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The Curly-Coated Retriever: A Guide for Owners

Larry Slawson received his Master's Degree from UNC Charlotte. He has 15+ years of experience with dogs and various pets.

The Curly-Coated Retriever: A Guide for Owners.

The Curly-Coated Retriever: A Guide for Owners.

The Curly-Coated Retriever

Throughout the world, there exists only a handful of dog breeds that can be consistently described as confident, elegant, and incredibly smart. One of these dogs is the Curly-Coated Retriever. Although originally bred in the 1700s for the purpose of water retrieving, this breed is now recognized globally for its potential for show-trials, search-and-rescue operations, and work as a therapy animal.

This article examines the Curly-Coated Retriever and provides an in-depth analysis of the animal’s behavioral patterns, temperament, and general traits. This includes a discussion of the Curly-Coated Retriever’s health concerns, grooming and exercise requirements, as well as water and nutritional needs. It is the author’s hope that a better understanding (and appreciation) of this remarkable breed will accompany readers following their completion of this work.

Scientific Classification

  • Common Name: Curly-Coated Retriever
  • Binomial Name: Canis Lupus Familiaris
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: Canis Lupus
  • Subspecies: Canis Lupus Familiaris
  • Other Name(s): Curly
Curly-Coated Retriever taking a quick break.

Curly-Coated Retriever taking a quick break.

History of the Curly-Coated Retriever

  • Life Span: 8 to 12 years
  • Group: Sporting
  • Area of Origin: England
  • Date of Origin: 1700s
  • Original Function: Water Retrieving
  • Family: Retriever; Gundog


The Curly Coated Retriever is a breed of dog first developed in England during the Eighteenth Century. Developed for the purpose of retrieving small game (particularly water-based fowl), the dog quickly became one of England’s most popular retrievers. Prized for both its “retrieving abilities and companionship” qualities, word of the Curly Coated Retriever’s exceptional skills quickly reached abroad, prompting numerous exports to America, Australia, and New Zealand (to name only a few) in the years and decades that followed.

Although the first Curly Coated Retriever entered the United States in 1907, it didn’t receive official recognition from the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1924. Some experts cite this lack of recognition for the rapid decline in the Curly Coated Retriever’s reputation and popularity as newer water retrievers found greater prominence and recognition during this period of relative turmoil and uncertainty. As such, the breed almost went completely extinct during the First and Second World Wars but was saved by a group of dedicated breeders that desired to maintain their presence. In spite of their efforts though, the dog’s popularity never fully regained its popularity from earlier decades, making the animal relatively rare and difficult to acquire in the modern age.


In regard to the Curly-Coated Retriever’s original function and purpose, this particular breed was originally developed for the purpose of water retrieving, as well as accompanying hunters on various expeditions into the wild. In the modern era, the Curly-Coated Retriever continues to fulfill this role and is a favorite of hunters and sportsmen alike. However, in more recent years, the breed’s amiable nature has made it a favorite for individuals seeking a companion dog. With hunting becoming less popular over time, it is likely that this “companionship” trend will continue to grow over the decades that lie ahead.

In addition to companionship, the Curly-Coated Retriever’s natural intelligence and friendly demeanor have made it a favorite of search-and-rescue teams, as the dog is well-equipped to seek out (and find) missing people. Likewise, they are incredibly well-suited for the role of therapy dog, as they can be easily trained to assist disabled individuals and those within nursing homes. As a result of this amiable nature, the Curly-Coated Retriever is also well-suited for family-based environments with kids of all ages.

Liver-colored Curly-Coated Retriever.

Liver-colored Curly-Coated Retriever.

Appearance and Physical Traits

  • Weight: 60 to 70 pounds (male and female)
  • Height: 25 to 27 inches (male); 23 to 25 inches (female)

The Curly-Coated Retriever is a medium to large-size breed known for their muscular and well-balanced appearance. Overall bodies should be well-proportioned; however, it is important to note that this particular breed maintains a slightly “off square” balance, meaning that the Curly-Coated Retriever is slightly longer (from prosternum to buttocks) than the length between their withers to the ground.

