The Large Munsterlander Association of Canada (LMAC) Former Feature Dogs
This web page was first mounted on May 19, 2014 and last updated on December 28, 2018 by Sheila Schmutz.
The Independent Search Is a Versatile Dog's Secret Weapon
Sheri Hallwyler (Muddy Waters Kennel) reported on an early morning waterfowl hunt in Oregon. The picture shows Muddy Waters' Daphne "Fi" at 9 months with a Snow Goose she had just retrieved. That same day a fellow hunter hit a Canada Goose that appeared to land out of sight in another field. When Fi was encouraged to search on her own, she found scent of the goose. Fi tracked it to a thicket of blackberry brambles where she went deep to retrieve the goose that was still alive. Without Fi, the goose would not have been recovered. The hunter who injured the goose was thrilled and will never forget this great piece of dog work.
It was Fi's independent search that saved the day. The hunters felt helpless. All they could do is follow Fi in the general direction of the crippled goose's disappearance. Sheri concludes: "Once the Large Munsterlander is exposed to use of nose and tracking, intelligent desire takes over and they recover the bird, and this at 9 months - what a natural instinct!"
Retrieving by a versatile dog takes many different forms. For a dog to get to a dead or crippled bird in the first place takes more than retrieving per se. 'Hunting dead' is a phrase that includes the independent search, alluding to the concentration and persistence required to make a retrieve possible. Taken together, retrieving is a complex of interconnected behaviors whose subtlety is not always recognized. Just consider the words people use, what do they mean for the dog and what does the dog bring to the task?
There is play retrieving by pups and adolescents. Wild and domestic canines play in their youth. Actually, play is widespread in nature. One of the outcomes of dog domestication was that the motivation to play persisted into adulthood, often called a neotenic behavior (1). For hunting it might be useful to distinguish play from retrieving. Chasing sticks and balls in the park satisfies a dog's inner motivation. Yet, it is different from a functional retrieve of something a dog or wolf would prefer to eat or cache for later. In retrieving, hunter and dog are serious about the common goal. They put aside all other distractions and concentrate on the scent at hand.
The chart shows six components of retrieving that overlap but are also different: The marked retrieve works best if a dog can remember not only direction but also the distance of the fall. For escape-artist species like pheasants, a good mark and quickly getting to the spot, can make or break the day.
The blind retrieve is the forté of retrievers and spectacular to watch. It requires a dog to 'take lines' and to strictly obey the voice and hand signals of the hunter. It works well if the hunter knows the hidden location of a bird no longer moving. A friend once entered his German Short-haired Pointer in a retriever competition out of pure interest. The GSP did a good job on blind retrieves but the owner felt that the difference between diligent adherence to lines and commands vs. independent work is so deeply rooted in a dog that it should not to be trivialized. It goes to "what a dog is" and not simply to "what a dog does". My friend felt his well-bred shorthair needed more training to be successful than should be required of most well-bred retrievers. It's an open question as to whether a dog exposed to both, contradictory methods is less effective in both.
The independent search, and its intended outcome, the retrieve, lie on opposite ends of the spectrum from marked or blind retrieves. In an independent search a dog may have cooperatively searched a field or sat obediently near a blind. Then, at an instant, it is asked to reverse its approach. The dog will take the cue and then make its own decisions, temporarily suspending the normal invisible bond between dog and hunter. The dog will work out of range and change direction as required. As Sheri put it, this is the forté of the fully versatile breed, and a versatile dog's secret weapon.
In retrieve by track a dog encounters an exceptionally long escape by a winged but otherwise vigorous rooster, or a rabbit, for example. Here the dog displays excellent use of nose and enough confidence and concentration to see the job through. In Fi's retrieve, she showed enough gumption to press deep into a thorny thicket to get the live goose. In the homeland of many of our versatile breeds, this complex retrieve is officially noted by judges when they see it in every day hunting. Such a dog is awarded the designation Verlorenbringer, abbreviated Vbr.
