Other names: Curly, CCR
The Curly-Coated Retriever was bred in England. It was used for retrieving game and waterbirds and is the tallest of the retriever breeds. The name comes from its distinctive curly coat. The tight curls repel water and burrs (dry seeds that have hooks or teeth) which are often found near lakes and ponds frequented by waterbirds. Like any retriever breed, the curly coated is a lively, friendly, soft-natured animal. They make excellent family pets.
Key facts about the Curly-Coated Retriever
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Origins and history
The Curly Coated is thought to be one of the oldest retriever breeds. Because of its curly coat, some experts believe it was cross-bred from the Poodle. There’s no definitive proof, but, given that the Poodle is also a water dog, such speculation is well within the bounds of possibility. Like many working dogs, its numbers dropped during the beginning of the 20th century as more rural settlements were swallowed up by waves of industrialisation. However, breeding groups were set up in the 1930s and the Curly Coated became a popular household pet in a range of countries including Sweden, Australia, and the USA. Despite being a British breed, the Curly Coated is a rare choice for UK dog owners.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs
Section 1 : Retrievers
Physical characteristics of the Curly-Coated Retriever
Female : Between 24 and 25 in
Male : Between 26 and 27 in
Female : Between 53 and 66 lb
Male : Between 62 and 75 lb
Black or brown (liver).
Type of coat
Single smooth layer, short, tight curls.
The Curly-coated Retriever is slightly taller and leaner than other retriever breeds. The most obvious feature is their curly coat. They have a robust, long, athletic body, and a well-balanced gait. They have well proportioned, flat and strong jaws, a medium length muzzle and short, flat ears. The tail is quite short, and covered with adorable little curls.
Good to know
These dogs have a very low tolerance for boredom.
Training should always be fun. Treat it like a game.
Unless well socialised, these dogs have an exceptionally high prey drive.
This is a very affectionate dog, who is especially fond of small children. The Curly Coated Retriever is a naturally loving animal, who also maintains an independent character.
They love to play, especially with children. Training should always be based around fun, engaging games that mimic the Curly Coated Retriever’s natural instincts to chase and retrieve.
They can be very excitable, and young pups have a tendency to be hyperactive. However, they know how to get on by themselves as long as their needs are met.
These dogs are very smart. They learn quickly and are capable of understanding a range of complex voice commands. They are balanced and trustworthy.
These dogs were bred to hunt and retrieve water birds. They have a very high prey drive and need lots of exercise.
Fearful / wary of strangers
They are quite sociable with people, although perhaps a little less so than other retrievers (Golden and Labrador). They may be reserved with strangers, so proper introductions should be made.
Like most intelligent dogs, the Curly Coated can be very independently minded. The right kind of training is vital for these dogs, and this needs to start as early as possible. If not, they can become disobedient.
Behaviour of the Curly-Coated Retriever
The curly coat is a social dog. They need lots of company. Long periods of solitude will make them feel very unhappy and affect their long-term mental health.
Easy to train / obedience
One of the easiest dogs to train, they love to please their owners. However, training must be fun and engaging. These sensitive dogs require a gentle and patient hand.
They don’t usually bark excessively, or without good reason.
Tendency to run away
Keep a close eye on them during runs off the leash. They may go chasing after a pigeon or a squirrel, and they won’t give up until they catch it, or you get them under control.
They’re not naturally destructive dogs, although long periods of boredom or solitude will frustrate them. This can then lead to destructive behaviour.
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog is notoriously greedy! They will eat as much as you let them!
Their natural mistrust of strangers can be useful, but this shouldn’t be their only job.
As long as you’re willing to invest in training them from an early age, these dogs make excellent first time dogs. If not, they can become very headstrong. This will be a real challenge for the inexperienced dog owner.
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Curly-Coated Retriever in a flat
These athletic, natural working dogs should never be kept in a flat or a small house. Their ideal environment is in the countryside where they can express their hunterly qualities, bathe regularly, and run in open spaces.
Need for exercise / Sporty
One hour of high-intensity exercise every day is ideal, as well as plenty of time off the leash, and long games of fetch. These dogs also love swimming.
Travelling / easy to transport
They are too big to travel on commercial flights. Exercise them well before any long car journeys. This will make them a much calmer travelling companion.
Curly-Coated Retriever and cats
Despite their hunting instinct, they can live with cats if they have grown up together.
Curly-Coated Retriever and dogs
This is a very social animal that gets on really well with most other dogs.
Curly-Coated Retriever and children
A perfect pet for families with small children. The Curly Coated has a real affection for younger children, as long as they respect the dog’s needs.
Curly-Coated Retriever and the elderly
Some elderly people may feel a bit overwhelmed by Curly Coated puppies, since they’re extremely active. However, they do turn into calm and relaxed dogs as they get older - but only if they’re getting enough exercise.
Between £550 for Non KC Registered dogs, and £775 for KC Registered dogs. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £80 to £110 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.
A weekly brush and a trim once every few months should be enough.To avoid frizzy hair, a little moisture should bring it back to shape.
Nutrition of the Curly-Coated Retriever
The Curly Coated Retriever can be greedy, so should be rationed to morning and evening meals to avoid a poorly tummy.
Health of the Curly-Coated Retriever
This is a very healthy and well-bred dog with an average life expectancy of 11 years.
Strong / robust
The Curly Coated is very strong and robust. They are bred to thrive in rugged, rural environments, and are lean, athletic, and well-built.
They shed heavily during warmer months, so can tolerate the heat very well.
A tight, curly coat protects this dog from the cold and the rain. It forms a waterproof barrier which helps keep them warm and dry.
Tendency to put on weight
These dogs are prone to weight gain as they get older. They will also over-eat if you let them. Managing portion size is really important.