In regard to their overall size, few dogs within this breed exceed 60 to 70 pounds, or a total of 27 inches in height. Chests should be deep (but not excessively wide), with well-sprung ribs. Deviations from these rules are considered major faults that should be evaluated by a qualified veterinarian.

Overall head on the Curly-Coated Retriever should take on a wedge-shaped appearance, with length exceeding the overall length (a trait that makes this breed distinguishable from other retrievers). Accentuating the skull is a shallow stop, and wedge-shaped muzzle that is characterized by strong jaws and a scissor-like bite. Noses on the Curly-Coated Retriever should be fully pigmented, with larger nostrils preferred.

Completing this region is a series of large almond-shaped eyes (that take on a black or brown coloration), along with a pair of small ears that sit slightly above the eye corners and lie close to the skull.


In regard to the forequarters, the Curly-Coated Retriever possesses a pair of long and well-muscled shoulder blades that lie at an approximately 55-degree angle with the back. Width between the blades is considerable (allowing the Curly-Coated Retriever significant agility and flexibility). Upper arms follow many of the same traits as the shoulder blades, following a similar angulation and muscular appearance. Likewise, legs on this breed are generally well-boned, straight (when viewed from the front), and sit just under the withers. Completing the forequarters is a pair of round and compact feet that are highlighted by arched toes, and thick padding (to protect against harsh conditions). Dewclaws may be removed if desired by owners; however, this procedure should be performed exclusively by a qualified veterinarian.


The hindquarters on the Curly-Coated Retriever follow many of the same traits as the front. This region should maintain a well-balanced look, with the thighs taking on a muscular and powerful appearance. Stifles should also be moderately bent, whereas the hocks are both strong and true (meaning that they turn neither in nor out). Completing the hindquarters is a pair of round and compact feet that are well-padded.


Tails on the Curly-Coated Retriever are relatively long in their overall appearance and should be carried by your pet in a relatively straight appearance (level with the back). The approximate length of the tail varies significantly between dogs. However, it is important to note that tails should never be docked on this particular breed. Likewise, excessive curls (over the back) are considered major issues that should be evaluated by a veterinarian (as this can cause potential health issues in the future).

Coat and Coloration

Coats on the Curly-Coated Retriever are best described as thick and extremely curly (hence the dog’s name). Generally speaking, the tight-knit array of curls lies close to the dog’s skin, where its thickness provides resilience against a variety of weather conditions and environments (including water and harsh terrain). Curls are usually present on much of the Curly-Coated Retriever’s body, extending up the neckline, thighs, back legs, and tail. Along the face, forehead, forelegs, and feet, however, the dog’s coat is much shorter, smoother, and straight, with occasional bald spots seen on the back of the legs or throat area.

In regard to color, the Curly-Coated Retriever is renowned for their black or liver coloration. Either of these colors is acceptable; however, a cross between the two is generally seen as a major defect. Likewise, some owners may notice white patches on their Curly-Coated Retriever. While smaller patches of white hair are permissible for AKC standards, prominent patches are considered undesirable traits that breeders should try to avoid whenever possible.

Beautiful Curly-Coated Retriever poses for the camera.

Beautiful Curly-Coated Retriever poses for the camera.

Is the Curly-Coated Retriever Right For Your Home?

General Characteristics

  • Energy Level: 3/5 (Moderately Energetic)
  • Exercise Needs: 3/5 (Moderate Exercise Needs)
  • Playfulness: 3/5 (Moderately Playful)
  • Affection Towards Owners: 4/5 (Quite Affectionate)
  • Friendliness Towards Other Animals: 4/5 (Quite Friendly)
  • Training Difficulty: 3/5 (Moderately Difficult to Train)
  • Grooming Level: 1/5 (Easy to Groom)

Note: Scale of 1 to 5 (1=Lowest, 5=Highest)

Temperament and Personality

The Curly-Coated Retriever is a moderately energetic breed renowned for their sensitive and gentle nature. Excellent with a wide array of individuals (including children), this breed is also quite calm and even-tempered. Considered highly loyal and devoted to their owners, the Curly-Coated Retriever is often described as one of the “most courageous” of the retriever realm and will actively guard their family against danger when the occasion arises. Prospective owners should note that this is a highly intelligent breed and responds well to a variety of commands. Due to their protective instincts, however, owners should take great care when introducing strangers to their Curly-Coated Retriever. Failure to do so can result in unpleasant encounters.

