Among the oldest of the retriever breeds, the exact origin of the Curly-Coated Retriever, nicknamed "Curly," is still unclear due to a lack of written records but they can be traced back to England during the 18th century. These hard-working gundogs were bred primarily to hunt game birds and retrieve waterfowl. It is believed that their ancestors may have included the St. John's Newfoundland, Irish Water Spaniel, and two now-extinct breeds, the English Water Spaniel and Retrieving Spaniel. In the late 1800s, the Poodle could have been incorporated into the Curly's lineage to perfect the breed's thick coat but this characteristic could have also been acquired from the Wetterhound. By the late 19th century, Curlies were used as reliable hunters all over England and even in parts of Australia and New Zealand.
Standing at a powerful 27 inches, Curly-Coated Retrievers are large, durable gundogs that are prized for their courage and innate field ability. The thick black or liver coat of the breed is covered in small tight curls that lie close to the skin, however, on the forehead, face, forelegs, and feet, the hair is smooth and straight. This dense curly coat helps them to endure and thrive in heavily-covered land and icy water areas where they have been commonly seen hunting. The breed's almond-shaped eyes can be seen as black or brown in black-colored dogs and brown or amber in liver-colored dogs. Curlies have a unique tapered, wedge-shaped head with rather small ears for its size and a well-proportioned muzzle. Their nose can be seen in either black or brown depending on the color of the coat. This large retriever's tail is covered in curls and carried fairly straight.
A hard-working breed with plenty of energy and endurance, Curly-Coated Retrievers love being outdoors to show off their abilities in both hunting and swimming. Do not let these active dogs fool you, they are not all work and no play. Curlies enjoy relaxing at home with their families and become strongly attached to them. Unlike Goldens and Labradors, this retriever tends to be more independent, protective, and reserved around strangers. This wariness makes the Curly more alert and attentive than others of a similar breed type. However, like many spaniels and retrievers, Curly-Coats are great with children and other pets, especially if they have been raised with them. A rambunctious puppy may need to be supervised around toddlers to avoid being knocked over by this energetic breed. Highly intelligent, Curlies require firm but kind training and an owner that can be just as stubborn as they can be. The multi-purpose Curly-Coated Retriever is not only loved for their versatility but also their personality and easy-care coat.