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Diamond and Molly, Jet and Physician


Several Curlies Arrive in the U.S. in the 1800's.
AKC Official History Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.
Lyonel, an English curly-coated retriever and first prize winner,
Our Cover Dog is the very handsome Lyonel, a frequent first prize winner in the UK.  Engraving 1874 from the Stock-Keeper.


The American Kennel Club (AKC) gives the introduction of the curly-coated retriever to the U.S. as 1907. This "official history" of the AKC has then been repeated in hundreds, if not thousands, of books, articles, and websites, beginning back about 80 or so years. 


Unfortunately, the AKC's official history is wrong. Curly-coated retrievers arrived in the U.S. in the 1800's. 

Not only was the curly Jake shown at the 1879 Westminster show in New York, New York, but at least four curlies, including two OWNED BY AN OFFICER OF THE AKC, were registered with the AKC in the 1800's.

Meadowthorpe Diamond and Meadowthorpe Molly were the first two curly-coated retrievers registered in the U.S.


Although Jake, the curly shown at the 1879 Westminster show, arrived on these shores a number of years before the Meadowthorpe curlies, I can find no record of his registration (perhaps because the first U.S. stud book/pedigree registry wasn't published until after Jake's show appearance in1879). 

Diamond and Molly were imported from England by the Meadowthorpe Kennel Club and registered in the 1888 AKC stud book. At that time, it was common practice for kennel clubs to own and breed dogs. 

The famous Westminster KC mascot "Sensation" is an example of a kennel club imported and owned dog. Sensation, considered one of the best pointers and sporting dogs of his day, was bred in England and imported by a Westminster KC member on behalf of the kennel club. Other kennel clubs, including St. Louis Kennel Club, Philadelphia Kennel Club and others, also imported, owned and bred dogs under their respective kennel club names.




























Pedigree information for first curly-coated retrievers registered in the U.S.
Curly historians will recognize many of the names, both human and canine, in the Diamond and Molly pedigree listings. Viscount Melville was a well-known UK curly breeder who also dabbled in other breeds. The dogs King Koffee, Black Pearl, True, and Garnet are important foundation dogs of the breed. 
A third curly owned by the same kennel, named Meadowthorpe Pearl, was shown a few times but I have no information on her birthdate or pedigree. 


The Meadowthorpe Kennels, based in Lexington, Kentucky, were owned by a couple of businessmen who also bred race horses.

Dogs and horses were both becoming boom businesses in the 1880's and Meadowthorpe plunged right in, importing many dogs from England. The kennels were incorporated in 1888 with the express written purpose to "promote, encourage and improve the breeding of a superior class of dogs, fowls and other domestic animal..."

The Meadowthorpe Kennels

Housed in the kennels were many, many breeds--including Newfoundlands, Mastiffs and several types of gun dogs. Prominent were Gordon Setters--no surprise considering the kennel manager was 'imported,' along with the Gordons, from Scotland.

David "Scotch" Bailie grew up in Scotland, moved to the states, and became one of what must be considered the first professional show ring handlers in the U.S. He managed the Meadothorpe Kennels until the dissolution of the kennels, via bankruptcy, in about 1892, when he returned to Glasgow to manage the huge kennel operation of Robert Chapman. The race horse business was continued. 

'Tis no wonder, with a Scotsman as manager, the kennel imported a couple of curly coated retrievers because Scotsman have always had a soft heart for curlies. Bailie was not the only of his countrymen who played a prominent role in the early history of curlies in the U.S., a history branch we will explore later. 

Many, many Meadowthorpe dogs of many different breeds were exhibited by Bailie and his assistants at dog shows in the Midwest and East. Diamond and Molly were not the only curlies to carry the Meadowthorpe banner--a bitch named Pearl was also shown. I believe Pearl may have been a daughter of Diamond and Molly but do not have enough information to be certain. 

Some observers were less than impressed with the Meadowthorpe curlies. After viewing the curly judging at one show, a doggy press correspondent opined now was the time and a prime opportunity for someone to import a curly "of quality". Snarkiness and the ever present bench show back biting alive and well in the late 1800's!

Thomas Terry

Physician and Jet

In the late 1800's, many affluent dog fanciers lived on the then sparsely settled, rural Long Island, right outside of New York City proper. One of these fanciers was Thomas Terry, who owned a 700 acre farm in Meadowbrook, Long Island. 

One of the dozen or so breeds he owned and showed were the curly-coated retrievers Physician and Jet.

Both curlies were imported from the UK, according to an 1893 Harper's Weekly article on Terry's kennels. His collies were considered some of the best in the country.

I have been unable to find the Hempstead curlies' pedigrees or registration information. They were exhibited in England before Terry imported them and then exhibited a number of times in the U.S. at shows in the eastern U.S.

As with Diamond and Molly, some judges were not happy with the quality of Jet and Physician. In at least two shows, including at Westminster KC in 1895, the two were the only curlies entered but were placed 2nd and 3rd with no first place awarded. 

On his Hempstead Farm, Terry included one area just for his kennels, where at least 12 different breeds were housed. He was extremely active in the dog world for a number of years, serving as Westminster KC show chairman for six years.

In 1889, he began serving on the AKC Board of Directors, a post he held for a number of years. 

There are...two curly-coated English retrievers, typical representatives of their breed, Physician and Hempstead Jet, frequent winners in  England....

--Harper's Weekly, 1893, on a tour of Thomas Terry's Hempstead Farms on Long Island near New York City.

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There are likely more curly-coated retrievers who arrived in the U.S. in the 1800's, and maybe long before Jake, Diamond, and the others featured here.  

I know several retrievers were exported to the U.S. before 1880.

I have heard about a curly who was imported or came to the states with his owner before the Civil War but, sadly, the judge who told me about this didn't have additional information. I am looking for additional information but may have come to a dead end. graphic of curly coated retriever.
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