Are Curly-Coated Retrievers Good With Children?

Yes! The Curly-Coated Retriever often makes for a great companion to children due to their playfulness, energetic nature, and affection towards owners. Due to their size (and propensity for roughhousing), however, this breed is usually not recommended for families with younger kids (such as toddlers). Why is this the case? Although the Curly-Coated Retriever loves kids in general, their larger size can be overwhelming to young kids, resulting in your child being easily knocked over in the process. This could lead to serious injuries for children over time. On the other hand, older kids capable of holding their own against the weight of their Curly-Coated Retriever will not experience any issue with this, and will absolutely adore their Curly’s love and affection.

As with all dog breeds, parents should always take an active role in coaching their children on the proper way to handle and approach their Curly-Coated Retriever companions. This includes forbidding kids from approaching dogs that are either sleeping or eating (to prevent “food aggression” from occurring), and to not pull (or poke) sensitive areas on your Curly. Likewise, parents should always supervise their children when in the vicinity of their pet to ensure that proper behavior and etiquette is being followed. By ensuring that a disciplined approach is followed, parents can safeguard their home against problematic behaviors, and help to establish positive relationships between your kids and Curly-Coated Retriever that will last a lifetime.

How Smart Are Curly-Coated Retrievers?

The Curly-Coated Retriever is a moderately intelligent breed within the canine world. As of May 2022, this breed is ranked #41 amongst the world’s smartest dogs. This places the Curly-Coated Retriever side by side with the Smooth Fox Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Irish Wolfhound, and Kuvasz in terms of its overall intelligence level (Coren, 182). Characterized by experts as a “fourth tier” breed, the Curly is generally capable of learning a new command after 25 to 40 repetitions of an action. Likewise, they will typically obey a new command (after learning it) 50-percent of the time for owners. This need for multiple repetitions is due, in part, to the Curly-Coated Retriever’s innate stubbornness and independent nature (and not from a lack of intelligence). As a result, training for this particular breed can be somewhat difficult and requires a great deal of patience (and time) on behalf of owners.

Pair of Curly-Coated Retrievers playing with a stick.

Pair of Curly-Coated Retrievers playing with a stick.

Grooming Requirements


As a relatively shorthaired breed, the Curly-Coated Retriever requires only minimal grooming to maintain its curly coat. In fact, many owners are surprised to learn that their Curly only requires brushing on an “as-needed” basis, as excessive brushing (or combing) can result in a “frizzy” effect that is undesirable. For these reasons, many dog experts suggest combing your Curly only when they are shedding (to remove dead hairs and debris).

When brushing, utilize a metal comb to slowly (and gently) go through your dog’s coat (bathing them afterward to maintain the shape of their natural curls). Likewise, owners should plan to trim behind their Curly’s ears (and feet) on a regular basis to prevent matting and to promote cleanliness.


In regard to bathing, most experts suggest baths every 8 to 12 weeks to prevent dog odors from becoming an issue. For this particular breed, frequent bathing (and shampooing) should be avoided at all costs, as the process can soften your Curly’s fur (thus, changing its overall texture and preventing it from providing total protection to your pet).

Baths (when given) should be performed after a good brushing and should incorporate a high-quality shampoo into the process. After bathing your Curly, experts suggest letting your pet “drip dry” instead of using a towel or blow-dryer. This allows the coat to return to its natural “curly” state.

Ear Cleaning

As with all dog breeds, owners should pay particular attention to their Curly Coated Retriever’s ear health. Ears should be checked daily for earwax and debris (such as the accumulation of small hairs that result from regular shedding). Owners should quickly remove these foreign substances from their Curly’s ears to prevent sores and infection from setting in. This is especially important for the Curly, as their droopy ears are a haven for bacteria due to their propensity for trapping heat and moisture (environments conducive to infection-causing germs). Maintaining proper hygiene in this region, therefore, will go a long way in preventing sores and infections in your dog’s ears.

