Below are some questions or comments from people we've received via email and we'd like to share this information and hopefully some of their questions may answer some of yours.
What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of the SM breed?
John: "I can talk to you all night about their strengths - their intelligence is shocking, their high desire to please, their natural hunting instincts are above any dog I've ever hunted with. When I talk to other SM owners, they usually say it's amazing how smart their dogs are, and they just are. That's one of the reasons we believe in strict breeding - I have read that other breeds such as labs used to be similar with these incredible hunting and intelligence traits, but over years of random breeding the good traits faded, so as breeders we are determined not to let that happen to the Small Munsterlanders. Honestly, I can't think of any weakness - they bond so tightly to you that it's hard to leave them alone, but that would be the only downside I can think of."
What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of Abi and Angus?
John: "Abi is high energy, she can hunt all day and doesn't want to quit - that can sometimes be a weakness because she's running so fast that she can run right over birds but that will get better with age - she's young and gets excited. Angus is older but has always been a more slow and methodical tracker - he never misses a bird. I really can't think of any weaknesses for either of them. Strengths are their drive, their sweet personalities and being very social. We take our dogs to shopping centers and stores and they are surrounded by people and children and they love the attention, even when it gets a little rough at times with children pulling on them, but they just lick the kids and hold still and never snap or growl. They are a very people-loving breed. Honestly, they are the best dogs I've ever owned and I will never buy another dog except a Munster."
One thing that concerns me about the SM's is that it seems to be a relatively small gene pool, even taking international breeders into account. How often do your dog's lines cross if at all?
John: "Not at all, and I've looked back 6-7 generations. I think small is relative — the dogs that have been imported are all from champion lines, the semen for breeding is from international champions so the gene pool may not be as large as gene pools of other breeds in the US, however it's high quality. The SM breeders that I know will work with other breeders if they want to buy a pup and they will hold back the best pups for breeding. Most breeders (including us) do conformation testing at 8 weeks before the puppies go home and keep the highest scoring pups for breeding. This way as a breeding group we can ensure that the very best dogs are bred to the very best dogs."
"Also, as SMCNA Cooperating Breeders, we are required to submit a request to breed to the SMCNA Breed Counsel, and they look at the lineage and make sure that the dogs that are being bred complement each other and would be a good match so even if we missed a distant family relationship the Breed Counsel would find it. They also would discourage a mating between a very tall female and a tall male, for example, as that would produce SMs that may be too tall. The club also tracks genetic defects and disease and if there's a reported problem it's tracked and if the dog is found to have a genetic problem it can no longer be bred. So I don't think the gene pool is a concern at all with an SMCNA approved dog - with other clubs or individual owners it may well be an issue."
I have read varying ranges of age at which to take the pup from the dam and begin the owner bonding process. What age do you recommend?
John: "There is alot of social bonding that takes place between the mother and the other pups from birth to 7 weeks as the pups go through their stages of development so it's crucial that they stay with their mother for a minimum of 7 weeks for emotional as well as physical health. From weeks 5-8 is when most of the social instruction between the mother and the rest of the "pack" occurs and the pups learn from each other what is acceptable (they cry or yip if one pup bites too hard), and the mother or other adult dogs also discipline them so they learn rapidly what is acceptable and what's not."
"When puppies are taken away too early they miss this social dog development and can then become overly attached to their humans and not know how to socialize with other dogs, they can have problems with dominance and aggression and can also have problems with training and discipline (they need to learn submission before they can accept you as the alpha). The norm is 8 weeks but we prefer 9 weeks and actually 10 weeks would be my optimum as I think the few extra weeks of maturity in the environment they are accustomed to just makes everything easier for the new owner. By 9-10 weeks we have the pups almost potty trained, the pups are used to sleeping by themselves without their litter mates and just generally are more ready to leave the nest and meet their new families."
Are there any books or videos you recommend? Other resources?
John: "I highly recommend a book called "A Breed Apart" by Paul Jensen. Paul was the first person to introduce the SM to the US and he worked with Tom McDonald, Kris Hill and several other top breeders in the US who have all been working to introduce this breed to the US for the past 20 years. Paul has good, specific training and general information on SMs. We give a copy of his book to each of our buyers when they get a puppy. We also have a lot of training information and videos on the Small Munsterlander website www.smallmunsterlander.org and when you buy a puppy from us or any SMCNA breeder you will get a free membership to the club for your first year."
What food do you feed the pups? Adults? Recommendations?
John: "I feed Purina Pro Plan. Puppy Chow for the pups until 6 months, then Purina Pro Plan Sport for the older dogs. I've researched and tried other brands and there are certainly more expensive, organic, higher protein foods, but Purina seems to keep them very healthy. I augment with vegetables, scrambled eggs, fish oil, and meat scraps to keep their diet varied."