|Group Classification||AKC (American Kennel Club): Sporting
UKC (United Kennel Club): Gun Dog
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club): Sporting
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council): Gundogs
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club): Gundog
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale): Group 8 – Retrievers – Flushing Dogs – Water Dogs ; Section 1 – Retrievers
|Bred For||Retrieving, Hunting, Companionship|
|Known For||Curly Coat, Intelligence, Loyalty|
|Activities||Hunting, Running, Therapy Dog, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports, Rescue Dog|
|Measurements||Height at Withers: Males 25-27 in.; Females 23-25 in.
Weight Range: Males and Females 60-90 lbs.
|Coat||Type: Thick, Tight, and Crisp Curls, Water Resistant, Weather Resistant
Color: Black, Liver
Grooming: Periodic Brushing, Periodic Bathing, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing
|Temperament||Confident, Proud, Intelligent, Alert|
|Expectations||Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Energy Level: High
Exercise Requirements: 1 Hour/Day, Daily Walks, Weekly Swimming, Regular Exercise, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation
|Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standards||AKC Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standard
UKC Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standard
CKC Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standard
ANKC Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standard
RKC Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standard
FCI Curly-Coated Retriever Breed Standard
|Similar Breeds||Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Flat-Coated Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel|
The Curly-Coated Retriever, often referred to simply as the “Curly,” stands out from among the retriever breeds with its distinctive curly coat. As one of the oldest retrieving breeds, the Curly has been cherished for its versatility in hunting and retrieving, as well as for its confident and independent nature. Balancing playfulness with poise, this breed is known for its loyalty, intelligence, and enduring energy.
Males typically stand between 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, while females range from 23 to 25 inches.
Adult Curly-Coated Retrievers typically weigh between 60 and 95 pounds, with adult females generally weighing less than adult males.
The Curly-Coated Retriever possesses a balanced build, ensuring strength without sacrificing agility. The length of the body is slightly longer than its height, giving it an off-square silhouette. The Curly showcases a sturdy bone structure, paired with well-muscled hindquarters and a deep chest, emphasizing its capacity for endurance and powerful movement.
Texture: The Curly-Coated Retriever’s coat is distinctive. It is characterized by the tight, water-resistant curls that cover the body, excluding the face and front of the legs. These curls provide protection from brambles and cold water, reflecting the breed’s history as a gamefowl retriever in diverse terrains. The coat remains dense throughout, ensuring that the Curly is well-equipped for its work both in and out of the water.
Markings: The Curly-Coated Retriever is a solid, self-colored dog without any markings.
Note: The coat of the Curly-Coated Retriever is unlike that of any other breed of dog. The neck, body, and rear legs are covered in a thick mass of small, tight curls. The muzzle, forehead, fronts of the forelegs, and the feet are covered in short, smooth, and straight hair. Bald patches anywhere on the body are unacceptable, as is a coat that is sparse, very harsh, brittle, fuzzy, or silky.
Skull: The Curly’s skull is broad and slightly round, ensuring ample space for the brain and contributing to the breed’s intellect. A shallow and sloping stop exists between the skull and the muzzle.
Expression: The Curly-Coated Retriever’s expression is keen and self-confident, showcasing its alert and energetic nature. This breed’s eyes often twinkle with mischief, reflecting its playful disposition.
Eyes: Set well apart, the eyes are almond-shaped and of medium size. Their color ranges from brown to black in black-colored Curlys, and brown or amber in liver-colored dogs. The eyes should not appear either sunken or protruding.
Ears: The ears are set slightly above the level of the eyes. They are small and lie close to the head, giving a sleek appearance. The lobular shape of the ears complements the head’s overall contour.
Muzzle: The muzzle of the Curly-Coated Retriever is strong and square. It tapers slightly from the stop to the nose, but without appearing pointy. The jaws are strong, enabling the Curly to carry game efficiently.
Nose: The nose is large and dark. In black Curlys, the nose is black, while liver-colored Curlys have a liver-colored nose.
Bite: The Curly boasts a scissors bite where the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors, ensuring a strong grip. This bite alignment is vital for a retriever breed, as it allows the dog to hold game gently yet securely.
The tail of the Curly-Coated Retriever is an extension of its agile and balanced build, playing a vital role in both its movement and expression. Set just below the level of the back, it is carried straight or with a slight upward curve but never curled over the back. The tail is of medium length, reaching approximately to the hock, and showcases the breed’s characteristic curls, though these might be less dense than the curls on the body. In action, the tail functions as a rudder, assisting with balance during sharp turns or when swimming. When the Curly is alert or active, the tail’s movement reflects its energy and mood.
