We love our curly haired dog breeds for many reasons! And with hybrid Poodle mixes swarming the scene, the love affair with curly coats has never been clearer. But there are also a variety of purebred dogs with naturally curly coats worth learning about.
Are you curious about curly haired dog breeds? We have you covered! Today we’re talking about 15 curly haired dog breeds you may not have realized existed!
What Causes Curly Hair In Dogs?
Curly hair in dogs comes from a dominant genetic trait.
Curly hair in dogs is due to a dominant genetic trait caused by mutations in the KRT71 gene. This gene may not only impact whether or not a dog has curly hair, but also the texture and length of a dog’s coat as well.
Though curly haired dog breeds are quite common, they are not always as common as straight-coated dogs. Furthermore, curly coated dog breeds are much more likely to have hypoallergenic coats that produce less allergy-inducing dander and therefore may make these types of dogs better suited for owners who struggle with allergies.
With all that said, not all curly haired dog breeds are hypoallergenic. In fact, many dog breeds with curly coats also shed and may shed just as heavily as any other coat type.
And while coat color can sometimes impact a dog’s health, when it comes to curly haired dog breeds, you shouldn’t have to worry about any significant health issues that are unique to them due to their coat type.
However, curly haired dog breeds do have unique needs when it comes to grooming and coat care. But don’t worry, we will talk more about how to best care for a curly haired dog breed below.
For now, let’s take a look at a list of just a few of our favorite dogs with curly coats you’re sure to swoon over!
1. The Poodle
The Poodle is one of the most popular curly-coated dog breeds.
The Poodle is perhaps one of the most well-known curly haired dog breeds, famous not only for the texture of his coat but also for the unique haircuts he often promotes.
Although Poodles are known for making a splash in early French fashion, the origin of their coat type and haircut comes from their working days as German water dogs.
The Poodle’s unique coat type actually helped protect him from the harsh German waters as he retrieved fish and other game for his masters. Later, Poodles made their way to France where their curly hair made them a fashionable accessory for noblewomen.
Today, Poodles are beloved companions known for their intelligence and athleticism. They are hypoallergenic, making them great dogs for allergy sufferers, and they also come in three size varieties: standard, miniature, and toy.
2. The Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is an intelligent, athletic curly haired dog.
The Portuguese Water Dog is another of our curly-haired dog breeds with a dense curly coat and unique haircut to accompany it. Traditional Portuguese Water Dog haircuts include the lower part of the dog being shaved, giving him somewhat of a lion’s tale and showing off his lean, muscular frame.
The upper half of the dog’s coat is left to grow longer, and while not as tightly curled as the Poodle’s coat, the Portuguese Water Dog does have a beautiful, flowy, and curly coat to adore.
Like the Poodle, these curly haired dog breeds are bred fisherman dogs. They are incredibly athletic and love the water, making them excellent dogs for active families. They do well with children and even other pets when properly raised, trained, and socialized.
3. The Curly-Coated Retriever
Though this looks like a curly lab, the Curly-Coated Retriever is a dog breed all his own!
With a name like The Curly-Coated Retriever, it’s no surprise that this next dog on our list is one of our curliest. However, unlike many of our curly haired dog breeds, the Curly Coated Retriever is not a hypoallergenic dog.
In fact, this dog looks very similar to the Labrador Retriever, though he is taller, except his coat is layered with beautiful waves and curls.
And like the Labrador, the Curly-Coated Retriever originated as a hunting dog and bird dog. Originating in England, this curly cutie is an expert at hunting down waterfowl and other birds for his masters. He is famous for his intelligence, sensitivity, and trainable nature.
4. The Irish Water Spaniel
Along with being the tallest Spaniel, the Irish Water Spaniel is perhaps the curliest.
All curly haired dog breeds have a unique look, but perhaps none are as eye-catching as the Irish Water Spaniel. This is the tallest of the Spaniel types, standing between 21 and 24 inches, and he comes in a single color known as liver.
This dog is a fun-loving, clever, and even funny companion, making a great addition to families with children and other pets.
But it’s his curly coat that will certainly turn heads. This dog has cultures that fall in waves, especially around his face. His long ears and curly-topped head make him look as though he has a fringe haircut, with shiny curls any woman would envy!
Grooming can be difficult for this dog if his coat is not properly kept brushed and cared for, but otherwise, he is an active dog with a hypoallergenic coat perfect for those who struggle with seasonal allergies.
