he Curly-Coated Retriever is the oldest of the breeds now known as retrievers. Originating in England, this breed has many well-known breeds in its ancestry, including Irish Water Spaniels, Poodles, and the St. John's Newfoundland. Excellent bird dogs, Curlies can note where a bird has fallen and find it no matter how difficult the retrieve. As the breed's heritage would suggest, this breed loves water and will retrieve fallen birds in the water as well as on land.

The breed stands between 23 and 27 inches tall and weighs 60 to 80 pounds. This is an athletic breed, with a strong body and legs. The ears are dropped and the tail is long. The defining characteristic is the tightly curled, weatherproof coat that covers the dog from the top of the head, down over the body, down the thighs, and over the tail. The face, front of the forelegs, and feet have a shorter, smooth coat. The coat is either black or liver-colored.

The Curly should be brushed twice a week, or more if the dog is in the water often. The hair on the paws, under the tail, and around the ears can be trimmed to keep the dog clean and neat.

Curlies can be quite active, especially as puppies. They need vigorous daily exercise and enjoy a good run, swim, or training session on the agility course.

The Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America says, "Early obedience training, geared toward puppies, is recommended, as Curlies are highly intelligent and bore easily. Without training they will teach themselves their own games, to the possible woe of their owner." Curlies are slow to mature, so this training should continue throughout puppyhood.

This breed is still used for hunting and does best in a home where the dog can use these instincts. When not hunting, the Curly is a wonderful family dog, great with children, and usually calm in the house. He is affectionate and loyal but reserved with strangers. Health concerns include hip and elbow dyspla-sia and eye defects.

Breed in Brief

Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC Occupation: Gun dog Size: 23 to 27 in tall; 60 to 80 lbs

Longevity: 10 to 12 years Exercise: Vigorous daily exercise Training: Moderate Grooming: Moderate

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