curly-coated retriever health issues

Understanding the Common Curly-Coated Retriever Health Issues

Have you ever heard of curly-coated retriever health issues? As a curly-coated retriever owner, it’s important to note that these beautiful dogs are not immune to health problems. Like all dogs, they can be susceptible to a range of illnesses and conditions. I remember how frustrating it was to witness my dog suffer through a few of these issues; It was difficult for me to manage the situation properly. Fortunately, with the help of my vet and some changes to my pup’s lifestyle, we got him back on track.

So I want to use this opportunity to discuss some common curly-coated retriever health issues. I don’t want you to worry too much about it, but I think it’s important to be aware of them. In this article, I will also talk about some of the preventative measures you can take to help your pup stay as healthy as possible.

Introducing Curly-Coated Retriever

curly-coated retriever health issues

Let me introduce you to the Curly-Coated Retriever, a unique breed that exhibits a mix of strength, agility, and intelligence. If you are searching for a loyal and friendly companion, you might want to learn more about this furry and cuddly friend.


The Curly-Coated Retriever breed is believed to have originated in England in the late 1700s. They were used to retrieve games from both land and water, making them a versatile breed. The breed was developed by crossing breeds like the Poodle, the Irish Water Spaniel, and the St. John’s Newfoundland. It was only recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1924.


The Curly Coated Retrievers were a popular breed during the late 19th century but faced tough competition with the emergence of other breeds like the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever. However, they didn’t go extinct as enthusiasts and coated retriever breeders continued to breed them. Today, they are a rare breed with a strong love for the outdoors and can perform various roles like serving as search and rescue dogs, guides for the blind, and therapy dogs.


This Retriever dog has a unique appearance that sets it apart from other breeds. The most notable feature is its curly coat which is waterproof. They come in black or silver coat colors and have a well-proportioned, athletic build. Their eyes are hazel or brown and set well apart with a friendly expression that makes them fun to interact with. They can weigh up to 70 pounds and have an average height of 25 inches. The Curly-Coated Retriever has a life span of about 10-12 years.


The Curly-Coated Retriever is a lovable, playful, and loyal breed that enjoys human company. They are intelligent, athletic, and love training sessions. They are quick learners and can perform tricks and commands with ease. They are great with children and enjoy playing with the younger ones. They are also vocal and tend to bark to alert their owners of potential danger. Overall, they are great family dogs because of their affectionate nature and ability to get along with other animals.


Maintaining a healthy and happy Curly-Coated Retriever requires regular exercise and grooming. As they are an active breed, they need at least an hour of exercise each day to keep them physically fit. Their curly coat requires frequent brushing to keep their hair from matting and tangling. They must also be bathed and trimmed regularly to keep their coat looking good.

Common Curly-Coated Retriever Health Issues

Now that you have an overview of the Curly-Coated Retriever, let’s discuss some common health issues that may affect this breed.

âť—Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common genetic disease affecting dogs of all breeds. The condition occurs when the hip joint fails to develop correctly and, over time, wears down the cartilage cushioning the ball-and-socket joint. It can lead to discomfort, limping, and even arthritis.

Hip dysplasia is primarily a genetic disease, and it’s particularly common in larger dog breeds, including curly-coated retrievers. Similarly, puppies from parents with hip dysplasia are more likely to be affected by the condition. Overfeeding and excessive exercise can also increase the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Signs and Symptoms:

It’s important to monitor your curly-coated retriever for signs of hip dysplasia regularly. Early diagnosis can help you manage symptoms and stop them from worsening. Some of the common signs of hip dysplasia include pain in the hips, difficulty standing up or lying down, stiffness or reluctance to move, trouble climbing stairs or jumping up, and limping. If your dog shows these signs, consult your vet as soon as possible.

Treatment Options:

Luckily, there are several ways to manage hip dysplasia in curly-coated retrievers. Your vet may prescribe pain medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), to alleviate your dog’s discomfort. In some cases, surgery may be necessary, particularly if your dog’s hip dysplasia is severe. In most instances, regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and weight management can help keep your dog’s hip joints healthy and relieve the symptoms of hip dysplasia.


