Let's talk Curly Coated Retrievers

An all-running, all-jumping, all-swimming all-rounder, the Curly Coated Retriever is a big dog, with a big personality to match. The largest of the retriever breeds was initially developed as a gun dog – their signature thick curly coats are a legacy of their origins tearing through the undergrowth and splashing into cold lakes. While the modern-day Curly Coated Retriever has retained the energy and intelligence the breed was originally prized for, they now make gentle and affectionate family dogs–provided they get plenty of exercise. 

Official name: Curly Coated Retriever

Origins: United Kingdom

Curly Coated Retriever in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Low

Warm weather? High
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Very low
 Energy level * High Family Pet? *
Very high
 Compatibility with other pets High
Can stay alone?* Low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of Curly Coated Retriever
Male
64 - 69 cm Height
27 - 43 kg Weight
Female
58 - 64 cm Height
27 - 43 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  From 8 years

Curly Coated Retriever standing in long grass

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Get to know the Curly Coated Retriever

All you need to know about the breed

The largest of the retriever breeds, Curly Coated Retrievers have a big personality to match their strong and sturdy frames and their wonderfully wavy hairstyle. These intelligent, versatile and affectionate dogs were originally bred for hunting – that trademark thick and curly coat, in black or liver, served the purpose of protecting them in the great outdoors.

Nowadays the Curly – as the breed’s fans call them – do well with activities such as field and agility trials, but they also make placid and gentle family dogs, content to lounge around at home with their humans, as long as they also get plenty of exercise. The Curly Coated Retriever’s ideal human family probably appreciates the outdoor lifestyle as much as they do.

Once trained, Curly Coated Retrievers get on well with children, although like any other breed they should not be left unsupervised with them.

Curly Coated Retrievers are loyal to their humans and naturally wary of strangers so they also make instinctively good guard dogs – early socialisation will help make sure they are at ease in everyday situations.

Two Curly Coated Retrievers looking at camera

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2 facts about Curly Coated Retrievers

1. Curly Coated helper

Thanks to their versatile blend of intelligence, resilience and gentleness, the Curly Coated Retriever breed has found numerous ways to help their human companions, serving as search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs and sniffer dogs. All in a day’s work for these capable canines.

2. Blue collar dog

While the Curly Coated Retriever was initially used for hunting, the breed’s energy plus its rugged versatility and in particular its swimming ability meant it was particularly popular with ordinary folk, rather than aristocrats, earning the breed the nickname of the “blue-collar” retriever.

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History of the breed

Something of a canine cocktail, the Curly Coated Retriever’s ancestors are thought to include a whole range of different breeds: Large Rough Water Dogs, Tweed Water Spaniels, Lesser Newfoundlands, Irish Water Spaniels, Wetterhouns, Barbets and Poodles … the list goes on. While its exact make-up is not known, this relatively rare breed is recognised as the oldest of the retrievers, first recorded in early 19th century England and likely much older and has a particular aptitude for swimming.

The Curly Coated Retriever’s popularity declined throughout the 19th century in its home country and the breed nearly died out – only five were registered just after the first World War. Luckily, they were gaining in popularity abroad, including in Australia and New Zealand.

The Curly Coated Retriever arrived in the U.S. in 1907, before being recognised as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1924.

Curly Coated Retriever in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Curly Coated Retriever

1. Head

Large wedge-shaped head with proportionally small eyes.

2. Coat

Distinctive curly coat in black or liver.

3. Body

Muscular, strong build with solid tapered tail.

Close-up side view of two Curly Coated Retrievers

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Curly Coated Retriever
Curly Coated Retriever running on short grass

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Caring for your Curly Coated Retriever

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Curly Coated Retrievers’ thick coats are designed to be weatherproof and protective (ideal for splashing into icy water or scrambling through spiky brambles). Regular brushing is not advised as it can make those magnificent curls turn to frizz. During shedding season, which is about twice a year for females and once a year for males (although factors such as whether they live inside or outside can affect this) a grooming tool with metal prongs will help remove the dead hair. Regular teeth cleaning and nail trimming will complete the picture. Unsurprisingly given their origins, Curly Coated Retrievers are a breed that needs exercise – and plenty of it. A quick stroll around the block won’t be enough for these energetic dogs. They also need mental stimulation – games of fetch are good, and playing with these lovely dogs certainly won’t be a chore. As long as they get plenty of outside time in the form of long walks and fetch sessions (they’re not called retrievers for nothing) they settle down calmly once home. These eager-to-please dogs should be straightforward to train as long as you’re kind and consistent, but make sure you keep it interesting. Curly Coated Retrievers are intelligent dogs so if tasks are too repetitive there’s a risk they will get bored and simply disengage from the task.

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All about Curly Coated Retrievers

These adorable dogs do have one downside – they lose quite a bit of hair, especially during shedding season. At this time, they need a little extra help to get rid of the dead hairs, using a special metal-pronged grooming tool.

They may be known as the more independent member of the retriever family, but that still doesn’t mean Curly Coated Retrievers can be left alone for extended periods. These dogs are most content when they’re with their pack, i.e. you. 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/