ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Curly Coated Retriever

Curly Coated Retriever
John Walton
Written by John Walton

This large curly dog is believed to have descended from a number of breeds including the Old English Water Spaniel and the Retrieving Setter. Since then, the Curly Coated Retriever has already been highly priced due to his hunting skills. He used to hunt ducks, quails, and waterfowls. Nowadays, he might not be used for duck hunting anymore, but he participates in dog sports like Agility and Obedience. He is also used in therapy and search and rescue.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dogs
Height:Generally 1 foot, 11 inches to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 65 to 100 pounds
Life Span:9 to 12 years

 It is said that the Curly just might be the first breed to be considered as a retriever dog. This dog has an impressive hunting ability, and it is because of this that gamekeepers loved him and put a high price on him. However, the breed’s popularity decreased when the Labrador became popular. Until now, the Curly is still one of the less commonly owned dogs.

He is a hard worker – thanks to his drive, energy, and determination! He is an active man’s dog, which means that he enjoys the outdoors and loves physical activities a lot. Aside from these fun traits, he is also very affectionate towards his family. He is a people dog, and he thrives best in families who can spend a fair amount of time with him. Although he is enthused about being with his family, the same thing cannot be said when it comes to meeting strangers. He can be timid and suspicious of new people, but socializing him at an early age can prevent him from being standoffish.

The breed, depending on the gender of the dog, can stand from 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, and can weigh from 65 to 100 pounds.

The curly can be bored easily and he would need to have a lot of different and interesting activities – both physical and mental. Inactivity and boredom can make him a destructive dog.

The breed comes can come in two colors: black and deep reddish brown. He is perfect for those who cannot spend a lot of time and resources in grooming. His coat is low maintenance and would usually shed only two times in a year.

He is also good with children, especially older ones, and he is also generally friendly with other dogs and pets.

Main Highlights
  • It is said that the breed is the first one to be considered as a retriever breed.
  • It is possible that this breed is a descendant of the Old English Water Spaniel, as well as of the Retrieving Setter.
  • He is an active dog, which means that he would live best with people who are similarly active. This dog loves the outdoors and appreciates fun physical activities with his humans.
  • He would take more time to mature than other breeds, so expect to have a big dog who would still act like a puppy for a couple of years.
  • His coat is resistant to water and the changing weather, and its crispness protects him from rough surfaces or other elements that he might brush against whenever he is out hunting in the field.
  • When it comes to dealing with new people, he might be standoffish. This can be addressed by socializing him at an early age.
  • This breed can be a great friend and playmate to older children. However, he may not be suitable to be around little kids who can be easily knocked down by his size.
Breed History

There is not a lot that is known about the exact origins of the Curly Coated Retriever. However, it is possible that this breed is a descendant of the Old English Water Spaniel, as well as of the Retrieving Setter. There are other breeds that may have also contributed to the creation of the Curly Coated Retriever including the Poodle, the Labrador Retriever, the Irish Water Spaniel, and the St. John’s Water Dog.

The first exhibit where the breed has been seen took place in Birmingham, in the year 1860. Some dogs from the breed were sent to New Zealand, where they have been used to retrieve duck and quail. They were also used in Australia to retrieve Waterfowl especially in the Murray River. It is said that this breed was the first one to be considered as a retriever dog. The first breed club was founded in England in 1896.

Because of this dog’s great hunting skill, gamekeepers loved him, and he was highly prized. However, because of the rise in the popularity of the Labrador Retriever, the Curly Coated Retriever had become less popular. The breed faced a challenging time after the World War I, where only five of them were registered. They increased in number eventually but again, they faced a threat of extinction during the World War II.

In 1907, the breed was introduced to America. The first American Kennel club registration of the breed happened in 1924, and that Curly was called Knysna Conjurer. The breed was classified into AKC’s Sporting Group. In late 1960, the breed increased in number in the United States when many of them were sent from New Zealand, Australia, and England. In 1979, The Curly Coated Retriever Club of America was formed, and became the parent club of the breed in the country.

