Small Munsterlander puppies look pretty much the same from all breeders – so what differentiates our puppies from the other choices in breeders you have? All Small Munsterlander breeders try to choose the very best dogs for breeding and are conscientious and committed to the breed and want to produce the very best puppies physically with above average hunting abilities. However, mentally, there is a small window of time in a puppy’s life to develop their brains and instill learning lessons that will create superior dogs, and that’s not evident on the outside - all puppies are cute and playful. It’s only over time that you will discover whether your puppy is calm, sweet natured and eager to learn, or hyper, fearful and/or aggressive in new or stressful situations or with other dogs. So what do you want to look for in a breeder’s breeding program that will ensure you purchase the very best puppy available? Even the very best Small Munsterlanders with impressive pedigrees will only produce average dogs if the environment the puppy is raised in is not optimum. Why? Because between 3-12 weeks a puppy’s brain and personality are developed, and if the breeder doesn’t work very hard during this time to provide the puppies with the environment and mental stimulation they need to develop optimally, the owners will have to work much harder as the learning curve gets continuously steeper after 12 weeks. Let us tell you about our passion for these highly intelligent, sweet natured dogs and how we have worked to ensure our breeding program is the very best available.
Our interest in the Small Munsterlander’s intelligence and sweet personalities began shortly after we purchased our second Munster Ani. We wondered why there was such a difference in gun dog breeds - not only a Munsterlander’s natural hunting abilities but also their high intelligence – we’ve heard people liken their interactions with Munsters to not just dogs but human toddlers – what was it about this breed that makes them so very human-like – we thought it has to start with their brains and their mental acuity (such as memory, focus, concentration and understanding). So we began our research and there just wasn’t much out there, Munsterlanders were new to the US and basically there wasn’t even much general information about them.
So we began our search with questions such as why is there such a difference in intelligence between dog breeds or even within the same breed? Is it all genetic or do environmental factors weigh in? Our interest was piqued when we began to read of new research that showed hip dysplasia in dogs was not genetic as was commonly thought, but rather due to the puppies environment the first few weeks of life. So we began to look for more information on the proper configurations of whelping boxes and how we can ensure our puppies did not develop hip dysplasia and found research that had been done by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia on early neurological stimulation for puppies to maximize health and performance, also done in the first few weeks of a puppy’s life. One particular item of his research mentioned that the exercises were done during the 3rd-16th days of a puppy’s life due to that being a “rapid neurological growth and development period.” So that opened up more questions for us - what was this rapid development stage about and could it apply to other areas of the brain and specifically increasing intelligence?
This led to other tremendous resources and information, particularly a book by Dr. Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human, which followed her research into brain development and emotional enrichment. Dr. Grandin discussed previous research done by Dr. Donald Hebb in the 1940s, a Canadian psychologist who had raised some rats in his home instead of a laboratory cage, and then later on when he tested them, his home-raised rats had higher intelligence and better problem-solving skills. Then in the 1960s another research phycologist Mark Rosenweig did further work with rats and enriched environments and found that adults as well as juvenile brains could expand and grow new cells, which was contrary at the time to what neuroscientists believed! Then in the late 1960s and early 1970s Dr. Bill Greenough, a professor at the University of Illinois, did work on how the brain changes in response to the environment, especially during learning. Dr. Greenough put a control group of rats in an enriched cage with toys and other stimulation and put the other group in the normal laboratory cages with no toys and just shavings on the floor. Dr. Greenough found that the rats in the enriched environment had more dendritic brain growth (dendrites are tiny little threads that branch out from brain cells and conduct electrical impulses into the cell body), and especially in the visual cortex of the brain.