All About the Curly Coated Retriever

All About the Curly Coated Retriever

All About the Curly Coated Retriever Breed

Curly Coated Retrievers are a unique looking retriever breed and one of the oldest retriever breeds ever. Strong, elegant, and intelligent; these dogs can tolerate cold weather and hot weather. They are well known as gun dogs as well as good family pets.

They are especially known for being loyal companions and very affectionate with kids.

What is distinctive about the Curly Coated Retriever is that it has a snug jacket-like coat with dense, curly hair. Usually, black or liver-colored, these dogs are unusual and elegant at the same time.

This breed is a little rarer than the other breeds and is quite an in demand breed because of the uniqueness. The ‘Curly’ is highly trainable and used in the show ring as well as good service dogs.

They are sporting dogs and have a high level of energy and vigor. They are prized for their courage and perseverance.

Curly Coated Retriever Breed Standard

Curly Coated Retriever Breed Standard

General Appearance

The Curly Coated Retriever is a tall and upstanding dog. You can’t miss this dog with its compact body and bell-boned legs. The Curly has a moderately long, slightly arched neck. This breed is considered to be elegant and known to have a good attitude. Bred in England for gamekeepers as well as for home protection, these breeds have a long history going back to the 1600’s.

The Curly Coated Retriever is tall, elegant, and well proportioned. This breed is known for its compact body and flowing lines depicting grace and elegance. Of course, the coat is definitely the striking feature differentiating the Curly Coated Retriever from all other retrieving breeds. The coat has dense, curly hairs that are tight-knit and hence the name.

The Curly has a moderately long neck with obliquely placed shoulders and the sloping croup. It exudes a feeling of strength because of its well-sprung ribs and legs, which are bell-boned. Curly Coated Retrievers are excellent for the show ring or as a working dog.


The head of the Curly Coated Retriever is easily distinguishable from all other retriever breeds because it has a longer than wide, wedge-shaped head. The head has a continuous taper to the nose; it is not blocky looking or bulky at the cheeks.

Curly Coated Retriever Breed Standard Head


The eyes of the Curly are almond-shaped, fairly large but not standing out prominently.

In black dogs of this breed usually, the color of the eye is black or brown, and in liver color dogs of this breed, their color is usually brown or amber in some cases


The ears of the Curly are usually smaller and slightly above the corner of the eye. They lie close to the head.


The Curly Coated Retriever has a level mouth with strong and long jaws; the lips are tight and are not droopy or pendulous in appearance.


The body of a Curly is characterized by a strong neck and is of medium length. The back is strong and level. The croup, which is the portion of the body that starts with the pelvis and extends to the tail, is slightly sloping. The chest is strong and deep but not very wide and is rather compact. The forequarters are balanced with the rib cage that is very well sprung.

The tail is carried straight; it is never curled over the back or crooked.

Hind Quarter

The hindquarters are characterized by very powerful thighs and strong hocks.

What is the Height of a Curly Coated Retriever?

The Curly’s are the tallest of all the 6 retriever breeds, with the male at 27 inches and female at 25 inches tall.

What is the Weight of a Curly Coated Retriever?

The males usually weigh between 80 to 100 pounds. Females can weigh in the range of 65 to 85 pounds.

What is the Life Span of a Curly Coated Retriever?

The usual lifespan of the Curly Coated is between 9 to 12 years.

Colors and Markings of the Curly Coated Retriever

This breed is available in 2 colors – solid dull black and solid black liver. The pure breed does not have white hair on the chest, feet, or toes.

The solid black liver dogs do tend to vary in the intensity of the color. The color is set to fade around the ears when the dog is in the sun. The darker the liver color, the more purebred your Curly is.

The coat is usually a dense mass of distinct small, tightly net, and dense curls. This type of coat makes the dog water-resistant and gives protection against all types of weather.

Colors of the Curly Coated Retriever

What Types of Curly Coated Retriever are there?

There are only two types of Curly Coated Retrievers that are accepted – solid dark liver color or solid dull black color.

The liver color is actually the true color of the liver. There may be darker shades or lighter but definitely cannot be confused with chocolate brown or light, tan colors.

The black color coat is usually coal black. In dog show competitions, even white hairs or slightly faded coats are not accepted as purebred.

Curly Coated Retriever Character


Curly Coated Retrievers are gentle, affectionate dogs. They mature slowly and have puppy-ish behavior longer than other retrievers have. The Curly-Coated is usually known for its drive and determination. They are alert, intelligent, and even-tempered.

Curly Coated Retrievers might sometimes appear to be aloof and not as demonstrative as compared to other retrievers, especially when strangers are around. But they are eager to please their owner and can be very affectionate.

As a  hunter companion or as a working dog, the Curly Coated Retriever is a great choice. As compared to a Labrador Retriever or Golden Retrievers, Curly-Coated Retrievers can be more stubborn. It is important to curb these tendencies by ensuring that they listen to you.