Size

The Curly Coated Retriever is a large breed. The males stand 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh 80 to 100 pounds, while the females stand 23 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 65 to 85 pounds.

Personality and Character

The breed may have a distinctive look that makes him a lot different from the other retrievers, but his personality and temperament are certainly of the retriever breed. He is driven and full of determination, and will work hard to get the job done. He is an affectionate dog, and he surely loves to be with his family. He is also an active dog, which means that he would live best with people who are similarly active. This dog loves the outdoors and appreciates fun physical activities with his humans.

He is also confident and alert, but you can trust him to be polite with strangers. At the very least, he can be reserved with them. Yes, he can be timid, but early socialization can do the trick. Timidity can be prevented by exposing him to different people and experiences starting from a young age.

If you want a dog who is very much laid-back, and who will be just fine with very limited physical activity, then this dog is not for you. He is a lively dog who loves waking up early and loves spending his day exhausting his energy. He would take more time to mature than other breeds, so expect to have a big dog who would still act like a puppy for a couple of years.

This breed is an independent one and he usually thinks for himself, so it is important for you to remember to always take charge. When it comes to training, he responds well but he can be slower than other dogs. This is because he has a relatively short attention span. It is easy for him to feel bored. The remedy for this is to have different exercises which will keep him interested.

Health and Potential Problems

The Curly Coated Retriever is a generally healthy breed but as with any other breed, there are particular health issues that he is prone to. Your dog will not necessarily eventually have these diseases, but it still important to become aware of these concerns.

  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus: This condition is more commonly known as “bloat.” This usually occurs in large dogs. Bloat happens when the stomach is filled with food, liquid, or gas, causing the stomach to expand. This is a dangerous condition because once the stomach expands, it puts pressure on other organs, causing laborious breathing, limited blood flow to his stomach lining, and a tear in his stomach wall. Signs of bloat are restlessness, drooling, a swollen stomach, and anxiety.
    If this continues, the dog may collapse, be short of breath, or feel weak. The chances of bloating in dogs are increased by giving your dog one large meal a day, having a lot of strenuous physical activities right after eating, stress, as well as eating and drinking too much. If bloating happens to your dog, it is best to take him to the vet to be treated accordingly.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: In this condition, the eye’s retina deteriorates. This causes the affected dog to have limited vision in the night, and eventually during the day as well. In most cases, affected dogs will be able to adjust to their impaired vision.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia in dogs occurs when the thigh bone doesn’t fit quite well into the hip socket. It is a common cause of limping in dogs. In severe cases, it can cause lameness and painful arthritis. Since this is a condition which is usually inherited, and is usually affected by environmental factors, it is important to find a reputable breeder who will be able to show you proof that the puppy’s parents are healthy and free from hip dysplasia.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: This is a disease that is common to large dogs. It happens when the growth rates of the bones that make up the elbow are not the same. A symptom of Elbow Dysplasia is limpness in the leg which may cause the dog to put no weight on the leg completely. Signs may be observed as early as four months of age. As the dog matures, he will probably have a permanent arthritic change in the joint. Elbow dysplasia may be treated with surgery.
Care Features

The Curly Coat Retriever is an active breed. This means that he needs at least half an hour to a whole hour of exercise and physical and mental stimulation every day. This dog can be easily bored, and the best technique to keeping him active and stimulated is to allow him to do different jobs. This may include, running, swimming, walking, fetching, hiking, playing ball, and catching Frisbees.

He can also do well in agility courses, but may not be as good as the Golden Retrievers in Obedience. However, he would still have fun with this activity. As said earlier, aside from physical stimulation, he also needs as much mental stimulation. If you’re going to leave him alone for a couple of hours, he should be provided with a lot of various interesting activities. Inactivity leads him to becoming bored, and when does become bored, he might become destructive. In order to keep his mind occupied, it is best to give him puzzle toys like a Buster cube.

