The ancestry of the Curly Coated Retriever is somewhat unclear. It is believed to be based on a number of now extinct dogs such as the Large Rough Water dog, Tweed Water Spaniel and the Lesser Newfoundland. Strains from the Irish Water Spaniel, and dogs from the Continent, the Wetterhoun, Barbett, and Poodle are also present in the dog as we now know it.The curly was first exhibited in the show-ring in 1860, and four years later there were separate classes for the wavy coated and curly coated varieties. They were very popular during those early years and were on many of the large estates, however the war years and the introduction of the Labrador were to greatly reduce their popularity. Their fortunes have ebbed and flowed throughout the years with registrations as low as 5 in 1919 to the record of 168 in 1994.