History of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever

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History of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever
History of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever

General description of the dog, the purpose of the curly-haired retriever from the Murray River, its ancestors, mention of them in the literature, breeding versions, development, recognition and the current position of the breed. The content of the article:

  • History, purpose and possible ancestors
  • Mention in the literature of the ancestors
  • Derivation versions
  • Committed work on development and recognition
  • Today's situation

The Murray river curly coated retriever is known by various names: Murray river curlies, Murrays, Curlies, Murray curly retriever, Murray river duck dogs and many other names. They are often mistaken for Curly coated retrievers or Labradoodles. These canines combine features that make them look like both spaniels and retrievers, such as the Irish Water Spaniel. Such dogs bear a striking resemblance to the American Water Spaniel, not only in appearance, size and temperament, but also in the original purpose.

It is widely believed that the Murray River Curly Coated Retrievers were bred in the early 1800s in Southeast Australia. Their purpose was to perform the functions of gun dogs for hunting ducks. However, early evidence suggests that such pets were also kept as companions. They are extremely kind and loyal to their family and their master, although some individuals show aloofness with strangers.

History, purpose of the Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever and its possible ancestors

Two curly-haired retrievers from the Murray River

Breed researchers say that the development of this dog took place on the largest Australian river Murray, and was caused by necessity. The people of this area at that time needed reliable dogs for finding and carrying game, possessing stamina, endless endurance, the ability to swim and catch water birds shot by hunters. To meet such requirements, the animal had to: have a remarkable mind, be easy to maintain, have a desire to work, but also be distinguished by the ability to remain calm and quiet during work, dive, not react fearfully to loud sounds of shots and, above all, be trustworthy. … Because of this need for hundreds of years, humanity has received the Murray river curly coated retriever.

However, the exact pedigree data of this breed is unknown, therefore there are several versions of its origin. Some experts believe that the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever may be a descendant of a flat-coated retriever that was imported into Australia and crossed with an unknown type of spaniel. Other experts do not support this version, pointing to a kind of curly "coat" inherent in the variety, which these dogs with straight hair do not have. It has also been suggested that the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever is descended from the American water spaniel, which may have been brought to Australia by ship captains from the United States working on the Murray River in the early 20th century. Although there is no conclusive evidence that this particular spaniel and the Murray river curly coated retriever appeared at about the same time and have parallel development.

Mention in the literature of the ancestors of the Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever

Murray River Curly Coated Retriever Muzzle

More recent claims are that the Murray river curly coated retriever may in fact be the descendants of the now extinct Norfolk retriever.The primary basis for this theory is the description of such canines by the writer Dalziel Hugh in 1897 in his work entitled "British Dogs, Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management and Exhibitions."

The author says that for many years Norfolk has been famous for hunting wild birds. On wide, river, sea shores and estuaries, birds abound in the winter months and without the help of a boat or a dog, the hunter will lose most of the hunted prey. In severe weather, when the bird is most easily accessible, the use of a boat in many cases becomes difficult, and often dangerous and impossible, and therefore a certain type of canine became necessary for hunters of that time. An early pointer, perfect for long range shooting, failed most of the time when the temperature dropped below zero degrees and the arrow's beard was covered with white icicles and frost.

A dog (similar to the Murray Curly Coated Retriever) was required with a much tougher and coarser coat. The old-fashioned English Water Spaniel was undoubtedly good at scaring birds off reeds and the like, but for all-round work his swiftness was against him. Something quieter than a purebred spaniel was needed, while retaining its determined working qualities. Often there were random and unreasonable crosses with a strong infusion of the blood of Irish water spaniels, sometimes with the color of a Labrador, so the necessary animal was gradually created.

This is Dalziel Hugh's version of the origin of the Norfolk Retriever, the ancestor of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever. He describes these dogs something like this: “The color is more often brown than black, and the shade is rather light brown than dark brown. The "coat" is curly, the curls are as tight and stiff as the show retriever of today, but tend to be fluffy and woolly. The coat is not long, but there is often a saddle of short, straight hair on the back. The cover tends to be rough in texture and almost always looks slightly "rusty" and harsh to the touch. However, this is to some extent due to lack of care. The head is heavy with a wise look, and wide large ears and densely covered with long curly hair. The limbs are powerful and strong, with sturdy and webbed feet."

The tail (the ancestor of the Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever) was usually docked like a spaniel, but not as short. Such a custom among the owners probably arose due to the fact that the "inexperienced eye" of the puppy's tail often seems too long for a dog. However, while trimming the tail improves the appearance of the spaniel, according to the author, it completely spoils the symmetry of the retriever. Dalziel once asked a Norfolk retriever breeder's point of view about his beautiful short coated pet. After examining the dog carefully, the man said: "Well, sir, he would be a rare cute dog if you only cut off half of his tail."

When white appears on the chest of the ancestors of the Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever, it is more commonly seen as a patch or patch rather than a narrow strip. They are usually taller, medium in size, and strong compact dogs. As a rule, dogs are extremely intelligent and obedient to be trained in almost anything, both various tricks and girlfriend work. In temperament, they are lively and cheerful, excellent companions, and very rarely they are considered sullen or spiteful. Animals tend to be stubborn and impetuous with a naturally strong recovery instinct, a little prone to a tight grip. This defect can be traced for two reasons. This can be the effect of rash reproduction, or careless or careless handling of them in their younger years.

