Health Problems in Curly Coated Retrievers
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Curly Coated Retriever

Working with a responsible breeder, those wishing to own a Curly-Coated Retriever can gain the education they need to know about specific health concerns within the breed.
Good breeders utilize genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.

May your curly always be happy and healthy!

vetThe vast majority of dogs of all breeds (as well as mixed breeds) can live long, healthy lives if given proper care and routine veterinary attention. Nevertheless, any dog can fall victim to a wide range of acquired problems. Each pure breed of dogs has its own particular hereditary problems some minor, some impairing, and some possibly fatal. Some may show a very strong hereditary basis and others not much more than a tendency to" run in families". The Curly-Coated Retriever is no exception and unfortunately as seen in other breeds, the problems tend to multiply as the breed continues to increase in popularity and there is an increase in indiscriminate breeding. Failure to screen for these problems before breeding often results in the "doubling up" of unfavorable genes, and the results are distressing for the buyer and dog alike.

A good Breeder of Curly Coated Retrievers should be able to discuss the health screening done with their breeding stock and other measures they've taken to reduce the likelihood of problems. They should be willing to guarantee against common problems and want to know of anything that might show up later in your puppy.

If your Curly should develop a major health problem, you should tell your breeder about it. This way, the breeder can remain informed about potential problems in their lines. Such problems would include those listed below and others, such as seizures, cancer, heart defects, and anything else that might be heritable.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is an ongoing problems for all the retriever breeds as well as many other breeds of similar or larger size.

Hip Dysplasia is a malformation of the ball and socket joint in the hip, with varying degress of resulting impairment. Diagnosis is definitive only through proper radiographic (xray) analysis.

If you are looking at a puppy, ask if both parents have an OFA hip report. Or a PennHIP report. Ask to see copies, or check on the OFA site to verify the dogs scores. On the OFA site, you will find Hip, Elbow, Cardiac and CERF eye exam results.

The AIS PennHIP method has strong scientific foundation as the most effective hip screening tool available for dogs.

AIS PennHIP testing is accurate in puppies as young as 16 weeks of age. It gives an estimate of the risk for painful osteoarthritis (OA) of canine hip dysplasia (CHD) later in life. With this information, preventive and palliative strategies can be recommended by the PennHIP-trained veterinarian.

All dogs can benefit from PennHIP testing. For pet dogs found to be at risk, early intervention can help prevent or lessen the severity of CHD. For working/service dogs, identifying a dog with healthy hips can extend the working life of the dog. For breeding dogs, early detection of at-risk hips can allow the breeder to make early, informed decisions as to which dogs to keep in breeding programs.

*FYI SoftMaple has recently started to lean towards doing PennHIP exams on dogs we intend to breed.

chic How to read the OFA numbers:

Softmaple's Sexy and I Know It Registration:SR73641501 (AKC) CR-CA436/16F/C-VPI-ECHO, CR-EIC29/17F-VPI-CAR, CR-G3A93/22F-VPI, CR-1009G30F-VPI, CR-EL268F30-VPI, CR-EYE46/35F-VPI, CHIC #: 104643

CR-CA436/16F/C-VPI-ECHO.= CR (Curly Retriever) CA=Cardiac number, 16F=the age, and sex. ECHO=Echocardiogram (could be a C for Cardiologist, P for
practitioner or S for Specialist) and VPI means the dog has Permanent Identification that the vet verified. PI means the dog has Permanent Identification.
CR-EL is the Elbow number. CR-EL268F30-VPI... Curly Retriever, Elbow. 268 is the number. F is for female. 30 is the age in months. VPI for
Permanent Identification.
CR-1009G30F-VPI is the Hip number. The G stands for Good. (E would be Excellent, F would be Fair) In this number the F stands for Female.
CR-EYE46/35F-VPI is the Eye number.

CHIC # 104643 is the CHIC or Canine Health Information Center number.
This is Gabby. A wonderful companion, showdog and field dog. Her hips did not pass OFA. So she will not be a wonderful mother. 
Dogs with failing hips need to be kept in good health. Spayed. Not allowed to get overweight. Sometimes giving Glucosamine helps. 


pra Eye Problems - cataracts of various kinds, corneal dystrophy, suspected PRA, distichiasis, entropion, ectropion, PPM, retinal dysplasia. None are particularly common but all should be asked about and guaranteed for. All dogs used for breeding should have annual eye examinations. Make sure the breeder supplies you with current CERF eye reports, or OFA Eye numbers on the sire and dam.  