Retrieving commitment refers to a dog's willingness to pick up and carry a game animal that may lie outside its comfort zone. Not every dog will pick up a merganser (fish duck) or even a woodcock. When retrieving commitment is tested in Germany, a dog is expected to find and retrieve a dead fox. Such a dog shows commitment, it is trustworthy. It displays Bringtreue or Btr. I have personally been forced to leave a crane to its hapless fate after other hunters had winged it. When I encouraged my dogs to chase and retrieve it, we failed in retrieving commitment. Three of my dogs pursued it across the marsh but eventually backed away when the crane stood its ground. When a wounded animal resists, as in the case of the Sandhill Crane, or when cold water or thorns cause temporary discomfort, retrieving-gumption is called for. This gumption is described as Härte in German. The crane was not only unusual quarry outside the dogs' comfort zone, it also put up a fight.
Sheri and her hunting partners acknowledged many of the retrieving components in Fi's story told above. They recognized the enormous value of these components when Sheri writes: "intelligent desire takes over"
The above may not resonate equally with every hunter afield with a pointing dog because of different bird-dog cultures. At one extreme retrieving is thought to hinder pointing style and intensity. In the middle, many pointing dogs and versatile dogs are trained to retrieve (2). The full versatile dog is one where the breeding program pays attention not once but throughout generations to the full complement of the retrieving complex, including deliberate and persistent hunting dead. The trained retrieve or force fetch is an important training tool. However, many agree that it will help only with delivery style and obedience. Executing a complex and difficult retrieve touches upon 'what a dog is' beyond simply 'what a dog has been force-trained to do'. Fi has shown several of the features of a complex retrieve, and this at 9 months of age. Way to go Fi!
by Joe Schmutz, Feature-Dog Editor
From left to right: Bear Hill's Ember, Body: Very Good, Coat: Good; Sunnynook's Bobwhite, Body: Very Good, Coat: Very Good; Sunnynook's Cue, Body: Good, Coat: Very Good.
At a test on 15 September 2016 near Saskatoon, LMAC judges evaluated the conformation of three LMs against the breed’s international standard for form and function. All three dogs conformed to the standard in body form, coat and temperament and thus satisfied the requirements expected for eligibility to breed. The judges highlighted positive aspects in these dogs such as a calm temperament when measured, handled and mouths opened by strangers, smooth movement and appropriate placement of paws in a trot, gently rising-toward-front topline. Aspects that detracted somewhat and would benefit from balancing via a strategic choice of mates included slight cowhock and a tight scissors bite leading to early signs of premature tooth wear.
By having obtained an independent evaluation of their dogs’ conformation from trained judges, the owners are able to select mates accordingly and make continual and gradual progress in maintaining the essential character of a breed. The purpose of such conformation testing is twofold, according to Bob Wehle: “…your dog should conform to a good standard to be physically capable of doing the many things you are going to ask of him. [and] …. the dog should be good looking for the sheer pride and joy of ownership. Most sportsmen I know have a pretty good idea what a bird dog should look like and they are quick to recognize one when they see one.”
Not all versatile dog breeds work the same. This difference is rooted in their very breed design. The type of test or trial in common use for selection helps shape the dogs. Craik Koshyk was very astute in alluding to this in his book Pointing Dogs, Volume 1 The Continentals. He made a distinction between dogs roughly west and east of the river Rhine. He attributes the distinction to differences in the way hunting rights are allocated, via a Revier system in Germany and Austria, compared to a license system more like we have it, in France and Spain. While German dogs are expected to work all game in a leased township or Revier, many breeders in France concentrate more on upland work.
While most European dog enthusiasts test or trial within their own country, the international kennel club FCI holds championships throughout Europe. In trials designed for field work, dogs often work in a brace for 20 minutes, birds are shot and retrieved. Only two shells are allowed per bird and two birds are judged. Even the handler's ability and marksmanship enter into judgement. Points are given but only to allocate first, second and third prize in the end. Winners are highlighted and as is typical of field trials, many other good performances are mostly forgotten. Dogs that fail in certain aspects are eliminated from further participation. German hunters are prone to writing this off as mere sport.