The tail is never docked for this breed, and its natural length adds to the Curly-Coated Retriever’s distinctive appearance and elegance.
Owning a Curly-Coated Retriever brings joy, energy, and a touch of mischief into a household. As one of the oldest retrieving breeds, Curlies are known for their distinctive curly coat and effervescent personalities. These dogs are highly versatile, excelling in various canine sports and activities, while also being loving family companions. Their intelligence and independence can be both a delight and a challenge, making them a suitable choice for experienced dog owners.
Curly-Coated Retrievers, like all breeds and mixed breeds, can have specific health concerns that potential owners should be aware of. While they are generally robust and healthy, it’s crucial to ensure regular veterinary check-ups and maintain a proactive approach to their well-being. With proper care, these retrievers can lead fulfilling lives, brimming with activity and companionship.
The average life expectancy for a Curly-Coated Retriever ranges between 10 and 12 years.
Curly-Coated Retrievers, despite their robust nature, can be predisposed to certain health conditions. Being informed about these potential issues is vital for early detection and treatment. Some of the common health concerns for this breed include:
Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition where the thigh bone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Early detection and treatment can manage the condition and prevent severe arthritic pain.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness. Regular eye exams can help with early detection.
Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD): A metabolic disorder that affects the way the body uses stored sugar. It’s crucial to be aware of its symptoms and get regular check-ups.
Epilepsy: Like other breeds, Curlies can suffer from epilepsy, which causes mild to severe seizures. Medication can usually manage this condition.
Bloat: This is a severe condition that can affect Curly-Coated Retrievers, where the stomach twists on itself. Immediate medical attention is required if suspected.
Being proactive about your Curly-Coated Retriever’s health starts with regular veterinary visits. These check-ups can help to detect and address health issues early on, ensuring your dog’s well-being and a long, happy life. Regular health screenings, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can further reduce the risk of these common conditions.
Curly-Coated Retrievers are often described as confident, independent, and exuberant, bringing an unmatched vibrancy to any household. Their keen intelligence, paired with their playful nature, makes them engaging companions, though sometimes their independent streak might come across as stubbornness. This trait, while endearing to many, can pose challenges for novice dog owners. It’s essential to establish leadership and consistency in training from a young age.
Socialization is a critical aspect of the Curly-Coated Retriever’s upbringing. Properly socialized Curlies are known to get along well with other dogs and can be quite gentle with young children. They tend to be more reserved around strangers, but rarely aggressive, often warming up once they assess the situation. Their inherent retrieving instincts make them naturally playful and interactive, always eager to fetch or play.
Despite their occasional bouts of independence, Curly-Coated Retrievers thrive on human companionship. They are loyal to their families and do not enjoy being left alone for extended periods. Providing them with interactive toys or puzzle feeders can help to keep them engaged during short periods of solitude. In a family setting, they often form deep bonds with everyone, ensuring their place as cherished family members.
Feeding a Curly-Coated Retriever requires understanding nutritional needs at various life stages. As active dogs, Curlies require a balanced diet that fuels their energy and sustains their muscular build. Always ensure that the food provided meets the specific needs of this breed, taking into account factors such as age, activity level, and overall health.
Puppies are ever-growing and need a diet rich in protein and essential nutrients to support their development. It’s often recommended to feed Curly-Coated Retriever puppies three to four times a day, gradually transitioning to twice-a-day feeding as they approach adulthood. High-quality puppy food designed for large breeds can be beneficial during this stage.
For adult Curly-Coated Retrievers, a diet that includes lean proteins, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals is ideal. On average, an active adult might consume 2.5 to 3.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food daily, divided into two meals. However, it’s crucial to adjust the quantity based on the dog’s activity level and metabolism. Overfeeding or providing calorie-dense treats without enough exercise can lead to obesity, a condition you’ll want to avoid for the overall health and longevity of your Curly.
Always ensure the Curly-Coated Retriever has access to fresh and clean water. Keeping an eye on the dog’s weight, monitoring for any sudden changes, and having regular vet consultations can help to ensure that their nutritional needs are being met adequately. Remember, every dog is an individual, so adjustments might be necessary based on a dog’s specific requirements and any health concerns.
The Curly-Coated Retriever’s intelligence and eagerness to please can make training a rewarding experience, but the breed’s independent nature can sometimes present challenges. Their self-assured demeanor means that they may occasionally decide to do things their own way. Thus, early training and consistent leadership are paramount to mold them into well-behaved companions.
Curlies respond best to positive reinforcement techniques. Harsh training methods or undue punishment can lead to a distrustful or even more stubborn dog. Incorporating games, especially retrieving games, into their training regimen can capitalize on their innate abilities and make sessions more engaging for them. It’s also essential to keep training sessions relatively short and varied enough to hold their interest.
