Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Curly Coated Retriever
Average Cost to keep/care for a Curly Coated Retriever
The Curly Coated Retriever has a very unique coat that consists of tight curls which allows these dogs to shake off water in a matter of seconds after they have been swimming leaving them virtually dry. They are renowned for their skills in the field and highly prized for their retrieving abilities. They have also become a popular choice both as companion dogs and family pets thanks to their striking coats and their very kind natures especially when they are around children. With this said, they are not the best choice for first-time dog owners because they need to be handled with a firm but gentle hand so they understand who is boss.
Being very intelligent dogs, they are easy to train and do well in agility although not always as reliable as many other breeds. The Curly Coated Retriever is a late developer only really maturing when they are three years old which means they can be a bit wilful up until then which has to be taken into account during their training. However, if well socialised and trained from a young age, these lovely dogs are a joy to have around both in a home environment and in the field.
Thought to be one of the oldest retriever breeds on the planet, The Curly Coated Retriever first appeared as a working dog in England during the eighteenth century. The breed is the result of crossing the English Water Spaniel, the St John's Newfoundland, the Poodle, the Labrador and the Irish Water Spaniel may have also been used. For centuries, these working dog proved themselves to be one of the best hunting and gun dogs around, capable of retrieving waterfowl and other game in challenging conditions when asked.
They also boast other talents which includes being adept watchdogs and today the breed has proved to be very talented when taking part in agility competitions. Curly Coated Retrievers are quite sought after because not only are they very attractive, but they make great family pets forming very strong bonds with their families.
Height at the withers: Males 64 - 69 cm, Females 58 - 64 cm
Average weight: Males 32 - 41 kg, Females 23 - 32 kg
Curly Coated Retrievers have very distinct looking coats that offer them a tremendous amount of protection from the elements. They also have quite wedge-shaped heads when seen in profile and there's a slight stop with dogs boasting nice muzzles. Their nose can either be black or brown depending on a dog's coat colour. Their eyes are large and oval in shape being set obliquely on a dog's face. They can either be black or brown to match a dog's coat.
A Curly Coat's ears are on the small side and they are set just above the level of a dog's eyes, but always lie close to their head and they are well covered in tiny curls. These dogs have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are slightly arched and strong being moderately long, flowing neatly down to a dog's well laid back shoulders.
Forequarters are muscular and well developed with dogs boasting straight front legs that are well set under their body. Chests are deep with well sprung ribs and they reach well back with dogs also having a well-developed brisket and their forechest is clearly visible. Loins are powerful and deep with dogs having slightly tucked up flanks. Toplines are level, strong and hindquarters are muscular and powerful with dogs having strong back legs. Feet are round and tight with dogs having well-arched toes. Their tail flows from their topline which dogs carry straight and level to their toplines when alert or on the move.
When it comes to their coat, Curly Coated Retrievers boast having one that is covered in a thick mass of tight and crisp curls that lie close to their bodies right from their occiputs to the tips of their tails with no undercoat. Accepted breed colours are as follows:
Temperament wise, the Curly Coated Retriever is known to be a very easy going and loyal character, always ready and willing to please. They are easy to train because they are so intelligent which means in the right hands and with the correct amount of guidance, these dogs are a real pleasure to have around. However, they need to be well trained and socialised from a young age so they grow up to be well-balanced, obedient mature dogs.
They are not the ideal choice for first-time dog owners because Curly Coated Retrievers need to know their place in the pack and they are never happier than when they know they can look to their owners for guidance and direction. The other thing to bear in mind is the breed matures much later than other dogs which is when they are about 3 years old. In short, they do tend to be quite wilful for much longer than other breeds which is why their training has to be consistent from the word go and into their rather long adolescence. They can be a little stand offish when they meet someone for the first time, but these dogs would rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards strangers preferring to just keep their distance.
During their training, Curly Coated Retrievers need to be handled with a firm but gentle and fair hand. Their training has to be consistent right from the word go. If they are taught the right way, these lovely dogs are affectionate characters known to be extremely good around children. The key to a happy, well balanced Curly Coated Retriever, is to give them lots of physical and mental exercise. Their training has to be varied because if things get too repetitive, a Curly would soon get bored and lose interest in a training session which makes keeping them focused that much harder.
When Curly Coated Retrievers are taught the right way from the word go, they are affectionate characters known to be very good around children. However, care has to be taken because these large dogs can play a bit "rough" with the kids which means any interaction between them should be supervised by an adult to ensure things don't get too boisterous which may well end up with someone getting hurt.
If well socialised from a young age and introduced to as many other animals and dogs after they have been fully vaccinated, the Curly is known to get on well with them. If they have grown up with a cat in the house they are generally fine around them too. However, a curly would think nothing of chasing the neighbour's cat because they would see them as "fair game".
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Curly Coated Retriever is between 8 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Curly Coated Retriever is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Because the breed is prone to these health issues, it's really important for them to have regular health checks with the vet and especially as they get older so that if any health issues can be caught early and treated.
As with any other breed, Curly Coated Retrievers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Although their coat is a mass of curls, these dogs are low maintenance on the grooming front. A weekly brush with a soft slicker brush is all it takes to prevent tangles from forming and because their coats are so weather-resistant, water and mud just rolls off it. If their coat grows too long, just an occasional trim would keep things tidy which can be done by a professional groomer when necessary.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
When it comes to exercise, Curly Coated Retrievers love to be in water and are the perfect choice for people who lead active outdoor lives with a canine companion at their side. These dogs need a minimum of 2 hour’s daily exercise and it has to include as much mental stimulation as possible. A shorter walk in the morning would be okay, but a much longer and more interesting one in the afternoon is a must to keep these dogs happy and healthy. They also benefit from being allowed to roam around a back garden as often as they can, but the fencing has to be very secure to keep these dogs in.
The Curly Coat excels at many canine sports which includes activities like obedience, flyball and agility, thoroughly enjoying the interaction they get with their owners. As previously mentioned, they also love being in water which means care has to be taken when walking a Curly off the lead anywhere near more dangerous water courses because they might just decide to jump in.
With this said, young Curly puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs.
If you get a Curly puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Curly Coated Retrievers are prone to suffer from bloat, it is really important that they be fed twice a day instead of giving them just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand to place their feed bowl which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down low to reach their food. You should never feed them just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of suffering from bloat.
If you are looking to buy a Curly Coated Retriever you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year and you would need to pay anything from £600 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Curly in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £47.37 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Curly and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Curly Coated Retriever would be between £80 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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