Created to retrieve game from land or water, the Curly-Coated Retriever dog breed was popular with English gamekeepers, hunters, and poachers alike. Today he competes in such dog sports as field trials, agility, obedience, and flyball and has been successful as a therapy dog, drug detection dog, and search and rescue dog. When he’s not out working or competing, he’s happy to lie beside his favorite person, enjoying a nice back scratch.
The Curly-Coated Retriever has been around since the late 18th century, probably created by crossing now-extinct Old English Water Dogs, Irish Water Spaniels and small Newfoundlands, with, yes, some Poodle added later. The result was a black or liver-colored retriever with tight curls on his body and a zest for water retrieving. The Curly-Coat is a fun and interesting dog, no doubt about it.
The Curly may be uncommon, but he has a dedicated band of followers who prize him for his intelligence, trainability, multiple abilities, sense of humor and, of course, that unusual appearance. He’s not the breed for everyone, but if you can appreciate his constantly thinking brain, you will find him to be a loving, talented and entertaining companion.
A typical retriever, he enjoys activity, although he requires somewhat less exercise than, say, a Lab or a Flat Coat. Channel his energy into dog sports such as agility, flyball and flying disc games, or teach him to pull you or your kid on skates or a skateboard. He’ll also do well in competitive obedience. The Curly is slow to mature, however, so it can take time for training to stick. Be patient, and use positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards. When the motivation is there, the Curly learns quickly and easily.
Like most dogs, Curly-Coats become bored when left to their own devices. They can easily become noisy or destructive if they don’t have other dogs to keep them company and don’t receive much attention from their people. But when the Curly lives with a family who is willing to spend plenty of time training and exercising him, he thrives.
- The Curly-Coated Retriever has the most unusual coat of all of the retriever breeds. The coat requires only moderate grooming, and the breed sheds only twice a year.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers generally have an oily coat, which is more likely to cause reactions in people with allergies.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers are more reserved around strangers than other retriever breeds and needs to be properly socialized to avoid any timidity.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers are sporting dogs and have the energy that other sporting and working dogs have. If they are not given adequate exercise, at least 30 to 60 minutes per day, they can become quite destructive in their boredom.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers tend to be mouthy and will nip and chew everything in reach, including toys, clothes, and hands.
- The Curly-Coated Retriever is intelligent and enjoys working, but he needs a strong, confident owner who will keep him from taking charge. He also needs variety in training and activities because he tends to get bored doing the same old thing again and again.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers are more difficult to find than other breeds, but it is still important to look for the best possible breeder, even if long waiting lists await you.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers take longer to mature than other breeds, so be prepared for your dog to act puppylike for at least three years.
- In general, Curly-Coated Retrievers do well with children but small children should never be left unsupervised with any dog regardless of breed.
- Curly-Coated Retrievers are not meant for apartments and do better in homes with a large yard where they can expend their energy. They are quieter in homes when their energy levels are met.
- Although they enjoy the great outdoors, Curly-Coated Retrievers are not dogs who can be kenneled outside. They enjoy being with their family and can become very destructive when left away from them.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
- The Curly dates to the 18th century and is acknowledged as the oldest of the retrieving breeds.
- The Curly’s coat is unusual but easy to care for and sheds little. It can be black or liver-colored.
- Like most retrievers, the Curly loves playing in water.
- A home with a yard is the best environment for a Curly, but a person who is committed to walking him or taking him to a dog park daily can keep one happy in a home without a yard.
- Curlies excel at many activities, including hunt tests, agility, herding instinct tests, lure coursing, dock diving, flyball, scent hurdle racing, tracking and rally. At least one has run as part of a sled-dog team.
- A daily walk of up to a mile will satisfy a Curly, but he’ll take all the exercise you can give him.