Once you establish respect, then they become willing to learn. You just have to invest more time consistently and train them.

Are Curly Coated Retrievers Friendly?

This breed is a self-confident and friendly dog. The Curly comes across as aloof and may seem not as eager to wag his or her tail like the other retrievers. He reserves wagging and greeting for his friends and family. You may notice aloofness and shyness in the presence of strangers but this can be the result of not being socialized enough.

Are Curly Coated Retrievers Friendly

Are Curly Coated Retrievers Good Family Dogs?

Curly coats are extremely kid-friendly and great to have in the house as a family dog, although the kids should be taught not to tease, to pull the ears or tail and not to disturb the dog while it is sleeping or eating.

This breed has an independent mind that can come across as stubborn to some. They love to learn and love to take up a challenge. You need to be consistent, patient and loving while training them.

This dog can also exhibit exuberance and excitement by jumping around and display mild rowdy behavior. This may not be safe for very small kids below the age of 4, as they may get knocked down so always keep an eye on things when kids and dogs are together.

Physical Needs of a Curly Coated Retriever

Due to its inherent athleticism and endurance, it is necessary to ensure that your Curly Coat remains active every day. While they are calm house dogs, it is necessary to have rigorous physical activity at least a few times a day. Swimming is a delight for this dog. If adequate activity is missing, they become bored and may also engage in destructive behaviors such as chewing on household objects.

As with other retrievers and dogs, these Curly Retrievers too like to be a part of a pack, so isolation is not something that suits the dog. They also do not do well in closed living spaces and apartments. So a house with a yard may be better. They need space to stretch and move as well as run, jump, chase, etc.

Keeping them confined in a room or a cage for a long period of time can lead them to engage in behaviors such as chewing excessively and barking. Since Curly Coats are bred for physical work, they need adequate exercise to dispense of their energy. Without adequate exercise, they may gain weight easily. Proper grooming and hygiene also have to be maintained.

Curly Coated Retriever Puppy

As with all puppies, the Curly Coats need time and commitment. They are rarer to find than other retrievers and hence the fascination for these puppies. But rather than rushing into owning a Curly Coat puppy, it is better to ascertain whether you have time to spend with the puppy, especially in the first month. This is because adequate time has to be spent on helping the puppy to adjust to the new surroundings, familiarize with family members, and also to be housebroken.

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Puppies can be a lot of work. If you are an individual who wants to spend time with the dog and train it according to your needs, you will be happy with the Curly Coat as they are quick learners and very trainable. If your work keeps you away from home most of the time, especially in the first few months, maybe it would be better to wait for when you’ll have more time.

These dogs are mouthy, and so you will need to puppy-proof your home, especially during the chewing stage, to avoid the puppy swallowing or to chew up unnecessary items. For puppies, training needs to be given consistently and with patience. Harshness and shouting at any point are not advisable as it creates fear rather than a willingness to obey.

Curly Coated Retriever Puppy

How Much Does a Curly Coated Retriever Puppy Cost?

You can expect Curly-Coated Retriever puppies to be slightly more expensive than other retrievers because they are rare. Usually, the average puppy price is between $1500 to $2500.

What is the Best Way to Pick a Curly Coated Retriever puppy?

First of all, before getting a Curly Coated Retriever, you need to check if you are ready for a small, lively, fun, naughty bundle of joy in your life.

Here is a  checklist of questions that you can ask before deciding whether you can handle a Curly Coated Retriever or not:

  • Are you able to ensure that you can provide daily exercise, which should include walking, running, swimming and training to ensure the well-being and upkeep of your dog?
  • Are you willing to invest adequate time in training your puppy?
  • The puppy may chew on things a lot. Are you OK with the puppy doing that? (like any other dog breed, these puppies can be mouthy and hence might carry objects like shoes, socks, etc., lick your hands a lot, even chew on objects.)
  • You may have to wait for your puppy quite a bit before getting the puppy as these puppies are hard to find and hard to get. Are you willing to wait?
  • This breed is prone to destructiveness when bored or not exercised is enough. There should be ample activity, preferably outdoors, if you get this breed.  So ask yourself, do you have the space and facility for that?
  • Are you willing to patiently and consistently train a strong-willed dog with a mind of its own?

If you answered yes to all of the above, you are ready for a Curly Coated Retriever in your life!

What is the best way to pick a curly coated retriever puppy

Where to Buy a Curly Coated Retriever Puppy?

If you decide to own a Curly Coated Retriever as a pet, then the next step is to find one.

Many owners go to pet shops or online to obtain their pets. Some even scout pet rescue centers and adopt from there. Again it depends upon the intentions and mentalities of the owners. Still, if you are looking to get a purebred Curly Coated Retriever, it is always better to look for a reputed breeder and try to procure your puppy from them. Usually, you find that there is a waiting list, and it will take time to get your Curly Coated Retriever puppy but it is worth the wait!

