The Murray River Retriever is sometimes mistaken with the Curly Coated Retriever or Labradoodle but i would say they are more similar to Irish or American Water Spaniels. The Murray River Retriever is a medium sized dog with average height between 18-21 inch, which is 46-53 cm. So as you can see, they are slightly smaller than the popular retriever breeds, but they are very strong and just as effective in retrieving as other retrievers.
The most distinctive feature of the Murray River Retriever is definitely its coat. According to the proposed breed standard written by Ruth Bell, the coat is in liver color, sometimes with a white forechest spot and medium to tight curls lying close to the body. On the head, front of forelegs and paws the fur is smooth. The coat is very dense, naturally oily and water resistant, which is helping the dog when working as water retriever.
The Murray River Retriever has a strong and wedge shaped head with powerful muzzle, almond shaped eyes, relatively large ears, deep chest and strong hindquaters.
This should always be an intelligent and energetic dog breed who enjoyes company of its family. Because of these traits and also high focus, the Murray River Retriever is normally highly trainable. They can be trained to be both, excellent family companion or versatile worker. Naturally, they do best in retrieving, but they can also be trained to point, flush or track. Also, thanks to their high energy level, they make great adepts for various dog sports like agility.
This is not only a hunter, the Murray River Retriever has potential to become great search and rescue, assistant dog or bomb sniffing dog. As you can see, this is truly versatile breed.
But of course, they can also be excellent family companions, because they are very loyal, always happy, friendly and curious dog breed. They are best suited for active families that can deal with their higher physical and mental exercise needs. Daily longer walks, hikes or swims accompanied with some task oriented playtime, fetching or training sessions are needed.
It is important to know, that even though Murray River Retrievers are loving and friendly around its family, they are not that thrilled when they see strangers. Of course, this can be vastly influenced by early socialization, but typically, Murray River Retrievers are aloof and reserved with strangers and they might bark when they will see a stranger near your property, which makes them good watchdogs. But dont worry, they should never be agressive without a reason.
The breed is named after a Murray River in Australia, where this breed was used a lot as retrievers and protectors on duck punts and on paddlesteamers.
It is believed, that this breed was developed in Australia in the early 1800s. The first photographs of this breed are from 1894 from the area of Murray River. As you can probably guess, these dogs were initally bred as retrieving gundogs.
According to recent DNA testing shows, that this is a distinct and separate breed, that was developed from various breeds, including American and Irish Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and English Springer Spaniel.
This breed is still not accepted by any major kennel club, but in 2010 the Murray River Retriever Association was formed up to preserve and to promote the breed which would hopefully lead to recognition of Murray River Retriever as a separate purebred dog.
Health and grooming
This is normally a healthy and hardy dog breed with average lifespan around 15 years. Of course, just like all dogs, they are prone to certain health issues, like ear infections, entropion, hip dysplasia or progressive retinal atrophy. They are also prone to nightblindness.
The maintenance is not extremely hard. They do shed, but it is nothing terrible and brushing once or twice a week will keep the shedding on minimum. Other than that, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes and nails and clip them or clean them if needed. And of course, you will have to daily exercise the dogs body and mind to keep the Murray River Retriever healthy and happy.