Preventing hip dysplasia requires a combination of responsible breeding practices and careful attention to your dog’s diet and exercise routine. Always buy puppies from reputable breeders with parent dogs screened for hip dysplasia. Avoid adopting a coated retriever puppy from unknown sources or backyard breeders. Additionally, ensure that your curly-coated retriever’s diet includes adequate nutrients for bone health, and provide him with age-appropriate exercise that does not strain his hips excessively.

âť—Bloat or Gastric Torsion

Bloat or gastric torsion is a potentially life-threatening condition that can affect any dog breed, but it is more commonly seen in large and deep-chested dogs like our curly-coated retrievers. So, what causes bloat? Several factors can contribute to this condition’s development, including genetics, age, diet, and stress. In some cases, bloat can occur after a large meal or drinking too much water too quickly. It can also happen during or after exercise, especially if the dog has ingested air while panting heavily.


The signs of bloat or gastric torsion can range from mild to severe and may vary from one dog to another. However, some common symptoms to look out for include retching or vomiting without producing any dog food, excessive drooling, restlessness, pacing, distended abdomen, and shallow breathing. Other indicators include a rapid heart rate, pale gums, and a weak pulse, all requiring immediate medical attention.

Treatment Options:

Once diagnosed with bloat, your curly-coated retriever will require immediate veterinary care. The vet will perform an emergency decompression procedure to release trapped gas, relieve the twisting, and stabilize the dog. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove any damaged tissue or perform a gastropexy – tethering the stomach to prevent future torsions. You may also administer medications such as pain relievers and antibiotics to manage pain and prevent infection.


Prevention is key in bloat or gastric torsion in your curly-coated retriever. One of the most effective prevention measures is feeding your dog small, frequent meals throughout the day instead of one large meal. You can switch to a high-quality wet diet and avoid feeding your dog right before or after exercise.

Additionally, it’s essential to keep your dog calm and prevent any rapid or contact movements after meals, avoid overexertion, and ensure that your dog’s food and water bowls are elevated to reduce the amount of air they ingest. Lastly, be on the lookout for any signs of bloat or gastric torsion, and take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice any symptoms.

âť—Idiopathic Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s electrical activity. When dogs suffer from epilepsy, their brains experience sudden bursts of electrical energy, leading to seizures. The seizures can be mild or severe and can last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Idiopathic Epilepsy means that a dog’s seizures don’t have any identifiable underlying medical causes. The diagnosis comes through exclusion after all other possible reasons have been eliminated. This type of epilepsy is hereditary and often appears in dogs between one and three years old.

Signs and Symptoms:

Dogs may display changes in behavior, like apprehension or fear. They may also have seizures, including falling to one side, trembling violently, or paddling their legs. One of the most common signs of a seizure is the loss of consciousness, so the dog may seem like they’re in a trance or daydreaming.

Treatment Options:

Regarding treatment options, veterinarians may prescribe medication to prevent seizures or limit their frequency. The widely used medicines include phenobarbital and potassium bromide. These medicines help control the dog’s seizures but also have some notable side effects. Natural remedies like CBD oil have also become legal in many countries and can effectively treat epilepsy.


Lastly, preventive measures play a crucial role in managing Idiopathic Epilepsy. Before breeding your curly-coated retriever, always ensure both parents have no genetic mutations for epilepsy. It will help reduce the risk of passing the disease to their offspring. Also, regular checkups and monitoring your dog’s eating, sleeping, and exercise routines can help you notice any signs of developing seizures.

âť—Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic condition found in Curly-Coated Retrievers that damages the eye’s retina. The retina is part of the eye responsible for detecting light, and when PRA develops, it slowly loses its function. This means, over time, your furry friend will lose their vision, leading to blindness. Sadly, this disease has no cure, so it’s crucial to catch the signs and symptoms early on.

