These strong and kind dogs have very active brains and also require an active lifestyle in order to stay happy. They will do well with an owner that can take them swimming, running, or hiking and keep them occupied with any other physical activities.

The Curly Coated Retriever is a distinctive and versatile breed known for its tight, water-resistant curls. With a confident and independent temperament, these retrievers excel in various activities, making them loyal companions for families and individuals alike.

Explore the world of Curly Coated Retrievers with our comprehensive FAQs. Learn about their origin, temperament, grooming needs, health considerations, and more. Whether you’re a prospective owner or a canine enthusiast, discover valuable insights into the characteristics that make Curly Coated Retrievers unique companions.


The history of this unique dog is a mystery, but they are assumed to have originated in the United Kingdom and be descendant of Poodles, and Retriever Setters, as well as St. John’s Water Dogs, and Irish and English Water Spaniels, which are now extinct.

The Curly Coated Retriever was first shown in the year of 1860 in England. They are also thought of as the first dog breed that was used for retrieving. These dogs were also exceptional hunters, as they were courageous and would persevere through anything, which made them prized by the English gamekeepers who would train them to be hunting and retrieving dogs.

However, they were used less and less for hunting when the Labrador made their appearance and became the new favorite. During the wars, this breed of dog almost became extinct. By the end of World War I, only five registered Curly Coated Retrievers remained. They began to gain their numbers, but then lost many again after World War II. These dogs made their first appearance in the United States when they were imported in the year of 1907.

In 1924, the first Curly Coated Retriever became registered with the American Kennel Club. The breed began to grow even more as more dogs got imported from Australia, New Zealand and England into the United States in the 1960s. The Curly Coated Club of America was officially created in 1979. Today, the Curly Coated Retriever family is estimated to be around 5000, and under 2000 of them are located in the United States.


Curly Coats are known for their unique curls that can be found covering their whole body. The curls are small, dense and lie close to the skin, which serve as tough protection from any rough brush as well as resists weather and water. They can be looser around the ears, and occasionally these dogs can have longer fringes of hair around the belly, ears, thighs, and back of forelegs but they are often trimmed.

The Curly Coated Retriever will possess laid back shoulders and straight forelegs that are set under the body. They have a deep chest and a slightly tucked up flank, with a fierce topline that is level with the sloping croup. The body is a bit bigger in length than it is in height. The hindquarters are muscular and the feet are rounded with webbed and arched toes. The tail will be no longer than the hock and when moving, it will be carried straight and level with the topline.

Physical Characteristics


  • Male 25 to 27 inches
  • Female 23 to 25 inches


  •  Male 60 to 95 pounds
  • Female 45-55 pounds


Short double coat with tight curls


Solid black or liver


He has dark almond-shaped eyes, expressing intelligence and alertness.


The ears are small, well-feathered, set at eye level, and lying close to the head.


The tail is carried straight, thick at the base, tapering to a point, and covered with tight curls.

Life span

The average life span is around 10 to 12 years.


These cute and kind canines are known for their alertness and determination. Curly Coated Retrievers have even tempers but can be reserved with strangers, which is why it is important to socialize them when they are young.

They are sweet dogs that will still act like puppies, even as they grow into the young adult age, so be prepared for years of fun and playfulness! They can be self-confident and will need an owner that can they can look up to and keep them under control.

Your Curly will react well to training, but it might take them longer than other breeds to get the hang of it. This is not because they are unintelligent, but because they are curious and can have low attention spans when they are bored.

Keep the training and exercises interesting and not repetitive, as your dog might begin to ignore you if they get bored. These dogs can do well with older kids, but smaller children may be intimidated or hurt by the dog’s size and energy level.

These easy-going canines get along well with other pets, but will most likely require a period of adaptation and proper socialization.


Likely the most recognizable feature of the CCR is its curls. While the body is covered in a dense coat of curls, it should be noted that the face, forelegs, and feet have short, straight fur.

Compared to other retrievers, and many dog breeds in general, the curly-coated retriever is very low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. The distinctive curls benefit most from a quick wipe with a damp cloth, as brushing them leads to frizz.

