Curly-Coated Retrievers, like most retrieving breeds, are large, athletic, sturdy, yet graceful. Their defining characteristic is their curly, crisp coat of hair that comes in black or liver colors. This coat protects the dog from brush and the elements when in the hunting field. The face of the Curly is smooth, as are the hocks and front of the legs. They are a bit longer than they are tall and they have strong, level backs. Their heads are wedge-shaped and should be longer than it is wide. They have wide but tapered muzzles that end in a black nose (for black dogs) or a brown nose (for liver dogs). The eyes also differ in color depending upon the coloring of the coat. They have pendant ears and long tails that reach to the hock and are carried straight back from the body.
Size and Weight
The ideal height for male Curly-Coated Retrievers is from 25 to 27 inches, and for females, 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder. The average weight falls around 65 pounds. In the show ring, a well-proportioned dog will not be penalized for being larger or smaller than the standard. The proper proportion for the breed is a bit off-square, which means that the dog is a tad longer than he is tall.
Coat and Color
Quite obviously, the Curly-Coated Retriever gets his name from his appearance. They have small curls that cover the dog from the top of the head to the tail. This curly coat is weatherproof and protects the dog's skin from the water, cold and rough brush that they will undoubtedly encounter in the hunting field. Some Curlies have feathering on the ears, belly, legs or feet, but this should be trimmed if the dog is to be out in the field. Feathering on the tail should be trimmed if the dog is to be shown. Curlies come in either black or liver. Some dogs will have stray white hairs, but they should not have patches of white on the body.
Curly-Coated Retrievers shed lightly throughout the year and heavily twice a year. Weekly brushing will keep loose hairs from becoming a nuisance around the house. Only bathe a Curly as-needed. The weather-resistant coat can be altered from too much bathing. The dog's ears should be checked weekly for signs of irritation or infection, and only cleanse the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleaner. Brushing a Curlie's teeth once per week can minimize dog breath and keep tartar from building up. Active dogs will wear their toenails down naturally, but if they click on hard floors, it's time for a trim.