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Small Munsterlander

Nicole Cosgrove

small munsterlander dog

The Small Munsterlander is a medium to large breed from Germany, bred to be a versatile hunter on both water and land. Despite the names, this dog is not actually related to the Large Munsterlander though it was developed in the same area. It has a life span of 12 to 14 years and as well as being an excellent hunting dog is also a great companion. Other names it is known by include Kleiner Münsterländer, Munsterlander (Small), Vorstehhund, Spion, Heidewachtel and the nickname Munster.

TheSmall Munsterlander at a Glance
Name Small Munsterlander
Other names Kleiner Münsterländer, Munsterlander (Small), Vorstehhund, Spion, Heidewachtel
Nicknames SM, Munster
Origin Germany
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 38 to 58 pounds
Average height 19 to 22 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Smooth, medium length, straight or a little wavy
Hypoallergenic No
Color Brown, white
Popularity Not yet recognized by the AKC, in Foundation Stock
Intelligence Excellent – a very smart dog
Tolerance to heat Good to very good
Tolerance to cold Very good
Shedding Average – some hair will be around the home
Drooling Low to moderate – not especially prone to it
Obesity Moderate to average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised
Grooming/brushing Average – brush a couple of times a week
Barking Occasional – barks sometimes but not constantly
Exercise needs Very active – needs active owners
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good to excellent with socialization
Good first dog Good to very good
Good family pet Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other pets Good with socialization but does have high prey drive
Good with strangers Good with socialization but wary at first
Good apartment dog Moderate – needs a large yard
Handles alone time well Low – needs companionship, does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Quite a healthy breed a few issues might include skin problems, ear infections, hunting injuries and eye problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for pet insurance and basic health care
Food expenses $260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $655 a year for basic training, license, toys, miscellaneous items and grooming
Average annual expenses $1400 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations SMCNA Rescue Program, also check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Small Munsterlander’s Beginnings

The Small Munsterlander’s ancestor was originally bred in Germany around the area called Munster around 500 years ago for nobles, to work with the falconer for small game and bird hunting. In documentation references can be found in from the 13th and 14th centuries. It would hunt upland flushing the prey out so the falcon could catch it, and then it would be held by the falcon with the dog pointing at it until the falconer came to retrieve it. When guns came along the falconer and falcon was replaced by a hunter or hunters with guns. The Small Munsterlander was developed to be good at finding prey and pointing it out, and to be weather resistant.

By the 1800s though there were not many around and they were no longer as well known. Those that were around were kept by farms as companions and to hunt for food for the families. At the end of the 19th century efforts were made to re-establish the breed. In 1919 the separation of classes was abolished in Germany and with that commoners were also able to access guns and hunt themselves. At this point the dog was also developed into a retrieving dog too working closely with the hunter it went out with and hunt on both land and water. It was and still is commonly used to hunt game such as rabbit, duck, woodcock, grouse, fox, deer, quail, geese, partridge and dove. But as with many dog breeds it faced difficulty again with World War II.

New Lease on Life

Fortunately the breed was revived again in the 1950s after the war in Germany and then from there spread to Europe and to North America. It has become prized for its hunting abilities as well as it being a great companion and family pet. In 1993 the SMCNA was formed, (Small Munsterlander Club of North America). It was focused on the dog being kept at high levels of performance rater than looking at its looks only. It has also been recognized by the FCI and the UKC but not yet the AKC. It is fairly rare breed in the US with under 2000 dogs registered. Its numbers are higher in Europe and especially in Germany.

The Dog You See Today

The Small Munsterlander is a medium to large dog breed weighing 38 to 58 pounds and standing 19 to 22 inches tall. It has a strong and balanced build with an upright and elegant posture. It carries its long feathered tail horizontally when moving. It resembles a spaniel type dog but also has some setter in its looks. Its ears are droop hanging down and covered in silky fur. It has brown expressive eyes and a moderately long muzzle that ends in a brown or black nose. Its coat is medium length, thick, smooth and can be straight or wavy. The colors are usually brown and white and there can be patches of white or tan, speckling or ticking or a roam pattern. There is feathering on its tail, backs of the legs, belly and ears.

The Inner Small Munsterlander


The SM is a great hunting dog but is also a loyal, energetic, happy and affectionate companion. It is focused, enthusiastic and driven when out hunting and in the home is social and friendly, loving, playful and loves to be with its family. It tends to form closer bonds with one owner, the one that hunts with it and takes it for exercise usually, but it is still affectionate with the rest of the family. It does not like being left alone for long periods and wants to be included in family activities. It is intelligent and it is alert and will bark to let you know if there is an intruder. It can be wary with strangers at first so socialization is important.

With enough activity it is a cheerful and gentle dog but is not one to be left outside or out in a kennel. It should be kept in the home as part of the family. It should be adaptable and confident with a good nature. It may need training not to jump up at you in greeting as it will be enthusiastic about greeting people it knows with kisses. While it is energetic and active, indoors while it does have a fun loving side to it, it tends to be calmer.