Nail Trimming

In addition to ear health, nails should be kept clean, short, and trimmed on a regular basis. Nails that are too long (or ragged) have a tendency to become caught on furniture, carpeting, and various terrain over time, resulting in serious injury to your dog’s feet. Likewise, longer nails can also make it extremely difficult for your Curly-Coated Retriever to walk around efficiently and comfortably, as nails tend to curl inward over time (and may even grow into your dog’s paws). To prevent these uncomfortable (and potentially hazardous) issues from occurring, owners should inspect their dog’s nails weekly for cracks, sharp edges, and excessive growth.

Nail trimming is usually needed every 3 to 4 weeks for most dogs; however, every Curly is different and will require unique trimming intervals that are dependent on their individual nail growth. For most owners, the trimming process can be easily performed at home with the use of high-quality (dog-specific) nail trimmers. For individuals uncomfortable with the process, however, both veterinarians and groomers offer trimming services for a fee.

Dental Health

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, dental hygiene is also extremely important for the Curly-Coated Retriever. Unfortunately, though, dental health is an aspect of grooming that is often overlooked by owners (despite the fact that it is one of the most critical components to your Curly’s health and well-being). Owners should plan to brush their dog’s teeth at least three times a week (minimum). This should be followed by a professional cleaning 1 to 2 times a year (depending on your Curly’s individual needs).

Failure to maintain your Curly-Coated Retriever’s dental hygiene can result in a number of health issues over time. These include plaque buildup, bad breath, gum disease, and painful tooth decay. Maintaining a proper cleaning schedule, therefore, will go a long way to promoting good health and hygiene which, in turn, will lead to a far higher quality of life for your Curly.

Exercise and Training Needs

How Much Exercise Does a Curly-Coated Retriever Need Each Day?

As a large and athletic breed, the Curly-Coated Retriever requires a great deal of exercise on a daily basis to ensure good health and prevent boredom. On average, most experts agree that approximately 30 minutes to an hour of exercise (each day) is adequate for this particular breed. When performing exercise routines, it is also important to focus on both physical and mental tasks that challenge your Curly’s mind (as they are an intelligent breed that thrive on accomplishing new tasks). To accomplish this, puzzle toys and the teaching of new tricks/commands will go a long way towards ensuring your pet is well-stimulated and satisfied on a daily basis. In regard to physical fitness, steady jogs, light running, swimming, and games (such as frisbee) are usually adequate enough to maintain a steady fitness level for your Curly.

It is vital to note that owners should pay careful attention to their Curly-Coated Retriever’s breathing, outside temperatures (whether it is hot or cold), as well as hydration levels while exercising. While exercising, if your dog is panting more than usual or exhibiting signs of dehydration, be sure to take plenty of water breaks so that your Curly isn’t being pushed beyond their natural limits. Just like humans, dogs also need regular breaks when exercising in order to recover from strenuous activities. This is especially important during the summer months, when higher temperatures can result in rapid dehydration if left unchecked. Failure to heed this warning can result in serious injuries (or death) to your pet.

How Difficult is the Curly-Coated Retriever to Train?

In regard to training difficulty, the Curly-Coated Retriever is a somewhat difficult breed to train as they are extremely independent and stubborn (to a fault). This trait is often attributed to a “lack of intelligence” by many owners; however, nothing could be farther from the truth, as the Curly is remarkably smart. As a result, successful training will simply require a different approach than other breeds. For starters, training should always be geared towards fun-filled activities, as the Curly-Coated Retriever hates repetition and rigid drills. Likewise, owners should always avoid harsh criticism (as well as yelling) towards their pet, as the Curly is incredibly sensitive and will regress in their training when these actions are performed.

For best results, dog experts suggest training your Curly as early as possible (during their puppy stage of development) as this is a time period where your pet will be most receptive to learning. Owners should also plan to reinforce their training regimens through reward-based incentives such as snacks and treats. As a breed that loves to eat, snacks offer a great incentive for your pet to perform well.

Finally, and crucially, owners should also be sure to include “socialization training” into their routines, as the Curly-Coated Retriever is naturally shy and cautious around strangers (including other animals). By introducing them to new people and animals in a controlled (and calm) setting, the Curly will be better-equipped to deal with new encounters in a positive manner.

How Difficult is the Curly-Coated Retriever to Housetrain?

