Breed Characteristics of the CCR
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Curly Coated Retriever

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UKC Registered Curly-Coated Retrievers

About UKC

A Kalamazoo, Michigan-based company founded in 1898, United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. Celebrating the unique Total Dog philosophy, UKC events highlight the instincts and heritage of dogs that look and perform equally well, as more than 60 percent of its annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct.


The Curly-Coated Retriever is the largest of the retriever breeds.

25 to 27 inches (male)*
23 to 25 inches (female)*

* Note: The original standard was 27 inches for males, 25 inches for females.
The English Kennel Club Size standard-Ideal height at withers: dogs: 69 cms (27 ins); bitches: 64 cms (25 ins).
A clearly superior Curly Coated Retriever falling outside of this range should not be penalized because of size.

You see curlies of all sizes. Curlies can range from 50 lbs to over 100. The Curly is both sturdy and elegant. The degree of substance is sufficient to ensure strength and endurance without sacrificing grace. Bone and substance are neither spindly nor massive and should be in proportion with weight and height and balanced throughout.

To work all day a Curly must be balanced and sound, strong and robust, and quick and agile.

* Loyal and eager to please.
* Proud and confident.
* Very intelligent and trainable.
* Clever and mischievous, but sensitive.
* Needs early gentle, but firm obedience training.
* Can do well at competitive obedience, but is not as predictable a performer as a Golden Retriever; likes to do things his way.
* Loving with children. Most Curlies are good with children. You should, of course, supervise all interaction between any dog and young children, as it is possible for either to accidentally hurt the other.
* Socialize well with people and other pets at an early age, as this breed tends to be reserved and even timid with strangers if not properly socialized. Reserved with strangers. Of independent nature and discerning intelligence, a Curly sometimes appears aloof or self-willed, and, as such, is often less demonstrative, particularly toward strangers, than the other retriever breeds.
* A good watchdog who will also protect the family if danger threatens.


Here is Emmett... who is being *Clever and mischievous, but sensitive.



The general appearance of the Curly-Coated Retriever should be that of a very active, sound, balanced and intelligent dog. He should be a well put together animal, decidedly deep in the chest, and strong and muscular in the quarters, with round compact feet. Overall, the Curly-Coated Retriever is a smart, attractive upstanding dog.

The Curly-Coated Retriever is considered to be one of the oldest retriever breeds. Developed in England, the breed probably resulted from crosses with the close-curled English Water dog, the old Water Spaniel and the St. John's Newfoundland dog. The Curly is a fine water retriever with a gentle mouth, particularly ideal for duck and quail. He is an excellent hunting companion and gun dog, and his gentle temperament also makes him an outstanding family companion. The Curly-Coated Retriever is quite popular in Australia and New Zealand, but is not well-known in the United States, though the breed is recognized by the AKC.

A large, hardy, athletic retriever with a distinctive crisp curly coat. The thick, black or liver-colored coat of tight curls protects the dog from brambles and icy water. Even the small ears, back of the head, neck and tapering tail are covered with little curls. Only the face, hocks and front of the legs are smooth. The ideal Curly should be agile and graceful, strong yet elegant. The body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. The back is strong and level. The head is wedge-shaped, longer than it is wide. The foreface and skull are approximately the same length, with their toplines forming parallel planes when viewed from the side. The muzzle tapers to a well-developed dark nose (black for black dogs, brown for liver dogs). The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. Ears, rather small, set on a line slightly above the corner of the eye, and lying close to the head. The eyes are almond-shaped, rather large but not too prominent. Black or brown in black dogs and brown or amber in liver dogs. Harsh yellow eyes and loose haws are undesirable The tail reaches approximately to the hock and is carried straight.

Beware of hip dysplasia and eye problems. Buy only from CERF and OFA- certified stock. Ask the breeder if they do cardiac testing Ask about any epilepsy in the lines. Premature cancer and bloat and coat patterning are also concerns. (Also see the Health page linked to the left)
Needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to be truly happy.
Brushing frizzes the coat out until the next bath, but it does help loosen dead hear and stimulate the skin. Wet the coat to renew the curls after grooming. A curly coat benefits from frequent swimming and outdoor exposure (which nonetheless does not make them good kennel dogs). The coat is frequently oily, which can be a problem for some allergy sufferers. Curly-Coated Retrievers make good therapy dogs.

Curlies are intelligent and smart. They are easily trained, but do not generally tolerate repetitious training well. Their streak of independence can make some types of training a little more difficult, as the dog will start making his own decisions. Because they mature slowly, training frequently takes longer than in some of the more popular retrievers.

It is best for all Curly owners to do some obedience training with their dogs especially when young. A combination of early socialization and training will result in an adult with a wonderful sense of judgement about others that you can trust and a close lifelong companion. They do not make good "kennel dogs," kept outside away from their families -- close interaction instead is best for them.

