Curly Coated Retrievers have a natural affinity for water and love nothing more than a good splash. This love of water no doubt comes from its roots as a working dog, retrieving fowl from the water for its hunting handlers. Today, this translates into a natural advantage in water tests in the Working Field Certificate trials, as well as a natural partner for water fowl hunters. It also means that they will love spending time with their human families in and around water. In this article, we’ll take a look at the Curly Coated Retriever’s long swimming history, and why they’ll need plenty of water around to keep them happy today.
There is no doubt that the Curly Coated Retriever is one of the oldest breeds that are classified as retrievers. Unfortunately, its origins have been lost to time, although there is speculation that it is descended from the Spanish Water Spaniel, which was then possibly crossed with St. John Newfoundlands and retrieving setters, while some add poodles into the mix. What we do know is that the dog made its debut at the Birmingham dog show in 1860. During the 19th century, Curlies became very popular dogs in Great Britain because of their excellent skills as retrievers, as they were bred to retrieve ducks in and around the English seaboard. At the end of the 19th century, Curlies were exported to Australia, where they work to retrieve duck in and around the swamps and marshes of the Murray River, and New Zealand, where they retrieve duck as well as quail.
Although Curlies haven’t had the same popularity in the United States, they are steadily increasing in number and gaining recognition for their swimming abilities in events like the water field test, where dogs must retrieve ducks that have been thrown around thirty-five yards away from the shore, followed by a gun shot. Curly Coated Retrievers are reputed to be highly trainable and love to please their handlers, so combined with their natural swimming ability they are certainly a force to be reckoned with in this event.
What does their swimming ability mean to those that aren’t interested in hunting or field tests? Anyone that is interested in adopting a Curly Coated Retriever should have access to some kind of water source that their dog can play in on a regular basis, whether it be the ocean, a lake, a pond or even a swimming pool. Curlies have a very high energy level and will need a significant amount of exercise, and many experts suggest ending an exercise session with a swim. Swimming is not only a great exercise, it’s a great way to incorporate play with their families, and it is also the best way to care for their tightly curled coat, which will benefit from the natural bath.