Is the Curly-Coated Retriever a High-Maintenance Breed?

Are you considering adding a Curly-Coated Retriever to your family? Before you make that decision, it’s important to understand the level of maintenance these furry companions require. Known for their stunning curly coats, Curly-Coated Retrievers are undeniably eye-catching, but their unique fur comes with its own set of demands. In this blog post, we’ll delve into whether or not these dogs are considered high-maintenance and explore the grooming and care they require to thrive. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what it takes to keep a Curly-Coated Retriever looking and feeling its best. So, let’s jump in and discover if these delightful dogs are the right match for your lifestyle!

Physical Characteristics of a Curly-Coated Retriever

curly-coated retriever high-maintenance
Photo by Royal Canin

The Curly-Coated Retriever is a distinctive breed known for its unique curly coat. Before we determine if these breeds are high-maintenance, let’s reveal first their looks. Here are some of the physical characteristics of a Curly-Coated Retriever:

🟦 Size

Curly-Coated Retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs. Males typically stand between 25 to 27 inches (63.5 to 68.5 cm) at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring between 23.5 to 25.5 inches (59.5 to 64.5 cm). They have a sturdy and well-proportioned body, exhibiting a harmonious balance of strength and athleticism. The breed’s overall appearance exudes power and endurance.

🟦 Head, eyes, nose, and ears

The head of a Curly-Coated Retriever is moderately long and in proportion to the body. The skull is broad and slightly rounded, while the muzzle is strong and tapers slightly towards the nose. They possess a distinct stop, which is the indentation between the skull and the muzzle. The breed’s expressive eyes are medium-sized and almond-shaped, set well apart. The eye color is typically dark brown, complementing the coat color.

Curly-Coated Retrievers have small, pendant-shaped ears that are set rather high on the head. The ears hang close to the cheeks and are covered with small curls of hair, blending seamlessly with the rest of the coat. This characteristic adds to their unique appearance and charm.

🟦 Coat

One of the most distinguishing features of the breed is their dense and tight curly coat. The curls cover the entire body, including the head, legs, and tail. The coat is composed of a dense undercoat and a harsh outer coat, providing excellent insulation and protection against the elements. It is water-resistant, enabling them to be exceptional swimmers. The coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting, and occasional trimming may be necessary to maintain a neat appearance.

🟦 Color

Curly-Coated Retrievers are available in two recognized colors: solid black and liver. The coat is typically solid-colored, although small white markings on the chest or toes are permissible but not desirable according to breed standards. The black and liver coats accentuate the breed’s striking appearance, adding to their regal and distinguished aura.

🟦 Tail

Their tail is another prominent feature. It is strong, thick, and set moderately high. The tail is carried straight or slightly curved and is covered in tight curls, extending the overall curly pattern from the body. The tail adds to their balance and serves as an essential rudder when swimming, aiding in their proficiency as water retrievers.

Health Information About Curly-Coated Retriever

Curly-Coated Retrievers are generally a healthy and robust breed. However, like all dogs, they can be prone to certain health conditions and this can make them considered as a high-maintenance breed. It’s important for potential owners to be aware of these potential health issues and to take appropriate measures to ensure the well-being of their Curly-Coated Retrievers. Here are some health considerations for the breed:

🟩 Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition in many large breeds, including Curly-Coated Retrievers. It is characterized by the abnormal development or degeneration of the hip joint, leading to discomfort and lameness. Responsible breeders perform hip evaluations on their breeding dogs to minimize the risk of passing on this condition. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the impact of hip dysplasia.

🟩 Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is another orthopedic condition that can affect Curly-Coated Retrievers. It occurs when the components of the elbow joint do not develop properly, leading to joint instability and degenerative changes. Like hip dysplasia, responsible breeding practices can help reduce the incidence of elbow dysplasia. Managing weight and avoiding excessive strain on the joints during the growth phase can also be beneficial.

