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The History of the Curly-Coated Retriever

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100 – August 2019

By Lee Connor

A few months ago we attended Crufts with our Dachshund, Otto. Whilst Marc was stressing out, getting our boy ready for his big moment in the ring, I ambled off to ‘Discover Dogs’ which is the equivalent to the American ‘Meet the Breeds’. Between you and me, the Americans definitely have the better choice of name for this event!
While wandering down the packed aisles, with everything from Afghans to Xoloitzcuintlis on show, I suddenly stopped as something caught my eye.
Two men – one older, one younger – were engaged in deep conversation. At the older gentleman’s feet sat a large, doleful-looking black dog. The younger man had a toddler with him and, quite unbeknownst to him, this little child was hugging the big black dog tightly around its neck.
And then, the little boy suddenly appeared to become quite fascinated with the strange feeling texture of the dog’s coat and began running his little hands all over it.
Still the adults chatted on.
I watched as the little boy then grabbed a wad of hair and began to pull.
Still the dog just sat there.
Not so much as a grumble or a bared lip.
I had however seen quite enough and felt compelled to step in and say something.
‘Excuse me,’ I said and pointed downwards.
‘Oh Jackson, no!’ said the young father, carefully releasing the toddler’s tight grip and quickly pulling his little one off the ever-patient dog.
The dog in question was a Curly-Coated Retriever – a breed that, throughout its long history, it seems has always been described as something of a ‘waning’ variety or ‘one that has not come to stay’.
Its initial exalted position being quickly usurped by its Flat-coated brother, and then by the Labrador; but the Curly is the older breed. It is descended from the now extinct Water Dog. Many early commentators speculate that the Irish Water Spaniel is an obvious ancestor although I did find an interesting piece in the Kennel Gazette that disputed this commonly held assertion:
‘In crossing with the Irish water spaniel, I have always observed that a top-knot or a tendency to it is almost invariably reproduced; and this tendency is shown through many subsequent generations; and I would venture to assume that if Irish blood existed in any great degree in the Curly retrievers of the present day then we should see more trace of this than we currently do.’

Click here to read the complete article
100 – August 2019

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=168046

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