Living with a Small Munsterlander

What will training look like?

The Munster is intelligent, attentive, eager to please and this makes it generally easy to train. It is important to establish with it that you are the boss and that you are completely consistent with the rules and standing by them. When owners give in or are inconsistent in this process the dog will see that as a sign you are not confident in your leadership and will challenge you. Be firm with it but also be patient, positive and fair or it will resist its training and become more stubborn. Training and socialization should start from an early age, before bad habits have been developed. Even a puppy at 6 or 7 weeks old can start. Early socialization would include getting it used to different people, places, animals, and situations. A puppy at 10 weeks can start going to classes and learn as it gets along with other puppies.

How active is the Small Munsterlander?

These dogs are active and bred to hunt and loves to do this. It thrives on the hunt and if you are not taking it out for this it should get at least an hour or more of vigorous and challenging activity of some other kind. As well as a couple of long walks it loves to swim and it has a lot of stamina. It is able to handle various terrains and is not bothered by the cold. Give it some safe off leash time and it will happily run for a few hours. As well as getting physical exercise it also needs mental challenge too so see that it has various toys and puzzles and consider taking its training further.

Caring for the Small Munsterlander

Grooming needs

This dog needs regular grooming and is an average shedder. There will be some hair around the home and you use a firm bristled brush to brush it once or twice a week. Where there is feathering there can be a tendency to tangle more easily so check there often. Check it after it has been out hunting for debris and such it might have collected. Some owners will get the dog trimmed by a professional groomer a few times a year. Only bathe the SM when it actually needs it, otherwise you could damage the natural oils it needs and wash with a dog shampoo only.

As its ears are hanging down it can be more prone to things like ear infections. Make sure they are well dried after a bath and check them after going out and getting physical. Once a week give them a check for infection signs like swelling, redness, wax and a bad smell. If they are clear you can clean them by wiping them down or use a dog ear cleanser and cotton balls. There is no need to push anything into the ears though, that could cause damage and will hurt it. Brush its teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs for good oral care two to three times a week. Then its nails should be trimmed when needed using some dog nail clippers or scissors. Do not cut into the lower part as it will bleed and hurt it.

Feeding Time

The Small Munsterlander will eat 2 to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day split into at least two meals. Try to avoid foods that have too much filler in them, these are not nutritional for your dog. The amount changes as it depends on things like age, its size, level of activity, rate of metabolism and health. Give it water that it has access to at all times and keep it as fresh as possible.

How is the Small Munsterlander with children and other animals?

Munsters are very good with children with socialization. Being raised with them helps too! They play together, are affectionate towards each other and make great friends. Be sure to teach the children how to stroke and play with it in an acceptable way. Small children may need some supervision in case the dog gets rambunctious and to stop them pulling at its ears and such. It does have a strong prey drive so take care if there are other small animals in the home. Socialization means it can learn to get along with cats perhaps but it will try to chase small animals in the yard and outside. It gets along well with other dogs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

This dog has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is a healthy dog. It is possible that something may come up though like ear infections, skin problems, eye problems, hip dysplasia and hunting injuries.

Biting Statistics

In canine attack reports over the last three and a half decades in North America where bodily harm has been done there is no incident that names the Small Munsterlander. It is not an aggressive dog towards people and the chances of it being involved in such attacks are not that high, but there is always a risk, however small, regardless of breed or size. With good and responsible owners the potential can be kept at the low end as long as they train their dog, socialize it well, exercise and stimulate it and give it the attention it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Small Munsterlander puppy of pet quality will cost about $800 from a trustworthy breeder but that could go up a lot for a dog from a top breeder. Expect to be put on a waiting list especially for breeders that are in demand. Do not use disreputable breeders like backyard breeders or pet stores, or puppy mills. Rescuing is another option if you do not have to be set on a purebred (mixed dogs are more common in shelters and rescues) unless you find breed specific ones. There are a lot of dogs in local shelters and rescues though that are in desperate need of a new home and someone to love them. Fees in such cases tend to range from $50 to $400.

Then there are obviously some initial costs to plan for concerning items it needs and health checks that should be taken care of. When it is ready to come home to you it will need things like a crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls, bedding and such for about $220. Then at a vet it will need a physical, shots, micro chipping, spaying or neutering, blood tests and deworming and such for another $290.

Yearly costs too of owning a Munster are another factor to consider. Pet insurance or savings for health emergencies along with basic health care needs like shots, flea and tick prevention and check ups will cost annually about $485. A dry dog food that is of a decent quality and treats will cost another $260 a year. Other costs like toys, grooming, basic training, license and miscellaneous items are another annual cost of $655. This gives a yearly total starting estimate of $1400.


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The Small Munsterlander (not a miniature version of the Large Munsterlander) is an active dog that loves to hunt. It is going to be at its happiest and best when with owners who do that with it, and then it can be a great companion alongside that role. When happy it is a loyal and affectionate dog who loves to be around people and needs companionship.

Featured Image Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.