Their ancestry is unknown.
This is because in the very early days, dogs had their purpose, such as retrieving, and various cross mating would have taken place to produce the best dog for a particular purpose.
There would be several dogs around in those early years that were used for retrieving that are now extinct The Large Rough Water dog, Tweed Water Spaniel, Lesser Newfoundland, to name a few together with a few that remain, the Irish Water Spaniel, and dogs from the Continent, the Wetterhound, Barbett, and Poodle.
The curly was first exhibited in the show-ring in 1860, and four years later there were separate classes for the wavy coated and curly coated varieties.
They were very popular during those early years and were on many of the large estates, however the war years and the introduction of the Labrador were to greatly reduce their popularity.
Their fortunes have ebbed and flowed throughout the years with registrations as low as 5 in 1919 to the record of 168 in 1994.