The Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever

The more we research, the more we uncover the vastness of our dogs.

While researching the very cool Curly Coated Retriever, we came across references to a version that in Australia is regarded as an entirely separate breed, though many would regard it as a regional type at best. Known as the Murray River Curly-coated Retriever, this smaller, but popular duck dog was found mainly around the Murray River in the southern part of the continent. The folks who lived on the banks of this river needed a dog to retrieve shot birds for the cook stove. By some accounts, the dogs were breeding true to type since 1894, and if we fast forward to 2012, we learn that seventeen MRCCRs swabbed for DNA were found to have DNA characteristics of a purebred breed.  Furthermore, they were determined to be more closely related to spaniels than to retrievers (results show relationships with the American Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly Coated Retriever, English Springer Spaniel and Irish Water Spaniel).

The MRCCR is a friendly self-confident and inquisitive breed that can be reserved with strangers. It has a slightly different coat from the recognized Curly in that the curls aren’t as tight. The dog is also not as as large,the ears are longer, and the only color in which it comes is liver. Within the breed, there are two individual types mostly rooted in leg length. Regardless of type, the Murray isn’t a dog that one leaves in the backyard and forgets (what breed is?).

Not recognized by any major kennel club, breed affectionados are quick to point out that theirs is not a designer dog. It is significantly different enough that hunters and fanciers feel it should be recognized as a separate breed.

Image of a Murray River Curly-coated Retriever shared from Wikimedia Commons via the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


6 thoughts on “The Murray River Curly-Coated Retriever”

  1. I purchased my first Murray River Retriever (formerly known as the Murray River Curly Coated Retriever, but changed so as not to cause confusion with the better known Curly Coated Retriever) in May of this year.

    Growing up with Labrador retrievers, and rehousing a couple of Great Danes over the years, I thought that we were ready for anything. We weren’t.

    We bought Jake as a companion for our grandson James, and they have been almost inseparable since his arrival. It’s like having twin tornadoes raging through the house when they’re full flight!

    I’m not a hunter, but when Jake and I walk by the river he sets and points when he sees ducks and other birds or rabbits, so the hunting instinct is bred into him.

    I’ve found this to be a very intelligent breed, very active, and an excellent watch dog (which to me is one that barks with a good deep bark when there is something that needs attention, but ignores the yapping of the the little white dogs next door (shiatsu?).

    To sum it up: a very loyal, loving family dog, would make a good companion dog, moults… a lot!

    • Allan, your first hand experience account is very welcomed, as is your photo of Jake – thank you for this!

  2. This is Lily, our wonderful Murray River Retriever. I have had many dogs of this breed over the past 60 years.
    In the attached photo, you can see Lily staring down a draught-stopper which was moving slightly as the breeze blew in through the door. Lily was sure it was a snake. Lily has warned of the presence of snakes around our farmhouse numerous times. I have to move swiftly to get her inside the house before she takes on a snake!
    Lily has a very strong hunting instinct and will stalk and catch rabbits on the farm.
    She is a super friendly and loyal dog to the whole family, rather than being a one-person dog. Lily is an excellent watch dog, making a lot of noise whilst at the same time wagging her tail in delight that a visitor has come!

    • Lyndell, Lily is wonderful! We love hearing from readers who own a breed discussed in a post, and a photograph is an added treat, so thank you for this!

  3. Hi, as President and rescue/rehome officer of the Murray River Retriever Association Inc, plus a MRR breeder, some of what is in the article is not entirely true and a lot about the “Murray” have not been included in this article. I do realize that the article was written in 2017 but by that date 2 separate lots of DNA were done tom prove this is a stand alone breed. Murrays date back before 1894 true to stand alone breed. Our web page , Our facebook page Murray River Retriever Association Inc. may be interesting reading by all to learn a lot more about our beautiful Australian bred dog the Murray River Retriever.

  4. i own murrays for 18 yrs
    loyal intelligent
    water babies always on look out.
    protective. great swimmers. no fear. & adapt to any situation as long as there master is there.
    only thing they steal my bed.. dont loose fur..

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