Bathe your CCR as needed, but with no oily undercoat, it doesn’t need to be done often. These dogs shed twice a year, during which time you might want to use a grooming rake to remove loose hair. 

Owners should also keep up with standard grooming care like brushing the teeth, trimming the nails, and cleaning the ears (especially after swimming) to keep these dogs in good health.


They are active and rambunctious and will require training when they’re young in order to ensure that they grow up into smart and respectful adults. These dogs also tend to chew and nip at anything that they can find which is important to watch out for as some objects that shouldn’t be eaten can cause some damage.


Curly Coated Retrievers are active dogs that need a half hour to one hour a day minimum for exercise.

They enjoy having a goal and a job to do, so a good way to keep your dog active and happy is to take them swimming, on long walks, or get them to carry items for you, as long as they are not too heavy for them. They enjoy a challenge, like training for dog activities such as obedience or agility. Puzzle toys are another great way to keep your Curly occupied.


How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level.

Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.

The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

Health concerns

Curly-Coated Retrievers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Curlies will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.

Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.

Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as letting a puppy gain too much weight too quickly or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.

Elbow Dysplasia 

This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs. It’s thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog’s elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness.

Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, weight loss to reduce the pressure on the joints, or medication to control the pain.


This defect, which is usually obvious by six months of age, causes the eyelid to roll inward, irritating or injuring the eyeball. One or both eyes can be affected.

If your Curly has entropion, you may notice him rubbing at his eyes. The condition can and should be corrected surgically.


This defect is the rolling out or sagging of the eyelid, usually the lower one, leaving the eye exposed and prone to irritation and infections such as conjunctivitis. Severe cases can be treated with surgery.


This condition occurs when an additional row of eyelashes (known as distichia) grow on the oil gland in the dog’s eye and protrude along the edge of the eyelid. This irritates the eye, and you may notice your Aussie squinting or rubbing his eyes.

 Distichiasis is treated surgically by freezing the excess eyelashes with liquid nitrogen and then remove them. This type of surgery is called cryoepilation and is done under general anesthesia.

Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM) 

Persistent Pupillary Membranes are strands of tissue in the eye, remnants of the fetal membrane that nourished the lenses of the eyes before birth. They normally disappear by the time a puppy is 4 or 5 weeks old, but sometimes they persist.

The strands can stretch from iris to iris, iris to lens, or cornea to iris, and sometimes they are found in the anterior (front) chamber of the eye. For many dogs, the strands do not cause any problems and generally they break down by 8 weeks of age.

If the strands do not break down, they can lead to cataracts or cause corneal opacities. Eye drops prescribed by your veterinarian can help break them down.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) 

This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness.

Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don’t make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease.

Retinal Dysplasia 

Retinal Dysplasia is most commonly a congenital hereditary disease, meaning the dog is born with it and it was passed to him by his parents, but it can also result from trauma or prenatal herpesvirus or parvovirus infections. It can be mild or severe and is caused by an abnormal development of the retina, resulting in retinal folds. This can lead to a variety of vision problems for the dog ranging from a small blind spot to total blindness.

Retinal dysplasia can be detected as early as six to eight weeks of age. There is no known treatment for retinal dysplasia, but many blind dogs live full lives, and their other senses compensate for the vision impairment.

Pattern Baldness

This gradual thinning of the hair follows one of three patterns. The first is more commonly found in females and the baldness occurs around the temples, on the chest, abdomen, back of the thighs, and under the neck.

The second occurs more commonly in males and is the loss of hair on the ears. The third is also more commonly found in males and is the loss of hair on the back of the thighs, underneath the neck and on the tail. There is no treatment for Pattern Baldness.

Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD)

This metabolic disorder occurs when glycogen, a complex carbohydrate, is unable to be released and used by the body. This deficiency can lead to other disorders such as skeletal muscle disease and liver disease. Signs of Glycogen Storage Disease can be lethargy, collapse, exercise intolerance, and a prolonged recovery from exercise. A DNA test is now available to determine which dogs carry the recessive gene.

Dogs that are carriers should not be bred, and they should absolutely never be bred to another carrier. It is important to ensure that your puppy’s breeder has had her dogs cleared of this condition.