🟩 Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a group of inherited eye disorders that lead to progressive vision loss and, in some cases, blindness. Curly-Coated Retrievers are known to be susceptible to a form of PRA called progressive rod-cone degeneration (prcd-PRA). Genetic testing is available to identify carriers of the disease, and responsible breeders should test their breeding dogs to avoid producing affected offspring.

🟩 Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC)

EIC is a condition that primarily affects working and sporting breeds, including Curly-Coated Retrievers. It is characterized by a loss of muscle control and coordination during intense exercise, resulting in weakness or collapse. Genetic testing can identify carriers of the EIC gene, and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the occurrence of this condition. Owners should be cautious when engaging their Curly-Coated Retrievers in vigorous exercise and provide adequate rest breaks.

🟩 Cancer

Like many breeds, Curly-Coated Retrievers can be susceptible to certain types of cancer, including hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, and mast cell tumors. Regular veterinary check-ups, early detection, and prompt treatment can greatly improve outcomes. It’s essential for owners to be vigilant about any lumps, bumps, or unusual symptoms and consult a veterinarian if any concerns arise.

To ensure the overall health and well-being of a Curly-Coated Retriever, it is crucial to provide them with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight and addressing any health concerns promptly can help mitigate the risk of certain health conditions. Responsible breeders who prioritize health testing and genetic screening can play a significant role in producing healthier puppies and reducing the incidence of hereditary diseases within the breed.

Grooming Requirements for Curly-Coated Retriever

curly-coated retriever high-maintenance

Grooming a Curly-Coated Retriever is an essential part of keeping its unique curly coat healthy and attractive. With regular care and attention, you can ensure that your dog’s coat remains in good condition and free from tangles and mats. Here is a list of grooming requirements for a Curly-Coated Retriever:

πŸŸͺ Brushing

Brushing is crucial for maintaining a Curly-Coated Retriever’s coat. Their curly hair can easily mat and tangle, so regular brushing is necessary to keep it looking its best. Use a slicker brush or a comb with widely spaced teeth to gently work through the curls. It’s recommended to brush your dog at least two to three times a week. Start from the roots and work your way down to prevent any painful tugging.

πŸŸͺ Bathing

Bathing your Curly-Coated Retriever should be done as needed, typically every two to three months or when they get dirty. Use a mild dog shampoo that is specifically designed for curly or wiry coats. Before bathing, thoroughly brush your dog to remove any loose hair and tangles. Wet the coat completely and apply the shampoo, working it through the curls with your fingers. Rinse thoroughly to ensure all the shampoo is removed, as residue can cause skin irritation. Avoid bathing too frequently, as it can strip the coat of its natural oils.

πŸŸͺ Trimming

Unlike some other breeds, the Curly-Coated Retriever’s coat doesn’t require extensive trimming. However, occasional trimming may be necessary to maintain a neat appearance and remove any excess hair. Focus on the areas around the ears, paws, and tail, where the hair may grow longer. A professional groomer can help you trim your dog’s coat if you’re unsure how to do it yourself. Avoid excessive trimming, as it can alter the natural look of the breed.

πŸŸͺ Coat Care

Apart from regular brushing, it’s important to keep the curly coat moisturized to prevent dryness and reduce tangling. You can use a leave-in conditioner or a coat spray specifically formulated for curly coats. Apply the conditioner or spray to the coat and gently work it through the curls with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. This will help maintain the coat’s health and minimize the risk of tangles. Avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals, as they can strip the natural oils from the coat.

πŸŸͺ Nail Care

Regular nail care is essential for a Curly-Coated Retriever’s overall well-being. Check your dog’s nails regularly and trim them as needed. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and potential problems with walking. If you’re unsure about nail trimming, consult a veterinarian or a professional groomer for assistance. Be cautious not to cut the nails too short, as it can cause bleeding and pain. Use a pair of dog nail clippers and trim the nails in small increments.