A faulty gene causes PRA to be passed down from the parents of Curly-Coated Retrievers. When both parents have a copy of the faulty gene, it increases the chances of their puppies developing PRA significantly. It’s essential to note that PRA in Curly-Coated Retrievers is an inherited disease, and you can do nothing to prevent it from occurring. Hence before getting a puppy, you should go to a reputable breeder and check the dog’s lineage and health.

Sign and Symptoms:

Symptoms of PRA don’t appear immediately, so it’s imperative to remain vigilant. The early signs are difficulty seeing at night and slow adaptation to changes in light. As the disease progresses, your furry friend will have trouble seeing objects far away, making it difficult to play fetch. They may also show signs of clumsiness, bumping into walls and furniture, which can be quite distressing for both you and your dog.

Treatment Options:

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for PRA, and treatment options are limited. Some supplements can slow down the progression of the disease, such as Vitamin E and Lutein, but these only delay blindness. Surgery may be an option in severe cases, but this is a difficult and expensive solution. Therefore, regular visits to the vet to monitor your dog’s eyes are essential.


As previously mentioned, PRA is an inherited disease, and therefore you can’t prevent it. However, you can reduce the chances of your Curly-Coated Retriever developing PRA by purchasing them from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders often screen their dogs for health conditions, including PRA, providing you with a higher chance of getting a healthy pup.

âť—Other Eye Conditions

Eye conditions are quite common in curly-coated retrievers, and you should be aware of many other eye problems beyond cataracts and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). So, let’s take a closer look at these conditions and what you need to know.

1: Entropion

Entropion is a condition where the eyelid turns inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea. This rubbing can lead to irritation, corneal ulcers, and even vision loss. Signs that your curly-coated retriever may have entropion include excessive tearing, redness, and squinting. Treatment options include surgical correction, and while there is no way to prevent entropion, it is important to keep an eye out for any signs and symptoms in your dog.

2: Ectropion

Ectropion is the opposite of entropion, where the eyelid turns outward, exposing the cornea. Ectropion can lead to corneal ulcers, chronic irritation, and dry eye. Curly-coated retrievers tend to be more common than entropion. Symptoms of ectropion include a droopy lower eyelid, redness, and excessive tearing. The treatment options for ectropion are similar to entropion, and while there is no surefire way to prevent it, regular checkups with your veterinarian can help detect it early.

3: Distichiasis

Distichiasis is a condition where an abnormal, extra row of eyelashes grows from the edge of the eyelid and rubs against the cornea. This often leads to irritation, tearing, and, if left untreated, corneal ulcers. Symptoms of distichiasis include watery eyes, redness, squinting, and an extra visible row of eyelashes. Treatment options for distichiasis include surgical correction, while prevention entails regular checkups and examining your dog’s eyes closely.

4: Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)

Also known as dry eye, KCS is a condition where the tear glands in the dog’s eyes do not produce enough tears to lubricate the eye, leading to inflammation, redness, and potentially corneal ulcers. Symptoms of KCS include eye discharge, redness, squinting, and thick, sticky mucus in the corners of the eyes. Treatment for KCS usually involves the long-term use of artificial tears or more advanced treatment options like immunosuppressant medications. Early detection and treatment are key, and reducing your curly-coated retriever’s exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke can help prevent KCS.

Regular checkups with your veterinarian, paying close attention to your dog’s eyes, and taking steps to prevent or address any issues can help ensure that your curly-coated retriever has the best vision possible.

âť—Heart Disease

Heart disease is a broad term that covers various conditions that affect the heart muscle and its function. This disease can cause significant health problems in dogs, particularly if left untreated.

One of the most significant risk factors for heart disease is genetics. Curly-coated retrievers are prone to developing heart disease, and it’s essential to know your dog’s pedigree to be aware of any hereditary conditions. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet are also leading causes of heart disease in dogs.

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms of heart disease won’t show until the later stages of the illness. However, keep an eye out for signs such as fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath. Another sign of heart disease is reduced exercise tolerance. If your dog struggles to keep up with regular activities or seems uncharacteristically lethargic, it’s best to seek veterinary advice.