Results of a 2007 championship in Belgium showed 55 English and 48 Continental pointing dogs participating with owners from 20 nations. Winning dogs were 4 English Setters, 1 English Pointer, 1 German Longhair, 2 German Shorthairs and 1 German Wirehair. In addition to dog-handler teams, the championship is extended to competitions by country and one by gender of handler.
Our LMs come from a hunting and testing culture east of the Rhine, where field work is only one of many aspects tested. There, a 24- or 48-hr blood track will turn more heads than snappy and speedy coverage of a field. Even so, our LMs have done remarkably well under expanded field expectations. Consider backing, for example, which is typically furthest from the German hunter's mind. Our test result here are commendable. Although dogs too will search a field and hunt for a single hunter in Germany, more often, the hunts there are party hunts with a mix of drivers and hunters. In that situation the dog's main job is to retrieve hares and upland birds and, especially, to recover cripples.
Testing backing in NAVHDA is a relatively recent addition, and is only part of the Invitational Test. Backing and a 1-hr brace is a regular aspect in VHDF's Performance Evaluation. Since we founded VHDF in 2007, 10 LMs were evaluated in the Performance Evaluation. These came from 6 different kennels including 2 German imports (see chart at the left).
VHDF evaluates backing and honouring as linked ends of a continuum. A dog B backs when it assumes a pointing stance or at least respectful attention merely from seeing dog A on point, without dog B being in the scent cone. If dog B does not back, but after a command stands and watches the other dog complete its pointing and retrieving it still shows respect for the other dog's work and can earn partial score. The scores in the graph show that two dogs performed this task flawlessly, and 6 more needed only a bit of help.
I have personally either trained or participated in training six of these LMs. I have been most impressed, by how quickly the dogs backed. We've never had to bother with the remote popup pointing dog cut-outs one can purchase. The training for backing consisted of at most a few reminders as in Stop or Whoa. Naturally most of the time was spent ensuring the dog will honour another dog's retrieve.
Backing is sometimes treated as a trained subject. Training may be required if a dog's intelligent pointing instinct does not prompt it to back. I've been impressed with the manner in which these dogs backed, similar to actual pointing. This coupled with observing a natural, sudden and intense back of a 12-week-old LM puppy convinces me that we have significant natural backing in our LMs.
The dogs in the photo are backing the dog who pointed initially (it is standing front-right and facing to the right). The dogs are not pointing scent because, their orientation is to the other dog that they are apparently taking their cue from, and not always the dog that pointed originally. Others are too far back to have scent, and scent would have been weak as the Huns had left the spot beforehand. Backing is a very useful trait in North America, where unlike Germany, dogs mostly search independently under the gun, often in the company of other hunters and their dogs. It's also a sophisticated and gentlemanly way to hunt and quite a sight to behold in the field.
Joe Schmutz, January 2016
Capturing the moments!
John called it the picture of a lifetime, and that it is! The Rocky Mountains in the background are stunning. The detailed fence divides pasture in this northern Utah intermountain valley. And the dogs, they look like Pheasant Philosophers, calmly contemplating just where the next rooster might be hiding.
From left to right, Bear Hill's Ember, Herz & Seele's Ebony and Sunnynook's Tessa have hunted 11 of the 19 upland birds North America has to offer, including Blue, Ruffed, Sharp-tailed and Sage grouse, Scaled, Valley, Gambel's and Mearns' quail, and Chukar, Hungarian Partridge and Pheasants. Those hunts took them to them to five states and one province.
When not out hunting, these three dogs are valued companions to John and Janice. And, thanks to top-notch photography technology, John and Janice Staley can enjoy the pictures and reflect again on the great days they had together.
