The Curly-Coated Retriever is a unique and charismatic breed, known for its athleticism, intelligence, and of course, that distinctive tight, crisp coat. While their curls are undoubtedly charming, they do require specific care to keep them healthy and looking their best. If you’re the proud owner of a Curly, or considering adding one to your family, understanding their grooming needs is essential.

Understanding the Curly Coat

The Curly’s coat isn’t just about aesthetics; it serves a crucial function in protecting them from the elements during their work as retrievers. The dense, water-resistant curls help to keep them warm and dry. Here’s what sets their coat apart:

  • Tight Curls: The curls are small and tight, and should lie flat against the body.
  • Minimal Shedding: While they do shed, it’s often less noticeable than other breeds due to the hair being caught in the curls.
  • Low Maintenance: Despite its unique appearance, the Curly coat is surprisingly easy to care for with the right approach.

Essential Grooming Tools

Before we dive into the grooming routine, let’s gather the necessary tools:

  • Wide-Toothed Comb: Use this only during shedding season to gently remove loose hairs.
  • Slicker Brush: Avoid using this on the curls themselves, as it can cause frizz. Instead, use it on feathering (longer hair) on the ears, tail, and legs.
  • Detangling Spray: Helpful for removing any tangles or mats, especially in feathering.
  • Shampoo and Conditioner: Look for products specifically formulated for dogs, ideally those that promote moisture and shine for curly coats.
  • Towels: Have several absorbent towels on hand for drying.

The Curly-Coated Retriever Grooming Routine

How to groom a Curly-Coated Retriever

Image Source

  1. Bathing: Curlies don’t need frequent baths. Once every few months is usually sufficient unless they get particularly dirty. Use lukewarm water and a gentle shampoo, ensuring you rinse thoroughly.
  2. Drying: Avoid vigorous rubbing with towels, as this can disrupt the curls. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water and allow your Curly to air dry. You can use a fan to speed up the process.
  3. Comb Only When Shedding: During the shedding season (usually twice a year), use a wide-toothed comb to gently remove loose hair. Be careful not to pull or tug on the coat.
  4. Trimming: Curlies may need occasional trimming, especially around the ears, paws, and tail. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, consult a professional groomer familiar with the breed.
  5. Regular Checks: Inspect your Curly’s coat regularly for any mats, tangles, or debris. Check their ears for dirt or wax buildup, and their paws for any cuts or injuries.

Important Considerations

  • Never Shave a Curly: Shaving can damage their coat and interfere with its protective function.
  • Avoid Brushing: Brushing the curls can lead to frizz and breakage.
  • Professional Grooming: If you’re unsure about any aspect of grooming, consult a professional groomer who has experience with Curly-Coated Retrievers.

Related: Top 10 Working Dog Breeds: Traits and Training Tips

Beyond the Coat

While their coat is a defining feature, don’t forget about your Curly’s other grooming needs:

  • Nail Trimming: Keep nails short to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.
  • Ear Cleaning: Clean ears regularly to prevent infections.
  • Dental Care: Brush your Curly’s teeth to maintain good oral hygiene.


Grooming your Curly-Coated Retriever is a rewarding experience that strengthens your bond and ensures your coat remains healthy and beautiful. With a little understanding and the right approach, you can keep those curls looking their absolute best.

Featured Image Source