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  • Janean Marti

Confusion about Imported Curly-Coated Retrievers

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

Illustration of curly coated retriever dog head.
Illustration Just For Fun. Copyright 2019.

There appears to be a breeder (or maybe more than one) confused about curly coated retriever imports. Before some of the statements posted on social media are repeated and then accepted as factual, I wanted to share documented information about curly coated retriever imports.

Curly breeders have been importing dogs from various countries into the U.S. for decades but some newer breeders apparently are unaware of this. The importation began in the 1860s but let's fast forward. In the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, numerous U.S. curly-coated breeders imported numerous dogs from a variety of countries.

In just 10 minutes of cursory research, I was able to count more than 45 imported curlies who came to the U.S. in the four decades since the late 1960s. At least eight different breeders imported curlies during those decades. Those imports increased genetic diversity in the U.S. in some instances and reduced it in others. (Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to increase genetic diversity by importing curly-coated retrievers into the U.S..)

I don't know why some people aren't aware of all the imports brought into the U.S. before the year 2000. Perhaps some don't research pedigrees beyond three generations? Maybe we don't do a good enough job of mentoring new breeders in things like reading and understanding pedigrees. Some of the posts I write here are an effort to try to mentor by including what I know to be documented information. It is important, as lovers, owners, and breeders of a rare breed like the curly, we base our decisions on evidence, not just on social media posts. If the breeder confused about curly imports to the U.S. or any breeder has questions about which dogs in a U.S. pedigree were imported, I believe most experienced breeders can help. Asking, rather than assuming, will probably set you on a good path as far as gathering accurate information about your dog's pedigree and ancestors. I am considering opening up a planet curly group in which people can ask questions about things like this and, hopefully, people with documented information can answer those questions.

There also appears to be confusion about what impact imports have on the U.S. gene pool. Importing dogs whose ancestors are the same as those of dogs previously imported does nothing to increase genetic diversity. One breeder said by importing a female from the UK she was increasing the genetic diversity of the breed in the U.S Just the opposite was true, however. The imported female went back (three times) to the same dog every living curly traces back to and also went back to dogs my previously imported curlies had in their pedigrees. So the import was just a rearrangement of many of the same dogs. The importation of curlies in the last two decades has decreased the genetic diversity of the breed in the U.S. because all of the imports trace back to one dog. Maybe a list of imported curlies since the 1960s could help people recognize related imports in their dogs' pedigrees and provide a better understanding of how the genetic diversity of the breed has decreased?

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