John Staley, April 2015
(January - March 2015)
The phrase "We're standing on the shoulders of the ancients greats" resonates in science and in human cultures, giving credit to the ideas, hard work and successes of the past. This is equally true for working dogs. Our own feelings of success and bravado aside, we breeders today only dot the i's and cross the t's. Others before us have built a foundation for us to add to, and add to we should do with know-how and respect.
Photo by Sheri Hallwyler
Sunnynook's Yarrow, and many, many LMs like her, is the result of countless breeders and hunters putting the breed first and their own interest second. Yarrow is part of a thread that goes back to the Large Munsterlander breed that is celebrating its 95th birthday this year, 1919 - 2014. Yarrow goes back further yet to 1879 when the German Long-haired Pointer club was founded, which included the black-and-white as well as brown longhairs. This two-color breed standard continued for the first decades before the breeds were given separate breed identities. Actually, Yarrow's thread goes back to 1582, the date of a painting of a Hühnerhund (bird dog), the acknowledged ancestor of all German versatile longhairs including the Large Munsterlander.
In addition to the dog connection, there is a people connection in this photo. Beside Bridgette Kordosky, Yarrow's owner, and flanked by Sheila & Joe Schmutz and Rick Hallwyler, stands Sigbot (Bodo) Winterhelt. Bodo is connected to the thread as the primary originator of a much needed versatile dog culture in North America, some 50 years ago. It was Bodo and the early leadership in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association whose know-how and commitment to the dogs and their breed club members gave us the courage to pursue this historic breed maintenance goal for the LM. This was a time when service to breeders was writ large and dog sport was secondary.
Before Bodo emigrated to Canada, he had family connections to Edmund Löns, a renowned Small Munsterlander enthusiast. Through Löns, Bodo came to know A.E. Westmark. As a teacher, Westmark was well versed with the pen and became the editor of the newly formed Verband Grosse Münsterländer in 1919. Westmark was a successful LM breeder for decades thereafter. Yarrow traces directly back to the Westmark line, through Sunnynook's original dam, Amsel vom Siegerland (387/72). On Amsel's pedigree are four Westmark dogs, Karlo, Peter, Quelle and Zella, the Six-Times-Great Grandparents of Yarrow. The photo shows Edmund Löns 3rd from left, and A.E. Westmark, 2nd from right. The occasion was a field test in 1925.
Although none of the people cited here qualify as ancient, they are ‘great.’ They are our Elders and some are recently departed. They've shaped the identity of our dogs and are thereby part of our identity too. They deserve to be remembered every time our dogs brighten our day in the field.
Photo reprinted with permission from Vornholt, Egon (1994). "Verband Grosse Münsterländer e.V.: 75 Jahre 1919 - 1994." Verband Grosse Münsterländer e.V., Borken, Germany.
The Large Munsterlander is one of several continental breeds of versatile hunting dogs. It gained breed recognition in the Münsterland of northwestern Germany in 1919. Although this makes the LM the last of the German breeds to gain official representation by a separate breed club, the LM was recognized as a black color variant of the brown German Longhaired Pointer going back to its breed club formation in 1878. Even before that time, the forerunner of the modern LM can be recognized in artists' representations of hunting scenes as far back as the Middle Ages.
The LM is a black and white dog with hair of medium length. They weigh 50-75 lbs with males about 60-67 cm and females 58-63 cm at the shoulder. In its German homeland and some other countries, this dog has been bred for over a century for hunting and not show. Hence coat color is highly variable, ranging from predominantly white to predominantly black. Markings occur as solid white patches, or ticked or roan regions.
