Sunnynook Large Munsterlander®

Hunting Dogs

A century-old German breed adapted and performance-proven for North American hunting by Sunnynook Kennel

Established in 1977

Joe & Sheila Schmutz, R.R. 2 Site 202 Box 123, Saskatoon, SK Canada S7K 3J5

This webpage was last updated on November 7, 2018 by Sheila Schmutz

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Our Sunnynook Promise

We applaud the diversity of dog breeds with their different working styles and strengths that are available to hunters. We respect the Large Munsterlander's original design and breed management strategy. We do not intend to re-invent the wheel nor alter an established breed at will. Our commitment is to the generations of Large Munsterlander breeders who came before us. Our breeding strategy includes:

  • Evaluating breeding stock through personal hunting use and objective testing in field and water before and after the shot proven through advanced hunting tests
  • Screening dam and sire health via kennel records, hip x-rays and DNA testing
  • Upholding the original breed standard and hunting-oriented form and function through conformation tests
  • Evaluating temperament through our own observations and via trained judges
  • Choosing mates based on complementarity of traits

The stained glass was designed and handcrafted by Janice Staley.

Sunnynook Feature Dog

Lodge Client: "Abby saved my life!"

The surprise encounter with a grizzly could have ended badly, had it not been for Sunnynook's Abby!

After the client had hiked, camped and hiked some more, he bagged a mountain caribou in the spectacular Spatsizi Wilderness of northern British Columbia. This allowed another hunting option during his stay, to spend a few days in a satellite camp and hunt ptarmigan on one of the many cordilleran plateaus above the treeline. An early big-game finish is not unusual in this spectacular mountain wilderness, dubbed the Serengeti of Canada. The region holds stone sheep, moose, mountain caribou, mountain goat, grizzly bear and wolves. The three lodges are efficiently run by members of the Collingwood family Guides come from far and wide to work with one of the best in the business.

Sunnynook's Abby joined Ray and Beannie Collingwood in 2013. Abby’s main job, like Sunnynook's Uli before her, is to greet guests, alert them of bears and wolves - unless the riding/pack horses do it before her, and, of course, hunt ptarmigan.

On that fateful day, the client was dropped off down the lake to wait with Abby for the guides to bring packhorses around on shore and the rest of the gear in the second boat load. Together they were then to hike/trail 3 km through spruce forest to one of the 16 satellite camps nestled among the stunted Krummholz at the edge of the treeline.

Near the lake, where the client and Abby were waiting, dwarf birch soon gave way to spruce forest. Visibility was limited. Suddenly, Abby sprang into action with a growl as a grizzly bear was coming toward them. No doubt the smell of food even though still packaged and snug on the packhorse saddle was attractive to the bear. The hunter only had a shot gun and bird shot that would have been a disaster did he have to use it.

Abby kept pressuring the bear relentlessly, staying deftly out of reach. She threatened just seriously and persistently enough to make the bear eventually re-think the bacon smell and energy bars. Begrudgingly, the big bear ambled back down the creek bank and into the forest.

Photo: In all likelihood, this photo is of the grizzly Abby stood ground to. It must have moved to higher elevation to feast on the many berries that had ripened on the tundra.
Photo: Abby’s favourite occupation. Greeting guests is her second favorite and standing bears and wolves her very, very distance third.

The horse trail to the satellite camp lead right along the creek where the bear reluctantly disappeared to. Once the wrangler arrived with packhorses and the boat with remaining supplies, the group reconsidered. Instead of crowding the bear any further, they decided to postpone the ptarmigan hunt. Back at the lodge, a couple of Scotch calmed the client’s nerves. That evening the client heaped lavish praise on Abby, he truly believed she might have saved his life.

Loyalty. What helped Abby save the day was not just pure aggression, but primarily an instinct to protect her human companions, a sound temperament and above all intelligence. Some dogs will run to protect themselves, others will hide behind the hunter. Abby did neither. Devlin Oestreich calls it loyalty. Devlin and Bill Oestreich own an outfitting lodge 1 hr. or so NW of Collingwood’s as the raven flies. Their dog Sunnynnook’s Vista, like Abby, has put black bears up into trees allowing the riders to get past without a mini rodeo and the risk of being bucked down-slope by spooked horses. Vista, like Abby and Uli, guarded the lodge and its guests, and provided peace of mind to parents when young children were out and about.