Socialization is another vital aspect of training. Exposing your Curly to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age will help them develop into well-rounded, confident adults. This breed’s inherent caution around strangers makes early and consistent socialization even more crucial to prevent excessive shyness or undue apprehension.
Despite their somewhat independent streak, Curly-Coated Retrievers have the potential to excel in Obedience and Agility Trials. Their keen senses and natural retrieving instincts can also make them standouts in Field Trials. Engaging them in such activities can not only enhance their skills but also strengthen the bond between dog and handler. With patience, understanding, and a bit of creativity, training a Curly can be a fulfilling endeavor for both the dog and the trainer.
Curly-Coated Retrievers are spirited and active dogs that require regular exercise to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit. Their origins as hunting and retrieving dogs mean they have a built-in drive for activity and will thrive in environments where they can channel this energy productively.
A daily routine should ideally incorporate not just walks but also more rigorous exercises like fetching, swimming, or running. A couple of brisk walks combined with some playtime can usually suffice for most Curlies, but remember, these are energetic dogs and they will appreciate more extended periods of activity.
Swimming is a particularly favored activity for many Curly-Coated Retrievers. Given their water-repellent coat and natural inclination towards water, they often take to swimming with enthusiasm. It’s also an excellent low-impact exercise, beneficial for their joints and overall well-being.
While they are playful and energetic outdoors, most Curly-Coated Retrievers can be quite calm indoors, making them adaptable to various living situations as long as their exercise needs are met. However, neglecting their physical requirements can lead to undesirable behaviors, such as chewing or digging, as they seek alternative outlets for their energy.
It’s also beneficial to engage a Curly’s mind. Incorporating training sessions, puzzle toys, and interactive games into the daily routine can help keep this dog mentally sharp. Activities that tap into the breed’s natural retrieving instincts, such as fetch or even scent tracking, can provide both physical and mental stimulation, ensuring a happy and well-adjusted Curly.
Grooming a Curly-Coated Retriever is relatively straightforward, owing to the breed’s unique curly coat. This Curly is known for its water-resistant, tight curls that cover the body, providing protection in rough conditions or when swimming. This natural protective layer means that Curlies don’t require frequent baths unless they get particularly dirty.
While they do shed, the Curly-Coated Retriever’s shedding is less noticeable than that of other breeds, given the nature of their curls. The tight curls can trap the loose hairs, making them less apparent around the house. However, a regular, gentle brushing once a week can help to remove these trapped hairs and keep the coat looking its best. When brushing, it’s essential to be careful to avoid breaking the curls.
Beyond brushing, it’s crucial to check the Curly’s ears regularly for signs of infection, given its love for water. Any moisture that remains in the ear can lead to bacterial growth. Cleaning them gently with a vet-approved solution can help to prevent any potential issues.
Their nails should be trimmed once or twice a month, or as needed, to prevent overgrowth and splitting. Regular checks of the Curly’s teeth and gums are also advised. Brushing the teeth a few times a week will help to maintain good oral health and fend off potential bad breath.
Living with a Curly-Coated Retriever is a rewarding experience, especially for those who appreciate an active and loyal companion. Known for their independent spirit and confidence, Curlies bring a distinct blend of energy and intelligence to the household.
In terms of housing, Curly-Coated Retrievers show remarkable adaptability. They certainly relish the expansiveness of a yard, but they are not averse to apartment living as long as they receive enough exercise. Their calm indoor demeanor, combined with their zest for outdoor activities, renders them compatible with diverse living arrangements. Nonetheless, having access to a secure yard where they can freely roam and play remains a distinct advantage.
Climate-wise, the Curly’s water-resistant coat offers protection against both wet and cold conditions. This makes the breed relatively tolerant of cooler weather, especially given its history of working in water and marshy terrains. However, like all dogs, the Curly should be protected from extreme weather conditions. During hot summer days, it’s essential to ensure that this dog has plenty of access to shade and water, and it’s important to avoid midday exercises when temperatures peak.
Socially, Curly-Coated Retrievers are often reserved with strangers but warm up once they get to know someone. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded and confident in different situations. Their natural alertness can make them good watchdogs, but they’re generally friendly and shouldn’t be considered an option as a guard dog.
Lastly, while Curlies cherish the time spent with their family, they are known for their independent nature. This means that while they might not always be the kind to constantly seek attention, they are always up for play, training, or a cuddling session whenever invited.