Treatment Options:

The good news is that dogs with heart disease can still live long and happy lives with proper care and treatment. Treatment options vary depending on the type of heart disease present and the severity of the condition. In most cases, medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers are prescribed to help regulate the heart and manage symptoms. It may also require Surgery in more severe cases.


The best way to prevent heart disease in your furry friend is through regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing a balanced and nutritious diet. It’s also crucial to schedule regular vet checkups to monitor your dog’s health and detect potential health issues early on. Additionally, if your curly-coated retriever is not spayed or neutered, maintaining a healthy reproductive system can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

âť—Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD)

GSD is a common inherited condition that affects curly-coated retrievers. This health issue occurs when the dog’s body fails to store glucose in its liver and muscles, leading to abnormal growth and development, poor muscle coordination, and lethargy. According to veterinary experts, there are multiple types of GSD, but curly-coated retrievers tend to be prone to Type III (GSD III).


GSD is caused by gene mutations that affect the production of enzymes necessary for breaking down glucose into glycogen. This dysfunction leads to glycogen accumulation in the liver and muscle cells, which eventually causes GSD. The condition is thought to be inherited in Curly-coated retrievers as an autosomal recessive trait; both parents must carry the mutated gene for their offspring to manifest GSD.

Signs and Symptoms:

The symptoms of GSD vary, but exercise intolerance is the most common one seen in Curly-coated retrievers. After a short workout or activity, the dog might appear tired or collapse due to low blood sugar levels. Other symptoms include poor muscle coordination, muscle wasting, enlarged liver, lethargy, slow growth, and abnormal gait. You must notify your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Treatment Options:

GSD has no cure, but you can manage the condition with a comprehensive treatment plan. The treatment mainly focuses on managing blood sugar levels, providing a balanced diet, and administering the right medication the veterinarian prescribes. The treatment options include exercise restrictions and frequent monitoring of the dog’s enzymes and blood sugar levels.


Prevention of GSD in Curly-coated retrievers is limited to selective breeding practices. It is crucial to screen the breeding stock for the mutations associated with GSD to avoid transmission to the offspring. Any responsible breeder should do this before breeding their dogs. As a pet owner, you can request to see the health certification of the puppy’s parents before purchasing them.

âť—Pattern Baldness

Pattern baldness is a condition with hair loss in a distinct pattern on a dog’s coat. It is more common in certain breeds, including curly-coated retrievers. Although there is no clear cause for pattern baldness, it is assumed to be a genetic issue. It is important to note that not all curly-coated retrievers will experience pattern baldness. However, those that do may experience hair loss in the hind legs, tail, and neck area.

Signs and Symptoms:

One of the most evident signs of pattern baldness is bald patches on your furry friend’s coat. These bald patches are usually symmetrical and appear in the areas mentioned above. Also, infected areas may be itchy and red, scaly, or inflamed. It’s important to note that other health issues, including allergies, can cause hair loss in dogs. Therefore, it’s always best to have a vet examine your dog to determine the exact cause of hair loss.

Treatment Options:

There isn’t a clear-cut solution when it comes to treating pattern baldness in dogs. While there is no cure for pattern baldness, some treatment options can help improve hair growth and reduce hair loss. For instance, you can apply topical medicines such as sprays, gels, or shampoos to the affected areas to stimulate hair growth. In some cases, a veterinarian may prescribe oral medication to help stop hair loss in dogs.


Prevention is always better than cure. While there is no surefire way of preventing pattern baldness in curly-coated retrievers, there are some measures you can take to minimize the risk. It is crucial to know your dog’s genetic history before breeding. Providing a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming is also important. Keeping your pup clean and well-groomed will not only improve their appearance but also enhance their overall health.

âť—Dental Issues

Dental issues in curly-coated retrievers are quite common, mainly because of their genetic heritage. Curly-coated retrievers are bred to be excellent hunting dogs, so they are used to retrieving game from water. However, their habit of chewing on things can damage their teeth and jaws over time. The food they eat and their favorite chew toys can also contribute to dental problems, leading to serious health issues affecting their overall well-being.


