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A man in a dog cart pulled by a curly-coated retriever type dog.
Dogs have proven to be useful companions to man for thousands of years. Here a dog which appears to be a curly-coated retriever or a curly cross is hooked up to a cart. This picture was taken by professional photographers Mr. and Mrs. C.D.V. Cornell in Waterloo, New York. The Cornells worked as photographers starting in the 1880's. There were curly-coated retrievers in New York state at that time. 

Introduction to the U.S.

The AKC is wrong about curly-coated retriever

history in the U.S.

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The history of dog breeds is frequently laced with myths and questionable claims, which are then repeated over and over again until they are taken as gospel. Curly-coated retriever history is no exception.


Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has gotten a crucial aspect of curly history incorrect in the AKC's official history of the breed. For more than 50 years, the AKC has stated the breed did not arrive in the U.S. until 1907. That is incorrect. 


Curlies arrived in the U.S. in the 1800's and at least two of those curlies were owned by an officer of the AKC! 


Let's set the record straight, starting with the first curly to be shown at the Westminster Kennel Club. 

Sketch of the first Westminster Dog Show-1877.
The First Westminster Dog Show--1877.

Jake, the Westminster Curly

A curly, named “Jake”, was shown at the third annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 1879 and even drew attention from a New York Times reporter covering the show.


Whether Jake was a permanent U.S. resident or just visiting for the dog show is unclear. In those days, judges from England would often bring an entourage of friends and dog fanciers plus their dogs when they judged in the U.S. or Canada. We do know Jake caught the eye of the New York Times reporter covering the show. Writing about the entries in the Miscellaneous Class, where Jake was entered, the Times reporter wrote:

There is a good black English curly coated retriever, three Mexican hairless dogs, two black and one white poodles, two Russian setters--small, hairy animals more like large terriers than sporting dogs--a saucy mite of a wild dog from Chihuahua, several Maltese terriers, a Russian terrier, two immense tawny berg-hunds, a Spanish poodle from the Phillipine Islands, a Leonberg dog--the new English variety--a mean-looking beast--a real Irish wolf-hound, and several non-descripts. There are 26 in all. Two of the bitches have litters of puppies--one 6, the other 2. 

                                  --New York Times, April 8, 1879

Thanks to David Frei, former Westminster Kennel Club spokesman, for his assistance in the information about Jake.

Close-up of a curly coated retriever by Binks

What About the Other Curlies Who Came to the U.S. in the 1800's?                                                                                                                        Read about Diamond and Molly and the others on our next page. 

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