Curly-Coated Retriever is the oldest of the dog breeds now known as retrievers. Originating in England, this breed has many well-known breeds in its ancestry, including Irish Water Spaniels, Poodles, and the St. John’s Newfoundland. Excellent bird dogs, Curly-Coated Retrievers can note where a bird has fallen and find it no matter how difficult the retrieve. As the breed’s heritage would suggest, this breed loves water and will retrieve fallen birds in the water as well as on land.
The Curly-Coated Retriever dog breed stands between 23 and 27 inches tall and weighs 60 to 80 pounds. This is an athletic breed, with a strong body and legs. The ears are dropped and the tail is long. The defining characteristic is the tightly curled, weatherproof coat that covers the dog from the top of the head, down over the body, down the thighs, and over the tail. The face, front of the forelegs, and feet have a shorter, smooth coat. The coat is either black or liver-colored.
The Curly-Coated Retriever should be brushed twice a week, or more if the dog is in the water often. The hair on the paws, under the tail, and around the ears can be trimmed to keep the dog clean and neat. Curlies can be quite active, especially as puppies. They need vigorous daily exercise and enjoy a good run, swim, or training session on the agility course. Early obedience training, geared toward Curly-Coated Retriever puppies, is recommended, as Curlies are highly intelligent and bore easily. Without training they will teach themselves their own games, to the possible woe of their owner.
Curly-Coated Retrievers are slow to mature, so this training should continue throughout puppyhood. This dog breed is still used for hunting and does best in a home where the dog can use these instincts. When not hunting, the Curly-Coated Retriever is a wonderful family dog, great with children, and usually calm in the house. He is affectionate and loyal but reserved with strangers. Health concerns include hip and elbow dysplasia and eye defects.
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This strong and robust dog is also elegant and graceful, quick and agile. His daily exercise requirement is such that he belongs with an athletic owner who will take him jogging, biking, hiking, and swimming.
Though reserved and sometimes distrustful with strangers, he should remain poised and hold his ground. A Curly Coated Retriever puppy needs more socialization than other retrievers to develop a confident temperament.
Many have sensible protective instincts and may not welcome strangers into their homes as will a Golden or Labrador Retriever.
He relates well to other animals and is playful and accepting.
Described as “wickedly smart,” he may use his intelligence in clever, independent ways that suit his own purposes. Thus he needs early obedience training to establish that you are in charge.
All retrievers are slow to mature, and the Curly-Coat remains playfully puppyish for many years. This sounds delightful, but does require patience and control to live with.