However, the ancestors of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever were almost exclusively required for hunting wild birds. But, they were mainly used to extract game falling into the water.And since waterfowl are generally very durable, a rough grip will not cause much harm, and an avid "toothy hunter" will rarely give his prey a second chance. In a job like this, they are amazing. Their decisive nature makes the dogs the most capable of catching coots, partridges and other similar game, since the "arrows" give signals to many smaller river ducks. They are strong and persistent "swimmers", it is not easy to make them give up looking for a dead or wounded bird.

Versions of the breeding of the curly-haired retriever from the Murray River

Curly Coated Retriever of the Murray River Sitting

Hugh Dalziel's description of the Norfolk Retriever reflects many of the attributes found today in the Murray river curly coated retriever. He describes the Norfolk retriever as a brown dog, or what we now think of as liver-colored, with coiled hair, but not as strongly as the Curly-coated retrieve. He describes his ears as wide and densely covered with curly hair, that these dogs are usually above average in size, and are strong compact animals, and the slight white markings on the chest appeared in the form of a spot rather than a strip.

Dalziel also believed that the ancestors of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever were descended from crosses between English water spaniels, Labrador, St. John st. (John's water dog) and the odd irish water spaniel.

If the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever is actually the modern version of the Norfolk Retriever, that means their ancestors were imported to Australia at some point where they crossed over with other breeds. Namely with flat-coated retrievers or unknown spaniels, which led to the breeding of such a variety.

Such arguments are possible, but unfortunately, there is no clear evidence to substantiate them, other than a 100-year description of the possible already extinct ancestors of the breed and their resemblance to the Murray river curly coated retriever. Even a white spot on the chest cannot be considered a reliable argument. Since this is a trait that is almost ubiquitous among all species of retrievers, the genealogy of which will probably throw them back to their widespread ancestor - the water dog of St. John of Newfoundland.

Another popular theory that fits well with the well-known history of the breed's ancestors is that the Murray Curly Coated Retriever was deliberately or unintentionally bred by Murray River hunters by crossing Curly coated retrievers and Irish Water Spaniels. This assumption is consistent with the fact that in the mid-second half of the 1800s, the curly-haired retriever became too popular to be used as a gun dog after the old english water spaniel.

Around this time, the curly coated retriever spread to other countries around the world, the first of which was New Zealand (in 1889) and then Australia. It is also reliably known that in the early 19th century, when stories of such dogs spread across the Atlantic to North America, Australia exported dogs to the United States and Canada, as well as to Germany, New Guinea and New Zealand. While this fact cannot confirm a link between the curly-haired retriever and the breed, it at least proves that similar species, very much like the Murray River curly-haired retriever, have existed in Australia for a long time.

Whatever its true origin, the Murray river curly coated retriever is a truly Australian product and a line of canines endemic to Southeast Australia. Some connoisseurs do not support the version and claim that it is a designer breed such as the labradoodle, shitzupoo or schnoodle. Representatives of the species, unlike what is now implied by the term "designer breed", were not created recently due to fashion trends, like a wallet, a dress or a pair of shoes. Another clear difference is that unlike the popular "designer dogs" that exist today, the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever was not bred specifically for exclusive companion and pet use.

In addition, this breed is not warped by a name made up of syllables (or sounds) plucked from the names of the two parent purebred species, which is typical for today's designer dogs. In fact, like most working and hunting species deliberately crossed for specific working purposes, the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever is an effective and reliable gun dog that perfectly serves up shot waterfowl and other game.

Committed Work to Develop and Recognize the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever

Three curly-haired retrievers from the Murray River

Like the Australian koolie, another Australian working dog used for herding, the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever is not an officially recognized breed. This situation did not suit breeders and admirers of the variety. Therefore, one of the owners, Ms. Karen Bell, founded the Yahoo Group in July 2006, dedicated to the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever. By 2010, the organization had gathered approximately 181 members with 400 pets. However, these dogs and their official club are still denied recognition by the Australian national kennel council (ANKC).

It was during this period that Ms. Bell, along with several other owners, held a meeting. In June 2010, the council decided to found the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever Association (MRCCRA) with the aim of preserving and promoting them. MRCCRA is unique among breed clubs in that the organization is not interested in show demonstrations. Such beliefs will not allow random outcrosses. Association board members strive to maintain a strong gene pool as needed. The purpose of recognizing the Murray River Curly-Coated Retrievers is rather controversial.

The club states that it would like the breed to receive "approval from the respective statutory bodies." This is because, like an organization dedicated to the conservation of Australian coolies, MRCCRA and its members want their dogs to be preserved as workers, not show pets, and must meet stringent standards. Many breeders of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever believe that the long history of use and unique development in their homeland as the only Australian retrievers give them the right to be officially recognized as a distinct breed.

Current Position of the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever

Small Curly Coated Retriever from the Murray River

Despite the fact that the Murray river curly coated retriever was once very popular, today their demand has greatly diminished. This happened as a result of technical advances in agriculture, the emergence of super-centers and other large grocery stores. This situation deprived hunters of the need to catch game to provide a diet with meat.

In addition, restrictions on targeting and other types of game hunting have made duck hunting less popular, which in turn has reduced the need for dogs such as the Murray River Curly Coated Retrievers. Currently, MRCCRA is actively promoting the breed through its website. In addition, there are also three groups on the social networks of the Internet: facebook and a Twitter site dedicated to the Murray river curly coated retriever.

The authors, who are responsible for their content and active work, sincerely hope that the efforts of the MRCCRA organization will be successful. Breeders and hobbyists alike want their efforts to keep the breed pure in the near future. It will be a big shame for Australia if these dogs disappear, like many others, because they are not officially registered to this day.

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