For Abby, that time was not her first encounter with grizzlies. Every so often, a cow moose and her calves will be pursued by grizzlies or wolves and the moose sometimes seek refuge near or even in the lodge area. On one occasion, a moose with two calves tried to outswim a grizzly right past the boat dock. The guides intercepted by boat and caused the grizzly to return to shore. The frustrated bear stood 100 yards from the lodge looking it over for a possible, alternate source of food. Abby placed herself between bear and lodge, barked and stood her ground, until the grizzly opted to return to the willow and dwarf birch flat down the valley.

Photo: Here Abby is telling three wolves to stay clear of the Lodge and surroundings. Luckily for Abby, the wolves decided to comply.

Citizen/hunter scientists. Grizzlies are becoming more common and moose less. The Collingwood’s hunting guides and support staff spend much of each year in the region and became intimately familiar with its wildlife over three decades. Their observations are from camp stays, during the many days of guided hunts, and from horseback or flying to and fro in small airplanes. The guides make it their business to know where the wildlife’s home ranges are and what the number of young is in a particular year. In years past, it was common for them to see 5-10 moose in a day. All too often in recent years, a cow moose with one or two calves one day will be alone in her home range later. This, coupled with observed kills or their carcass remains, tells a story.

The guides estimate that grizzlies and other large predators have taken 75-80% of moose calves in recent years. These observations could be enormously useful for those interested in nature conservation, and those devising wildlife and human management strategies. Bowing to public pressure, British Columbia has recently closed hunting of grizzlies. This closure was not just in areas of high human and low bear densities but province wide.

Of course, grizzlies and wolves need to eat too. Our society now holds a much more mature view of predators, compared to the days of simplistic bounties and 'the only good predator is a dead predator'. In their review entitled “Questionable policy for large carnivore hunting” Scott Creel and others point out that ".. policy must be considered within the area to which it applies."

Gathering the data needed for sound management decisions is time consuming, in need of a long-term perspective and costly. Here, local observations can be immensely helpful and represent a valuable contribution by hunters to wildlife science. Knowledge has been gained over years by the Collingwoods and many others outfitting for hunting, fishing, photography and nature interpretation. Scott Creel and others conclude that "Well-regulated hunting of large carnivores can yield costs and benefits for conservation but requires attention to both". One of the costs can be human safety; after all, there is only so much protection from bears Abby can offer.

by Joe Schmutz, 23 March 2018

Past Performance

Thirty-two litters were born at the Sunnynook Kennel since it began in 1977. By 2017, 208 pups were weaned.

Fifty-five of the 121 pups born in the first 20 litters have been tested in Natural Ability (47%) and 41 of these passed (74%). There are also 6 which went on to pass UPT of 10 run and 11 of 17 passed the Utility test. This speaks well not only of the pups but also of the excellent handlers and homes they found themselves in.

For more information about the LMs that currently live at Sunnynook.

Registration and Proof of Performance

Every Sunnynook puppy born through 2015, is tattooed and comes with a performance-annotated pedigree endorsed by the Large Munsterlander Association of Canada . LMAC is incoportated under the Animal Pedigree Act of Canada affording protection to breeders and owners under Canadian law. Furthermore:

~ Abbreviations ~
appearing on LMAC pedigrees are explained in this downloadable pdf document.

Why Large Munsterlanders?

We choose the Large Munsterlander

Sunnynook Kennel and You

Breeding Goals - a matter of balance


All our dogs and at least 30 of their ancestors are field qualified and free of hip dysplasia (see pedigree). Hunting ability and health is part training/upbringing/food and part genetics. Still, it may happen that a pup does not develop according to our expectation as a hunter, in which case we take the dog back for purchase-price refund or replacement. We guarantee hunting ability and health, not necessarily a dog with automatic breeding potential.

Placement Policy

We ask that owners come to pick up their pups. We do not fly pups alone. In some cases a flight by the owner and the pup in the cabin is actually not as expensive as flying a pup alone in the luggage compartment.