Generally speaking, the Curly is a relatively easy dog breed to housetrain. For best results, owners should begin training as soon as possible (during your Curly’s puppy stage of development). This helps to ensure that good habits are established as early as possible (as bad habits are difficult to break in later stages of your dog’s life). As with many breeds, repetition is the primary key for success in housebreaking your Curly-Coated Retriever. Be sure to establish specific time frames that you take your pet outside for “potty breaks.” Most individuals find that breaks every three hours (similar to a human) are appropriate for training. When following this structured process, owners should plan to devote several months (upwards of a year) for this particular breed, with some dogs responding faster (or slower) than others.

Nutritional Needs

As with most breeds, a high-quality dog food should always be the number one priority for your Curly-Coated Retriever. These meals can be prepared by a manufacturer, or at home following the guidance and supervision of your dog’s veterinarian. Although it is certainly tempting to provide your Curly with human-based foods (due to their convenience and affordability), experts agree that these foods should be avoided at all costs, as human foods contain a large number of preservatives and substances (such as bones and fats) that are extremely harmful to your pet.

The following list details the 10 most toxic foods known to exist for dogs. This list is in no way comprehensive, and serves only as a template for basic foods to avoid. When in doubt about which substances are harmful to your pet, always consult your veterinarian.

Avoid giving your Curly-Coated Retriever these 10 foods at all costs!

Avoid giving your Curly-Coated Retriever these 10 foods at all costs!

How Much Food Should a Curly-Coated Retriever Eat Per Day?

As with all dog breeds, feeding requirements vary significantly with every pet and depend greatly on your dog’s weight, energy level, and age. For this reason, owners should work actively with their veterinarian to establish a feeding cycle that fits their dog’s specific needs. Generally speaking, however, the Curly-Coated Retriever requires approximately 2.5 to 4 cups of dry dog food on a daily basis. This should be divided into two separate meals to avoid bloat and general hunger.

More active dogs will require slightly more food each day, whereas less-active animals will require slightly less. Meal times will also vary significantly for Curly-Coated Retriever puppies (8 to 12 weeks old), as they will require approximately four meals per day (due to their fast growth and development). During this stage, owners should work closely with their dog’s veterinarian to determine an appropriate feeding schedule for their new puppy.

Water Needs

Maintaining proper hydration is also extremely important for the Curly-Coated Retriever. Nearly 70-percent of a dog’s body is comprised of water (similar to humans). Therefore, owners should pay active attention to their dog’s water needs throughout the day as their requirements can change in response to both outside temperatures and their daily activity levels. As with most breeds, standard water requirements are usually determined by your dog’s weight. For every seven pounds of weight, a Curly-Coated Retriever should consume approximately 6 ounces of water per day. For example, a 63-pound dog would require 54 ounces of water in a day’s time.

As with food, more active dogs will require slightly more water (in the vicinity of 70 to 90 ounces per day), whereas less active animals will require only the minimum suggested intake. Likewise, hotter weather will warrant additional water throughout the day, whereas colder conditions will be far less taxing to your Curly-Coated Retriever’s hydration levels. If you are in doubt about hydration requirements, it is best to always consult with your veterinarian to ensure you a providing your Curly with appropriate water amounts throughout the day. Owners should also actively look for signs of dehydration in their Curly-Coated Retriever in order to prevent serious injury and harm. The following list details some of the most common signs and symptoms of dehydration in dogs:

Signs and symptoms of dehydration in the Curly-Coated Retriever.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration in the Curly-Coated Retriever.

Deciding to Adopt a Curly-Coated Retriever

The decision to adopt a Curly-Coated Retriever is a major life-decision that should never be taken lightly. In fact, spur-of-the-moment decisions to adopt new puppies (and dogs in general) is the number one reasons for pet abandonment in the United States and Europe, as unprepared individuals often find themselves incapable of providing for their dog’s specific needs over long periods of time. As such, great care (and thought) should be undertaken before deciding to adopt a new pet for your home. To aid in the decision-making process, the following list has been prepared for prospective owners. Before adding a new Curly to your home, ask yourself these 10 basic questions in order to determine your suitability for a new dog:

  1. Is my home properly equipped for a new dog?
  2. Am I ready (emotionally) for the ups and downs of dog care?
  3. Can I afford a new pet at this stage of my life?
  4. What type of dog fits my personality and lifestyle?
  5. Should I get a puppy or an older dog?
  6. Am I prepared for potential behavioral issues?
  7. What kind of grooming is required for the breed I’m interested in?
  8. Will this dog get along with my other pets?
  9. What is my motivation for adopting a new pet?
  10. Do I have time for a new dog?

