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A Tale of many Tails

If you let it, your curly's tail may grow a flag, or grow bushy hair. This is fine. You may or may not want to trim it. Here is what some of the experts have to say about trimming tails.

Tails, Trims and Types
Exert of AKC Gazette Sept 1982 article by Marillyn J. Caldwell

CCRCA President Yvonne Dormany, Tampa FL, requests discussion of tail trimming. At first this topic may seem trivial, but reflection shows it has a vital bearing on what is correct CCR type. Yvonne Says, "I don’t know who started the untidy habit of leaving their Curly’s tail with the feathering on. It looks sloppy and untypical. It makes me wonder if the groomer got as far as the tail – then heard his number called and raced to the ring leaving the tail untrimmed. Of course, being an English breed, I suppose I would naturally like to see its as it was in the country of its origin. (I have not heard that any changes have been made lately in the general appearance of the breed)

Over the years a few judges have commented favorably on my dog’s strange tails – like "what a nice job of trimming you did on the tail" or "At last someone who knows how to trim a Curly’s tail" To me, tapered does not mean feathered, and tapering it closely still leaves curls, although small ones, practically to the end of the tail.

I have never seen a photo of a show Curly in England with its tail untrimmed and I am very much afraid that anything that might encourage Americans to omit it, may result in the eventual demise of one of the very most things that makes a Curly look like a Curly (and you can pick out the curly in the group ring by the tail). People will assume that the untapered tail is correct and that the English, who have been breeding and showing culies for over 100 years, and the exhibitors in parts of this country (e.g. Florida) are doing it all wrong. Then the final blow will come. Judges will start faulting the correctly groomed Curly in favor of the ones with feathering on their tails and it follows that people will stop trimming their Curly’s tails. And we will end up with Curly tails that are undistinguishable in outline from a Golden or a Flat-Coated retriever.

"Just like curls themselves, the neatly trimmed and tapered tail is an intregal part of our breed – Lets not change it."

The English breed standard says, "Tail – moderately short, carried fairly straight and covered with curls, tapering to the point" The American standard differs in the addition of only one word "Slightly" tapering, which perhaps reflects our tendency to be not quite so fussy about this matter. US exhibitor Mary Alice Hembree writes "If your curly has a good coat, you’ll have to do relatively little trimming. In England and in parts of this country some people remove nearly all the hair from the tail. This looks strange I think, and judges have not penalized my dogs for not being trimmed down so much (With one exception, an English Judge). Our standard says the tail should be covered with curls, so do as you see fit."

Mary Alice told me that the English judge has said that the Curly’s tail is supposed to be shaved, a practice I find absolutely abhorrent, and which certainly would remove the distinction between the curly tail of the Curly Coated Retriever and the near naked tail of the Irish Water Spaniel. To understand how each of the retrieving breeds can be distinguished one from the other on the basis of tail hair only, please study the photos in the AKC’s "The Complete Dog Book", Howell Book House 1979. Oddly the photo depicting the CCR is of an English bitch who never set foot in this country, but who is held by many in both countries to be of correct type and trimmed properly.

While a certain amount of thickness left on the tail may give a better balance to the more stockily built Curly, a lot of feathering left on the tail or body does begin to make the animal look like another breed. Incidentally, the first CCR ever exhibited in England was a hefty boy of Newfoundland type with a thick shag to his tail. The 1869 picture of him in the Illustrated London News shows him appearing quite au natural. My husband, a hunter, insists on his curlies remaining that way so he can see their glorious flags flying in the field. Obviously the final word has not been said on this subject, and since I plan to continue it later I invite your comments.

Untrimmed tail, and same tail after just a few minutes work.

From The Curly Coated Retriever
By Audrey Nicholls; Darelyn Curly Coated Retrievers

Cut hair on underside of the tail fairly short. Trim curls on the rest of the tail but not too short – starting with the root and working toward the tip. Trim round the tip but not too close as this is the place that is often caught by wagging against sharp objects. The tail should be wide at the root and certainly not a "rat-tail"

Exert From Grooming & Preparation of the Curly-Coated Retriever for the Showring
Submitted by Sue Tokolics

Tail – The tail should be covered in curls and taper to a point. Remove the excess straggly hair, always pointing the scissors towards the tip. Pull the hair on the underside of the tail down so it can be easily cut off. (Early show training will have helped you get your dog used to his tail being handled.)

