The exact history of the Curly-Coated Retriever is not known. Popular conjecture suggests that the Curly-Coated Retriever descends from the now-extinct Old English Water Spaniel and from the Retrieving Setter. Other contributors to the breed are thought to include the small St. John’s Newfoundland, the Poodle, the Labrador Retriever, the Pointer and/or the Irish Water Spaniel. This popular gun dog was first exhibited in 1860 at Birmingham. In 1889, some Curly’s were exported to New Zealand, where they have since been used for retrieving duck and quail. In Australia, Curly-Coated Retrievers are also highly prized for use on water fowl in the swamps and lagoons of the Murray River. They are excellent all-around hunting dogs, with an especially tender mouth and unparalleled water skills.
The first breed club was established in England in 1896. The breed was introduced to America as early as 1907, with the first American Kennel Club registration of a Curly-Coated Retriever being made in 1924. They are members of the AKC’s Sporting Group. The Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America was formed in 1979 and is the breed parent club in this country. In the early part of the twentieth century, the Curly’s popularity waned while the Flat-Coated Retriever’s popularity rose. Today, the Curly-Coated Retriever retains its world-wide presence as a determined, durable hunter and a gentle family companion, although the breed is still uncommon.
The average life expectancy of the Curly-Coated Retriever is between 10 and 12 years. Breed health concerns may include gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloat), canine follicular dysplasia, entropion, ectropion, distichiasis, cataracts, epilepsy, generalized progressive retinal atrophy, glycogen storage disease and hip dysplasia.