PRA has popped up on some Curlies DNA Profiles. (Progressive Retinal Atrophy ) You can find out more about the PRA test for Curly Coated Retrievers here PRA (crd4/cord-1)  

Exercise induced collapse (EIC)

Exercise induced collapse (EIC) is a heritable condition causing collapse in Labrador, Chesapeake and curly-coated retrievers. There is a high correlation between the presence of the EIC mutation and the presence of collapsing episodes in Labradors. The same gene which affects Labrador Retrievers has been identified in curly-coated retrievers. There appear to be significant differences in the way EIC impacts curlies compared to Labs with many of the genetically affected curlies not demonstrating any episodes of collapse.

Read more about EIC and view the voluntary EIC database here - Voluntary EIC database- is a good tool, but keep in mind there are many breeders that do not volunteer any health information.


10173755_10201912322239233_8430203437027723312_n More and more dogs of every breed are being diagnosed with Cancers. Is it environmental? Is it hereditary? Are we breeding dogs with weaker immune systems? If you are looking at a Curly pup, ask about the grandparents. Are they alive? How long did they live? What did they die of? Its scary to hear of dogs dying of cancer at 5 or 6 years of age. Some of the types of Cancer found in dogs:

Mast cell tumors are the most common malignant skin tumor in the dog. An adenoma is a benign growth of glandular tissue cells. An adenocarcinoma is a malignant growth of these cells most often originating (primary site) from the intestines, uterus and mammary glands. They often metastasize (spread) to the lungs. Fibrosarcoma is a cancerous tumor of the deep structures of the skin, specifically the fibrous connective tissue. Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant tumor originating from blood vessels. These tumors usually occur in the skin, soft tissues, spleen or liver. Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma is a cancerous disease of lymphocytes, a particular form of white blood cells that originate in lymph nodes and bone marrow. Melanoma is a form of cancer in which the pigment-producing cells of the skin known as melanocytes multiply in an erratic fashion eventually invading the tissues that surround them. Osteosarcoma is a tumor of the bone and is the most common primary bone tumor in the dog.

Patterned Baldness

lance The "Curly Coat Problem" can be frustrating -- it is often misdiagnosed for other diseases such as thyroid deficiency, and it is detrimental to a breeding program trying to establish the proper coat. It is difficult to say how many Curlies are affected with this, as many are not shown, are not noticeably affected, or the problem is thought to be something else, such as wear from the collar. In mild cases, the patterning may appear once and then never again when the coat grows back in. While mildly affected dogs generally lead normal lives, it is an indicator of more serious trouble, as it is caused by some type of auto immune problem. Affected dogs are more likely to have allergies, reproductive problems; in its severest form, it affects the growth hormones and the dogs mature at about 40lbs.

Very often dogs with patterned baldness will have good coats as a puppy, with the bald spots appearing at sexual maturity. Bald patterning appears on the backs and/or insides of the hind legs, and/or on the flanks, and/or on the front and/or sides of neck, and/or the deepest part of the chest and/or as an overall thin or brittle coat. A minor indication of the problem are dogs that are fully coated but only have real curls on their necks and backs. The hair loss is very distinctly bilateral -- that
is, on both sides of the dog. There are varying manifestations of this syndrome, from appearing nearly normal to being almost completely bald. In some cases, hair grows back after shedding, but within months rather than weeks.

Diets and supplements do not take care of patterned baldness. You should inform your dog's breeder (send clear, closeup photos of all the spots) of any symmetrical bald spots appearing on your puppy so that they can take this information into account in their breeding program. Unaffected dogs seem to produce affected puppies, implying a recessive gene or genes, but the exact mode of inheritance is unclear. Very few veterinarians know about this problem in Curly Coats.


Rue ruebird

SoftMaple Z Rues The Day RN on Seizure watch, and in the field


Glycogen storage disease type IIIa (GSDIIIa)

John C. Fyfe, D.V.M, Ph.D. Associate Professor
D.V.M., 1984, Washington-Oregon-Idaho Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine
Ph.D., 1994, University of Pennsylvania
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
5169 Biomedical Physical Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Glycogen storage disease type IIIa (GSDIIIa) is an inherited metabolic disorder that causes liver and skeletal muscle disease due to deficiency of the glycogen debranching enzyme (GDE) and tissue storage of abnormally structured glycogen. This disorder was discovered in an extended family of curly coated retrievers (CCR), with representatives from USA, Canada, and New Zealand, and is due to a single based deletion in the GDE gene. This disease, too, is an autosomal recessive trait, and so the laboratory provides carrier testing for GSD IIIa in curly coated retrievers .