The puppy phase for the Curly-Coated Retriever is an enchanting time marked by boundless energy, a penchant for exploration, and of course, those characteristic curly coats beginning to take form. Puppies of this breed are vivacious, inquisitive, and filled with a youthful enthusiasm that’s hard to resist. From their earliest days, they display hints of the intelligence and independence for which the Curly-Coated Retriever is celebrated.
When bringing a Curly-Coated Retriever puppy home, preparation is key. Given the breed’s active nature, it’s essential to puppy-proof the living space, ensuring there are no hazards like loose wires or easily swallowed objects.
Early socialization is paramount. Exposing Curlies to a myriad of sights, sounds, experiences, and different people can help to shape them into well-adjusted adult dogs. Enrolling in puppy kindergarten can be beneficial, not just for basic obedience but also for the social interaction it provides.
A balanced diet tailored to the needs of large breed puppies is essential for the rapid growth phase. Consulting with a veterinarian about the best nutrition plan is always a wise decision.
Additionally, while Curlies may be little bundles of energy, it’s important to monitor and limit their physical activity. Over-exercising can put undue stress on their developing joints and bones. On the flip side, mental stimulation through games, toys, and simple training exercises can be introduced early.
Routine vet check-ups are crucial during this stage to ensure they are growing healthily and to initiate a vaccination schedule. Keeping up with regular deworming and flea and tick prevention is also indispensable.
Finally, it is important to instill good habits early. Training, grooming, and even basic commands are easier to teach when a Curly-Coated Retriever is young. This will lay the groundwork for a well-behaved and well-adjusted adult.
The Curly-Coated Retriever is an exuberant and agile breed, making it not only a superb hunting companion but also an excellent candidate for various dog sports and activities. The breed’s energy and intelligence mean it thrives when engaged in structured, fun activities that challenge both the body and mind.
Agility: Given their athletic nature, Curly-Coated Retrievers excel in Agility. Navigating through obstacle courses not only provides physical exercise but also mentally stimulates them, enhancing their problem-solving skills.
Obedience Trials: These retrievers possess a keen intelligence, and when guided with consistent training, they can shine in Obedience Trials, showcasing their ability to follow commands and exhibit discipline.
Field Trials: Their historical role as waterfowl and game retrievers means that Field Trials can be a natural fit. These events assess a dog’s ability to retrieve under realistic hunting conditions, showcasing stamina, intelligence, and training.
Dock Diving: With their strong swimming abilities, Curly-Coated Retrievers can truly demonstrate their prowess in the sport of Dock Diving. While jumping from a dock to retrieve a toy in the water, they compete for either distance, height, or speed.
Conformation Shows: The upstanding appearance and distinctive curly coat of this retriever mean this breed is often an admired participant in Conformation Shows. Competition in such events allows the dog’s appearance, structure, and movement to be evaluated against the Breed Standard.
Search and Rescue: Beyond sports, the Curly-Coated Retriever’s keen nose and trainability can be harnessed in more altruistic pursuits, such as Search and Rescue operations.
Participation in these sports and activities not only keeps a Curly-Coated Retriever physically fit and mentally sharp, it also strengthens the bond between dog and handler. Moreover, it provides a fantastic avenue for socialization with other dogs and people.
The Curly-Coated Retriever is among the oldest of the retrieving breeds, boasting a lineage that stretches back to the early 19th century in England. The breed’s precise ancestry remains a subject of debate among canine historians, but it’s widely believed that they resulted from a mix of the now-extinct English Water Spaniel, the St. John’s Newfoundland, the retrieving setter, and possibly the Poodle. The breed’s unique curly coat was bred intentionally to serve as an efficient water-resistant barrier, making these dogs particularly adept at waterfowl retrieving in marshy conditions.
As skilled hunters, they became increasingly popular among English gamekeepers and hunters for their proficient retrieving abilities, both in water and on land. The breed was known to be able to handle the rugged terrains and adverse weather conditions of the English countryside, proving to be resilient, tenacious, and hardworking.
The Curly-Coated Retriever’s reputation crossed borders, and by the late 19th century, the breed had made its way to Australia and New Zealand, where the dogs were equally appreciated for their working skills and companionship.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Curly-Coated Retriever in 1924, and the breed’s popularity in the United States grew slowly but steadily. Although never achieving the same widespread acclaim as some of the other retriever breeds, the Curly-Coated Retriever has maintained a loyal following of enthusiasts dedicated to preserving its unique characteristics and abilities.
Today, while still treasured as hunting companions, the Curly-Coated Retriever is also celebrated in various Dog Sports, Conformation Show rings, and most importantly, as beloved family pets. The history of the Curly is a testament to the adaptability, resilience, and enduring charm of this unique breed.