πŸŸͺ Ear Cleaning

Curly-Coated Retrievers are prone to ear infections, so regular ear cleaning is crucial. Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. Use a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball or a soft cloth to gently wipe the visible parts of the ear. Avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal, as it can cause injury. If you notice any signs of infection or if your dog is shaking their head or scratching their ears excessively, consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

πŸŸͺ Teeth and Gum Care

Just like humans, dogs need regular dental care. Brushing your Curly-Coated Retriever’s teeth is important for maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing dental issues. Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to gently brush their teeth a few times a week. Dental chews or treats designed to promote dental health can also be beneficial. Regular veterinary check-ups should include a dental examination to ensure your dog’s teeth and gums are healthy.

πŸŸͺ Professional Grooming

While you can handle many aspects of grooming at home, it’s recommended to take your Curly-Coated Retriever to a professional groomer for occasional grooming sessions. A professional groomer will have the expertise and tools to handle the breed’s unique coat, including trimming and shaping if necessary. They can also give you guidance on maintaining the coat between grooming appointments.

πŸŸͺ Check for Parasites

During grooming sessions, take the opportunity to check your dog’s skin for any signs of parasites such as fleas or ticks. Run your fingers through the coat, feeling for any bumps or irregularities. If you find any parasites or suspect an infestation, consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment options.

πŸŸͺ Regular Exercise

Although not directly related to grooming, regular exercise is important for a Curly-Coated Retriever’s overall well-being. Daily exercise helps maintain their physical and mental health, which in turn contributes to a healthy coat. Physical activity stimulates blood circulation, which can promote a glossy and healthy coat. Ensure your Curly-Coated Retriever receives regular exercise through walks, playtime, or other activities suitable for their energy levels.

Remember, each dog is unique, and grooming needs may vary slightly. It’s important to observe your Curly-Coated Retriever’s individual coat and adjust the grooming routine as necessary. If you have any specific questions or concerns about grooming your Curly-Coated Retriever, consult a professional groomer or your veterinarian for guidance.

Training and Socialization for Curly-Coated Retriever

When it comes to training and socialization materials for a Curly-Coated Retriever, it’s important to consider their specific needs and characteristics. Curly-Coated Retrievers are intelligent, energetic, and independent dogs, so their training should focus on positive reinforcement, consistency, and mental stimulation. Here are some training and socialization materials that can be helpful:

🟫 Basic Training Books

Start your Curly-Coated Retriever’s training journey with books that cover basic obedience training techniques and principles. Look for reputable sources that emphasize positive reinforcement methods. Books such as “The Power of Positive Dog Training” by Pat Miller and “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell provide valuable insights into effective training approaches and understanding your dog’s behavior.

🟫 Clicker

A clicker is a small handheld device that makes a distinct clicking sound. It can be used as a marker to signal correct behavior and helps with precise timing during training sessions. The clicker provides a clear and consistent way to communicate with your Curly-Coated Retriever, making it an excellent tool for training commands and tricks.

🟫 Treats

High-value treats play a vital role in positive reinforcement training. Choose treats that your Curly-Coated Retriever finds irresistible and use them as rewards during training sessions. Treats should be small, soft, and easily consumable, ensuring that your dog can quickly consume them and continue with training without getting distracted.

🟫 Training Leash and Collar/Harness

A sturdy leash and a properly fitted collar or harness are necessary for leash training and outings. A leash allows you to maintain control and keep your dog safe during walks and training sessions. Opt for a leash that is strong, comfortable to hold, and the appropriate length for your needs. Additionally, choose a collar or harness that fits well without causing discomfort to your dog.

🟫 Chew Toys

Curly-Coated Retrievers have a natural instinct to chew, so providing them with appropriate chew toys is important. Durable toys made of rubber or nylon can help redirect their chewing behavior and prevent them from damaging household items. Choose toys that are specifically designed for strong chewers to ensure they withstand your dog’s chewing habits.

