Proposed Breed Standards THE MURRAY RIVER RETRIEVER by Ruth Bell 2012 copyright A Brief History The MRR has been used as a retriever in Australia since the early 19th Century to retrieve ducks along Australia’s major water course; The Murray River and many other areas. MRR’s are also popular as family companion dogs. The origin of the MRCCR is obscure but this small, energetic and reliable retriever has for over a century been an indisputable Aussie icon. DNA principle component analysis PCA shows the MRR is a distinct and separate breed. Its location in comparison with other defined breed-groups shows relationships with the American Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curly Coated Retriever, English Springer Spaniel and Irish Water Spaniel. Further all-breed comparison analysis shows the MRR is grouped close to many other retrieving and field working gundogs. It is important to note that in the 1800’s dogs were bred because of their working ability not as a specific breed this produced a dog whose function created its form. There are photographs of MRR dating back to 1894 which show that the breed we know it today was being used as a Retrieving Gundog along the Murray River; and that this function is still occurring today nationally. There are currently two individual types of MRR with the main differing physical characteristic notable being leg length. This is noted under the appropriate heading. Such type variations within breeds commonly generalize over time; and do not affect the ability of the breed to perform its function. General Appearance A dog slightly rectangular in body; with a distinctive curled coat. Standing at 46-53cm (18 – 21 inches) with no size parameters distinctively set for dogs or bitches. Smaller sized MRRs are as effective as larger specimens at retrieving game. His size and build create a rectangular outline with the strong, alertly held head with a medium length neck, set on obliquely placed shoulders, flowing into a longer than wither height level topline, strong hindquarters flow levelly into a straight or saber shaped tail that is carried level with the topline. His temperament, carriage and attitude indicate a confident dog who may be slightly reserved with strangers, who is energetic without being obsessive compulsive. The MRR is very alert when working; his attentiveness assists his ability to mark the fall of shot game. When at rest he is calm and relaxed. Apart from his retrieving instinct and willingness to work as a team with humans, the MRRs main feature is his liver curled coat, which while slightly looser in Curl than his larger UK CCR cousin is of paramount importance to protect him while swimming, his favourite pastime. The curl can be varied in its tightness which in no way distracts from his ability to function as a retriever. Natural feathering between the paws, on the tail and ear leather’s is commonly trimmed to reduce water drag while swimming. Characteristics Intelligent, energetic, focused. The MRRs focus and energy make him highly trainable especially where retrieving and fetching is involved. His love of retrieving makes him as suitable as a family companion as a partner in the field. This coupled with his intelligence make him a willing student, happy to participate in agility; obedience or any team pursuit. He is a willing and eager to learn if training is kept interesting to maintain his focus. His focus and energy requires consistent reward-based training with ground rules set at an early age. Temperament Friendly self-confident and inquisitive; may be reserved with strangers. The MRR is a friendly, self-confident and inquisitive dog. The MRR is friendly with those he knows and loves, but is not as gregarious with strangers. Appropriate socialization while developing during the critical learning periods; will help produce a dog that is sociable in novel situations. He is happy and affable at home amongst his family and will announce a stranger’s arrival into his territory. A well socialised puppy will develop into a friendly self-confident adult. He will accept strangers if introduced appropriately though he may not be overly sociable until he has acclimatised to a new situation. Timidly or social or environmental reluctance should not occur in a well-socialised dog. Head, Skull and Muzzle Head strong with a medium stop, in proportion to body size. Foreface and skull equal length. Planes of skull and muzzle parallel. Nose color to match coat colour in adults. Expression shows alertness and intelligent focus. The head should balance with the rest of the body. It is a blocky wedge shape with a reasonably broad, flat or slightly concave parted skull and a distinctive stop when viewed from the front or side. The head is smooth with the curls commencing at the back of the skull, where the ears begin. Underneath the curls commence at the throat. The muzzle is medium length with strong jaws enabling the dog to carry game. The upper plane of the muzzle is level with the wide fully pigmented nose and full nostrils, appearing blunt or slightly upturned. The lips should not be snipey, nor have excessive flews; lip taper ends mildly and rather blunt but not square, the lower jaw line is slightly rounded which can be seen in profile. Eyes Large, not prominent, almond shaped, obliquely set. Golden-hazel to brown. The eyes have the appearance of being a rounded almond shape and are moderately large, they should not protrude. Prominent (bugged) eyes, loose haws, entropian are faults. Gold-hazel to brown eyes is the prominent colour. Ears Medium large, commencing above eye level; lying close to head, covered