What the heck is a Large Munsterlander (LM)?
That is what I asked a German acquaintance of mine a few years ago as he bragged about the skills of his gun dog.
“They’re the best hunting dogs in the world is what they are,” he said.
I kind of laughed it off as an overly proud dog owner beaming about his baby but after talking with him, I found the breed to be quite fascinating.
According to the LM Club of North America, they are one of several European breeds of very versatile hunting dogs.
“The LM first gained official recognition in the Munsterland of northwestern Germany in the early 1900s. However, the forerunner of the modern LM can be recognized in artist’s representations of hunting scenes as far back as the Middle Ages.”
“The LM is a 53-76 lb., black and white dog with hair of medium length. This dog has been bred for many decades 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.”
LMs are equally adept at pointing uplands birds in the field or retrieving waterfowl in the marsh, a rare trait in dogs. Usually they are one or the other.
Zack Lemann of New Orleans is one of only three LM owners in Louisiana and one of only a relative few in the United States. He said the breed has fascinated him for a number of years and his interest has only grown since he bought one in 2005.
“They really are a magnificent breed, very sweet and with an incredible hunting instinct,” he said.
Lemann bought his dog (Baker) in late July 05, but airlines will not ship mammals if temperatures are 85 degrees at any point along the route.
“I figured I would not see my pup until mid-September, but in late August a window opened up and there is no penalty when shipping cargo if you get a last minute ticket. The offer to get Baker to New Orleans on August 25th was fine by me,” he said.
The problem was the Hurricane (Katrina) that was bound for Florida at the time made a fateful turn and although the pup arrived safely Thursday night, evacuation was called for Saturday.
“The evacuation ended up being great for bonding, because I was with my dog all the time,” Lemann said.
“We found ourselves, after Katrina, unexpectedly in western North Carolina. Among other things, this meant that I, and a copy of Water Dog, was all Baker had to help him along.”
Lemann said he was pleased with the first two outings. The first was on a lake in North Carolina where two mallards were felled by a pal, and Baker did an OK job on the retrieves.
With this “test hunt” completed, he booked a hunt at a shooting lodge in western Kentucky.
“We had an unplanned upland shoot, and after the first flush, when Baker bolted past the experienced dog, my then almost seven-month-old honored and pointed in addition to retrieving,” Lemann said.
“But we had come for the ducks, and later that afternoon I shot my six and the guide had six, and I did the same thing the next morning. Among those 24 birds, Baker brought back all of them. The retrieves were not without incident here and there, but this was a fine, fine start,” he added.
Upon returning to Louisiana, the dog made a number of hunts and received professional training.
“He is very steady when boats are under way, he is remarkably relaxed in the blind, and yet he goes after downed fowl with plenty of enthusiasm. He still needs plenty of help on blind retrieves but he’ll get the job done, and he has proven to have a very good nose for cripples in the grass,” Lemann said.
The breed although quite rare in North America is gaining a following among hunters looking for something a bit different.
“They are a great dog to have with you in the field and to have around people. Baker is sweet as pie and a good, good hunter,” Lemann said.
For more information on the breed, go to www.lmcna.org.
Zack Lemann’s Large Munsterlander “Baker”.
(Photo courtesy Zakk Lemann)