From How to Raise and Train Curly Coated Retriever by Eileen Clark
TFH Publications Inc.

The hair on the tail will grow long and straggly if allowed; all show curlies have their tails trimmed so that the tail tapers to a fine point. This gives the curly a much more balanced appearance and is achieved by carefully trimming of the long hair, keeping the pointed ends of the scissors towards the tail end.

From Ms Viki Knowles, Blazeaway Kennels, Australia,
Originally published in the Curly Commentator

Tail curls should be short and close and the tail tapers to a point. It is not a 'rat tail' and should not be shaved free of curl as it unbalances the dog's appearance. Remove all underside curls and they gently fray out the curls and along the tail and trim to a clean sharp line, working towards the hindquarters.

From Curly-Coated Retriever, a Complete and Reliable handbook.
By Gary and Mary Meek. TFH Publications Inc.

The flagging on the tail is trimmed off, leaving the tail an even length all over with a slight taper to the end.

Grooming the Curly-Coated Retriever
Show trim

Tail: Take any tuft off end. Taper the hair from full length at the body to very short at the end of the tail. The object is to make the tail look as short and tapered as possible. Be careful that you do not emphasize a low tail set by trimming too much off the top of the base of the tail. You can help disguise a low tail set by lifting the curls at the top base of the tail with an Afro pick.

Before and After

Before and After

Cold Water tail....Dead tail...

About the Curly Coated Retriever's Coat

Page created by SoftMaple Curlies

Coat Care

Trimming the ears

Trimming the tail

Trimming the legs

Bad hair day!

Breeding: What We're Taught

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Follow a litter of puppies from birthday until they go to their new homes. The diary contains lots of pictures, tips on puppy rearing, some breed specific information, and lots of information on the care of any breed of dog.

I started doing an on-line puppy diary since many of the people that would be getting one of my pups would not be able to travel here to see the pups. I did not want to put a bunch of cute puppy pictures online, and encourage anyone to have a litter just because they wanted to see cute puppies! Breeding dogs, if done the right way, is a lot of work. Lost sleep and sometimes heartache. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to raise a litter of puppies. Once I started doing The Puppy Diary, I realized I had a captive audience. These people logged on every day to see the pictures, and read what was happening. I used this opportunity to cram as much education into each day as I could. Health, Coat issues, grooming, feeding, socializing, vet care, puppy evaluations, shipping puppies.... you name it! I tried to put it in The Diary. It was suggested that I make it into a book. Well here it is! There are 560 pictures and over 300 pages of living with and watching one litter grow up.

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Chapter One (Week One) ... Page 1

Seger comes into season
Happy Birthday!
Removing the Dewclaws
Start of the Bio Sensor program

Chapter Two (Week Two) ... Page 48
Coat issues.
Tail Gland Hyperplasia
Do Curlies Shed?

Chapter Three (Week Three) ... Page 94
End of Bio Sensor Exercises
Worming The puppies
Eyes are open
First pup escapes from the box

Chapter Four (Week Four) ... Page 130
Weaning. The great food fight!
Introduction to the puppy play room
Shark Cage

Chapter Five (Week Five) ... Page 156
Field dog? Show Dog? CPE?
Happy Mothers Day!
First Stacked pictures

Chapter Six (Week Six) ... Page 195
Toys! Toys! Toys!
What’s In A Name?
Kids and Dogs
Introduction to Wings

Chapter Seven (Week Seven) ... Page 236
About Puppies and Retrieving
Socialize your puppy
First Shots & Vet Visit
Splish Splash, first bath!

Chapter Eight (Week Eight) ... Page 286
Shape up or ship out!
Requirements to ship puppies
See all the pups!

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