A show dog requires additional grooming, in the form of scissoring off excess hair from tail, front and rear legs, ears, etc. This can be quite an extensive project for Curlies who have not been show-groomed before. Grooming this way is a choice of the dog's owner; the Curly-Coated Retriever standard does not require this grooming for any Curly shown in a conformation ring although it might be difficult to win in the show ring if your Curly is not groomed this way.
Keeping up the Curly coat for every day or hunting use is fairly simple: comb or brush the coat when the dog is shedding, usually twice a year, in spring and fall, and bathe him at that time as well. You may also choose to bathe him at other times as you see fit. A clean dog is a healthy, happy dog and the Curly-Coated Retriever benefits from frequent baths, at least three times a year. And from combing or brushing when he is heavily shedding. Normally the breed is a light to moderate shedder. An intact female will often blow her coat with her heat cycle. (See the Grooming and Coat Problems links)

Their coat is naturally curly, and its oily, dense character sheds dirt, mud, and burrs easily. The body coat is a thick mass of small, tight, crisp curls, lying close to the skin, resilient, water resistant, and of sufficient density to provide protection against weather, water and punishing cover.Curls also extend up the entire neck to the occiput, down the thigh and back leg to at least the hock, and over the entire tail. Elsewhere, the coat is short, smooth and straight, including on the forehead, face, front of forelegs, and feet. A patch of uncurled hair behind the withers or bald patches anywhere on the body, including bald strips down the back of the legs or a triangular bald patch on the throat, should be severely penalized. A looser, more open curl is acceptable. (see the coat problems links)

Here is demonstrated the color combinations that occur in a breeding. To have a liver dog, the gene match up has to be bb. Either BB or Bb will produce a black dog. The BB will be black dominant, only producing black puppies. The Bb will carry the recessive liver gene, and may produce liver pups if combine with either another liver carrying dog, or a liver dog. 


each pup in the litter has the same one in four chance of having each of the gene combinations.
It is not an exact 25% split



A black dominant dog (BB) to a black dominant bitch (BB)


produces all black dominant dogs(BB)



A black dominant dog (BB) to a black bitch with a liver gene (Bb).


produces all black pups, two of which would carry a liver gene(Bb)



Black dog with a liver gene (Bb) bred to a black bitch with a liver gene(Bb)
produces one Black dominant dog (BB)
one liver dog (bb) and 2 black dogs with liver genes (Bb)


Black dominant dog (BB) bred to liver bitch (bb)
produces all pups black with recessive liver gene (Bb)




Black male with liver gene (Bb) bred to liver bitch (bb)
produces 2 black dogs that carry liver (Bb) and 2 liver pups (bb)


A liver dog (bb) bred to a liver bitch (bb)
nat3 bb
Produces all liver (bb) pups

The curly is a hunting dog and his temperament should reflect that, he should have a strong sense of courage, which allows him to enter water and cover or encounter any sights and sounds without hesitation. His nostrils are very large which provides for an excellent sense of smell, his build is neither heavy nor light, it has moderate angulations of well muscled shoulders and rear. They are the largest of the retriever breeds. The curly should have good bone yet be agile. The ribs are well sprung, giving the lung room needed for a day in the field pheasant hunting or hours of swimming retrieving ducks.

Dana3 Curly is an erect, alert, self-confident dog. In motion, all parts blend into a smooth, powerful, harmonious symmetry. A correctly built and tempered Curly will work as long as there is work to be done, retrieving both fur and feather in the heaviest of cover and the iciest of waters. To work all day a Curly must be balanced and sound, strong and robust, and quick and agile.


You can't trust all sites on the internet with information about Curly Coated Retrievers. This is one site I found "Petwave" that had this to say about our breed:


Activity Requirements

Like other retriever breeds, the Curly Coated version needs lots of vigorous exercise every single day. They are an active person's dog – couch potatoes should steer clear of this breed. They love running, swimming, hiking, playing ball and catching frisbees. They can be competitive in agility courses, but they are not as obedient as their Golden Retriever counterparts, so they often do not excel in this arena, but they enjoy the activity and eat up the attention.

Curlies need as much mental stimulation as they do physical stimulation and should always be provided with plenty of interesting activities throughout the day, especially when left alone. Inactivity and boredom leads to destructiveness and hyperactivity that is hard to curb.


Behavioral Traits

If a Curly Coated Retriever is not exercised enough, he will become destructive, and this breed is capable of a lot of damage. They should not be left alone without first having been exercised and they should always be left with plenty of their own chew toys to keep them busy.

They are naturally prone to chewing and will stick anything in their mouths that will fit. Shoes, pillows, and children's toys should be kept away from Curlies, and they need to be taught at a young age not to bite hands and sleeves.

This breed experiences and extended puppyhood and an be rowdy and rambunctious all the way through age four.

That doesn't sound like the majority of our dogs.....but I am sure there are the rare few that do follow this example!



Bad Petra!

rescue Personality

Not all curlies fit this mold
Curly Coated Retrievers have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from their counterparts, but their personality is distinctly that of a retriever breed. They are affectionate, active and loyal companions, happiest when outdoors and engaged in fun, interesting activities with their favorite people. Curlies are polite to strangers and are excellent with children of all ages, patient with the small ones and ready to romp with the older kids. They are by no means a dog for people who want a lazy couch mate. They prefer to rise early, remain active throughout the day, and then, when it's bedime, the Curly Coated Retriever will happily curl up at the end of the bed to snore the night away.


