Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated April 3, 2009)
The Curly-coated Retriever has both performance and good looks going for it. Still, for some reason this breed has never widely caught on, even with his great water ability. He is, however, quite popular in New Zealand where he is greatly preferred. Several times there have been attempts made to make the Curly-coated Retriever popular, the first being just before the Civil War. This is when his working ability was first noticed.
The Curly-coated Retriever breed beginning is not known for sure. The first reference to the breed occurred in the Sportsmen's Cabinet in 1803. There have been many suggestions as to where the Curly-coated Retriever came from. Some have suggested that they were crosses with the English-water Spaniel, the Poodle, and even the Gordon Setter. Undoubtedly these crosses were tried, but the final influence is not known.
The coat of the Curly-coated Retriever is compared with that of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and is superior to the Irish-water Spaniel. He is a mass of tight crisp curls from the crest of his head to the end of his tail. The dog stands about twenty-four inches tall at the shoulder. The color is either black or a dark liver color.
In general appearance the dog is strong, upstanding, has great endurance and is an intelligent dog. The dog is considered to be easy to train and has a very sweet temper. He is a little slow in field trail work yet very competent. In water he is considered to be very fast. The outstanding characteristics of the breed are water-going eagerness and stamina in cold water. The dogs will dive continuously after crippled ducks. They are good markers and have excellent memories. Most of them are good land workers, and are said to stand out in locating "runners."
Additional information on the Curly-coated Retriever can be found at the website for the American Kennel Club.
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