Curly-Coated Retriever Dog Breed

dogs with curly


The Curly Coated Retriever is one of the most former breeds of the retriever family. The breed came into existence when dogs were crossbred to produce breeds that would be highly skilled at performing particular tasks.

It is known about the Curly Coated Retrievers that they are a highly energetic, playful, and excited breed of retrievers. If trained and taught, they can go from being friendly home pets to shooting or hunting dogs.

With proper care and attention, and a high-quality diet, Curly Coated Retrievers can live for 10 to 13 years.

About the Breed


The Curly Coated Retriever, called Curly for short, is known to have first bred and originated in England. The breed was mainly created as sporting dogs and for the purpose of hunting, poaching, and gamekeeping.

This breed is known to be the largest of the retrievers and can be easily distinguished by the abundance of close-knit curls spreading all over its body. These tight curls are small, crisp black, or dark reddish-brown in color.

Contrary to the common belief, taking care of the curls of the Curly Coated Retriever is rather simple and not difficult at all.

The Curly Coated Retrievers are very friendly and loyal in nature. They are known for their big hearts and are deeply loving toward their owners. The breed is generally known to be active, and intelligent.

These dogs prefer to stay active, like going for a walk or a jog around the neighborhood or a park. They also appreciate having some sort of mental stimulation in the form of training and play. This helps to keep the retrievers from getting bored and becoming destructive.

History of the Curly Coated Retriever 

curly coated retriever

The ancestry of the Curly Coated Retriever is unknown. The reason is that in the very early days, different breeds of dogs had their own specific purposes, such as retrieving or hunting. Various cross-mating would take place so the best dog for a particular purpose could be produced.

It is known that the Curly Coated Retrievers were originally bred in England. The purpose of breeding for the Curly Coated Retrievers was the hunting of upland birds and waterfowl.

The breed became very popular among English gamekeepers, hunters, and poachers alike. The retrievers proved to be highly active, easily trained, and intelligent breeds, which made them well-suited as shooting dogs.

There were many dog breeds that went into the development of the Curly Coated Retriever as a shooting dog. Some of the breeds included the Irish Water Spaniel and the Tweed Water Spaniel, among others. To improve the curls of the Curly Retriever, it was cross-bred with the poodle. The breed produced was then first shown in 1860.

With the passage of time, the Curly Coated Retriever became more popular as a friendly and loyal pet dog. It also became a well-known working dog after the emergence of the Labrador Retriever.

In 1924, the Curly Coated Retriever was first registered with the American Kennel Club. However, they entered the United States much earlier in the year 1907. In 1979, the Curly Coated Retriever Club was chartered.

Curly Coated Retriever Facts

curly-coated retriever

The Curly Coated Retriever is an old and interesting breed of dog with facts that may not be known by many people. Here are eight fun facts about the Curly Retriever.

Purebred since the early 1900s

The Curly Coated Retriever has been purebred since the early 1900s. Due to this reason, there are no substantial records of their ancestry and lineage.

It is speculated by many that they are a cross between a poodle and a retriever which may be true as some of the breeds in its background include the Newfoundland, the Poodle, and the Irish Water Spaniel, as well as some other extinct breeds.

The number of Curly retrievers has declined over a period of time where the major decline took place during the two World Wars.

Require Minimal Grooming

curly coated retriever breeders

The most prominent feature of the Curly Coated Retriever is its coat of tight curls all over its body. It may seem by looking at them that a lot of effort would be required to take care of the curls, and grooming the dogs would be a challenging task. But that is untrue. As is virtually effort-free and requires minimal grooming.

There is practically no need for regular brushing or combing and bathing can be done occasionally according to your requirements. However, the Curly Coated Retriever does shed, with males losing part of their coat once a year, and females twice a year. The shedding can be kept under control by lightly brushing the Curly Coated Retrievers.

Curly Coated Retrievers Have Straight Facial Hair

curly hair retriever

Interestingly, even though the name of the breed of dog is Curly Coated Retrievers, it does not have any crisp curls on its face and front of the legs. The curly coat seems to kind of stick to the dog’s body and protects the retrievers from bad weather, water, and tough undergrowth.

According to the American Kennel Club breed standard for these dogs, their coat can be either of the following two colors: liver or black.

Personality Is Different from Other Retrievers

curly coated dog

The curly coat makes the Curly Coat Retrievers stand out from the other retriever breeds, but their personality is also different. They are loyal, protective, and friendlier towards their owners and those they have some form of familiarity with.

With strangers, the Curly Coated Retriever is a bit more unapproachable, which is not usually a common trait among the retrievers. A reason for being aloof towards strangers can be their independent and selective nature.

Matures Slowly

Curly Coated Retrievers are slow to mature, which might mean that their puppy stage might last longer than you have anticipated. They remain calm, gentle, and affectionate toward their owners and may be suitable companions for children.

