They might be cute and adorable with their tight curls and distinctive coats, but did you know that curly haired dogs were originally bred to be hard-nosed work dogs?
Yup! Curly haired dogs are not only wonderful in appearance, but traditionally, they were very helpful around the farm, on hunts, or even on fishing boats. Curly haired dog breeds, with their compact coats, are well insulated against cold and wet conditions, making them perfect for outdoor work.
Nowadays, a Curly Coated Retriever or Portuguese Water Dog is more likely to be found running around the house or bounding around on the furniture (see this) rather than living a tough life on the farm, but their beautiful curls remain.
Curly haired dogs are popular today for their low-shedding fur coats, as well as their distinctive look, so they are perfect for a family that struggles with allergies. In this article, we take a look at the 9 most popular curly haired dogs, so you can decide which of these furry four-legged friends are the perfect fit for your home!
9 Popular Curly Haired Dog Breeds
The following curly haired dogs all have super curly coats, but you’ll be amazed at how diverse the different breeds are in appearance and temperament.
Remember, while dogs with curly hair have a wonderfully unique look and are well suited to outdoor life, they do love lots of exercise, and they do need plenty of grooming to keep the twigs and mud out of their curly coats!
Here are our favorite dog breeds with curly hair:
#1. Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is one of the most popular curly haired dog breeds out there, but interestingly, not all dogs of this breed have naturally curly hair. Many Portuguese Water Dogs are born with distinctive wavy rather than curly hair – but a little grooming can curl them up!
The Portuguese Water Dog is a medium-sized dog that’s incredibly agile in the water and easy to train. Indeed, they were originally bred to work on the water, as their tough, wavy, and curly coats would keep out the cold.
Portuguese Water Dogs would be trained to fetch fishing nets from the water and have even been known to locate and save lost sailors. This is one curly haired dog that you can depend on!
Average height: 20 inches
Average weight: 45 pounds
Physical characteristics: Tight curls or a wavy coat that is black and white, or brown in color.
The Labradoodle is a unique cross between the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle, and it’s a favorite for families looking for a large hypoallergenic dog breed!
In fact, a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle were deliberately crossed in the 1980s in order to create an allergy-free breed of guide dogs, and since then, they’ve become one of the most popular mid-sized dogs in the world.
Known for their characteristic curly coats, Labradoodles can vary greatly in size – there are miniature-sized Labradoodles, medium-sized Labradoodles, and large Labradoodles that almost rival retrievers.
They are fiercely loyal, excellent at playing fetch, and have a distinct appearance that few other breeds can match.
Average height: 20 inches
Average weight: 50 pounds
Physical characteristics: Straight, wavy, or curly hair that can be golden or dark in color. Labradoodles can be miniature, medium, or full sized.
#3. American Water Spaniel
The American Water Spaniel is a mid-sized curly haired dog breed that has all the characteristics and personality that you’d expect of a spaniel!
Friendly, outgoing, and boisterous, the American Water Spaniel was originally bred for hunting and retrieving. This long hair dog has equally long ears and thick fur coating, making them perfect for the outdoors.
That can be a problem inside, though, when their energy never quite seems to ever run out!
Average height: 16 inches
Average weight: 35 pounds
Physical characteristics: Wavy, brown coats, with patches of tight curls.
#4. Curly Coated Retriever
The Curly Coated Retriever is a large curly haired dog breed that was traditionally kept for hunting and retrieving game on English manors and country estates.
A Curly Coated Retriever (or Curly) is the largest breed of retriever, so you’ll need lots of space to keep them happy. Their tight curls are practical and easy to look after, however.
This breed is for more experienced owners, as in addition to their large size, they do take some training and aren’t always welcoming to outsiders. Train them well, though, and they’ll be fiercely loyal to you for the rest of their lives!
Average height: 27 inches
Average weight: 80 pounds
Physical characteristics: Large, long-legged retriever with tight, black, curly coats.
#5. Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier is one of the most famous curly haired dog breeds and one of the most famous terriers too! This is the tallest breed of terrier you can find (they are commonly called the “King of Terriers”), and they are highly regarded for their (very!) long coats.
Their coats need regular cutting to keep them in check, but they are undoubtedly beautiful and easy to comb and otherwise groom.
Like all terriers, the Airedale Terrier is playful, curious, and active. It’ll need lots of exercise, but will reward you with affection and loyalty!
Average height: 23 inches
Average weight: 60 pounds
Physical characteristics: Large, long haired terrier breed with brown or light brown, tan colored coats.
The Poodle is the most well-known of curly haired dog breeds. With its classic curls, the Poodle has been bred into several distinctive sizes.
There’s the small toy or miniature poodles, which are almost handbag-sized and perfect for anyone who lives in a small apartment.
Then, there are the medium and full-sized poodles. Regardless of their height, though, poodles have that distinctive curly coat and are always highly regarded for their intelligence.
Average height: 7 - 20 inches
Average weight: 5 - 50 pounds
Physical characteristics: Tight curly coats that grow in a wide variety of colors, including black, brown, and white.
#7. Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is one of the smallest curly haired dog breeds you could bring into your home – they make for excellent companion dogs in small apartments or tiny houses!
The Bichon Frise is known for its tight white curls, curls that give this tiny dog an almost fluffy, cloud-like look. These little dogs are often over-groomed by their owners, but that’s okay, because they’ll love the attention!
Average height: 10 inches
Average weight: 10 pounds
Physical characteristics: Small sized, miniature dogs with bright white curls.
#8. Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is so-named because of its lovely blue-gray coat that’s distinctly wavy and curly. The Kerry Blue Terrier looks marvelous, but they do need to be properly groomed – their long, wavy coats easily become muddied when outside or wild when left uncut for too long!
The Kerry Blue Terrier looks great as a show dog, but their real hearts lie in the outdoors. They are energetic, full of life, and happy to be groomed relentlessly after a long day of exercise in the countryside.
Average height: 18 inches
Average weight: 35 pounds
Physical characteristics: Super soft and wavy coat of medium length and blue-gray color.
The wonderfully named Bolognese is a small companion dog that’s just at home in the outdoors as they are sitting on the couch or parading around at dog shows!
The Bolognese bears little resemblance to a bolognese or any other Italian dish. They instead have medium to long fur coats that are bright white and fluffy. When cut short, the coats are curly, but they become wavy if left to grow out.
Average height: 10 inches
Average weight: 7 inches
Physical characteristics: Small, long haired dogs with bright, white, fluffy coats.
Curly Haired Dogs: Which Breed is Your Favorite?
There are so many more delightful breeds of curly haired dogs out there too, and they all have their own distinctive look and wonderful appearance.
Curly haired dogs aren’t just for show, though! They love the outdoors, and they are often energetic, playful, and intelligent. They need a little grooming, but they’ll be your best friend for life.
Why not bookmark our guide to curly haired dog breeds, so you can find the perfect four-legged companion?