Curly-Coated Retriever: Dog Breed Information

Country of origin: Great Britain
Shoulder height: 62 – 68 cm
Weight: 32 – 36 kg
Age: 12 – 14 years
Color: black or brown
Use: hunting dog, sporting dog, companion dog, the family dog

The Curly-Coated Retriever is the largest of the retriever breeds. It is an active, spirited dog with a friendly but self-determined nature. Its protective and guard instinct is well developed. It is suitable for sporty, nature-loving people who like to do something with their dogs.

Origin and history

The Curly-Coated Retriever originated in Great Britain and is considered to be the oldest retriever breed. Curly means frizzy, and curly and describes the coat of hair typical of water dogs, which insulates well against wet and cold. It seems certain that he is descended from the old English Waterdog and both pointers and setters have been crossed. Illustrations from the 18th century show that the Curly already existed in its current form back then. It was primarily used as a hunting dog – especially for water hunting – and as a protector of the house and yard. Over the years, the Curlies lost to the dressier flat coat, to the faster Labrador, and the more affable Goldie. The breed only survived due to the breeding efforts of a few enthusiasts. Even today, this retriever breed is not very common.


With a shoulder height of over 65 cm, the Curly Coated is the tallest of the retrievers. It has a strong build with its body being slightly longer than it is tall. It has brown eyes and low-set lop ears. The medium-length tail is carried hanging or straight.

Another distinguishing feature of other retriever breeds is the densely curled coat. From the base of the forehead to the tip of the tail, its body is covered with thick curls. Only the mask (face) and the lower legs have short, smooth hair. The curly coat lies close to the skin and has no undercoat. The fur color can be black or liver brown.


The breed standard describes the Curly-Coated Retriever as intelligent, even-tempered, courageous, and dependable. Compared to other retriever breeds, the Curly has a stronger protective instinct and significantly more stubbornness. The proverbial will to please for retriever breeds will not be found in the Curly. It is considered self-confident and independent, reserved towards strangers. It is also alert and defensive.

The Curly-Coated Retriever needs sensitive, consistent training and clear leadership. It is not a dog for beginners or couch potatoes, because it needs a meaningful activity that keeps it busy. The hardy, spirited Curly needs a lot of living space, loves being outdoors, and is an avid swimmer. It is suitable as a hunting dog, for tracking, retrieval, or search work. The Curly can also be trained well to become a rescue dog or therapy dog. Dog sports can also be enthusiastic, although the Curly is not suitable for fast training methods. It grows up late and is very headstrong. Each training requires a lot of time, patience and the willingness to get involved with your personality.

Given the right workload, the Curly-Coated Retriever is a lovable, affectionate, and affable companion who bonds closely with its people. The densely curled coat is relatively easy to care for and hardly sheds.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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