The most common causes of dental issues in curly-coated retrievers are poor dental care, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, and genetics. Poor dental care includes:

  • Not brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.
  • Not providing chew toys that help to keep teeth clean.
  • Not providing dental treats that help clean their teeth.

Suppose you don’t take care of your dog’s dental hygiene. In that case, bacteria will start to accumulate in their mouth, which can lead to the accumulation of plaque and tartar on their teeth and gums and eventually contribute to the breakdown of their teeth.

Signs and Symptoms:

The signs and symptoms of dental issues in curly-coated retrievers can vary, but some of the most common ones include bad breath, red or swollen gums, bleeding or loss of teeth, difficulty eating, and lethargy. If you notice any of these signs, you should take your dog to a vet immediately for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment Options:

The treatment options for dental issues in curly-coated retrievers include professional teeth cleaning, antibiotics, pain medication, and in some cases, tooth extraction. The vet may also recommend surgery to remove infected tissue or reconstruct the jaw if the condition is severe. Additionally, to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and clean, it’s important to brush their teeth regularly, provide them with chew toys and dental treats, and get regular dental checkups from your vet.


The best way to prevent dental issues in curly-coated retrievers is to establish a proper dental hygiene routine from a young age. It should include brushing their teeth regularly, providing them with chew toys and dental treats, and taking them for regular dental checkups at the vet. You can also change their diet to include more raw, natural foods that help clean their teeth and avoid giving them foods high in sugar or processed.

These are some of the most common health issues that affect curly-coated retrievers. It is important to note that early detection and intervention are key for any serious health issue. Therefore, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian if you notice any signs or symptoms of illness in your pup.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I ensure the proper exercise and activity level for my Curly-Coated Retriever?

Curly-Coated Retrievers are a high-energy level breed requiring much exercise and activity. They love to run and play and enjoy a good game of fetch. A great way to ensure that your Curly-Coated Retriever gets enough exercise is to take them on daily walks, runs, or hikes. You can also consider enrolling your pup in agility classes, which they will really enjoy and appreciate since they are such an active breed.

Are there any genetic tests available to screen for potential health issues in this breed?

Yes! You can conduct genetic tests to screen for potential health issues in your Curly-Coated Retriever. You can conduct these tests with your veterinarian or a specialized dog healthcare provider. For example, you can test your dog for hip and elbow dysplasia, which are common issues in many dog breeds.

How long is the average lifespan of a Curly-Coated Retriever?

The average lifespan of a Curly-Coated Retriever is 8 to 12 years. With proper care and attention, however, some may live longer. Following a healthy lifestyle regimen, regular vet checkups, and proper exercise with regular health tests is essential.

How often should I have my Curly-Coated Retriever’s eyes checked by a veterinarian?

Curly-Coated Retrievers are known for having healthy eyes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them for regular checkups. They can still be susceptible to developing cataracts, PRC, and other ocular problems. Ocular health exams should be conducted during each annual visit to the veterinarian. Regularly keeping eye care checkups is appropriate for longevity and optimal eye health.

Can Curly-Coated Retrievers develop epilepsy or other neurological disorders?

Yes, Curly-Coated Retrievers can develop epilepsy or other neurological disorders. It is important to pay attention to any signs of seizures or brain activity issues and to consult with your veterinarian immediately. Regular vet checkups will be beneficial in terms of keeping track of your dog’s overall health status.

Final Words

As I was researching curly-coated retriever health issues, I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. It’s not easy to think about all the potential health concerns that our pups might face. But as a responsible dog owner, educating yourself and taking preventative measures to keep our pups as healthy as possible is essential.

While the curly-coated retriever has its fair share of genetic predispositions, it’s comforting to know that we can minimize the chances of these issues arising with proper care and attention. So let’s take charge of our pets’ health and give them the long and happy lives they deserve.

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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