Many breeds of dogs have been trained to find and bring in game which has been shot, but retrievers, as their name implies, are bred specially for that purpose. English sportsmen had for some time been experimenting with different breeds in an effort to find a dog exactly suited for retrieving game, when, about the middle of the 19th Century, there was introduced from Labrador a hardy, black-coated, small-eared, medium-sized dog, which seemed to answer the purpose. He was a typical water dog and not subject to ear canker, which so often develops in spaniels used to retrieve waterfowl.
This Labrador dog, crossed probably with the English setter, and perhaps with other breeds, produced the retriever, which may be either black or liver brown. In size about like a pointer, covered all over with a coat of tight, curly hair, Astrakhan-like, except for his smooth head and face, he is a curious-looking dog. He is a capable and teachable creature, however, and makes a capital assistant in the duck-blind or as a gun-dog, where birds are the quarry. The curly retriever may be either coal black or dark liver brown. He should weigh about 65 to 80 pounds.
There is also a smooth retriever, which is much like the curly in form and size, but has straight hair.
The Labrador retriever is shorter of leg than the other types and generally more solidly built. It is generally some shade of brown, and none of the retrievers should allow more than a trace of white on the chest. All have smaller ears than the pointer or setter, and the curly type carries his close to the head.
The original "Labrador," or something very like, still exists under the same name, as a distinct and recognized breed. He has all the good qualities of both of these highly intelligent parents.