The Curly-coated Retriever is a much older breed than the Flat-coat, which has to a great extent displaced him in the affections of the public. The Flat-coat has a Setter or Spaniel ancestry, while the progenitor of the Curly-coat was undoubtedly a Poodle, a breed at one time plentiful in England and used for sporting purposes.
The Curly-coated Retriever is a beautiful dog, and many of them as workmen are the equal of the Flat-coats. They are fully as intelligent, but are believed to be slightly inferior in nose, naturally harder mouthed, and more difficult to train and handle.
The only physical difference of importance between the two breeds lies in the character of their coats, that of the typical Curly-coat being a close fitting, inseparable nigger curl, each knot being solid, and the small locks and curls so close together as to be impervious to water. All parts of the body should be covered as if clothed in astrachan from the occiput to the tip of the tail. The curls on the head should finish in a straight line across the occiput, the hair on the face being short and smooth.
The coat requires a good deal of attention. It should never be combed or brushed. If the old coat does not shed it should be carefully pulled out, and open-coated dogs, which do not grow the short, crisp curl, should be clipped all over with horse clippers, as that usually induces the new coat to come out stronger and more tightly curled.
In selecting Curly-coated Retrievers look for the conformation and points that distinguish the short, crisp coat typical of this breed.
The chief points to look for in the selection of Curly-coated Retriever puppies at from two to four months old and after are identical with those of the flat-coated variety, except the coat, which should be short and crisp at the age given. This description of coat is most likely to develop into the small, tight curls so desirable.
The Curly-coated Retriever Club publishes the following standard and scale of points: HEAD.-Long and narrow for the length. EARS.-Rather small, set on low, lying close to the head, and covered with short curls. Jaws.-Long and strong, free from lippiness, with good, sound teeth.
NOSE.-Wide-open nostrils, moist and black.
EYES.-Dark, cannot be too dark, rather large, showing great intelligence and splendid temper; a full Pug eye an objection.
COAT.-Should be one mass of short, crisp curls from the occiput to the point of tail; a saddle-back, or patch of uncurled hair behind shoulders and white patch on chest should be penalized; but few white hairs allowed in an otherwise good dog. Color, black or liver.
NECK.-Long, graceful, but muscular and well placed and free from throatiness, such as a Bloodhound.
SHOULDERS.-Very deep, muscular, and obliquely placed.
CHEST.-Not too wide, but decidedly deep. BODY.-Rather short, muscular, and well ribbed up. LEGS.-Forelegs straight, with plenty of bone; not too long, and set well under body.
FEET.-Round and compact, with toes well arched.
LOIN.-Powerful, deep, and firm to the grasp.
TAIL.-Should be carried pretty straight, and covered with short curls, tapering toward tip.
GENERAL APPEARANCE.-A strong, smart dog, moderately low on leg, active, lively, beaming with intelligence and expression.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Head, 10; jaws, 5; eyes, 5; neck, 5; chest, 5; legs, S; loins, 10; ears, 5; nose, 5; coat, 15; shoulders, 5; body, 5; feet, 5; tail, 5; general appearance, 10. Total, 100.