Curly Coated Retrievers: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Curly Coated Retriever temperament, personality, and behavior.

DOG BOOKS by Michele Welton

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Curly-Coated Retriever dog breed

Curly-Coated Retriever Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Curly-Coated Retriever Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


This strong and robust dog is also elegant and graceful, quick and agile. His daily exercise requirement is such that he belongs with an athletic owner who will take him jogging, biking, hiking, and swimming.

Though reserved and sometimes distrustful with strangers, he should remain poised and hold his ground. A Curly Coated Retriever puppy needs more socialization than other retrievers to develop a confident temperament.

Many have sensible protective instincts and may not welcome strangers into their homes as will a Golden or Labrador Retriever.

He relates well to other animals and is playful and accepting.

Described as "wickedly smart," he may use his intelligence in clever, independent ways that suit his own purposes. Thus he needs early obedience training to establish that you are in charge.

All retrievers are slow to mature, and the Curly-Coat remains playfully puppyish for many years. This sounds delightful, but does require patience and control to live with.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is the most unusual-looking of the retriever breeds
  • Loves the great outdoors and thrives on vigorous athletic activities
  • Is steady and dependable
  • Is more cautious with strangers than Golden or Labrador Retrievers, but still usually polite
  • Is good with other animals

A Curly-Coated Retriever may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
  • Shyness or timidity with strangers when not socialized enough
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Mouthiness -- carrying and chewing of objects, mouthing your hands
  • Waiting lists (hard to find)
  • Health problems

A Curly-Coated Retriever may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Curly-Coated Retriever

If I was considering a Curly-Coated Retriever, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Compared to the more familiar Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Curly Coated Retrievers are more active and more athletic. Curlies need more exercise – more opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
  2. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Curly-Coated Retrievers need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become suspiciousness or shyness, which are difficult to live with.
  3. Stubbornness. Again, compared to Labs and Goldens, Curlycoated Retrievers are more stubborn and can be manipulative. Yet they are smart dogs who are willing to learn if you show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Curly to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. See Training Curly Coated Retrievers.
  4. Shedding and trimming. Curly Coated Retrievers do shed, so don't let anyone tell you that they're "light shedding" or hypoallergenic. They're not. Curlies also need occasional trimming to keep their curly locks from becoming too long and shaggy.
  5. Finding one. Curlies are not a common breed, so you'll need to search hard for a breeder, get on their waiting list, and pay a steep price.
  6. Potential health problems. All retriever breeds are susceptible to crippling joint and bone problems, and inherited eye diseases that can lead to blindness. In addition, epilepsy and heart disease are serious concerns in the Curly-Coated Retriever.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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