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Curly-Coated Retriever Temperament and Must-Knows

The Curly-Coated Retriever temperament is loyal, lively, and clever. This is a sensitive breed that does best with a kind yet firm training. They are great for active families with older children.

Photo of Curly Coated Retriever Portrait

This breed has a hunter’s blood, which makes them more confident and adventurous than other breeds. However, this also makes them more headstrong, so they’re not the best breed for someone who’s never owned a dog before.

While little is known about the Curly-Coated Retrievers origin, they were highly prized by gamekeepers, hunters, and poachers.

Gamekeepers appreciate the Curly-Coated Retriever's amazing ability to hunt birds and retrieve waterfowl.

Curly-Coated Retriever Temperament and Personality

The best way to find out whether the Curly-Coated Retriever is right for you and your family is to examine the breed’s personality in depth.

Below is a list of the more prominent characteristics of the Curly-Coated Retriever’s temperament to help you make a more informed decision.

They have an immense drive and determination

The Curly-Coated Retriever dog has a strong determination and drive. They will work until they finish their jobs and will not quit before you do. This quality helps make them excellent hunting dogs.

Photo of Curly Coated Retriever With Hunter
Curly Coated Retriever With Hunter

They adore their family

Curly-Coated Retrievers are family-oriented. They have that even-temper

Curly-Coated Retrievers are family-oriented. They have that even-temper found in Retrievers, and they love to be around their favorite humans.

Curlies, as they are sometimes called, become very attached to their families and want to do everything with them. If you aren’t a fan of a constant dog-shadow, this breed isn’t for you.

They love children and other dogs

The Curly-Coated Retriever’s lively nature makes them ideal companions for families with children. However, because of their size, a home with older children may be better.

Curlies might accidentally knock younger children down during playtime.

Children, especially younger children, may also accidentally injure the Curlie if they play too rough with the dog.

Curlies also get along well with other dogs, so long as you give them the proper socialization.

Take your Curlie puppy to the dog park, for walks around the neighborhood and even to a friend or family’s house who has a dog so the Curlie can become more familiar with it and dogs in general.

They can act reserved with strangers

Unlike most retrievers, Curlies can act more reserved around strangers – especially when strangers are in their home.

While in social settings, though, Curly-Coated Retrievers are typically friendly towards new people.

The best way to combat this is to socialize and train your Curlie as early as possible.

The more you socialize him, and the earlier you start, the more willing he will be as an adult to let his guard down once he realizes that a new person is not always a threat.

They tend to mature slower and are independent thinkers

Curly-Coated Retrievers take longer to mature than other dog breeds.

Be ready to deal with a full-grown puppy for several years.

This might sound like a lot of fun, but it can be truly taxing when you are constantly dealing with the energy level and mischief-making antics of a puppy.

If you’re thinking “when is he going to calm down already?”, it may not be for several more years, if ever.

Curlies are also independent thinkers, so they might not be the most suitable choice for first-time dog owners.

In other words, it may take more effort and patience to train them, which not every first-time dog owner is ready for.

They are incredibly smart

“Wicked smart” is actually the term Curly-Coated Retriever owners use to describe this breed.

He knows how to use his smarts to his own benefit. In other words, he knows how to manipulate you.

Therefore, with this breed, it is incredibly important that you train him as early as you can, and that you remain firm and consistent with him. If you allow him to think he can take an inch, he will gladly take two yards, happy that he got one over on you.

The Curly-Coated Retriever Appearance

Photo of Curly Coated Retriever Curious

Curly-Coated Retriever Size

An average Curly-Coated Retriever weight is between 60-95 pounds and their height has them standing between 23 and 27 inches tall.

Curly-Coated Retriever Colors

Curlies color can be black or liver (a deep reddish-brown color).

A Brief History of the Curly-Coated Retriever

The reason not much is known about the Curly-Coated Retriever is because no one properly documented the breed’s origin.

Some believe the breed originated in England during the 1700s, and that it is the result of combining an Old English Water Dog (or early versions of the Labrador) with a Newfoundland and an Irish Water Spaniel.

Interestingly, the famous curls from which the breed got its name did not come until later when this hybrid dog was crossed again, this time with a Poodle.

Not many realize that a Poodle is actually a kind of Water Retriever as well.

The Curly-Coated Retriever shot up in popularity in England in the mid-1800s, and they came to the U.S. in 1907.

How Do You Train a Curly-Coated Retriever?

While the Curly-Coated Retriever is trainable and eager to please, they do have a mind of their own and stubborn tendencies.

Curlies need a firm, kind owner who will show consistent leadership.

A too-tough training regimen will upset them while a too-soft training regimen means they won’t listen.

When training a Curly-Coated Retriever, avoid repetition and make training sessions as fun as possible. Curlies become bored with too much repetition and respond best to training sessions full of treats and praise.

