Prior to the 19th century hunting was the privilege of landed upper class who had the financial resources to breed, train and manage large kennels of specialty dogs. The middle class arose in the 1800's and gained access to hunting through land ownership. These hunters wanted companion dogs with diverse hunting skills. Within Germany, however, aristocratic hunters strove to preserve the traditional hunting ethic with its profound respect for game animals. This ethic necessitated versatile hunting dogs skilled in recovering lost and wounded game, and not just in locating or retrieving downed birds or animals. Thus, the concept of the versatile hunting dog, Jagdgebrauchhund, became popular at the beginning of the 20th century, and several versatile hunting breeds were founded at that time.
In the Münsterland area of Germany (roughly east of Holland to Hannover and north through the moors) a search began about 1870 for a versatile long haired Wachtelhund (quail dog) breed. Hunting dogs in this part of Germany were already noted for their staunch point, their enormous search drive and their outstanding nose, capable of both air scenting and tracking. Several hunting aristocrats as well the famous poet, Hermann Löns, and his brother, Edmund, were among the leaders of this group (see "History of the Small Munsterlander" by Edmund Löns below). On March 17, 1912, a group of 68 formed the Verein für Kleine Münsterländer Vorstehhunde (Heidewachtel) - the Small Munsterlander Pointer (Heath quail) Club--in the town of Osnabrück, north of the city of Münster.
The Small Munsterlander Pointer was accepted by the versatile hunting dog club (Jagdgebrauchhund Verein, or JGHV) that had been founded in 1899. To this day this club administers the tests that form the foundation for any versatile hunting breed. However, an acceptable breed standard did not appear until 1921 when Dr. Friedrich Jungklaus published a scientific work on Small Munsterlanders and their breed characteristics. His description of the breed is still fundamentally valid today. The smaller stature of the Small Munsterlander Pointer is distinctive among long haired German versatile hunting dogs.
Small Munsterlanders at that time were mostly plated, with many color variations (except black). Braunschimmel (roan) dogs first appeared in the mid 1920's, probably through one or more crossings with German Shorthairs. Liver and white are now the predominant colors for Small Munsterlanders, although glints of auburn are often apparent in their coats, particularly around the ears.
Germany is recognized as the parent country for Kleine Münsterländer by the FCI.