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Home > Dogs > 12 Curly-Haired Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

12 Curly-Haired Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

Cute little curly haired white toy poodle wearing a red collar staring curiously at the camera

Whether tight spirals or loose waves, curly-haired dog breeds are popular for their unique looks. But aside from those gorgeous locks, some dogs have a curly coat that’s important to the jobs they were bred to perform.

Here are the 12 curly-haired dog breeds and some key information to decide if they’re right for you.


The 12 Curly-Haired Dog Breeds

1. Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier standing on grass
Image Credit: Sevostyanova Tatyana, Shutterstock
Origin: Bedlington, England
Lifespan: 11 – 16 years
Height: 15 – 17.5 inches

The Bedlington Terrier is a graceful dog first bred in the English mining shire of Bedlington. Over the years, they’ve acted as companions, watchdogs, and canine athletes. Aside from a crisp, curly coat, Bedlingtons are lithe athletes with arched backs, tasseled ears, and a fleecy, pear-shaped head. Like one of their ancestors, the Whippet, Bedlington Terriers are speedy dogs and have been used for dog racing.

2. Poodle

One poodle breed dog with black hair with grooming standing outdoors on green grass
Image Credit: TatyanaPanova, Shutterstock
Origin: France, Germany
Lifespan: 10 – 18 years
Height: Standard: 18 – 24 inches, Miniature: 11 – 14 inches, Toy: 9.4 – 11 inches

The Poodle is a water dog that comes in standard, miniature, and toy varieties. Though it’s often associated with France, some people believe the breed originated in Germany. All Poodles have a distinctive curly coat, but they can vary significantly in size. Larger Poodles were originally used to retrieve waterfowl from water sources, while the smaller varieties were used as circus performers. Their thick, curly coat protects them from the elements while hunting, but many modern Poodles sport the highly recognizable Continental clip that’s used in the show ring.

3. Curly Coated Retriever

Curly-Coated Retriever
Image Credit: otsphoto_shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 9 – 14 years
Height: 23 – 27 inches

The Curly Coated Retriever is a breed of dog originally produced for upland bird and waterfowl hunting. They’re the tallest of the retrievers and easily distinguished by their thick, tight curls that protect against water, thorns, and other hazards in the wilderness. Poised, proud, and smart, the Curly Coated Retriever is a capable gundog and tireless watchdog.

4. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock
Origin: Algarve, Portugal
Lifespan: 11 – 13 years
Height: 17 – 23 inches

The Portuguese Water Dog is a super smart retriever that was bred in the Algarve region of Portugal to herd fish, retrieve broken nets, and act as couriers from ship to ship. They’re covered in tight, low-shedding curls that insulate them against water as they work as fishermen’s helpers. Most Portuguese Water Dogs are groomed with a short retriever clip, which keeps the whole coat clipped to one inch, or a lion clip, which leaves them with a mane of curls with the rest of the coat clipped to the skin.

5. American Water Spaniel

Credit: Bennett Walker, Shutterstock
Origin: Wisconsin
Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Height: 15 – 18 inches

The American Water Spaniel is native to the lake country of the upper Midwest. Bred as a gundog to work in the icy waters and marshy banks of the Great Lakes, American Water Spaniels have a dense, waterproof, tightly curled coat, webbed toes, and thick toe pads. As hunters, American Water Spaniels combine the best traits of the Spaniels and Retrievers.

6. Bichon Frise

bichon frise dog sitting on a wooden surface
Image Credit: Spill Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: Tenerife, Canary Islands
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Height: 9 – 12 inches

The Bichon Frise is known as the “comedian” of the dog world. They exude charm, beauty, and intelligence with a thick white coat of hypoallergenic curls, dark eyes, and a black nose and lips. Bichons are the ultimate companions, enjoying time with their humans and meeting new people wherever they go.

7. Bolognese

Image Credit: islavicek, Shutterstock
Origin: Bologna, Italy
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Height: 10 – 12 inches

The Bolognese is a member of the Bichon family that was bred in Bologna, Italy. These dogs are calm but intelligent and playful. They have thick, fluffy, pure-white curls on small, stocky bodies. Though these dogs make good companions, they can be unsure of new people.

8. Barbet

Image Credit: mazarekic, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Height: 19 – 24.5 inches

The Barbet is an older French waterdog that appeared in artwork as early as the 16th century. Named for the French word barbe, which means “beard”, the Barbet is an agile athlete with a thick shaggy coat and an amiable nature. As these dogs are bred to locate, flush, and retrieve birds, the Barbet requires a lot of daily exercise to stay happy.

9. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

male Chesapeake Bay Retriever outdoor
Image Credit: MH STOCK, Shutterstock
Origin: Chesapeake Bay area, US
Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
Height: 21 – 26 inches

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a renowned duck dog bred in the Mid-Atlantic to hunt and retrieve waterfowl. Known for being stubborn and challenging to train, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a strong and powerful dog with a distinctive wavy coat that feels oily to the touch.

10. Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo standing on grass
Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock
Origin: Delta del Po in Romagna, Italy
Lifespan: 15 – 17 years
Height: 16 – 18 inches

Known as a “truffle dog”, the Lagotto Romagnolo is a breed that originated in the marshlands of the Delta del Po in the eastern part of the Romagna subregion of Italy. Lagotti Romagnoli have wooly curls that cover their entire bodies, including beards, eyebrows, and whiskers, giving them a teddy bear look. They are rugged dogs that are used to root out truffles, however, so they’re not a layabout breed.

11. Airedale Terrier

Airedale Terrier
Image Credit: jarobike, Shutterstock
Origin: River Aire, Yorkshire, England
Lifespan: 11 – 14 years
Height: 23 inches

The Airedale Terrier, also known as the Bingley Terrier and Waterside Terrier, originated in the valley of the River Aire in Yorkshire, England. The largest of the terrier breeds, the Airedale is one of the most versatile dogs and works as a hunter, canine athlete, or companion. Their thick, coarse, curly coats help them while hunting, but historically, these dogs have been used in everything from police duty to ratting to herding.

12. Bouvier Des Flandres

Bouvier des Flandres
Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterestock
Origin: Flanders, Belgium
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Height: 5 – 27.5 inches

The Bouviers des Flandres is a herding dog that originated in Flanders, Belgium. They were originally used for farm work, including sheep herding, cart pulling, and cattle droving, but they’ve excelled in roles as guard dogs and police dogs. They have powerful muscles beneath a weatherproof tousled coat, which helps them adapt to Belgian winters’ damp, cool environment.

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Are Curly Coated Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The breeds with curly coats are often referred to as hypoallergenic, but no truly hypoallergenic dog exists. In reality, these dogs are low shedding, which may help people with dog allergies. Still, dog allergies typically come from the dander, not the hair itself, so it’s possible for someone with dog allergies to still experience flare-ups with a low-shedding breed.

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If you like the teddy bear look of curly-coated breeds or want a dog that has a coat to weather the elements, any of these tousled dog breeds are a good choice. There’s more to bringing home a companion than just looks, however, so be sure to research your breeds of choice and ensure that they’re the right temperament and energy level for your home and lifestyle.

Featured Image Credit: michaelheim, Shutterstock

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