If you are incapable of answering any of these questions in the affirmative, have specific (and troubling) doubts, or lack the resources (or patience) to undertake a new pet, ownership of a Curly-Coated Retriever may not be suited for you.

What Type of Home Is Best for a Curly-Coated Retriever?

Due to their size (and need for lots of exercise), prospective owners should note that the Curly-Coated Retriever is best-suited for wide-open environments with lots of space where they can run and exercise on a daily basis. As such, the Curly is a perfect choice for more rural and country-based environments (such as farms) that are conducive for these types of activities. And while it is true that the Curly can certainly thrive in a more urban environment (such as apartments, condos, and townhomes), this is generally not recommended as these spaces greatly limit your dog’s ability to explore, frolic, and play. Likewise, urban living arrangements will also require owners to be somewhat “creative” in regard to figuring out the best way to exercise and train their pet, as crowded streets and roads aren’t always conducive to these activities.

What Is the Best Type of Owner for a Curly-Coated Retriever?

In regard to personality type, the Curly-Coated Retriever is best-suited for an owner that is active, playful, and energetic as this breed loves to run and play on a daily basis. In addition to this basic requirement, prospective owners should also demonstrate a remarkable degree of patience and understanding, as the Curly is incredibly stubborn and independent-minded (making training and daily activities somewhat difficult to perform at times). While these attributes aren’t necessarily a requirement (since the Curly performs well with a variety of individuals and personality types), having these basic traits will certainly improve the quality of life for your newfound companion.

Are Curly-Coated Retrievers Good With Other Pets?

Yes! Generally speaking, the Curly-Coated Retriever usually does exceptionally well with other pets and animals. However, it is vital for owners to remember that this breed was originally developed as a hunting companion. As such, smaller animals (such as rabbits, cats, birds, guinea pigs, and rats) are usually not suitable companions.

While your Curly can certainly learn to live along these animals in relative harmony (over time), it will take a great deal of supervision and obedience training to accomplish this goal. Even this may not be enough though, as their propensity to chase and retrieve smaller animals is a trait that is virtually impossible to eradicate entirely. For these reasons, great care should be taken when introducing your Curly-Coated Retriever to new (and existing) pets within your household.

Are Curly-Coated Retrievers Good Guard Dogs?

Yes and no. While the Curly-Coated Retriever is usually quite protective over their family members (and will actively protect their loved ones from harm), this breed is not usually suitable for guardianship roles in the home. This is due, primarily, to their lovable and friendly demeanor. In spite of this, the Curly is well-suited for “watch dog” duties due to their natural awareness and cautious nature (as they will actively alert their owners to disturbances). For owners seeking a dog for protective purposes, however, they will likely be better-served by a more aggressive and self-assured breed such as the Rottweiler or Doberman Pinscher.

An adorable Curly-Coated Retriever puppy.

An adorable Curly-Coated Retriever puppy.

Selecting a Curly-Coated Retriever Puppy

As mentioned above, deciding to adopt a Curly-Coated Retriever is a major life-decision that should never be taken lightly. This also applies to the selection of puppies, as great care should be taken when adopting a new dog from a breeder. When examining litters, potential owners should evaluate Curly puppies with a number of things in mind. The following list provides several items (and questions) for individuals to consider when selecting a new puppy:

  • How social (and interactive) is the Curly puppy you are interested in?
  • Does the puppy actively try to sniff your hand, or cower in fear when approached?
  • Does the puppy you are interested in play well with their brothers and sisters?
  • Is the Curly puppy prone to roughhousing and more aggressive behaviors? Do they growl when you are near, or try to cover you in kisses?