Some Curly-Coated Retrievers do well with dog sports such as obedience, but they truly excel in fieldwork.

Dog Taining Resource

The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that will help you learn the basics and advanced training techniques.

How Do You Groom a Curly-Coated Retriever?

Curlies actually have minimal grooming requirements. In fact, many owners don’t brush their Curly-Coated Retrievers, as brushing them can actually cause their coats to frizz up.

Curly-Coated Retrievers have quite a unique coat. It consists of small, tight curls that cover their bodies from head to tail. Their coat is also water and weather resistant. And it also protects their skin during hunting. 

Curlies also don’t need frequent baths – a wet-down and air dry is sufficient.

Do Curly-Coated Retriever Sheds?

You might be asking if the Curly-Coated Retriever sheds – and the answer is yes.

But, Curly-Coated Retriever shedding only happens twice a year, so it’s not as taxing as some other breeds’ shedding seasons can be.

Is the Curly-Coated Retriever Hypoallergenic?

Curly Coated Retrievers are not hypoallergenic. This means that if you are a dog allergy sufferer you will probably have an allergic reaction if a Curly-Coated Retriever is nearby.

You can still own a dog even if you tend to be allergic to them, but this is not one of those breeds.

Read our epic article on hypoallergenic dogs for allergy suffers to find several breeds that may work for you

Staying Healthy

Like most dogs, Curly-Coated Retrievers are, on average, a pretty healthy breed. However, this does not mean they are immune from ever getting sick.

Every breed is prone to certain diseases and health conditions. Several health conditions that can affect the Curly include:

Helpful Dog Health Resource

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Curly-Coated Retriever pet from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.

Curly Coated Retriever Lifespan

As far as their life expectancy goes, a Curly-Coated Retriever lives, on average, between 10 and 12 years.


Curly-Coated Retrievers are an active breed that requires a lot of exercises. However, Curlies are also great at hanging out and relaxing at home with you.

If they receive enough exercise, they can live anywhere – from apartments to farms.

Curly-Coated Retrievers love to have a job to do – whether that’s a walk, swim, or playing with mentally-stimulating toys.

This makes Curlies perfect for active families who can provide them with enough exercise.

Finding the Perfect Curly-Coated Retriever

Ready to add the Curly-Coated Retriever to your family? You’re certainly in for a treat.

Now it’s time to find the perfect one.

Before you add this breed to your family, you’ll need to decide whether you want a puppy or an adult. Keep in mind that Curly-Coated Retrievers stay in puppyhood longer than other breeds. Is this something you can handle?

Curly-Coated puppies are cute, but they are hard work. If you aren’t ready for a Curly-Coated Retriever puppy, consider adopting an adult from a rescue organization. Not only are adults less rambunctious than puppies, but they often know basic commands and are housebroken.

How Much are Curly-Coated Retriever Puppies for Sale?

Purebred Curly-Coated Retriever puppies for sale will cost between $600-$800 depending on the breeder and location. The Curly-Coated Retriever price also depends on litter availability and whether they are AKC registered.

A Curly-Coated Retriever for sale from a rescue will cost between $200-$400, depending on the organization and location.

Curly-Coated Retriever Rescue and Adoption

Have you decided on Curly-Coated Retriever rescue? Your first stop should be the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America.

Photo of Curly Coated Retriever Sitting Portrait

The Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America has a rescue section with rescues and referrals. However, because they are so rare, they won’t always have Curlies available for adoption.

You can also check with local rescue organizations to see if they have any Curly-Coated Retrievers or Curlie mixes available for adoption.

Curly-Coated Retriever Breeders

If you’d like to purchase a puppy from a Curly-Coated Retriever breeder, the Curly-Coated Retriever Club of America has a breeder directory with breeders available by location.

You can also ask your vet (if you already have a pet), visit dog shows, or reach out to local breed clubs to find a breeder.

When choosing the perfect breeder, plan visits to different ones and prepare a list of questions. Some great questions to ask are:

  • “Where do the puppies live?”
  • “How many litters do you raise per year?”
  • “Do you have health certificates?”
  • “Can I meet the parents?”

Reputable breeders will always be willing and able to answer any questions you have about their litters!

Conclusion: Why the Curly-Coated Retriever?

Bred to retrieve game from water or land, the Curly-Coated Retriever temperament is intelligent, trainable, and lively.

They are one of the oldest retriever breeds and thought to be descendants of the extinct English Water Spaniels and other retriever-type dogs.

Curlies don’t take kindly to strangers, especially when a stranger is in their home. But with proper socialization, they eventually come around once they realize, with your assurance, that there is nothing to worry about.

If you’re looking for an adaptable, independent, and intelligent breed, the Curly-Coated Retriever is the perfect companion.