🟫 Puzzle Toys

Mental stimulation is crucial for Curly-Coated Retrievers, as they are intelligent and energetic dogs. Puzzle toys and interactive feeders provide mental challenges and keep them entertained. These toys require problem-solving skills and can help prevent boredom. There are a variety of puzzle toys available, including treat-dispensing toys, puzzle balls, and interactive puzzle boards.

🟫 Socialization Tools

Curly-Coated Retrievers should be socialized from a young age to ensure they are comfortable in various environments and with different people and animals. Some tools for socialization include a properly fitted dog-friendly harness, a long training leash for controlled introductions, and treats for positive reinforcement during social interactions. These tools can help create positive experiences and build your dog’s confidence when encountering new situations.

🟫 Training Treat Pouch

A treat pouch or bag can be attached to your belt or waistband, allowing quick access to treats during training sessions. It keeps your hands free and helps maintain focus during training. Look for a treat pouch that is durable, easily accessible, and has multiple compartments to store different types of treats. Some pouches also have additional pockets to carry small training tools like clickers or poop bags.

🟫 Training Clicker App

If you prefer using your smartphone, there are several training clicker apps available that mimic the sound of a physical clicker. These apps are convenient and allow you to have a clicker readily available whenever you need it. They offer features like adjustable volume and customizable clicker sounds, making them versatile tools for training your Curly-Coated Retriever.

🟫 Treat Dispensing Toys

Treat-dispensing toys are interactive toys that hold treats or kibble and require your dog to figure out how to access the food. These toys provide mental stimulation, as your Curly-Coated Retriever will need to use problem-solving skills to retrieve the treats. They can also help prevent boredom and provide entertainment when your dog is alone or needs a distraction.

🟫 Treat Dispensing Balls

Treat dispensing balls are interactive toys that hold treats inside them. When your Curly-Coated Retriever rolls or plays with the ball, treats are released, providing a rewarding experience. These toys promote physical exercise, and mental stimulation, and can help alleviate boredom or anxiety.

🟫 Treat Dispensing Mats

Treat dispensing mats are designed with various compartments or pockets where you can hide treats. Your dog will have to use their nose or paws to search and find the treats, engaging their sense of smell and providing mental stimulation. These mats are often made of non-toxic, durable materials and are machine washable for easy maintenance.

🟫 Training Whistle

A training whistle can be an effective tool for recall training and commands. The sound of the whistle can carry over long distances and is distinct, making it easier for your Curly-Coated Retriever to recognize and respond to. Choose a whistle that allows you to adjust the pitch and volume to find the most effective sound for your dog.

🟫 Scented Training Aids

Scented training aids, such as scent markers or sprays, can be used to introduce specific scents for scent work or tracking exercises. These aids can help your Curly-Coated Retriever develop their scenting abilities and engage their natural instincts. Follow specific instructions provided with the training aids and gradually introduce them during training sessions.

🟫 Training Targets

Training targets are objects, such as mats or disks, that you teach your Curly-Coated Retriever to touch or interact with during training. Targets help with teaching specific behaviors, such as targeting an area or learning tricks. They provide a clear visual cue for your dog to follow and can be useful in shaping their movements and positioning.

Remember, training and socialization should be an ongoing process throughout your Curly-Coated Retriever’s life. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key to success. Additionally, consider enrolling in puppy classes or hiring a professional dog trainer for guidance and personalized advice. Training and socialization should be enjoyable for both you and your Curly-Coated Retriever, fostering a strong bond and a well-behaved, confident dog.

Food Requirements for Curly-Coated Retrievers

Photo by Animals Network

Curly-coated Retrievers are active and energetic dogs that require a balanced diet to support their overall health and well-being. Here are some food requirements and recommendations for curly-coated Retrievers:

🟨 High-Quality Dog Food

Choose a premium-quality dog food that is specifically formulated for medium to large-breed dogs. Look for a product that lists a high-quality source of animal protein, such as chicken, beef, fish, or lamb, as the primary ingredient. Avoid dog foods that contain artificial preservatives, colors, and fillers.