As a puppy, he is very energetic to the extent that he can become wild and rowdy. Unless you want an uncontrollable pup, it would be best to train him as early as possible. Aside from being able to teach him how to be a good dog, this is also a great chance to spend time and build closeness with your puppy. The breed can be easily trained with the use of praise, treats, and other incentives. Despite your puppy’s soaring energy, he would still need lots of rest in order to regain his stamina. When it comes to dealing with strangers such as in situations where you let him meet new people, he might be standoffish. He can be over suspicious of new people or things. This can be addressed by socializing him at an early age.

He is also prone to chewing anything that he thinks is particularly nice to chew. This can be adorable if all that he chews are the toys you give him, but if he chooses to nibble on something that can be harmful to his health, that’s a different story. In order to ensure his safety, it is advisable to crate train him. Crate training your puppy will help him adjust accordingly if ever there’s a need to keep him confined. However, never keep your dog locked up in a crate for a whole day. It is only meant to train him and ensure his safety in certain instances, and he should not spend more than a couple of hours inside the crate. He loves being with people and it will be bad for him to spend most of his time inside a crate.

Feeding Schedule

Recommended daily amount: 3 to 4 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Curly Coated Retriever has a very distinct coat. It is defined by crisp and curly hair that grows close to the skin. It covers a big part of his body, starting from the tip of his tail up to the top of his head. The coat is resistant to water and changing weather, and its crispness protects the dog from rough surfaces or other elements that he might brush against whenever he is out hunting in the field. The coat on his ears may not be as curly as the coat surrounding the rest of his body.

Also, sometimes, there might be feathering (a longer bunch of strands) on his ears, belly, thighs, feet, and the back of his forelegs, and this is trimmed most of the time. His coat will be shorter on his forehead, face, and feet, and it will be straight too. A healthy coat should not show any bald patches.

The breed comes can come in two colors: black and deep reddish brown. Some white hairs might appear on the coat, but these should not be big white patches.

This dog’s coat is low maintenance and would usually shed only two times in a year. However, the amount of shedding would be different among dogs. It is important to get your Curly used to grooming as early as in his puppyhood. If as a puppy, he sees that grooming is a fun and relaxing activity, it will be easier for you or for the groomer to handle him when he has already grown up.

In grooming your dog, make sure to check his holistic condition. Watch out for skin problems including sores and rashes. Also check if there’s foul odor coming from his mouth and ears, as this is not normal and may be a sign of infection. Trimming his nails would be necessary if he does not wear them off naturally. In order to avoid bald spots on your dog, make sure that he is not sleeping on hard concrete or any dirty surface, as these conditions can lead to a bad coat.

When your dog is shedding, it is best to brush his coat with a wood or plastic wide-toothed comb. During shedding season, you can also give him a bath. Because of the way his coat is made up, he would not need frequent baths. To retain a healthy coat, use only dog shampoo.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

This breed can be a great friend and playmate to older children who are big enough to adjust to your dog’s size and activity level. However, he may not be suitable to be around little kids who can be easily knocked down by this large dog. Aside from his size though, there is not much concern as he is patient with the smaller kids and ready to play with the older ones.

For safety, make sure that before interacting with dogs, children have already been taught how to do it right. Also, in order to prevent biting, pulling, or any kind of injury, little kids should always be overseen when they are around dogs. The kid must know that he or she should not approach a dog during sleep or meals.

This breed is generally good at mingling with other dogs and animals, but as with any other breed, socialization is important in order to bring the best in your dog.

The Curly Coated Retriever is an active dog who loves physical and mental activities. He would thrive best in families who are similarly active. He is alert, independent, polite, and affectionate. He has good hunting skills and also is very athletic, which makes him a great sporting dog. Despite his affection towards his human, he can be standoffish when it comes to strangers. However, with proper training, you can have a sociable dog who is always ready to trail along with you!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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