Curly-Coated Retrievers have a small but dedicated following, with breed clubs around the world that support the preservation, education, and promotion of this distinctive breed. These clubs often play pivotal roles in championing responsible breeding practices, holding specialty shows, organizing events, and providing resources for both breeders and owners alike.
In the United States, the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America (CCRCA), chartered in 1979, stands out as the parent club for the breed. Recognized by the American Kennel Club, it provides a plethora of information on the Breed Standard, breed health, social events, and more for Curly enthusiasts.
In the United Kingdom, the Curly Coated Retriever Club (UK) has been operational since 1910, making it one of the oldest breed-specific clubs in the UK. This club is deeply committed to the well-being of Curly-Coated Retrievers, offering resources on care, training, health, and various events.
For Curly-Coated Retriever enthusiasts, becoming a member of these established clubs can offer many benefits, from networking opportunities with fellow breed admirers to gaining access to exclusive events and insights.
The Curly-Coated Retriever, while loved by many, sometimes finds itself in need of rescue, rehoming, or rehabilitation. Dedicated rescue groups and organizations work tirelessly to ensure these dogs find loving forever homes, and they also play a crucial role in educating the public about the breed’s needs and characteristics.
In the US, the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America (CCRCA) has a rescue committee that works tirelessly to help Curlies in need. The club assists with both adoptions and placements, ensuring each dog finds an appropriate and loving home.
Canada has individual breed enthusiasts and general retriever rescues that are ready to step in and offer assistance to any Curly-Coated Retriever in need. While there may not be a specific national Curly-Coated Retriever rescue group, these broader organizations can help individuals of this lesser-known breed.
In the United Kingdom, organizations like the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home could potentially receive a Curly-Coated Retriever in need of adoption, and there are other rescues and networks as well that can assist in rehoming and rescuing a Curly in need.
Oldest Retriever Breed: The Curly-Coated Retriever is often cited as the oldest of the retriever breeds, having been recognized for its distinct features and skills in the early 19th century.
Distinctive Coat: The breed’s tight, water-resistant curls serve a practical purpose: they help to repel water and resist burrs in the field. This means that after a swim or run through tall grass, the Curly-Coated Retriever remains relatively clean and dry.
Versatility in the Field: Historically, the Curly-Coated Retriever was bred for upland bird and waterfowl hunting. The breed’s versatility is showcased in its ability to work in different terrains, from marshy swamps to thick woodland areas.
Late Bloomers: Curly-Coated Retrievers mature more slowly than some other breeds, often retaining their playful, puppy-like demeanor well into their adult years.
World Travelers: This breed, originating in England, has found favor in many parts of the world, from the United States and Canada to Australia and New Zealand.
Less Common: Despite the breed’s many admirable traits, the Curly-Coated Retriever is less common than other retriever breeds, such as the Labrador and Golden Retrievers.
Curly-Coated Retrievers do shed, but typically less so than many other breeds. Their curly coats might appear low-shedding, but like most dogs, they have seasonal shedding periods, often once or twice a year.
No dog breed is truly hypoallergenic. However, Curly-Coated Retrievers might be more suitable for people with mild allergies due to the breed’s specific coat type. It’s crucial for potential owners with allergies to spend time around a Curly to gauge their reaction before deciding to adopt or purchase a dog.
The Curly-Coated Retriever is among the oldest retriever breeds and was developed in England. It was primarily bred from the now-extinct English Water Spaniel, the St. John’s Water Dog, and retrieving setters, with the aim of creating an efficient water retriever.
Yes, the Curly-Coated Retriever is an excellent family dog. The breed is known for its friendly disposition, high energy, and loyalty. A playful nature and patience often make the Curly a great companion for kids.
While Curly-Coated Retrievers are intelligent and trainable, they are not as commonly used as service dogs compared to breeds like Labrador or Golden Retrievers. However, with proper training, they can serve in roles like Therapy Dogs or Assistance Dogs.
While Curly-Coated Retrievers are independent when compared with some other breeds, they thrive on interaction and activity. Leaving them alone for extended periods can lead to boredom and potentially destructive behavior. If they need to be left home alone for brief periods, it is important to ensure they have interactive toys and are given sufficient space to exercise.
Curly-Coated Retrievers are not known to be excessive barkers. However, like most dogs, they might bark to alert their owners of unfamiliar visitors or unusual noises. Training and socialization can help to manage their barking tendencies.
Yes! The Curly-Coated Retriever was bred for hunting and retrieving, especially in water. The breed’s water-resistant coat, stamina, and enthusiasm make the Curly an effective hunting companion, particularly for waterfowl.