Curly Coated Retriever

A Highly Intelligent Retriever with Endless Energy

Curly Coated Retriever

A Highly Intelligent Retriever with Endless Energy, This Pet Thrives on Lots of Exercise and Even More Love

Nobody quite knows what the origins of the Curly-Coated Retriever are, but it is known that this breed is one of the oldest of the "retriever" breeds. Believed to be descended from the St. John's Newfoundland, the Retrieving Setter, the Poodle, and the 16th-Century English Water Spaniel, the "Curly," as the breed is affectionately known, became a popular gun dog after the Old English Water Spaniel. First introduced to the United States in 1907, the American Kennel Club's first registered Curly was placed on the books in 1924. Today, this large and affable family companion is still rare but is easily trained, very loyal, and a confident, proud breed.


Originally created to be a game retriever in water or on land, the Curly-Coated Retriever was first popular with hunters, gamekeepers, and poachers in England. As the oldest recognizable Retriever breed in history, the Curly is believed to be descended from the since-extinct English Water Spaniel and Retrieving Setter, and from other dogs used for waterfowl retrieval, including the Poodle. Gamekeepers loved the Curly's courage, hunting ability, stubborn will and unflagging determination.

Once the Labrador became favored by hunters, however, the Curly's popularity took a nosedive. In 1919, after World War I, there were only five Curly-Coated Retrievers registered at that time. Although the breed began to recover, it was again brought down to numbers near extinction during World War II.

First imported to the United States in 1907, Curly-Coated Retrievers were registered with the American Kennel Club in 1924 and were classifed as part of the Sporting Group along with setters, spaniels and other types of retrievers.

Experiencing a resurgence in the late sixties, many Curly-Coated Retrievers were imported from Australia, England, and New Zealand. In 1979, the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America was formed.

While the breed remains uncommon to this day, should you choose to adopt a Curly, you'll find no more determined a hunter and exceedingly intelligent, fun-loving, and gentle family companion.


The Curly-Coated Retriever is a large, athletic dog, with a graceful yet sturdy constitution. This breed slightly resembles a Poodle’s appearance with its crisp, curly coat of liver or black. Single-coated with no undercoat, feathering exists but is usually trimmed from the feet, legs, belly, tail and ears when the dog is to be shown. With pendant ears, a wedge-shaped head, and a wide, tapering muzzle, the Curly's physical traits actually provide perfect protection from the elements and brush in the field. The Curly's face, front of legs, and hocks are smooth. The tail is carried straight back in line with the body. In adulthood, the Curly-Coated Retriever stands 25 to 27 inches in adulthood and weighs between 65 and 80 pounds.


Relaxed and easy-going at home, the Curly-Coated Retriever is nonetheless an outdoor dog that needs lots of exercise and activities geared toward its inherited instincts. Eager and utterly tireless in the field, this dog is an excellent retriever on land, but is especially adept in the water. Loyal and obedient, this very intelligent dog should not be approached with harshness at all, but still requires a firm set of guidelines to prevent testing an owner that does not take the lead. Obedience classes are highly recommended, even for puppies that already have owners with the necessary gentle but "alpha" personalities needed to maintain proper behavior.

Properly trained and socialized, this dog will be an excellent, calm, pleasurable companion. Especially affectionate and loving with children, this breed also makes a good therapy dog.

Proper Environment

This type of dog will not tolerate the confined space of an apartment preferring at least a large yard to play in. The Curly needs a daily walk and should be taught to heel. Most of all, as an excellent swimmer, it should be given the opportunity on a regular basis to enjoy the water. If you hunt, the Curly- Coated Retriever excels at waterfowl retrieval with a "gentle" mouth and keen instincts.

Never leave your pet alone for long periods of time, as this type of dog may become destructive – not necessarily because of disobedience, but simply because this is an extremely emotional hardship for such a loving companion. This is also not a dog that should be chained outside. Rather, if you choose to adopt a Curly-Coated Retriever, it should be kept indoors with you and your family, close to those it loves.


As with most large dogs, the Curly Coated Retriever is prone to hip dysplasia and can be a victim of bloat, a life-threatening condition characterized by belly distension, obvious distress and an inability to vomit. If this condition occurs, get to the vet immediately. Other issues that your pet may experience include eye problems like corneal dystrophy and cataracts, and epilepsy, as well as glycogen storage disease, and exercise-induced collapse.

Generally hardy and healthy, the average life expectancy of your pet (if gotten from a reputable breeder and with regular veterinary care) is 9 to 14 years; some dogs have been known to live as long as 15 to 17 years, however.


With its single coat and no undercoat, the Curly is quite easy to groom. Brush regularly to discourage matting (even if you're not going to show your dog) and bathe as needed with a dog shampoo to keep the coat clean. Unlike the Poodle, the coat of the Curly should never be shaved, although certain areas can be trimmed if appropriate for show purposes.

Although the Curly is a minimal shedder, females will shed more heavily twice a year when in heat. All will shed more in the spring with extreme seasonal temperature changes.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Curly-Coated Retriever

November 23, 2013.

Curly-Coated Retriever.

November 23, 2013.

Curly Coated Retriever.

November 23, 2013.

Curly-Coated Retriever.

November 23, 2013.

Curly-Coated Retriever Dog Breed.

November 23, 2013

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