Curly Coated Retrievers are easily trainable when positive reinforcement and treats are employed. They do not respond well to discipline or a heavy-handed attitude. Curlies are not dominant by nature, but will take the opportunity to rule the roost, if boundaries are not set early on. When basic obedience is mastered, Curlies should be graduated to advanced obedience or the agility ring, in order to keep their intelligent minds busy.

Socialization is also important with this breed, as they can be sand offish to strangers and if left unchecked, Curlies can become quite timid or overly suspicious of new people and things.

Description: The Curly-Coated Retriever is a large purebred known for being alert, courageous, gentle, independent, intelligent, lively, loyal, and responsive. The most common colors for Curly-Coated Retrievers are black and brown. To keep it healthy, it will need to get exercise regularly. Known to be multi-talented, the Curly-Coated Retriever participates in a wide variety of activities such as agility, competitive obedience, guarding, hunting, retrieving, and tracking.



lazy1 The Curly-Coated Retriever is a very happy, energetic, and easy going breed. They are highly intelligent and very eager to please. They are historically hunting and gun dogs which makes them very easily trainable. However, one thing to be aware of with the Curly-Coated Retriever is that they are late bloomers. They typically do not fully mature until they are about three years of age. The owners should be patient and understand before they get the puppy that they will have a puppy for a few years.

Curlies make excellent family dogs. They are extremely loyal and desire close family contact. They show tons of affection and are very loving. They are said to be great therapy dogs. Their happy go lucky nature make them excellent animals to have if there are children in the house. Owners with children should be cautious and supervise the dog with the children because the dogs can accidentally knock the children over. The same applies for the elderly. In their first few years of maturation the puppies are very rowdy and jumpy and if there is concern about children or elderly being jumped on or knocked over it is suggested that perhaps the Curly-Coated Retriever should not be in those households. They make excellent watchdogs and will protect the family from danger or threats.

The Curly-Coated Retriever does need to be socialized and trained from a young age. They are sensitive dogs and can be very reserved and timid around strangers. Socialization at an early age can eliminate or reduce this shyness so that it does not become problematic. Due to their nature as watchdogs and their desire to protect the family, it is important that they are socialized at a young age so they know the difference between threats and daily happenings. They are also very mischievous and can have a mind of their own. This makes it important to have early, gentle, and consistent training. The training should be gentle, as this breed is rather sensitive, but it should also be firm to show the dog who is the dominant one in the relationship.

The Curly-Coated Retriever is the perfect dog for a family or individual who lives an active life style, preferably close to the water. They should also be capable of consistent and firm training. The dog's independent thinking can make training difficult so an experienced dog owner is recommended. The owner should be patient and firm with the animal from the time they are a puppy and as they mature in the next few years. The Curly-Coated Retriever is definitely not a dog for everyone, but will make excellent pets and companions for the right individual or family.


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Curlies love: Sleding, tracking, lure coursing, water rescue, carting, service, and dog sports! 

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The Curly-Coated Retriever has a very high energy level and craves physical and mental stimulation. They are a perfect dog for an active individual or family. They love to swim and water retrieve. This makes them excellent dogs for the family who goes to the lake or lives near the water. They should be exercised daily. They do love the outdoors and enjoy any type of physical activity, but really do prefer to be retrieving and in the water. They are highly intelligent and energetic which makes them the perfect dog for agility and obedience classes. Agility training and competitive obedience are excellent ways for the Curly-Coated Retriever to obtain both that physical and mental stimulation that they crave. If the dog is being used for hunting or water retrieving it is important for the owner to take some care in ensuring that the dog is clean from debris and any injuries.

Proper training of the Curly-Coated Retriever is essential. They can be difficult puppies and dogs and therefore should be trained from an early age. Initially it is important for the dog to be given enough mental and physical stimulation. They are known to get bored and become destructive. As puppies they are late bloomers and therefore the owner should be aware that they could have rowdiness and other issues on their hands for up to three years. They can destructively chew things and can make a total disaster out of the house and yard. They are also known to bark excessively when bored.

Young puppies of this breed are very rambunctious and are considered to have a high level of bounciness. This means that things in the home can go flying including small children and toddlers. The dog should be trained from a young age that jumping up is not acceptable. The dog should be watched carefully around young children and the elderly to make sure that no one gets hurt. In addition to this, as puppies they can be very mouthy and will carry objects around the home and mouth people's hands and feet.

Socialization is also very important for the Curly-Coated Retriever. They can be very standoffish with strangers and therefore should be put into new environments and around new people from a young age. They are also quite stubborn which means that training should be firm and consistent. The handler or owner should be aware that they need to prove to the dog and establish that they have the upper hand in the relationship. They are highly intelligent and are trainable dogs for agility and obedience, but it does take a firm hand.

“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.” – Samuel Butler

For more information on Grooming the Curly Coated Retriever and general Curly Info

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