This field dog characteristically is calm, gentle and intelligent, and therefore also valued as a family dog. The versatile and cooperative characteristics of the LM provide for a reliable companion for all facets of hunting. It is well suited for a variety of game, including the tracking of big game as practiced by some owners. On average, LMs search well outside of gun range in open country but are still responsive and not independent. LMs excel as bird finders before and after the shot due to excellent noses and a purposeful searching style with good coverage, rather than speed. Many LMs point with intensity from puppyhood on, and many honor naturally. Given their passion for retrieving, steadiness needs to be encouraged through training, especially in the exuberant youngster. LMs tend to be strong in the water. The LM's long and thick coat protects them against cold and allows them to search dense cover thoroughly. Even so, their coat is a compromise well suited for temperate climates. Short-haired breeds may be better suited for upland hunting in the hot South, while the oily and dense coat of retrieving specialists makes them better suited for prolonged water work in the late-season North.
The Large Munsterlander was introduced to North America by Kurt von Kleist of Pennsylvania in 1966. By May, 2007, at least 78 dogs had been imported to North America from Europe. The first LMs were brought to Canada in 1973. There have been 368 pups born in Canada, from 55 litters.
The hunt of the geriatrics!(November 2014)
All these dogs are members of families where hunting is a big part of life. Given this level of wear and tear, Pika and Picard had their cruciate ligament repaired late in life and this has given them more hunting years.
In a survey about dog lifespan and health conducted by Wild und Hand Magazine in Germany, 164 hunters reported on versatile dogs (53%) plus dogs of 6 other breeds. The oldest dog was 17 years old. By far the most common cause of death was cancer. The most common illnesses were bone related.
Professionals and experienced dog people give several pieces of advice. These include feeding high quality food, keeping a dog in sound physical condition year-round, and using a warm-up and cool-down period after intense physical activity. Our dogs work like athletes, they deserve the same care athletes give themselves.
How many Feature Dogs can one fit on 1 rock?(June-Oct., 2014)
Avoiding Inbreeding(March-May, 2014)
At a time when hunter age is increasing through declining recruitment, young people are needed to keep the hunting craft alive. Furthermore, study after study shows the benefits of a pet, including dogs, in adolescent development. Growing up with dogs boosts children's emotional development through additional explorations of love, compassion and responsibility. Psychological studies show that adolescents find the forgiving nature and unconditional acceptance provided by a dog particularly comforting. When minor failures must happen, it's all within the family; they become an important teaching moment. Thus, hunting dogs that are also family companions provide huge benefits. Apart from their indispensible role in the field, they foster personal growth among adolescents AND create young hunters. Dogs will be dogs, and youths will be youths - that's where precious learning and growth occurs, on both sides of the canine-human boundary.
A working girl
Deep Roots in History
Featured March 2013
Smart enought to adapt!
Featured Feb 2013
A clean bill of health/conformation!
Featured Jan 2013
Fauna vom Algäuer Tor (left) and Otus vom Ahler Esch (right)
Four Large Munsterlanders have had DNA tests done and genotypes determined by HealthGene for being possible carriers of recessive brown and for Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia . The results were negative for both genes in all four dogs. This means that all four will breed true with regard to their colour as defined in the breed standard, and give rise to healthy hair and skin in their offspring.
SaskElkana's Bones (left) and Sunnynook's Veery (right)
Being a carrier of an allele for brown means that on average 25% of the puppies of two such carriers would be brown & white instead of their parents' black and white hair colour. Brown & white puppies are perfectly healthy and equally capable hunting dogs. They are indistinguishable from the German Longhaired Pointer sister breed. The brown genes still flow in the Large Munsterlander's gene pool because the two breeds were one up until a century ago. Since 20 of 1877 LM pups born in North America were brown, the allele frequency of "b" is 10.3% and approximately 18.5% of LMs carry this allele.
Unlike brown colour, Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia (BHFD) poses a health risk. The black hair comes in gray instead, and soon breaks off. The allele frequency of "d" the allele that causes BHFD when homozygous is 5.6% and therefore about 10.6% of North American LMs carry this "d" allele. The Large Munsterlander Association of Canada provides clear guidance on how to manage both brown and Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia alleles in the population using a science based approach.
Featured spring 2012
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