• Janean Marti

Hello AKC: More Curly Coated Retriever History for You

This is the third in a series of posts addressing some incorrect curly coated retriever history in an article published by the AKC in April, 2019. If you haven't read the first two posts, I suggest you do so by scrolling down to access them. The first is titled "No Poodle, No Doodle" and the second is "Hey AKC.....".


As I documented in my last two posts, the AKC's claim that the curly coated retriever wasn't purebred until the 1900s can easily be disproven. Not only was the curly one of the breeds published in the first English Kennel Club stud book (1874) , a couple of curly coated retrievers and their pedigrees and owners were listed in the American Kennel Club stud book of 1888. More proof that the curly coated retriever is one of the oldest purebred dogs is the evidence that curly coated retrievers were not only shown in Europe (the UK and France) in the 1800s, there were also several shown in the good ol' USA in the 1800s. Yes, the 1800s. The first we can document is "Jake", a curly shown in 1879 at the Westminster Kennl Club's third annual dog show. The New York Times newspaper even lauded the quality of Jake, writing he was a "good black English curly coated retriever. " (See my website page https://www.planetcurly.com/introductiontous )

Later in the 1800s, the large and wealthy Meadowthorpe Kennel company would exhibit the curlies Meadowthorpe Diamond, Dolly and Pearl in several midwest and Eastern dog shows. Diamond and Dolly were the produce of English imports and listed in the 1888 AKC stud book. Their exhibition record is from 1889.

Text listing of curly coated retrievers exhibited at AKC dog show in 1890.
Meadowthorpe curly coated retrievers dog show record.

What is my source regarding the curly coated retrievers of Meadowthorpe being exhibited at dog shows? The American Kennel Club Stud Book published in 1890. By the 1890s, one of the AKC's own officers, Thomas Terry, owned the two curly coated retrievers "Physician" and "Hempstead Jet". These two retrievers had been shown in their native England before Terry imported them. Terry housed a number of breeds at his farm on New York's Long Island. Back in the late 1800s, Long Island was a hot spot for wealthy people who fancied purebred cattle, sheep and dogs.

In an 1893 article featuring Terry's farm and kennels, a writer for the magazine Harper's Weekly specifically mentions the two curly coated retrievers. According to Harper's Weekly, Physician and Jet had been frequent winners in England but the judges here across the pond weren't so enamored of the pair. One judge withheld first place and awarded only a second and third to the pair.

Listing from an 1800s newspaper listing dog show results for two curly coated retrievers.
Show results for the curly coated retrievers Physician and Jet, circa 1890.

A published critique of Physician and Jet by a doggy writer/reporter of the day dismissed the two dogs as less than admirable examples of the breed. (For a bit more about Terry and his dogs, see my website page https://www.planetcurly.com/diamondandmolly )

So, despite the AKC's recent article stating curly coated retrievers were not purebred until the 1900s, we know, through documentation, that curly coated retrievers were listed in the first purebred dog registries and shown in the first dog shows beginning in the 1860s in England. There are a few other bones to pick with the AKC regarding curly history and curly phenotype but let's leave those for another day.

Photograph of a curly coated retriever swimming with a dummy in mouth.
Curly Coated Retrievers have been purebred since at least 1860.

Published June 30, 2019.

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