Curly Coated Retrievers have only two types of coats that are allowed, which is coal black or liver-colored, but this might not be clear when the dog is still a puppy. So it is necessary to see the breeder to look at the puppy’s parents and check for yourself if the breed is pure or not.

Some benefits when you go to visit a breeder is that you can get detailed information about the ancestry of the puppy that you are choosing as well as to see for yourself how the puppy is growing up, how they are being socialized and how the puppies behave in the litter.

Usually, if you observe the litter for some time, you find a few puppies that appeal to you, and you can decide which one will suit you.

Some people mainly use some techniques such as throwing in a ball or a rope and observing the responses of the puppies.

Some may also sit among the puppies to get a closer view and interact with all the puppies in the litter to identify those who are most responsive and suitable.

Some breeders will choose a puppy for you. They will be able to make a good match because they know the puppies well and will know which puppy will be right for you.

By getting closer when observing the litter, one can also see the various colors and shades of the puppies in the litter. If you are going to be a purebred Curly Coated Retriever owner, it is always better to procure your puppy from a breeder. In this way, the breeder is also accountable for the quality of the puppy. More than that, he/she can be an excellent resource for help with regards to nutrition needs, grooming issues, diseases, etc. of the puppy that you as a new owner may not know about.

Curly Coated Retriever Puppy Checklist

Curly Coated Retriever Puppy Checklist

Here is a checklist of items that you need to have if/before you are getting a puppy.

  • Crate and/or Dog Bed. One of the most important things is a crate and bed for the puppy and also a few cozy blankets and comforters so that the puppy can snuggle into them.
  • Food bowl and a water bowl. You need this right from day one to feed the puppy and familiarize them. It is better to get steel ones instead of plastic to start with.

  • Dog food for puppies. When you get the puppy, you need to have food on hand for at least the first month. You can get branded dog food constituted with the right nutrients needed for the puppy’s age. I recommend to initially give the same dog food as the breeder gave your pup.
  • Toys for puppies. Puppies love to chew and play by chasing and fetching objects, so get a few chew toys and keep it on hand at all times so that you use them for playing with your pup or to keep the puppy distracted in some cases; otherwise, you’ll may find new shoes, slippers and other household objects being chewed up.
  • Dog leash and collar. Make sure you’ll get the right size collar or harness for your small puppy which can be made bigger while your pooch is growing. Buy a new, bigger one as soon as your pup gets too big for it and the collar or harness becomes too tight. A good leash is also needed for taking your pup on walks and training your pup when outside. 
  • Grooming items. Get a puppy hairbrush, a comb, puppy shampoo, a puppy dental kit (toothbrush and toothpaste especially for dogs) and a nail trimmer for grooming and letting your pup get used to grooming. 
  • Puppy Pads. Very useful for potty training and the first nights when your pup is home.
  • You also need containers to store your pet food; otherwise, it can become soggy and spoiled. Ensure that you keep a place assigned specifically for storing the puppy food. It should preferably be high on some shelf or cupboard so that the puppy cannot get to it.

  • Dog Treats for puppies. You’ll need yummy treats for training and socializing your puppy.
  • Gate or Fence for puppies and dogs. A gate or fence is recommended for when your pup is not allowed in some part(s) of your house or if you have a yard you can use the fence so your pup won’t run away. Safety first.

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Curly Coated Retriever Health & Care


The Curly Coated Retriever is an active dog. The nutrition requirements are much higher than sedentary dogs. An adult Curly requires at least 3-4 cups of dry dog food in a day. This has to be split between two meals.

High-quality dog food will provide a balanced nutritional diet for the requirements of this breed. It is important you choose a quality dog food company.

The food requirements will vary with age, metabolism levels, and activity levels. If you are concerned if your dog is not getting enough, contact a vet for detailed nutritional diet advice.

Does a Curly Coated Retriever Need Grooming?

The Curly-Coated Retrievers have small curls that make their coat weather-proof and water-resistant. This also makes it very easy to maintain. Their coat does not require to be brushed often. Brushing often will cause their hair to get frizzy.

Does a Curly Coated Retriever Need Grooming

Start grooming as a puppy so that the dog is accustomed to the process. The grooming process should include checking the coat for bald spots, sore spots or parasites. There should be no smell from his mouth, nose, and his fur should be shiny.

This is also the time to check for fleas as well. Fleas should be handled immediately either via fleas baths, using flea spray or flea shampoo. If the infestation is bad, please take your dog to the vet.

Do not use flea shampoo regularly; it dries out the skin and can cause skin rashes. Curly Coated Retriever coats need to be occasionally trimmed to keep their curly locks from becoming too long and shaggy.

