Retriever is any one of several breeds of sporting dogs, highly obedient and trained to discover and fetch killed or wounded game, principally aquatic birds such as the duck, and land birds such as the pheasant. Unlike hounds, who detect ground scents, retrievers hunt by air scent. Excellent swimmers, retrievers have uniquely water-resistant coats; their mouths, which do not damage the game, are characterized as “soft.”
The American Kennel Club recognizes the following breeds: Chesapeake Bay retriever, golden retriever, and Labrador retriever, as well as the curly-coated and flat-coated retrievers. The latter two breeds originated in England. The curly-coated dates from the 16th century and is one of the oldest of the retriever breeds.