Although as with all dogs, children should be taught the appropriate behavior they should have with the retrievers.

curly coat dogs

Very Intelligent

The intelligence of the Curly Coated Retrievers helps them to learn tasks and get trained to perform certain activities. As pets, the dogs of this breed should be kept engaged in a way that helps them make use of their intelligence, as they might get bored otherwise. Their owners should ensure sessions of playful and fun activities.

Enthusiastic When It Comes to Swimming or Hunting

wavy coated retriever

In terms of its inherent personality traits, the Curly Coated Retriever is known to be a very athletic dog. This is especially true when the dog is hunting, and it is known to go on a hunting streak for as much as a day long.

The Curly Coated Retriever can survive in the most extreme weather conditions and can be an excellent retriever even when it is snowing hard, or they are in icy water. The dog loves to go swimming as well and does not mind the condition or temperature of the water as long as it gets to exercise its limbs.

Curly Coated Retriever Appearance

curly dog

Curly Coated Retrievers have black, brown, or amber eyes. Their ears are triangular and fall about halfway down the sides of their faces. Their nose is flat and round and the same color as the rest of the face and body. They are soft-mouthed.

The body of the Curly Coated Retriever is strong and muscular. It appears slightly leggy but is actually slightly longer than tall. The overall structure of this dog is such that it supports its high level of activity.


Generally, the height of the Curly Coated Retriever is in the range of 23 to 27 inches which is approximately 58.4 to 68.6 cm. Talking about the size of the genders in specific, it is found that the male Curly Coated Retriever is bigger in size than the female dog of this breed.

The male Curly Coated Retriever adult dog is 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder whereas a female Curly Coated Retriever is 23 to 25 inches.


curly haired puppies

The weight of the Curly Coated Retriever is mostly found to be in the range of about 65 to 80 pounds which is the same as 29 to 36 kgs.

The weight of a male Curly Coated Retriever is usually about 80 to 100 pounds, and a female Curly Coated Retriever weighs about 65 to 85 pounds. It can be noticed that the male dogs of this breed weigh slightly more than the female.


The coat of the Curly Coated Retriever is what makes them stand out from the other dogs of the retriever family. Their dense mass of tight, short, and curly coat lies close to the skin and covers the body from the tail all the way up to the top of the head giving the dog a unique outlook.

This coat of the Curly Coated Retriever is water and weather-resistant, giving the dog’s skin protection from any rough brush the dog might encounter as they hunt. On the forehead, face, feet, and front of the forelegs, the coat is short and straight.

The hair on the coat of the Curly Coated Retriever has a dense and rough texture but is never silky or dry and brittle. You definitely should not see any bald patches. It is known that they generally have an oily coat, which is more likely to cause reactions in people with allergies.

When their curly coat starts shedding, combing will assist in removing dead hair. Otherwise, brushing and combing are avoided, as it makes the coat frizzy. Instead, dampen the coat and massage it with your fingers. A monthly light trim is also recommended.


The color of the Curly Coated Retrievers is known to have dark shades. They are mostly either black or liver in color. Their color can be described as being deep reddish-brown with a few white hairs here and there. There are no major patches of white hair, just a few curls that may be white in color.

Curly Coated Retriever Temperament and Personality

curly haired retriever

The Curly Coated Retriever has a temperament and personality which is rather different from the other dogs of the retriever breed. Its temperament and behavior towards its family and non-family members are not the same.

Curly Coated Retrievers are very loyal, friendly, and playful toward their family and owners. This can be due to them maturing slowly and having a prolonged puppy stage.

They would appreciate staying active and playing games, and they often act like a companion towards the children of their family. The owners of the Curly Coated Retrievers can easily train them to perform tasks, and the good thing is that they will enjoy the learning process as it keeps them occupied and keeps the boredom away.

Overall, their personalities are full of determination and drive. This means that they will work until the job is completed or done. You will not see them giving up on tasks or being lazy about anything that is assigned to them.

These attributes can be credited to their high level of intelligence. The Curly Coated Retrievers are seen as alert and self-confident dogs whether they are a pet at home or working outside.

When it comes to social situations and interacting with strangers, we can say that Curly Coated Retrievers may not be too welcoming. They have a certain level of reservation, and it may take a while before they open up to those strangers.

But their reserved behavior towards strangers should not be misunderstood as a sign of shyness or unfriendliness. It is just that the Curly Coated Retrievers take some time to open up to unknown faces.

The owners of the Curly Coated Retrievers can train their pet dogs to be friendly towards strangers by exposing them to different social situations from an early stage in their life. As a result, your pet dog will experience seeing different and hearing new sounds. This will prevent them from being timid and reserved when they meet new people.

