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Two Early Images: Additional Evidence Curly Coated Retrievers Are One of the Oldest Breeds

These two images are fascinating to me. Although neither dog pictured would likely walk away with a blue ribbon in today's dog shows, it is clear that the animals pictured are early curly coated retrievers. 

On a fairly regular basis, I encounter people who just refuse to believe the curly coated retriever was the first retriever to be developed into a separate breed. Part of this probably stems from the fact the curly is the rarest of the dog breeds categorized as a retriever. Folks often pose the question why, if the curly is such an old breed, is it so rare. I have several theories on that but have to save those for a future article. 

For those who are new to curly coated retriever history: curly coated retrievers were shown at the first dog shows in England and that was more than 150 years ago. The curly is one of two retriever breeds listed in the first Kennel Club stud book in 1874. The other is the wavy coat and every early canine historian has written the wavy coat was developed after the curly. 

One of these images--the earlier of the two--is by perhaps the most well-known animal artist in history, Edwin Landseer. The retriever study was actually begun by Landseer in 1811 when he was just a child. The version included here, with the white dog in back, was engraved in 1817.


The other artwork, in which the dog is identified by the artist as a curly coated retriever, was painted in 1835 or 1838 (dates vary depending on what art history source you use). 

Retriever with Old Brutus (white dog) 18


Sir Edwin Landseer,

engraved 1817

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