If you notice the fur is dull, it’s a sign that the food could be of poor quality, or it does not satisfy the nutritional requirements of the dog.

Generally, dog owners tend to brush the fur only once in a while. The dog should not be bathed often. Bathing should be introduced as a puppy so that the dog is familiar with the process.

When bathing your Curly, use hypoallergenic shampoos, which are specially formulated for dog skin, their skin pH is very different from humans, so avoid human shampoos.

While bathing check for fleas, use a flea shampoo if you notice any.

Do not use flea shampoo regularly; it dries out the skin and can cause skin rashes. Curly Coated Retriever coats need to be occasionally trimmed to keep their curly locks from becoming too long and shaggy.

Trim the nails often as soon as you find the dog is either slipping while walking or you hear the clicking of nails on the floor tiles.

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Does a Curly Coated Retriever Shed?

This breed generally sheds twice a year. In the spring and fall at shedding time, brush the dog down with a wide-toothed comb.

This breed is considered an average shedder, and the coat is easy to care for. All it needs is routine brushing to stay in excellent condition.  While brushing, if the coat turns frizzy, you can simply dampen a sponge slightly and wipe the coat to restore the curls and get rid of the frizz. Some ardent Curly Coated Retriever fans do not bathe the dog often due to fear of destroying the coat. They only bathe them twice a year. Their oily coat can get affected if too much bathing or cleaning is done.

How Much Exercise Does a Curly Coated Retriever Need?

This breed is very energetic. They cannot and should not be made to lead a sedentary life. Puppies are full of energy, and the only way to wear it out is by playing and taking the puppy for daily walks. Puppies have bursts of energy, followed by a nap time to recharge.

Adult Curlies, on the other hand, could use some intensive training sessions. This breed loves training and has the ‘never-give-up’ kind of attitude.

Though they might come across as aloof and stubborn, they are easy to train. The key thing is to be patient and let the dog guide you on how much is too much.

Since this breed loves swimming, you can take them swimming to lose all that excess energy and having fun at the same time.

How Much Exercise Does a Curly Coated Retriever Need

If you have kids, they will enjoy playing with these dogs, who love exercise, running, and carrying small objects and the Curly will love to play with your kids!

Did you know these dogs love puzzle toys, so you could maybe invest in a good puzzle dog toy or make one yourself? It’s fun for both dog and human!

Whatever you do, do not compromise on regular exercise if you want these dogs to be healthy and happy.

Curly Coated Retriever Training

This breed is eager to learn new things, please its owners, and they are obedient as well. But Curly-Coated Retrievers can sometimes be stubborn and can be slow to mature than other retrievers. This may make them slightly longer to train as compared to the other retriever breeds.

There is an inherent stubbornness that may house in your Curly Coated Retriever, but teaching them to listen to you and earning their respect in the early years makes them easier to train. This, combined with consistent, firm, and repetitive training will result in an obedient and well adjusted Curly Coat as a companion.

Curly Coated Retriever Health

Health problems with this breed are the same as that of other retrievers; they too have a susceptibility to joint and bone problems, eye diseases, epilepsy, etc. It is necessary to find a good vet and ensure that you take the dog regularly to check on these potential issues. In fact, you should immediately take your Curly to the vet after procuring the dog, be it an adult or a puppy, so that the vet knows the dog well and is available for help for future issues that you may face.

Routine checkups, balanced diets, adequate grooming, and exercise can contribute a lot in keeping many health issues at bay.

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Curly Coated Retriever History

Developed in England, the Curly-Coated Retriever is believed to be the oldest of the retrieving breeds by canine historians. Curlies were bred as a dual purpose dog; as a gun dog and a guard dog.

Old sketches and paintings dated back to the 1600’s suggested that it is one of the oldest breeds.

There is an ongoing debate about its history and a mystery surrounding it. Some argue that it descended from the 16th century English Water Spaniel. Others say that it includes the Pointer and Setter blood.

Curly Coated Retriever History

They are certainly faster than other retrievers in retrieving game from icy waters and thickets. Their unique curls are believed to have been derived from an older type of close curled English water dog.

In the olden times, Curly-Coated Retrievers were not the choice of the wealthy upper class initially. But as hunting increased, especially in areas that were swampy and waterlogged, Curly-Coated Retrievers became very much in demand. History has it that these dogs were the first choice companions of poachers who used the loyalty and quiet nature of the Curly Coats as they poached game from the lands of the wealthy in the nights.

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Nova Scotia Ducvk Tolling Retriever

About us

Hi, welcome to my blog about the amazing breed Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!

My name is Eline van Stiphout and I live in The Netherlands. Together with my husband Arthur and our sweet Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy, the three of us love to travel and go on outdoor adventures. 

Currently, I’m a professional, fully licensed dog walker since 2017. I gave up my stressful fulltime office job to follow my dream which is working and walking with dogs.


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