We place dogs only with hunters who expect to train and use the dogs for bird hunting. There are three reasons: 1) Hunters may field test or at least report on the hunting abilities of their dogs from our kennel. This helps us decide on the breeding value of parents for future breeding decisions. 2) Hunting is in the dogs' nature, it can endanger the dog and other wildlife if not appropriately channeled and controlled. 3) The nearly 400 dog breeds in the world are designed for specific and subtly different uses. Hunting and pure companionship make different demands on a dog and on a breeder. We encourage our owners to breed in turn if their dog is exceptional as a hunter. However, we resist having this selection diluted by other (show or companion) interests.

In our experience a puppy's upbringing involves a series of stages that start at different times and are overlapping. This is roughly as follows:

0 - 1 1/2 months Pups simply grow and become weaned.
1 1/2 - 6 months Learn to hunt through play that needs to be frequent, brief and enjoyable (wing-on-a-stick, toy retrieves).
3 - 24 months Learn manners (in the home, vehicle & kennel, with people and other dogs)
6 - 18 months Gradual exposure to wild birds, water, retrieving & tracking. Introduction to the shot. This is also a good time for an owner to consider entering the pup in one of several natural-ability-type tests, for an objective evaluation on which areas to stress in future training/exposure, and to provide feedback to the breeder on his/her success and future direction.
10 - 24 months Gradually increasing insistence on manners on birds through obedience training. At the end of this period is a good time to decide whether the dog would make a positive contribution to the Large Munsterlander breeding pool.
8 - 36 months Hunting exposure and experience.

On any of these, we would be pleased to provide advice. The result should be a hunting dog that is a joy to be with, in and out of the hunting season.

We have provided each owner with a copy of "Training and care of the versatile hunting dog", the classic manual for versatile dogs. This manual is short and specific in its instructions. Other books can amplify these sections. Among them, is an excellent book written by Joan Bailey, entitled "How to help gun dogs train themselves". This title is not just an empty promise. Joan Bailey provides excellent tips about how to make everyday things into learning opportunities for a pup. Look for the book at

A brief description of Wing-on-a-stick play. This is a great game to build passion, capacity and a work ethic, but a few words of advice are in order. Make sessions short and rewarding for the pup. Don't treat it as a substitute for wild birds. By six months, the game should transition into work with wild birds. The wing can be replaced with a dummy and the dog can learn manners and commands, but sight pointing should be replaced by opportunities to point scent by then.

For the play, keep in mind that pointing is the exaggerated stop-before-the-pounce of wild canines. Build some excitement first by a few chases and then encourage pointing. End the chase by lifting the wing high. When the pup stands and looks at it, lower it gently. Sometimes a sudden drop triggers a strong point - learn to read your dog, and reward it for the slightest progress. The reward is catching the wing, not by the pup pursuing it but by the owner moving it to within the standing pup's reach. Early on, a pup may be rewarded for standing while the wing is lowered from 1 to 1/2 m in the air, about an equal distance away. Later, the pup needs to stand while the wing rests on the ground for the pup to be rewarded, but be sure to end each session with a reward.

Allow the pup to hold and pull on the wing, praising all the while. Relaxing on the string and then tugging gently can cause the 'bird to escape' again. If the pup has too firm a grip, build trust by picking the pup up and taking away the wing gently, or trading the wing for food or another item the pup wants. After the session, put the wing out of sight. Do not allow prolonged chewing. These sessions are very useful for an owner to learn about the pup's nature, does drive need to be boosted or does the pup have lots of it. These play sessions build rapport. Thought and care should be used in the game, study the pups reactions and respond accordingly for best success - remember, they are still "toddlers".

A bit about us.....

Joe is an avid upland bird hunter and also hunts waterfowl "for the dogs"! He is shown here hunting Hungarian partridge in Southern Saskatchewan, with Grackle and Mac. He is a wildlife biologist who has studied birds and fostered conservation throughout his career. He was a NAVHDA judge from 1985 to 2011. He helped found VHDF in 2007 and has been a judge since its inception.

Sheila helps train the dogs and is actively involved in whelping, etc. but leaves the real hunting to the rest of the family. Sheila retired in 2016 as genetics professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She often used her own dogs teaching examples in both the genetics course she taught and the course of dogs and cats she developed. One of Sheila's research areas is the genetics of coat color in dogs. One of her hobbies is sewing, especially with fur. Sora is on her left and Pika on her right.

For more information on the Large Munsterlander in Canada

Please call us if you have any specific questions (306)382-8964. e-mail or e-mail