5. The Kerry Blue Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier dogs are medium-sized Terriers bred for vermin hunting.
A true terrier at heart, the Kerry Blue Terrier is a bred vermin hunting dog designed to help control pests like rats, badgers, foxes, hares, otters, and even rabbits. However, their intelligence soon made them the ideal working dog for a variety of tasks.
Today, these curly haired dog breeds are commonly used as farm dogs, herding dogs, and guard dogs.
They look similar to other terrier breeds, weighing between 33 and 40 pounds and coming in a variety of colors including blue, silver, black, gray, blue and black, and state blue.
Their coats are, as you may have guessed, curly and hypoallergenic, and they have a proud appearance with square muzzles and short, erect ears.
Working dogs at heart, the Kerry Blue Terrier is best suited for homes with dedicated and active owners who understand the unique needs of intelligent, stubborn terrier breeds.
6. The Lagotto Romagnolo
An Italian breed, the Lagotto Romagnolo is a beloved companion dog.
Italy is known for gifting the world with many of the finer things, and one such gift is its insanely cute “truffle dog”, the Lagotto Romagnolo. This little dog was bred as a duck retrieving dog, where his thick curly coat helped to protect him from the cold marshes in which he worked.
Today, the Lagotto Romagnolo is a popular companion dog, though he’s not as well known in the United States as he is in other regions.
He is beloved for his friendly nature, and he does great with families and owners who are active and enjoy being outdoors.
This dog is also highly trainable and devoted to his owners, though he can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
And if you suffer from allergies, you’re in luck! The medium-sized Lagotto Romagnolo is one of our curly haired dog breeds that is hypoallergenic!
7. The Bouvier de Flandres
This large breed dog is as protective as he is adorable.
The proud and protective Bouvier de Flandres dogs hail from Flanders, Belgium, where they originated as devoted working dogs herding sheep, droving cattle, and pulling carts. Their thick, curly coat helped to keep them warm in the elements, but it also gives them a sense of cute and cuddly sweetness that, though they maintain, is also somewhat deceiving.
These dogs are true working dogs, so don’t let their fluffy curls deceive you. In fact, these brave dogs also work as police dogs and guard dogs.
With that said, they do make great companions for the right owner or family. They are highly intelligent, devoted, gentle, and protective.
8. The Puli Dog
When the Puli Dog’s coat gets long, it quickly becomes corded.
If you’ve never heard of the Puli Dog before, you’re in for a treat! This is one of our curly haired dog breeds that is a true show-stopper. This dog has a thick coat that starts out curly when kept short, but once it grows out long it quickly becomes corded, leaving the dog looking often like a walking mop.
Though smaller than some of our curly haired dog breeds on this list, the Puli Dog was bred for a big job. In fact, this dog breed originated in Hungary where he was bred for herding and guarding livestock.
Puli Dogs are very intelligent, devoted, obedient, and energetic, and they come in a number of coat colors including brindle, black, white, cream, and brown.
9. The Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is an adorable and friendly curly companion.
If you have your sights set on a smaller curly-haired dog, look no further than the adorable Bichon Frise. This tiny white dog is beloved for not only his sweet temperament but also his cloud-white coat that is tightly curled.
When brushed out, the Bichon Frise dog’s coat becomes very fluffy, giving him the appearance of a walking teddy bear.
We love that the Bichon Frise is hypoallergenic, so he’s a great dog for those who suffer from allergies. He is also playful, friendly, fun-loving, and family-oriented. Though small, he is still large enough to make him an excellent companion for homes with children, as he has just the right amount of energy to devote to playtime while also maintaining a gentle and loving nature.
10. The Airedale Terrier
Airedale Terriers are large, intelligent Terrier types.
Also known as the King of Terriers, the Airedale Terrier is the largest of the Terrier types and is known for his friendly, intelligent nature.
Airedale Terriers originated in the Valley of the River Aire near Yorkshire, England, where they were bred for hunting and removing large rats.
They come in just one color variety, black and tan, and have a distinctive curly coat that boasts tight, short curls that are hypoallergenic.
If left to grow long, the Airedale Terrier’s coat can tangle, causing difficulties for owners who are not prepared for the grooming requirements of this breed.
However, most often a short-cut Airedale Terrier is easy to maintain. These dogs also make wonderful companions for active dog owners and those with an understanding of working breeds.
11. The Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish Water Dog is another of our curly dog breeds bred for water retrieving.
