Genetic Diversity in Curly Coated Retrievers

Curly Coated Retriever is a breed belonging to the retriever breed group. The population of Curly Coated Retrievers is relatively small: globally, the estimated population size for the breed is only about 6 000 individuals. In Finland, about 40 Curly Coat Retrievers are born every year. To have an overview on the situation of this breed, both in Finland and globally, the Finnish Curly Coated Retriever Breed Club Kiharakerho ry has made the decision to start a project aiming at identifying the genetic health and diversity of this breed and its breeding base.

There are known genetic bottlenecks in the history of the breed. Among other things, the Second World War reduced the population of Curly Coated Retrievers to only about 14 dogs. In addition, some males, for example Darelyn Rifleman, corresponding well to the breed standards, as well as their progeny, have been very widely used in breeding.

In today’s Curly Coated Retriever breeding, the importance of genetic diversity for the breed’s welfare is increasingly being taken into account. According to breeding advisor of the club Kiharakerho, Maija Päivärinta, Finnish breeders choose commendably to use males without excessively offspring in breeding. On the other hand, the owners of the male dogs restrict also the use of their dogs. The recommended amount of puppies for a Curly Coated Retriever is nine. In case some breeding combination produces a large litter, the recommended amount of offspring for an individual dog may become full with only this litter. Therefore, Maija Päivärinta wishes that attention would also be drawn to a moderate use of females in breeding!

Kiharakerho ry has decided to carry out a diversity project during the year 2014 to assess the situation of the breeding base in Curly Coated Retrievers. Breeding advisor Maija Päivärinta considers this as an exciting opportunity to see what the project reveals about the genetic situation of the breed: is the breed’s genetic diversity better-than-expected or will there appear a need to take some even radical actions in the future to maintain the vitality of the breed?

Active Curly Coated Retriever clubs organize international seminars in every four years. This year, the Curly Coated Retrievers and their owners will gather in Finland in August, around the World Dog Show 2014. The results of the diversity project will be presented in this year’s seminar.

The Breed Club hopes that as many Curly Coated Retrievers as possible would participate in the study. The club has chosen 30 dogs with diverse backgrounds to be tested and the Club will cover the costs for these dogs. Most of these dogs are Finnish but some are also from other countries. With this arrangement the Club seeks to ensure that the population would be covered as widely as possible. The Club wishes that in addition to tests funded by the Club, other Curly Coated Retrievers would also participate in the project. Each Curly Coated Retriever owner has the opportunity to contribute to this project by participating in the study at their own expense to support the future well-being of the breed. For more information on the project, please, contact Kiharakerho ry or MyDogDNA team.