Curly Coated Retrievers were developed in the 1700s, and although we do not have any definitive records of the types of dogs that were used to develop this distinctive and talented breed, most experts believe that they are a mix of retrieving setters and a breed of dog that is now extinct, the Old English Water Spaniel. They have particularly long legs and can be distinguished from other retrieving breeds by their tightly curled black or liver colored coats. While they are generally friendly they are somewhat more cautious than other retrieving breeds, so socialization should be a priority.
The sport of Dock jumping was first exhibited just over a decade ago during the 1997 Incredible Dog Challenge. Since that date, the popularity of this canine activity has grown extensively, with several Dock Dog groups forming throughout the United States with many competitions available for participants. During this competitive activity, dogs run to the end of a thirty-five to forty foot dock, jumping off the end of it in order to pursue the target, with the goal of securing either the longest or highest jump in the competition. The water-loving Curly Coated Retriever has the longest legs of any of the retriever breeds, making them an excellent candidate for this position.
This breed of dog is very focused on their owners and is often described as “wickedly smart,” but they do require an outlet for that intelligence to keep them from becoming mischievous or even manipulative in their dealings with others. One good way to ensure that they are using their minds, particularly for dogs that are not being used to hunt, is to start obedience classes early on. They tend to remain puppyish for longer than other retrievers, so continuing their education in one way or another is typically recommended, and many pet parents find that their Curly Coated Retrievers excel at advanced obedience training, also known as conformation.
Curly Coated Retrievers require a great deal of both physical activity, and mental stimulation or they can develop problem behaviors like mischievousness, barking, and chewing. They are particularly well-suited to activities related to retrieval and to activities that involve water, but can also excel at other activities, such as advanced and rally obedience activities.