1. The Curly may look like a Labrador Retriever crossed with a Poodle, but he is a breed in his own right. In fact, the Curly is one of the oldest retriever breeds, likely being the first breed used for serious retrieving work in England. He was originally developed in England, and being a long-time favorite of English gamekeepers, he was popular on the large estates. British artwork from 300 years ago features this distinctive dog, and written accounts go back to 1803.
2. The ancestry of the Curly is unknown. He has been purebred since the early 1900s, so records of his lineage don’t exist. However, it is likely that some of the breeds in his background include the Newfoundland, the Poodle, and the Irish Water Spaniel, as well as some extinct breeds. The popularity of the Curly-Coated Retriever has waxed and waned over the years, and during both world wars the population dramatically declined. Today, the breed is limited in numbers, with its popularity having been overthrown by the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever.
3. The dense coat is a hallmark of the breed and consists of a thick mass of small, tight, distinct crisp curls. Only the face and front of the legs remain straight-haired. The coat lies close to the skin and provides protection from water, bad weather, and harsh underbrush. Per the breed standard, the coat is either black or liver in color.
4. The characteristic coat requires minimal grooming and is virtually effort-free. No regular brushing or combing is needed, and bathing is only needed occasionally. However, the Curly does shed, and light brushing can be used to help control falling hair. Males will lose part of their coat once a year, and females twice a year.
5. The Curly is an active dog, and when on the hunt he is eager and persistent, going all day long. He is a great multi-purpose hunting companion and will retrieve both fur and feather, even in the worst conditions, such as icy water. The hunting heritage of this quick and agile dog means that he requires plenty of exercise. It’s a huge bonus if that exercise can include swimming or fetching in water.
6. The Curly is distinguishable from other retrievers by his coat, and by his personality, as well. These dogs are protective and loyal with their family, but can be slightly more aloof with strangers than other retrievers. They can seem less demonstrative, particularly with people they don’t know, partly due to their discerning nature and independence.
7. With his family, the Curly is charming, gentle, calm, and affectionate. Most make good companions for children, although as with all dogs, children should be taught appropriate behavior. Curlies are slow to mature, meaning you will have a puppy longer than you might expect, but they are also biddable, responsive, and very intelligent. All these factors will influence your training program. To prevent your Curly from becoming bored consider keeping your sessions playful and fun.
For more on the Curly-Coated Retriever, check out our video below!