with loose ringlets. The ears are drop down; and lobular shaped lying close against the cheek. The ears reach half-way along the muzzle, when lain out. Ear curls are softer and looser that the body hairs, causing ringlets to frame the face giving a pigtailed appearance if untrimmed. Ears are commonly lightly trimmed to neaten appearance and improve airflow to the ear canal. The ears when cocked add to the dog’s alert expression. Mouth Jaws strong and level with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. The jaws are medium-long, not snipey. They do not have excess lip or cheek; the flews just cover the mouth extending slightly below the lower jaw. Neck Strong and carried high when alert, of medium length, free from throatiness and flowing into well laid back shoulders. The neck is moderately long to enable the dog to pickup game when retrieving without stopping. Forequarters Shoulders well laid back and muscular. Upper arm and shoulder blade approximately equal length. Forelegs straight (standard) or slightly bowed (stocky) with strong pasterns and set well under body. The neck flows into well laid back shoulders which are muscular of equal length to upper arm. The chest should be as deep as it’s broad. The elbow should begin at the chest. The dog should not dog gait wide or lumber when moving. The forelegs are either straight (standard) or slightly bowed (stocky). Pasterns should be strong but flexible on the move. Bone is strong and round to support the dog when retrieving game. Front dewclaws present. Body Chest moderately-deep with well sprung ribs, round in cross section with brisket level with elbow. Forechest outstanding. Ribs located well back into the moderate, deep and powerful loin. Slight tuck up to flank. Topline strong and level. The dog is longer in body, measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock, than in height from withers to ground. The chest is equally deep and wide. The ribs are well sprung, extending into a deep, powerful loin with a slight tuck-up of flank. A slight waist is evident. Hindquarters are muscular and broad. The dog is longer in length from point of shoulder to point of buttock than height from withers to ground. The dog is rectangular in appearance. Hindquarters Strong, muscular. Good turn of stifle. Hocks well let down and well bent. Strong and in balance with the overall structure, the thighs are powerful with muscling carried well down into a moderately-long and well developed second thigh. Bend of stifle is distinct. Hocks are strong, well bent and short. Dogs should never be cow-hocked, sickle-hocked or bowed in or out. Drive in the hindquarters is needed both in and out of the water. Rear dewclaws if present are generally removed to prevent injury when retrieving. Feet Round, tight, with well-arched toes. The round, compact feet have thick, tough pads are not small compared to leg bone, with well-arched toes like cats’ paws. Webbing present between toes for swimming while retrieving. Nails are brown to match the coat colour. Tail Flowing from topline. Reaching past the bend of hock; carried straight or saber like on the move. The tail root flows from the topline. It is strong and thick at the root tapering gradually to the tip. The tail naturally has feathering which if trimmed reveals short curls. Gait and Movement Quick movement with good extension and drive. Limbs move in parallel. The MRR is quick and agile. Movement at the trot is well-balanced. When viewed in profile front reach is free flowing, and in balance with the rear action. Front movement should not be stilted or hackneyed. Hind legs should not cross as it indicates hind muscle weakness. Coat Body coat of liver coloured medium to tight curls lying close to the skin, extending from occiput to tip of tail. Hair is smooth on head, front of forelegs hocks and paws. The medium to tight curled coat is strong in texture and water resistant. Density and texture is necessary to provide protection against water and punishing cover while retrieving. The dog should be covered from the occiput over the ears, down the body to the tip of tail and behind the legs with medium-tight curls. The coat is short, smooth and straight on the forehead, face, front of forelegs, hocks, pasterns and feet. There may be slight feathering on the back of the forelegs. The coat is naturally oily but not harsh to the touch it is sufficiently thick to protect the skin from cold water and punishing cover while retrieving. The ears leathers have longer ringlets or open curls if trimmed. MRRs do shed with entire bitches shedding hormonally which is noticeable as there is no undercoat. In dogs and desexed bitches, shedding is less obvious. Colour Solid liver; sometimes with a white forechest spot. The coat is not shiny it should be dull to reduce reflection when waiting to retrieve game along the river bank. Some dogs show a few white hairs or a white patch on the chest. Liver dogs colour shades may vary. The coat will fade, especially on the ears over the Australian summer if retrieving from water or living outside. Size Ideal height at withers: 46-53cm (or 18 – 21 inches). There is no size parameters distinctively set for dogs or bitches. It is paramount that the MRR be balanced and that his bone structure should harmonise with his weight and height. Faults Any physical abnormalities that will affect the MRR performing his original function should be considered a fault, such as structural abnormalities, eye disease or a thin poor coat. Note:Entire male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
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