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Curly-coated Retriever – Dog Breed Profile and Information

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The lovable and even-tempered curly-coated retriever has a striking resemblance between a Lab and a Poodle, but it is its breed. Known for been affectionate and hardworking, these retrievers are characterized by their dense curls and very black or liver color.


Also referred to as CCR or curly, they originated in England in the 18th century and are rarer when compared to well-known retrievers like the Golden and Labradors. Nevertheless, their rarity doesn’t reflect on the breed’s desirability both at home and in the field.

Similar to other sporting dogs, the Curly-Coated are surprisingly active and energetic, especially when engaging in a task like hunting. They are generally bred to retrieve games, and they do so for long hours on end in different weather conditions.

Despite the drive the history of these dogs has given them, and their absolute work ethic, they are also amazing companions. They are comfortable at home in the company of kids and adults.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Sporting
  • Height: Males can reach up to 25 – 27 inches, while females can reach up to 23 – 25 inches
  • Weight: 65 – 100 pounds
  • Coat: Short thick curls
  • Coat color: Liver or solid black color
  • Life expectancy: 10 – 13 years


  • Affection Level: High
  • Friendliness: Medium
  • Kid-Friendly: Medium
  • Pet-Friendly: Medium
  • Exercise needs: Medium
  • Playfulness: High
  • Energy level: High
  • Trainability: High
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to bark: Low
  • Amount of shedding: Low

History of the Curly-Coated Retriever

We aren’t quite sure about the history of the curly coated retriever, with no recognized proof of when and where the dog breed began to exist. Nonetheless, despite this setback, it is believed that the Curly-Coated Retriever is the oldest of all retriever breeds.

Putting together the dog’s form in early literature, dog shows, and registry clubs, we can deduce that the breed was developed in England in the 18th century. It also almost appears that the dog was developed from game dogs like Retrieving Setter and English Water Spaniel.

Although these two founding breeds have gone into extinction, the Curly-Coated Retriever still exists and can be found in abundance in Europe, Australia, the United States, and other parts of the world.

It’s also possible that the development of the curly was made possible by other breeds like the extinct St. Johns Water-Dog. Furthermore, the tight curls are significant indicators that the curly also benefited from crossbreeding with the Poodle and the Irish Water Spaniel.

The Curly-Coated Retrievers gain tremendous attention at dog shows in England in the 1860s, and at the same time proving its skillfulness as hunting companions and in the field.

The demand for the curly gained increase and was exported to New Zealand and Australia. The breed also gained entry into the United States of America in 1907, then was officially recognized in 1924.



With the proper proportion of training and exercise, a curly-coated retriever is excellent pets for active households. These fantastic dogs are very smart, so they perform well—and are less troublesome—when given a task.

You may not know the dog you have if you underestimate or fail to acknowledge the intelligence of your curly. Outdoors-men and hunters use the curly in retrieving waterfowls and games.

Owners who aren’t hunters can make their dog happy by training them to carry out small retrieving tasks. They could also be made to show their skills in agility, running, and other canine sports.

Curly-Coated Retriever makes use of its mouth to carry out many tasks like chewing and carrying objects and has been taught not to nip while they carry. Due to their hunting nature, it is best not to confine the curly.

They prefer open spaces that give them the chance to run around. Curly-Coated Retrievers need at least 60 minutes of intense exercise every day, as well as some mentally stimulating activities.

If you’re familiar with the social nature of Golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers, it may surprise you to find that the curly-coated retrievers are generally more reserved.

This doesn’t mean they are overly shy or timid; in fact, they’ve been characterized by many people as having a noticeably confident air around them. However, this also doesn’t mean they are eager to welcome new faces.

For this reason, it’s critical to ensure that you socialize your curly when they are young. Curlies reaction towards other pets, strangers, and children often depends on how well they’ve been socialized.

Common Health Complications

Curly-coated retrievers commonly exhibit excellent stamina and health. However, owners should be aware of the few common health issues that can affect their dogs.

The Curly-Coated Retrievers have been known to suffer from cancer, elbow and hip dysplasia, and joint issues. They can also be affected by a variety of eye complications.


Although not life-threatening, pattern baldness has also been noticed to affect some Curl-Coated Retrievers. This can expose the skin that needs protection from the sun.

The National Breed Club (NBC) recommends that owners inquire from breeders for the following health evaluations;

  • Cardiac examination
  • Hip evaluation
  • EIC DNA test
  • Ophthalmologist evaluation
  • Cord-1 PRA DNA test
  • GSD IIIa DNA Test – metabolic enzyme condition

Generally, it’s best to look out for signs associated with the following health complications;

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Pattern Baldness
  • Glucose Storage Disease (GSD IIIa)
  • Eye issues (Including Entropion, Ectropion, and Progressive Renal Atrophy)

Diet and Nutrition

The Curly-Coated Retriever is an active breed that needs to be fed a portion of protein-rich, high-quality dog food. Because they are prone to bloat, it’s best to feed them twice a day.

You could also allow your curly to free feed in order to minimize the urge to eat a large chunk of food too quickly.


  • Minimal grooming required
  • Very trainable and highly intelligent
  • Social and quiet


  • Needs plenty of daily exercises
  • Reserved with strangers
  • Can inherit some health conditions including cancer

Adopting or buying a Curly-Coated Retriever

Even when curlies remain one of the oldest retrievers, they are not as popular as Golden and Labrador retrievers. However, a dedicated group of Curly breeders is available.

It is advisable to do some research on the breeders of your choosing. Be sure you are ready to put in the work in getting a curly as it may require some patience.

Additionally, there are regional and national CCR rescue groups. You could go to them and inquire about how you can get yourself a curly.

Some breed resources you can check out

  • Curly-Coated Retriever Rescue
  • Curly-Coated Retriever National Breed Club
  • American Kennel Club Breeder Listing

Other dog breeds to consider


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