This section is from the book "All About Dogs - A Book For Doggy People", by Charles Henry Lane. Also available from Amazon: All About Dogs: A Book For Doggy People.
There has been much discussion as to the origin of this variety, which, like that of its "Flatcoated" comrade, does not go back, it is thought, before the commencement of this century. Some think the old "water dog" we see depicted in the sporting pictures of our ancestors (and which looked like a cross of indifferent Poodle, with an inferior old English sheep dog, without much of the good points of either variety!), others claim the Irish Water Spaniel, and others again, the Poodle, to have been one of its parents in a cross with the Labrador dog, in the same way as its flat-coated cousin is supposed to have been produced by a cross between a Setter and a Labrador dog. I do not propose to enter into this controversy at all, personally I have had more to do with the Irish Water Spaniels (of which my brothers and I have had a great many amongst us since we were lads), and Poodles, of which I have had a good many and handled and judged hundreds, and I think I can see traces of the Irish Water Spaniel and the Poodle in the modern Curly-coated Retriever, but more of the former than the latter. I think, undoubtedly, the Curliesare the hardest to breed approaching perfection, but they are wonderfully "fetching," when up to the mark.
The absence of curl, too much hair on face, and the openness of coat, are the faults I most often notice, and some fail in the tail not being as it should be, covered from root to end with small, tight curls, as on body. The sort of curls on the body may be described as like those on a nigger's head.
CURLY RETRIEVER CH. "TIVERTON BEST LAD" S.DARBEY OWNER.
The Points for Show of the Curly Retriever are not much at variance with those for the Flat-coated. But the latter is often the larger dog. The head, should be not so wide, with strong jaws, and muzzle more inclined to be snipey; the coat, a perfect mass of short, tight curls on the body, legs and tail, but only short, smooth hair on the face - the stern, quite straight and carried without any curve in it, substantial at root, lessening in size by degrees to its point.