Hunting Style of the Curly-Coated Retriever
The Curly-Coated Retriever was developed in England in the early 1800s to find and retrieve game with little direction or
comment. Originally bred by gamekeepers to put food on the table, they were used to clean up a field already covered by a
driven shoot. Prized for innate field ability, courage and indomitable perseverance, a correctly built and tempered Curly
will work as long as there is work to be done, retrieving game in the heaviest of cover or the iciest of waters.
Curlies are designated as retrievers by
the AKC but historical anecdotes and bird dog book accounts portray them as versatile hunting dogs developed to assist in
both waterfowl and upland bird hunting. To work all day a Curly must be balanced and sound, strong and robust, and quick and
Training and experience
will influence the nuances of a working Curly, but in all instances the dog should require little or no encouragement to hunt
an open field, wetland or woods. A properly bred Curly will work a field at a moderate pace, suitable for a full day of hunting.
The Curly will consistently utilize ground and air scent, along with experience to hunt the cover most likely to hold birds.
An experienced Curly will conserve energy by shunning thin or likely non-productive cover, but will never avoid the thickest
of cover, especially when directed by the handler. Because of this a Curly may not hunt in a defined “windshield wiper”
The Curly should naturally
work within gun range, checking back periodically on its own or when called by the handler. Hunting underfoot is not acceptable.
The dog will generally signal the presence of scent by an increasingly enthusiastic pace and noticeable tail movement. When
hunting down wind the dog will often pirouette at the first indication of scent. Curlies should produce birds with an aggressive
flush, although a “flash point” is neither uncommon nor undesirable.
Curlies should demonstrate good marking ability. If the dog misses the fall or a crippled bird moves the Curly should use
its strong nose to find and follow the trail post-haste. Curlies are naturally independent and bore easily with repetitive
drills as a result most do not handle as crisply as other retrievers. Since the ultimate goal is to the retrieve the game
the true measure of good handling is team work between the Curly and handler.
Curlies are natural retrievers and should promptly retrieve the bird for
the handler. There should be no hesitancy to pick up the bird and the dog should not demonstrate any tendency toward hard
mouth. Curlies are excellent swimmers and should show no hesitancy to enter water. At the same time, Curlies are known to
be “wickedly smart” and may choose the fastest route to the bird rather than the shortest distance.
To summarize: The Curly-Coated Retriever
is a methodical hunting dog that utilizes its nose and experience to focus on the most productive cover. It does not hunt
with a uniform pattern. Curlies should produce birds with an aggressive flush, although a “flash point” is neither
uncommon nor undesirable. The curly should possess an excellent nose and demonstrate tireless trailing ability. Curlies must
show a willingness to enter water but may take an indirect route to the bird if they believe there is a faster route.
CH SoftMaple's O'Dark Thirty MH WCQ CD CGC, TT HOF
Jet is only the third MH CCR, and the first AKC CH Master Hunter CCR.
Jet was winner and co-winner of the CCRCA annual Field Trophy
(The Sarona Jacob of Marvadel & Sarona Sam of Marvadel Memorial Field Trophy)
by Mary Fowler of GraceFarms Retrievers