Murray River Curly Coated Retriever

The Murray River Curly Coated Retriever (MRCCR) is a breed of dog endemic to South East Australia. It appears to be have been developed as a working duck dog in the 1800s. It takes its name from the Murray River, the major river in South Eastern Australia where it originated from.

The Murray was popular as a retriever and a duck dog in Victoria, southern NSW and SA. Its popularity wained when duck shooting and the need for meat dogs became less popular. Today it can be found in all states of Australia.

The Murray Curly is often confused with the standard Curly Coated Retriever. The Curly Coated Retriever Association of Australia points this out.[1] The Murray Curly has been labelled a designer dog which is a recent label. Soft Maple Kennels from Canada have an excellent page of types of curlies. Then P Mathis in his knowledgeable articles about curlies around the world acknowledges a smaller type curly sometimes called a river curly but believed they came from the Murray River in New Zealand. While there may be some Murray River Curlies in NZ their origin is Australia.

The Murray Curly is generally a smaller type of retriever with weights being within 5 kg of 25 kg. It is always liver colored and some have white markings on their chests. The Murray's curls are looser than a standard curly but range from wavy to tight. Their ears seem longer or more spaniel like than most retrievers. Older types in the dog breeds tend to be shorter in the leg.

Currently there is no breed club or dog breed standard. To address this matter a Yahoo group for owners and supporters of the Murray Curly Coated Retriever was established in 2006. The Murray has many devoted owners who believe the Murray to be the most loyal, biddable and best companion dog they have ever owned. They can be protective but generally only of their owner and owner's property. Murrays and horses generally seem to get along well and many members also have equestrian interests.

The Murray rightfully deserves to be recognised as an Australian dog and its only Austrlaian developed retriever.


Murray River Curly Coated Retrievers have a brown or liver curly coat. The color helps them blend with their environment and the curls aid in waterproofing the dog. They do not have a second undercoat as some breeds do so they do feel the cold if left wet and inactive in a cold environment. The Murray will moult for summer in various amounts. Murrays, as they are often called, are used to a hot, dry environment. The Murray River region often experiences temperatures in the high 30s to low 40 degrees C during the summer. Whilst the dog can cope with this weather they do appreciate a swim to cool themselves down. During summer, the tips of the dog's coat may begin to turn an golden or appear lighter in color. This is just the coat being bleached with the sun and it may be removed by a trim or a comb to remove dead hair if you wish.

The MRCCR is only available in one color, generally known as 'liver' however a perhaps more fashionable current term is 'chocolate'. Their eyes are always a golden yellow color. They often have a small white patch on their chest.

The dog breed will generally have webbed feet enabling them to swim better. This is a unique trait of the Retriever breed. They also tend to have large paws, probably slightly larger than their other proportions would suggest.

They are a medium size dog with the males ranging in weight from 20 – 40 kg, depending on the breeding. The bitches are often smaller at 20 – 30 kg. Their legs should be shorter than most retrievers, they tend to be stocky and they have a deep chest. They were bred as a working dog and tend to have a muscled body to match.

Murrays have large floppy lips. This is so as not to bruise the bird when hunting. Generally, the breed has a great personality. From the moment the puppy first sees you he will fall in love with you. They are loyal and will protect their owners and property. They generally get along quite well with other dogs and cats, provided the cat stays still and does not run away! This is provided that the puppy is well socialised from a young age. Of course, they tend to chase birds as they were bred for this. They make a great family dog and are very good with children. They love to play and be part of the 'pack'.

They are very energetic and need reasonable amounts of exercise. They have a great deal of stamina and so long as there is something to play with they will keep going. A dog may bring back as many as 120 ducks in one day during shooting.

As with most dogs, the better trained they are from a young age the better behaved they will be. Take your dog to puppy training of some sort to get them used to other dogs and people - to socialise them well. If this is not done, the Murray or any dog can be fearful of strangers. This can result in 'fear snapping', meaning the dog may snap at strangers if the stranger pushes themselves on the dog. It does not mean the dog will bite strangers just possibly snap in the air at them. Murrays tend to be an intelligent breed and are trained easily. The Murray Rivers that existed in the past tended to be used as working dogs.


Contrary to appearances they require little grooming. The coat will moult for summer. In general, they are a short coated dog provided the dead hair is removed. The best form of grooming is to let the dogs swim.Any loose, dead hair tends to come out of the coat during swimming. If this is not possible they can be brushed however the curls tend to 'fuzz' and the dog needs a spray with water or a bath to return the curl.Some dogs do require clipping but most only need a trim as the hair on and behind their ears and tail can grow a little longer than their body and the curls turn into waves or matts.

As with any dog their claws may need trimming if they aren't worn down on a hard surface. It is best to get them used to this from an early age so as not to traumatise the dog.

If the dog is allowed to swim regularly, it will not need a bath very often. They do not tend to smell and swimming cleans them up anyway.

Dog Problems

In the past some Murrays were reputed to have personality problems, this can happen to any breeds of dog that is not socialized and where the breeding pool has not been large. Hopefully any such dogs are not bred from and this problem has not been encountered in any of the Murray groups member's dogs.

As with all floppy eared dog breeds, they are prone to ear infections. It may be difficult for the ears to dry out after swimming and hence get infected. The best way to avoid this is to either use a drying solution in their ears after every swim or to tie their ears back so they can dry out. Regular cleaning of the ears is recommended.

Due to their weight, they are actually considered a large breed of dog. As with all larger dogs they tend to grow quickly which can cause joint problems. Diseases such as hip or elbow dysplasia may occur. Currently this breed is not screened for these diseases however a vet could examine any dog you are considering purchasing.

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