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Minority Gundog Breed Series Pt2

Welcome to the second part of our minority breed blog series, which will focus on the #CurlyCoatedRetriever (CCR). The CCR was originally bred in England for upland bird shooting and #waterfowling. It is also the tallest of the Gundog breeds and was one of the first recognised retriever breeds. Long time CCR owner Jeannette Chapman of Roughyeds Curly Coats, very kindly agreed to answer some questions for us!

How long have you been involved with CCRs?

We got our first Curly in 1990, a liver dog called Turbo, so 32 years ago. 

How have you seen the breed change over the years?

The breed hasn’t changed much over the years unlike in some other breeds. You can look at old black and white pictures from years ago and, apart from the quality of the picture, you wouldn’t know they were old. 

What’s the most common ‘is it a…/what’s it crossed with’?

This is a real bug-bare with lots of Curly owners, I tell people not to swear at me if they use ‘l’ or ‘doodle’ word at me. They then get a lecture about them not being designer mongrels and costing a fraction of the price. 

What would your advice be to a fist time CCR owner?

Curlies need socialising from being young, we carry ours out even before their jabs are finished and go to ringcraft or other training class as soon as they can go out. They can be aloof and sometimes take it to the extreme. They are slow to mature, mentally and physically so need time when training, and take the exercise slowly too. 

What are your breeds strengths and weaknesses?

Most don’t like repetition so get bored with the same exercise done several times, or seem to think they are doing it wrong and don’t know what else to try and just switch off. They can be quite headstrong and unlike some breeds don’t ask how high when told to jump, they think they know best and often do. 

They have great noses and are usually, ‘steady away’ as I call ours when picking up, great sweeping dogs when the drive is over but can also mark and have good memories, ours know where birds are likely to be on each drive and after picking the marked birds will go to these areas, then hunt for everything else. 

They aren’t barkers for no reason but when they need it they have a good bark, if a Curly barks you go and check it out there’s usually a reason for it. 

If you didn’t have CCR what breed would be your next choice and why?

I can imagine I would have a popular breed, and the only reason I wouldn’t have a Curly is because I couldn’t have big dogs for some reason, maybe look into a Spanish Water Dog, Portuguese Water Dog or Lagoto or something on those lines. 

In regards to breeding, assuming that your gene pool is limited, what do you prioritise when looking for a stud dog?

It’s harder for us in dual purpose breeds because we want something that we can show as well as work. We spend hours studying pedigrees, health tests then find out if the dogs we have narrowed down have any drive. The dog doesn’t have to be a big winner or even shown at all if I like the pedigree, and even where health tests are involved we shouldn’t throw away the baby with the bath water. 

The CCR is currently classes as a ‘Dual Purpose’ dog.

As the breed develops, are you seeing a difference between the dogs in the show ring and those in the field?

It’s always a possibility that a ‘split’ could happen but if it does it won’t be lack of effort on our part to keep them dual purpose, we have the only Full Champion Curly in the UK at this time. We are on the KC Vulnerable Native Breeds Register, registrations are often in double figures annual, but what we don’t need are people jumping on the band waggon and breeding to, ‘help the breed’.

The Curly remains a reliable all rounder, and a breed which hasn’t really changed since the beginning, which in the age of designer dogs which a bred unable to function, is refreshing to see. And that’s down to responsible breeding and people such as Jeannette, who care so deeply about the breed.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Jeannette for taking the time to answer our questions and provide images from her website.

Keep an eye out for our next minor breed blog, where we will be talking to yet another expert of minority breed gundogs!

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