Lympho sarcoma 

Lymph sarcoma is the third most common cancer that affects dogs and can be found in various parts of the body such as the spleen, gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, liver, and bone marrow. The cancer is treated with chemotherapy and approximately 80 percent of dogs treated will go into remission.


Adenocarcinoma is a growth of malignant cells and is one of the most common types of canine cancers. The cells usually originate in the uterus, mammary glands, and intestines. Often these cells spread to the lungs and other parts of the body, including the area around the anus.

Nearly 80 percent of lung tumors are adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinoma is treated by removing the tumors and affected lymph nodes surgically and providing chemotherapy. Other treatments may be used depending on the area affected.


This tumor is found in fibrous connective tissue and can affect any part of the body, including bone. It is the third most common type of bone cancer and can spread from the bone to the lungs, heart, lymph nodes, and kidneys.

Treatment may involve one or all of the following: surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic and hyperthermia therapy, radiation therapy, and in some cases amputation of a limb.

Mast Cell Tumors 

Also known as Mastocytoma, or Mast Cell Sarcoma, these are the most common skin tumors seen in dogs and are found in the loose connective tissue in the body. The tumors often form on the skin of the area around the anus, the legs, or the trunk of the dog but they can be found on the head and neck. Treatment varies and may involve surgery or chemotherapy.


This form of malignant cancer is found in the lining of blood vessels as well as the spleen.


Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) of the skin. It is commonly found on the skin, but it can also be found on the inside of the mouth and gums. The malignant melanocytes spread from the skin lesions through the blood and lymph vessels.

This can lead to other tumors and cause the death of the dog. Treatment is usually surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In the case of oral melanoma, a part of the jawbone may be surgically removed.


Generally affecting large and giant breeds, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer. The first sign of osteosarcoma is lameness, but the dog will need x-rays to determine if the cause is cancer.

Osteosarcoma is treated aggressively, usually with the amputation of the limb and chemotherapy. With treatment, dogs can live nine months to two years or more.

Luckily, dogs adapt well to life on three legs and don’t suffer the same side effects to chemotherapy as humans, such as nausea and hair loss.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (Bloat) 

This is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs, especially if they’re fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large amounts of water rapidly, or exercise vigorously after eating.

Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in his stomach, and blood flow to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock.

Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is drooling excessively, and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

Bottom line

The Curly-Coated Retriever is a distinctive and versatile breed known for its curly coat, intelligence, and waterfowl retrieval skills.

Whether you’re seeking a confident and independent hunting partner, a loyal and protective family pet, or a dog with a distinctive appearance and water-loving nature.

 Curly-Coated Retriever is likely to capture your interest with its exceptional qualities and historical role as a reliable retriever in challenging water environments.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Are Curly Coated Retrievers good as working dogs?

Yes, they excel in various dog sports and activities. They were originally bred for retrieving game in water, and their intelligence makes them versatile in different roles.

Q. Do Curly Coated Retrievers require specialized training?

They are intelligent but may have an independent streak, so consistent and positive training methods are recommended. Early socialization is important.

Q. Are Curly Coated Retrievers good with children and other pets?

Generally, yes. They are known to be good with children and other pets, but early socialization is essential.

Q. Are there any known allergies associated with Curly Coated Retrievers?

Some individuals may have allergies to dog dander, so it’s essential to consider this factor if someone in the household is sensitive to allergens.

Q. Can Curly Coated Retrievers live in apartments?

While they can adapt to apartment living with regular exercise, they do best in homes with sufficient space and outdoor access.

Q. Are there any specific activities that Curly Coated Retrievers excel in?

They thrive in various dog sports, including agility, obedience, and retrieving games. Their athleticism and intelligence make them versatile in different activities.

Q. Do Curly Coated Retrievers require a fenced yard?

Due to their energy and adventurous spirit, a secure, fenced yard is recommended to provide them with space to exercise safely.

Q. Are Curly Coated Retrievers good for first-time dog owners?

While they are intelligent and trainable, their independent nature might be a challenge for first-time owners. Experienced dog owners may find it easier to handle their unique characteristics.

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