An autosomal recessive trait means that the gene is located on of of the autosomes (Chromosome pairs) Males and females can be equally affected. Recessive means that two copies of the gene are necessary to have the trait, or in this case the disease. One inherited from the mother and one from the father. Both parents must be carriers in order for a pup to have the symptoms of the disease. A pup that inherits the gene from only one parent will be a carrier. This pup will have a recessive gene for GSDIIIa, and not show any health problems, but the pup will have to potential to pass the gene on to its offspring.

A quick explanation is shown in the tables below. BB being a dog that does not have the disease and does not carry the recessive gene for GSDIIIa. Bb demonstrates a dog that does not have the disease, but does carry the recessive gene. bb represents a dog that is affected with the disease.

Dogs that are carriers need not be eliminated from breeding. Carriers bred to clear, non carriers, will produce some carriers and some non-carriers. These offspring may then be tested and used as valuable animals in a breeding program.

To illustrate this, we will use the following colors:
Clear dog, not carrying the GSD recessive trait
Dog carrying the GSD recessive trait
Dog that has Glycogen storage disease



A non affected, not carrier dog (BB) A non affected, not carrier bitch (BB)
aysa213c BB

produces all clear, not carrier offspring(BB)

The offspring af a breeding like this would all be clear of GSD

based on the absence of the GSD mutation in both parents.
At this time, the resulting offspring need not be individually tested.


A non affected, not carrier dog (BB) A non affected carrier bitch (Bb).
aysa213c BB

produces all non affected pups, two of which would carry the GSDIIIa gene as a recessive trait (Bb)

No dogs would have the disease, but all offspring should be tested prior to breeding


A non affected carrier dog (Bb) A non affected carrier bitch(Bb)
aysa213c Bb
produces one non affected, non carrier (BB)
one GSDIIIa affected pup(bb) and 2 pups that are carriers(Bb)

There is the potential for pups that will have Glycogen storage disease, and some will be carriers.
All dogs from this litter should be tested prior to breeding


A non affected carrier dog (BB) Bred to a GSDIIIa affected bitch (bb)
aysa213c BB
produces all pups that are carriers of GSDIIIa(Bb)

All pups are carriers, and should be only bred to non-carriers.



Male carrier of GSDIIIa (Bb) Bitch who is affected with GSDIIIa(bb)
aysa213c Bb
produces 2 Carriers (Bb) and 2 GSDIIIa affected pups (bb)

Some of the pups will have Glycogen storage disease, and some will be carriers.
Carriers can be bred to non-carriers



Affected dog (bb) bred to an affected bitch (bb)
Produces all GSDIIIa affected pups (bb) pups

These are just examples. I do not think anyone would breed two affected dogs.


hip Canine Health Information Center, also known as CHIC, is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). The CHIC database is a tool that collects health information on individual animals from multiple sources. In order for data to be included in CHIC, test results must be based on scientifically valid diagnostic criteria

The CCRCA has established the following health testing criteria specific to Curly-Coated Retrievers, for inclusion in the CHIC database:

Required Tests
Hip Dysplasia (read about Hip Dysplasia)
OFA evaluation
PennHip evaluation
Congenital Cardiac Database (read about Cardiac screening)
OFA evaluation with examination performed by a Cardiologist
Eye Clearance (read about Eye testing)
CERF evaluation - minimally, exams every 2 years until 96 months

Optional Tests
Elbow Dysplasia
OFA evaluation
Glycogen Storage Disease IIIa

health3 Not in any way an inherited problem, but most curlies hate to have their nails clipped, and some are prone to brittle nails or nails that chip or break off.

Brittle nails might be the result of long, untrimmed nails or due to certain underlying medical disorders affecting your curly.

Always consult your veterinarian to rule out any health issues or food allergies when you have a curly with brittle or breaking toenails.



Shadow after getting stung by a bee!

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Ripple in the Cone of Shame! to stop her scratching

getwellsoon2 getwellsoon


Kismet and her broken leg