Curly-Coated Retriever Dog

The Curly-Coated Retriever dog is a breed of dog which was originally bred for upland bird and waterfowl hunting. It is the tallest of the retrievers and is easily distinguishable by the mass of tight curs covering it’s body.

The breed was actually bred in England. And name of the breed is not always hyphenated, and often called the Curly for short. Curly Coated and Wavy Coated (now known as the Flat-Coated Retriever) were the first two recognized retriever breeds, established as early as 1860.

Very little is known about the origin of the Curly-Coated Retriever dog breed. The breed may be descended from now extinct English Water Spaniels and retrieving setters as well as other retriever-type dogs, including Poodles which, essentially, are retrievers themselves.

Whatever it’s makeup, it’s first appearance in the show ring was in England in 1860, and it is thought to have been the first dog used for serious retrieving.

The Curly-Coated Retriever dog breed was especially prized by gamekeepers, who appreciated it’s hunting ability, courage and perseverance. It’s popularity waned, however, as the Labrador became a favorite with hunters.

The war years didn’t help. After World War I, in 1919, only five Curly-Coated Retrievers were registered. The breed began to recover but again almost died out during World War II.[1]

The breed was first imported into the United States in 1907, and the first one registered with the AKC (American Kennel Club) was Knysna Conjurer in 1924.

The Curly-Coated Retriever dog breed saw a resurgence in the United States in the late 1960s when many dogs were imported from England, Australia and New Zealand. The Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America was founded in 1979.

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Curly-Coated Retriever Dog Characteristics

The Curly-Coated Retriever dogs are large sized dog with very beautiful appearance. The breed is well-muscled and very active, very suitable for upland bird and waterfowl hunting.

In case of structure, the Curly-Coated Retriever is somewhat different in structure than the more common retrievers. A Curly will appear slightly leggy but is actually slightly longer than tall.

The breed is balanced and agile with a significant air of endurance, strength and grace. They have soft-mouthed and regularly handle game with care.

The breed sports a coat of tight, crisp curls. The tight curled coat of the Curly repels water, burrs, and prevents damage that other sporting dogs with softer, thinner coats cannot escape. The only acceptable colors for the Curly Coated Retriever are solid black and solid liver.

Occasional white hairs are permissible, but large white patches are a serious fault. Eyes should be either black or brown in black dogs, and brown or amber in liver dogs. Yellow eyes are unusual. The nose should be fully pigmented, and the same color as the coat as the dog.

A wide range of sizes occurs, particularly in those dogs bred for the field, which generally run smaller.

Average body height of the mature animal is between 25 and 27 inches at the withers for males, and between 23 and 25 inches for the females. Average live body weight of the mature dogs is between 36 and 45 kg for males, and between 29 and 39 kg for the females.[2]

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The Curly-Coated Retriever dog was originally developed as a gamekeepers gun dog and their temperament and conformation reflect this purpose. They are still used in many countries as bird hunting companions, including in both upland and waterfowl hunting.

Like most other retrievers, the Curly-Coated Retrievers are valued as pets and are a lively and fun-loving breed.

They can be sometimes aloof with strangers but are usually very loyal and affectionate with their owners and family. They are extremely intelligent in general, but training can sometimes be difficult as they can easily get bored with repetitive training.

The Curly-Coated Retriever dog can be calm and laid back in the home environment, as long as the breed has enough exercise. And this feature makes the breed a great activity dog as well as a placid member of the family.


Average lifespan of the Curly-Coated Retriever dog is between 9 and 14 years. Although, there are instances of Curlies living to 15 to 17 years of age.


How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

The Curly-Coated Retriever dogs are large in size, and they are very active. So, their diet should be formulated for a large sized breed with high exercise needs.

Generally 3-4 cups of high quality dry food daily will be enough for a mature dog. You can consult with a vet in your area for better feeding recommendations.


Taking good care of the animals is very important for raising Curly-Coated Retriever dogs. You should always keep up with your dog’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet will be able to help you to develop a caring routine that will keep your dog healthy.

The Curly-Coated Retrievers are very active and they need regular exercise. They need a half an hour to an hour a day of exercise and stimulation. Providing it with a variety of jobs is one of the best ways to keep a Curly active and stimulated.

Puzzle toys such as Buster Cubes will keep the Curly-Coated Retrievers entertained, as will training them for obedience, agility, and other dog activities.

Early training is a must, and it’s a great way to bond with your pup. Generally puppies have a high activity level, but they also need lots of naps to recharge, so the hard exercise you might give an adult isn’t necessary for them.

Curlies are a single coated breed with no undercoat, and the small tight curls of a show-standard dog are very easy to maintain.


The Curly-Coated Retriever dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions.

Their common health problems include bloat, cancer, cardiac problems, eye problems, GSD and hip dysplasia. Always try to keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameCurly-Coated Retriever
Other NamesAlso known simply as Curly
Breed SizeLarge
HeightBetween 25 and 27 inches at the withers for males, and between 23 and 25 inches for the females
WeightBetween 36 and 45 kg for males, and between 29 and 39 kg for the females
Good as PetsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
ColorThe only acceptable colors for the Curly Coated Retriever are solid black and solid liver
LifespanBetween 9 and  14 years or more
Good for ChildrenYes
Country/Place of OriginUnited Kingdom

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