I’m looking to change my game of dogs from flusher/retriever breeds to pointers. I’ve got all kinds of friends who have also gotten into various pointing breeds as they have gotten older, for the same reasons as I. Most seem to have found what they wanted, with a few exceptions. That exception is a pointer that is a solid retriever on both land and water. Although most of my friends who own pointing dogs have told me that retrieving is not the reason they got pointers. Age has that effect on us … we have slowed down.
They call the best retrieving pointing dogs versatile pointers. I think this is just an attempt to get their friends with Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Springer Spaniels to actually believe that pointers and setters are reliable retrievers. But in secret they’ve admitted that their dogs may not actually be good retrievers. Some friends will even admit that their dogs won’t retrieve some game at all, namely wood cocks, a bird that even some retrievers refuse to pick up. For me, standing over a dead bird is just not good enough; I want it delivered to hand.
Right off the top I’m going to eliminate Pointing Labrador Retrievers off my list of pointing dogs. A Lab, by its name Labrador Retriever, is not a pointer in my book, but I don’t own all the books. The key word here is retriever and that is what these dogs have been doing forever, so trying to create a pointer from this breed just sends chills up my spine. Take a look at British Labs to see what a real lab is and what it looks like. The long nosed, skinny pointing lab is just not odd looking.
Of the pointing breeds Brittanys get a lot of positive reports for retrieving as do German Shorthairs, Vizslas, Wiemaraners, a few Setters, German Wirehairs, and Drahthaar will fare as good all around dogs that point and retrieve to some degree, but when push comes to shove icy waters will keep some of them on shore. The owners of breeds that struggle in water, and especially icy water, argue that their dogs are pointers and that is the game they play. Minnesotan Marc Paul, an old friend who owns a German Wirehair, told me that his dog has retrieved every pheasant he dropped in water, but it’s not his duck dog.
I want a pointer that’s an all the time water retriever that I can use for grouse, pheasant, quail and ducks too, so I’ve continued my search. I found a little known dog that is peaking my interest, a Small Munsterlander. Originally a breed developed in Europe, like almost all historically great hunting breeds, this dog was bred for German nobility. But those standards were abolished in 1919 with the promulgation of the Weimar Constitution recognizing all Germans as equals before the laws of their country. It is one of the four oldest versatile breeds, thought to be over 500 years old. So far my search shows few breeders in the U.S., but there are some in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I have sent out feelers to get in touch because after spending hours researching pointing dogs online and watching them perform on YouTube, they have my attention. Obviously more to come. . .
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at email@example.com