The Curly Coated Retriever dogs are even-tempered. This means that they do not get easily agitated. They are highly energetic, and so they need a lot of space where they can play and move around.

It is preferred to keep them in relatively large spaces like houses with yards rather than small apartments where the retrievers do not find space to do what they like most.

Another important fact about Curly Coated Retrievers is their preference to be with their human family rather than left on their own outside or indoors. They will mostly be found with the children of the family or sticking to their owners. This quality makes them good companions.

Overall, you will find a four-legged companion in a Curly Coated Retriever as a pet dog.

Curly Coated Retriever Health and Care

curly coated retriever puppies

Curly Coated Retrievers are healthy in general, but just like any other breed of dogs, they may be prone to certain health conditions. It is important to realize that not all Curly Coated Retrievers will have these health conditions or diseases but some may.

However, being aware of them will help anyone who is planning to keep them as their pet and will add to your knowledge about this dog breed as well.

According to National Breed Club, when buying a Curly Coated Retriever puppy, it should be made sure that the dog has a health clearance for both of its parents. What a health clearance does is provide proof for a dog being tested for any particular condition or disease.

When it comes to Curly Coated Retrievers, there are certain conditions for which your dog should have a health clearance.

From the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or OFA, the Curly Coated Retrievers should have health clearance for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease.

Then from Auburn University, they should have health clearance for thrombopathia. Lastly, the Canine Eye Registry Foundation or CERF should give health clearance certifying that eyes are normal.

The diseases of hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are both heritable conditions. This means that these are inherited from the parents of the puppy. In hip dysplasia, the thighbone does not fit securely into the hip joint resulting in discomfort or lameness in the rear legs of the dog.

This is mostly not noticeable and you may not find out that your Curly Coated Retrievers has hip dysplasia much until later on. As the retriever gets older, it may develop arthritis due to hip dysplasia.

Elbow dysplasia is caused due to different growth rates of the bones that make up the elbow of the dog. This can then cause joint laxity and can lead to painful lameness in the retriever.

Having said that, with proper care and attention, Curly Coated Retrievers can live for 10 to 13 years.

Curly Coated Retriever Training

curly retriever

The training of Curly Coated Retriever may be difficult if you do not know how to train them. Being a naturally independent-minded breed, they may be resistant to getting any training.

Do not be mistaken, they are extremely intelligent dogs but their intelligence can be rather intuitive. It is mainly their temperament that makes it hard to control and train them. They can be stubborn, and their proud behavior requires the trainer to take charge and be clear of their dominance.

The trainer of the Curly Coated Retriever should always assume the dominant position and make the dogs of this breed understand their place in the hierarchy. It is essential for them to understand who is going to be the inferior one here.

Curly Coated Retriever can have problems with dominance, and so the trainer should be mindful of it. Curlys must know their position in the pecking order but keep in mind that you must never be harsh to them. They do not respond well to any kind of tough approach. Try to be firm in your training but do not become too stern or cruel towards them.

The Curly Coated Retrievers do not appreciate repetitive training. They get bored and will most likely despise the training altogether. The trainer should learn to mix up activities when training them.

In general, they are poor trick dogs. You can ensure a good and well-trained curly pup if you start training it early on in its life. As puppies are highly active level, they will also need naps to recharge, so the hard exercise you might give an adult is not necessary for them.

Positive reinforcement works very well for Curly Coated Retrievers. Be sure to keep praising them in the middle of the training or rewarding them with lots of dog treats.

Overall, it should be very simple to train a Curly Coated Retriever puppy even if you are a first-time dog owner.


The Curly Coated Retrievers are an intriguing breed of dogs. Their most unique and interesting features are the tight and short curls that cover their body. These curls make them look different from other retrievers and give them a unique outlook. This is also why they are named Curly Coated Retrievers.

In terms of their behavior and temperament, they are highly energetic, and friendly and can offer companionship as well as loyalty to their family. Their attitude may not be the same towards strangers and non-family members, which is something uncommon among the other breeds of retrievers.

There are many interesting facts about Curly Coated Retrievers. They are the oldest purebred retrievers and are also the largest retrievers in size. The face and front legs of the Curly Coated Retrievers do not have any curls on them. However, there are curls on the rest of their body that are easily manageable and shed once or twice a year.

When it comes to the different genders of the Curly Coated Retrievers, many significant differences can be noticed. The size which includes their height and weight is different and so is the frequency of their shedding.

Health care and training of the retrievers require the owners to learn about the potential diseases their pet can have and the different ways in which they can take care of those diseases. With proper care, attention, and a high-quality diet, Curly Coated Retrievers can live for 10 to 13 years.

Training the retrievers may not be difficult so as long as the trainer understands the nature and behavior of the Curly-Coated Retriever.

Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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