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Curly-Coated Retriever (Dog Breed Information)

The curly-coated retriever is one of the oldest and most distinctive of the retriever breeds, because of its mass of tight curls covering its body. They enjoy the great outdoors, and absolutely love the water, which is a good thing considering they are a water dog! Curlies make great indoor companions as well, and they are very gentle with children. They shed less than most breeds, but since their coat has a lot of oil it can cause allergic reactions for those with allergies.

Like their cousins the Labrador and Golden Retriever, Curlies are very affectionate and gentle, but a little less needy and more independent. They are extremely playful with their families but can be a bit aloof with strangers. Therefore, a curly retriever can make a great guard dog. This breed is tireless, so, therefore, they need a lot of outdoor physical activity.

Curly-Coated Retriever- A Waterdog

At A Glance

  • Breed: Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Breed Group: Sporting
  • Temperament: Incredibly smart, Confident, Proud
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: -7/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: England

General Information And Breed History

Curly-coated retrievers are said to be one of the oldest of the retriever breeds in England as early as the late 18th century. Their exact origin kind of remains a mystery, however, they most likely are crosses of the descendants of the Old English Water Dog with bits of Irish Water Spaniel, a small amount of Newfoundland and as of more recently the Poodle. Curlies were the most popular retriever by the mid-1800s, not only because of its extraordinary retrieving abilities but also because it proved its self as a loyal and trustworthy companion.

The curly-coated retriever was one of the first dog breeds to be exhibited at English dog shows and gained huge fame in countries like Australia and New Zealand, that they were exported over there and to this day are still a very popular dog breed in Australia and New Zealand.

One of the most courageous of the retriever family, it is actually quite sensitive. A great loyal companion for those who are active and love the outdoors and are good with children.

General Appearance

The Curly is an active, well-muscled retriever bred for bird and waterfowl hunting. It is more graceful and elegant than the other retrievers, and they appear to be longer-legged, and more agile than others. Their coat is armor made up of tight curls that are waterproof and burr resistant which comes in handy in the bush, or icy and snowy terrain. Other retrievers have a double coat that is straight and smooth, not ideal for cold weather or tromps through the forest. Their eyes are black or brown with black coats, and brown or amber with liver coats.


The Curly-Coated Retriever is a large, strong and muscular dog, Their chest is deep, and not too wide. Ribs are well sprung and extend well back into a deep strong loin. Neck-Strong and slightly arched, of medium length

  • Head- Longer than wide, wedge-shaped with shallow stop
  • Eyes- Large almond shape
  • Ears – Big and hang down


The coat is a distinguishing characteristic and quite different from that of any other of the retrievers. The coat is a thick mass of small, tight, crisp curls, that cover their entire body except for the face and forelegs. It is also water-resistant and acts as armor for the dog against icy waters, thick bush, and burrs.

Curly-coated retrievers tend to have an oily coat, which can cause allergic reactions for those with allergies.

Legs & Feet

The forelegs are straight with strong. Feet are round and compact, with well-arched toes and thick pads.

Tail & Hindquarters

Tail is covered in curls and fairly straight. Strong and in balance with front angulation. Thighs are powerful with muscling carrying well down into the second thigh.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 10 -12 years
  • Height (at the withers): 27 inches
  • Male: 25-27 inches
  • Female: 23-25 inches
  • Weight:  70 lbs
  • Male: 60-70 lbs
  • Female: 60-79 lbs

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 29.7 inches
  • Door Width: 18.9 inches
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 36.5 inches
  • Interior House Length: 59.4 inches
  • Interior House Width: 37.8 inches

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $1,000 – $1,500 USD

Starter Costs: $2,500

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500 – $1,000

How The Curly-Coated Retriever Reacts To


Curlies are loyal to their family and do very well with older children. Older children are closer to the height of the dog, and its energy level.. Smaller children may get knocked over unintentionally during playtime. Remember that a child and dog should never be left unsupervised even though they get along great. Accidents happen, and no one wants their child or dog injured.

Other Dogs:   

Curly-Coated Retrievers generally do very well with other dogs and animals but socialization is still an important factor. Canine sports are a great way to get your dog socializing with other dogs. They may even very well make some new friends.


A curly will get along with a cat if they are socialized together.

Other Animals:

Curly-Coated Retrievers generally do very well with other animals but socialization is still an important factor for them to become friends.

Care Requirements


Highly active, the curly needs a good amount of exercise, like swimming and retrieving, but they are also great about relaxing indoors. They do not require a large home as long as their owner is active and prepared to provide this breed with the exercise it needs (about an hour a day). Try dog sports with this dog. You both may find your selves in better shape and with a few new friends.

Grooming & Coat Info

Curlies are very easy to maintain in regard to their coat. Since too much brushing will loosen their tight curls, it is best to only brush occasionally and preferably before getting wet. However, most owners do not brush this dog because it tends to frizz. They do not require a lot of bathing, but when they are bathed an air-dry is best for their coat and will often enhance their curls. Nails should be trimmed often.

Health & Nutrition

The curly-coated retriever dog breed will do well on high-quality dog food. Portions are based on the size and age of a dog. It is recommended that you visit your veterinarian to find out which food is best for your curly. If you decide to feed human food to your dog from time to time as a treat, make sure you know which human foods are safe and which are not. If you are not sure, you can always consult your dog’s veterinarian.

The curly is generally a healthy dog breed. However, there are some a few minor health issues with this breed. Those issues are cataract, elbow dysplasia, and distichiasis.


A Curly-Coated Retriever needs to be trained in a firm but kind manner. Too rough, and they will run. They are a very sensitive breed. However, too soft or unclear, and they will not pay attention.

They are an extremely intelligent breed and smart enough to know they need an owner who is smarter than they are. A few tricks and tips for training are: First stay away from too much repetition, as they become bored easily and will end up losing interest and not pay attention. Second: it is important as an owner to try to make the learning situation fun and exciting for your dog. The end game is to make it so that your Curly enjoys what is being trained to do. Some Curlies do very well with obedience, but for some, the repetition of some of the exercises can be boring for them.

Training a curly does not need to be hard. However, If you are finding that you need help, that is okay because there are special canine sports you can enlist you and your dog into. Field Trial is a competitive sport for retrievers, pointers and other flushing dogs. Retrieving trials is also another great sport for your dog that also gives it training.. These sports are normally held by a kennel club, so you can search online for one in your area.

In conclusion, all dogs can be trained, however, some take longer than others, so never get discouraged. Rember patience and kindness towards your dog is the best way to encourage and make your dog feel good about its training.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Curly-Coated Retriever

Does the Curly-Coated Retriever Shed?

Yes, they do shed, only twice a year. During shedding season a rake-type grooming tool with metal prongs is good at removing the dead hair and keeping your floor, furniture, and clothes free of hair.

Are Curlies Hypoallergenic?

No, they are not hypoallergenic. These dogs have an oily coat that can cause allergic reactions in those who suffer from allergies.

What Are Some Other Curly-Coated Dog Breeds?

some other curly-coated dog breeds include:

  1. Standard Poodle
  2. Airedale Terrier
  3. Irish Water Spaniel
  4. Pumi
  5. Bedlington Terrier
  6. Portuguese Water Dog
  7. Bichon Frise
  8. Bolognese
  9. Kerry Blue Terrier


  1. Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds – D. Caroline Coile, P.h. D.
  2. A.K.C. –
  3. Wikipedia –
  4. Canadian Kennel Club –
  5. The Kennel Club UK-

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