Though they do look similar, the Spanish Water Dog and the Portuguese Water Dog are not one and the same.
The Spanish Water Dog hails from Spain and was used as a sheepdog, guard dog, and gundog. On some occasions, he was also used as a water-retrieving dog.
Like many curly haired dog breeds on our list, the Spanish Water Dog is a hypoallergenic dog that doesn’t shed as often or produce as much allergy-inducing dander. His curly coat also helped protect him from the elements of both water and land in Spain during his working days.
Today, the Spanish Water Dog makes a wonderful companion, beloved for his trainable nature, affectionate personality, and devotion to his family.
12. The Bolognese
Though this dog is in the same family as the Bichon, he is much smaller.
If you fell in love with the Bichon Frise, then you’ll certainly find something to love about the Bolognese. This curly-haired dog is a member of the Bichon family, though his coat is not as tightly curled as the Bichon Frise.
The Bolognese dog is also much smaller than the Bichon Frise, weighing just five to eight pounds and standing under 12 inches tall.
This little white dog is friendly, affectionate, relaxed, and sweet, but he is better suited for dog owners with no children or children who are older and more gentle. This little dog also is a bit more serious than some of our curly haired dog breeds on this list, though he is also highly devoted.
A companion at heart, the Bolognese does best with dedicated owners who are home and able to spend plenty of time with him throughout the day.
13. The Barbet
The Barbet is a medium-sized dog with a beautiful curly coat.
The Barbet is a gorgeous medium-sized curly-haired dog hailing from France, where he was commonly used as a water retrieving dog. He has a dense, curly coat that comes in several colors including black, white, brown, fawn, and gray.
His coat can be cut short to keep it from tangling and matting, but its true beauty shines when it is allowed to grow out a few inches so the dense curls are exposed in all their glory.
This curly coat was likely an asset to this water dog, who worked to retrieve game for his masters in the chilly French waters.
Today, the Barbet makes a joyful companion dog for families and singles alike. He is energetic, friendly, and very obedient.
14. The Komondor
Hailing from Hungary, the Komondor is famous for his corded coat.
The Komondor is another dog on our list of curly haired dog breeds that can have a corded coat once those curls are left to grow out long on his body. When this happens, these cords can grow to floor length and provide the dog with an additional layer of protection from the elements, which likely came in helpful for this sheepdog hailing from Hungary.
In fact, the Komondor is a close relative to the smaller Puli Dog, who also has a corded coat, as we mentioned above.
However, the Komondor was more commonly used as a guard dog for livestock thanks to his large size, and he comes only in white coat color.
And surprisingly, the Komondor also does not have a hypoallergenic coat.
15. The Bedlington Terrier
The Bedlington Terrier often wears a fancy and unique haircut.
Last on our list of curly haired dog breeds is the very interesting-looking Bedlington Terrier. Famous not only for his tight curls but the Bedlington Terrier is also identifiable thanks to his show-stopping hairstyle.
This curly-coated dog often has a haircut that leaves his muzzle looking dome-shaped, with shaved ears and poms on the ends that hang like rabbit tails.
Originally bred for hunting, the Bedlington Terrier has also been used for show and excels in a variety of dog sports including racing and conformation.
Today, he makes a friendly, intelligent, and outgoing companion dog for dedicated and active dog owners.
What You Should Know About Curly Haired Dog Breeds
Curly-coated dog breeds are not always hypoallergenic, though many don’t realize this.
Much of what draws people to curly haired dog breeds is the idea that these dogs are hypoallergenic.
Hypoallergenic dogs are dogs that shed less than other breeds and therefore produce less allergy-inducing dander. With all that said, we should note that there really is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog.
Even dogs with curly coats that are considered hypoallergenic still shed slightly. They just often shed less than their other canine counterparts.
And although curly haired dog breeds are commonly thought to be hypoallergenic, the truth is that there are many dog breeds with curly coats that are quite the opposite. If you’re looking for a hypoallergenic dog breed, it’s important to not assume a dog is such just because it has a curly coat.
We should also note here that curly haired dog breeds can be more difficult to care for when it comes to grooming than other dog breeds. This is because these dogs often can become matted or tangled if their coats are not cared for routinely.
All that aside, curly haired dog breeds are otherwise healthy and just as easy to care for as any other dog breed of any other coat type.
So, if you’re considering a curly haired dog breed to call your own, we say go for it! Tell us which curly cutie above stole your heart in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.