🟨 Balanced Nutrients

Curly-coated Retrievers require a balanced combination of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in their diet. Protein is particularly important for muscle development and maintenance. Look for a dog food that provides around 20-25% protein content.

🟨 Animal Protein Sources

Dogs are carnivores by nature, and curly-coated Retrievers thrive on diets rich in animal protein. Animal proteins provide essential amino acids necessary for overall health. Look for dog foods that include named animal protein sources like deboned chicken, beef, fish, or lamb.

🟨 Healthy Fats

Include healthy fats in your curly-coated Retriever’s diet. These fats provide essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, which support the dog’s skin and coat health. Look for dog foods that contain sources like fish oil, flaxseed oil, or chicken fat.

🟨 Adequate Calories

Curly-coated Retrievers are typically active dogs, so they require a sufficient number of calories to fuel their energy levels. However, it’s important to monitor their calorie intake and adjust it based on their activity level to prevent obesity. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate calorie intake for your dog.

🟨 Digestible Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a source of energy for dogs. Look for dog foods that include easily digestible carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, or peas. Avoid dog foods that contain excessive amounts of fillers or common allergenic grains like wheat, corn, or soy.

🟨 Avoid Common Allergens

Some dogs may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients. Common allergens include wheat, soy, corn, and artificial additives. If your curly-coated Retriever shows signs of allergies, such as skin irritations or digestive issues, consult with a veterinarian to determine an appropriate diet that avoids these allergens.

🟨 Fresh Water

Always provide your curly-coated Retriever with fresh, clean water. Make sure to refill the water bowl regularly and keep it accessible throughout the day to keep your dog hydrated.

🟨 Portion Control

It’s important to feed your curly-coated Retriever the appropriate portion sizes based on their age, weight, and activity level. Follow the feeding guidelines provided by the dog food manufacturer, but remember to adjust the amount of vitamins if necessary to maintain a healthy weight. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, while underfeeding can result in nutrient deficiencies.

🟨 Regular Vet Check-ups

Schedule regular visits to a veterinarian to monitor your curly-coated Retriever’s health and discuss their dietary needs. The vet can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific requirements, such as dietary modifications for any health conditions or age-related changes.

Remember, each dog is unique, and individual dietary needs may vary. Pay attention to your curly-coated Retriever’s body condition, energy levels, and overall health, and make adjustments to their diet as needed. Consulting with a veterinarian is always recommended for personalized advice regarding your dog’s food requirements.

Is the Curly-Coated Retriever a High-Maintenance Breed?

Absolutely! The Curly-Coated Retriever can be considered a high-maintenance breed. They require quite a bit of attention and care to keep them in their best shape. The key factor here is their curly coat, which demands regular maintenance to prevent tangling and maintain their overall health.

Their beautiful, tightly curled coat has a tendency to trap dirt, debris, and even pesky parasites. That’s why regular brushing is a must to keep their fur free from tangles and remove any unwanted hitchhikers. Proper bathing and drying techniques are also crucial to prevent any potential skin issues.

In addition to grooming needs, these Retrievers are an active and intelligent bunch. They need mental and physical stimulation, so regular exercise, training, and socialization are essential to keep them content and well-behaved.

While it’s true that the Curly-Coated Retriever requires more grooming and attention compared to some other breeds, the love and companionship they offer are well worth the extra effort for dedicated owners.

Final Words

In conclusion, it’s clear that Curly-Coated Retrievers can be considered a high-maintenance breed. While the extra effort might seem daunting to some, the love and companionship that Curly-Coated Retrievers offer are truly rewarding. So, if you’re considering adding one of these beautiful dogs to your family, be prepared for the commitment and dedication required to meet their high-maintenance needs.

Remember, being informed and prepared is key to providing the best care for any pet. So, if you’re up for the challenge and ready to give a Curly-Coated Retriever the attention and care they deserve, you’ll be rewarded with a loyal and wonderful companion who will bring joy to your life for years to come.

To know more about Curly-Coated Retrievers, just click here!

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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