was both an avocation and a source of income. For very low cost-often only a couple of marks- those hunters leased the land as far as the eye could see. During the summers, they tended a small plot of land, worked in the peat bogs, or worked as farm hands. When the fall came and the maple leaves fell to the ground, they became avid hunters, never letting their guns get cold, and felt sorrow only when they didn't get a sufficiently big bag. The hunt after small game was not as productive as it is today, because great herds of sheep grazed the moors, leaving little room for small game. In addition, game management was not known. Deer and Uhr hens were late in making inroads, but ducks were plentiful in the peat bogs and small ponds in the wetlands; duck flights were good, the snipes or phalaropes either bred in the bogs or passed overhead during their flights. The hunters main game were the hares, they paid for the lease and provided a nice profit. Every hare was counted as money, with one hare equaling a day's pay.

Obviously, it was of greatest importance to these "professional" hunters that they bagged as many hares as possible. It was also clear that these hunters had to have a dog that was very dependable and that with certainty could find the hares on the extensive moors and ensure that no cripple was left in the fields. In the dogs, the ability to find crippled game, intense point, and excellent retrieving ability were what hunters were looking for. They found these traits well combined in the small local longhaired dogs. However, the majority of these dogs disappeared when the lease payments for the hunting rights increased and city dwellers started competing for the spreads. Hunting changed from being an avocation or vocation for some to being a hobby for the rich. Only a few of the meat hunters, for whom the small loyal dogs had become part of their lives, continued to breed them, partly because of necessity and partly because of reverence for the role the dogs had assumed as part of their families. The reverence has lasted.

Until very recently, the old moor hunters did not part with their dogs, even if they got a new pup. they simply had to have one of the small dogs around, even the Munsterlander farmers, who are not normally great dog lovers. I once saw a couple of very old Heidewachtels on a farm in Norwalde. They were so feeble that the farmer had to carry them into the house at night. When I asked the farmer why he didn't just put them to sleep, he said, "I believe that all my horses would hardly be able to pull the game I have killed over these two dogs, so I am going to take care of them in their old age." We younger hunters feel the same way; the dogs loyalty and intelligence is without a doubt. These dogs immediately realize what is expected of them, read our desires in our eyes, and become one of the best working dogs even after minimal training.