These are just a few of the questions individuals should consider before selecting a Curly-Coated Retriever puppy, as these items reveal a great deal of the dog’s personality and temperament that will be dominant for the remainder of their lives. As one might expect, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to these questions as they are geared towards ensuring your new puppy possesses a personality that mimics your own (thus, ensuring your new companion is a good fit for you and your home)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, always ask breeders for health clearances which help to prove that each puppy has been cleared for various health conditions. For the Curly-Coated Retriever, be sure to request health clearances for both of your puppy’s parents to ensure no specific health issues are present. Likewise, you should actively request certificates from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) to ensure no specific hip or eye issues have been diagnosed, respectively. The “Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America” also suggests that individuals request certificates from the OFA regarding cardiac clearances, and to check if the breeder participates in the strenuous Canine Health Information Center Program (CHIC). Not only do these certificates and clearances ensure that you are getting a healthy puppy, but it also helps prove that the seller is a responsible breeder who cares for the health and safety of their animals.

How Much Does a Curly-Coated Retriever Cost?

Overall costs for a Curly-Coated Retriever vary significantly and depend heavily on the dog’s age, location, and availability (i.e. public demand at the time of purchase). In addition, the source of the dog is also critical for price determination, as private individuals, sellers, and breeders will charge additional money, whereas adoption sites will charge significantly less (if anything at all). As of May 2022, an individual can expect to pay approximately $1,500 to $2,500 for a purebred puppy. This steep price is due, primarily, to their rarity in the United States. For higher-end breeders, individuals can expect to pay even more for puppies, with some selling for upwards of $3,000 to $5,000 (or more). When combined with medical expenses, food, grooming, and training, owners can expect to pay over $10,000 during the lifespan of their Curly.

For those interested in older dogs, expect to pay slightly less with the average Curly-Coated Retriever going for approximately $300 to $1,000.

Health Concerns

  • Hip and Elbow Evaluation
  • Eye Exam

Owners should actively work with a qualified veterinarian in their area to develop a nutritional and preventive-care plan for their Curly-Coated Retriever. Proper diet, nutrition, and early detection of health issues can go a long way in helping your dog achieve a happy and healthy life. For the most part, prospective owners will be happy to note that the Curly-Coated Retriever is a relatively healthy breed with only a few major health issues and concerns worthy of mention.

The most common issues include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), as well as distichiasis, skin sensitivities, baldness, and cataracts. Rarer (and more serious issues) include heart problems, exercise-induced collapse syndrome (EIC), epilepsy, and cancer. Thankfully, many of these issues are able to be diagnosed during routine veterinary visits and are highly treatable if diagnosed early.

With proper care, owners can expect their Curly-Coated Retriever to live between 8 to 12 years, though it is common for this breed to live several years beyond this. To date, a number of Curly-Coated Retrievers have even been recorded living upwards of 14 to 17 years when properly cared for.

Signs and symptoms of illness in the Curly-Coated Retriever.

Signs and symptoms of illness in the Curly-Coated Retriever.

Pros and Cons of the Curly-Coated Retriever


  • Extremely unique-looking breed.
  • Athletic and highly-energetic dog that loves the outdoors and playtime.
  • Extremely dependable breed that makes for an excellent companion.
  • Does relatively well with other pets and animals.
  • Intelligent breed capable of learning a variety of new tricks and commands.
  • Relatively easy to care for, requiring only minimal grooming.


  • Requires a great deal of exercise on a daily basis due to their tremendous energy.
  • Prone to roughhousing and excessive jumping (particularly when they are puppies).
  • Can be extremely destructive when left alone for long periods of time.
  • Shy and timid around strangers.
  • Extremely stubborn, with a mind of their own.
  • Prone to carrying and chewing various objects.
  • Extremely hard to find due to their rarity (making them more expensive than other breeds).

Concluding Thoughts

To summarize, the Curly-Coated Retriever is a fantastic breed of dog that is renowned for its incredible friendliness, elegance, intelligence, and athleticism. Although it is true that this particular breed is remarkably stubborn (to a fault) and requires a great deal of attention on a daily basis, owners will be hard-pressed to find another breed that is as lovable, dependable, and loyal as the Curly-Coated Retriever. For these reasons, the Curly will likely remain a favorite of dog lovers for the foreseeable future.

Works Cited


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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Larry Slawson