So recently we have had a few people get in touch about meeting Dill because they are interested in getting a Large Munsterlander. This is great! We love it when people want to meet Dill and we could talk about munsters all day. They are an amazing breed and we are completely in love with them but there are a few things we always get told and asked… so I thought I would write a few of them down.
They are just big spaniels!
No! There are a lot of differences between spaniels and munsters, not just size! Yes their colouring is similar, they are both hairy, they are both gundogs and they are both nutty but they are bred for different things.
Lets start with the show/working type split that you see in quite a few of the spaniel breeds. There is no split in the munsters, in fact most of the top winning show dogs spend the working season under a gun. The breed is bred to work so you won’t get a more ‘docile’ show type, they just don’t exist. Not all munsters are as nutty as Dill but they are clowns and they are very slow to mature! Dill is now 3 and still has a lot of growing up to do, then again his dad is 9 and still acts like a teenager at times! So don’t expect them to be a dog that you work with for a few years and expect them to be trained – not saying spaniels are either but they will throw very different training issues at you.
What are they bred for? Well… what are spaniels best at? They are beating dogs! Granted some do and are amazing retrievers but they were bred to hunt close in front of their handler, they then flush what is in front of them and are trained to sit to the flush. Spaniels generally hunt with their nose low to the ground. Some do then retrieve and are very good at it but they were bred to be hunters, in a tight pattern. Munsterlanders are HPR dogs, they were bred to hunt, point a bird, flush on command and then retrieve it. They do not hunt close, they are bred to hunt at a fair distance away from you. Think of a spaniel’s hunting distance and double if not triple it and then you might be close to where your munsterlander will be hunting. This might not seem like a big thing, so they might be a bit far away but for most people the munsters natural hunting distance is further than a person would naturally want their dog to go. This can be quite hard to get used to but you will struggle to keep your munster as close you would a spaniel and it is an adjustment period. Just because your munster puppy stays close does not mean that your adolescent munster will. Their hunting instinct is strong, as it should be. The reason for this distance is how the dogs hunt, they follow the scent in the air, rather than on the ground, this is why they range over quite a distance.
The point – this is something that Dill doesn’t do very well. We have been told that we could probably get it out of him but it would involve a lot of work on caged game, which unfortunately we don’t have any access to. Saying that we are doing a lot of work on steadying him up around rabbits so it might be possible! The reason he doesn’t point is because of our spaniel cross. This is where you see the difference between the two breeds very clearly. Lily is a springer cross, she used to hunt nice and close to us, in a lovely pattern and will just flush game. When Dill came along she got more confident and now hunts at the same distance he does, but it meant when ever they came across game she would flush it which meant Dill never had the chance to point. Instead he learnt to flush like she does, this isn’t right. A good munster will stalk and point on the scent of a bird, they learn to hold this until you release them to flush, then they should sit to flush. The reason these dogs are pointing dogs is because of the distance they are to you and the type of shooting they are bred for. Spaniels are great for beating, when you have a line of guns waiting to shoot anything that goes up. Munsters are bred for the rough shooter, so one or two people who are out on their own. This is why they have to be able to do everything. Though some people do train their spaniels for similar work, many rough shooters with spaniels also have a Labrador with them.
So hopefully that explains why munsters are not large spaniels. They are bred for different things, this means that generally munsters are naturally steadier then spaniels and personality wise they are quite different both at home and out and about. Just because you have a spaniel does not mean that you are ready or prepared for a munster. You just have to accept they are different breeds, then you will be fine!
Do you have to work them?
No, there are plenty of munsters that make great pets. Just be aware that they are incredibly intelligent dogs and would need more then half hour walk and be left all day whilst you are at work. Due to their versatility the breed can take part in pretty much any dog sport out there. They have been successful in agility, flyball, canicross, bikejor, working trials as well as gundog work. There have also been munsters that have done well in dock diving and some even train in IPO. So you really can do anything with them! They also make amazing pets but just be aware you do have a dog that is bred to work, so make sure your lifestyle will suit them.
Are they biddable? Trainable?
This is not an easy yes or no question. The breed should be biddable, and want to please their handlers. However this isn’t the experience we have had with Dill. Dill knows best, he knows where the birds are, where the dummys are, he knows everything. His independence and confidence has made him a challenge to train. We have been making an effort to spend one to one time training him at least once a week since he has come home and even so, he still thinks he knows best! We have trained him though, he knows plenty of tricks and he can do his gundog work really well but he is a challenge and I expect he always will be. Saying that, one of his brothers has been very biddable and trainable – so even from the same litter there can be differences. There is something though, when a munster has learnt something they have learnt it whether it is something you wanted them to learn or not! They are amazingly intelligent dogs, possibly too clever for their own good!
Can they be left?
Yes they can but work must be done from day 1 to teach them it is okay to be left on their own and even if this is done properly it doesn’t mean they will be happy being left. We took this for granted with Dill and ended up with him howling every time we left him. Why this started after 2 and a half years we don’t know but it took a good 5-6 months to sort it so that he is happy being left again and even so only for short periods of time. We are building him back up but this is something to consider! There was no reason for him to suddenly develop his separation issues, at least none we can think of but it happened. Always good to be prepared for anything!
I want a lap dog!
Well you will get one of them. Munsters do not understand the concept of personal space no matter what state they are in… which leads nicely to…
Do they all like mud?
Honestly, no, not all munsters are mudsterlanders. However the majority appear to be and those that aren’t I believe pretty much all of them roll in poo instead… I know which I would rather!
These are just a few of the questions/comments that come a lot about the breed. The answers are from our experiences and if you speak to other munster owners their experiences may differ. They are not an easy breed and not one for everyone. Dill is a constant challenge to us but we completely adore him and have fallen completely in love with the breed.