Large Dogs With Curly Hair — More Hair Than a 70’s Discotheque!
Most people automatically think of small dogs or toy-sized breeds when you say a curly-haired dog. However, many breeds with curly hair tower over the cute small dogs, yet still rank as some of the cutest pooches on the planet.
Large dogs with curly hair have captured the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide. From the regal Poodle to the huge Black Russian Terrier, these dogs bring a combination of beauty, intelligence, and charm that sets them apart. But which of these big breeds are good for allergies?
Our Top 8 Large Dogs With Curly Hair
Big on curls, big on personality, let’s take a look at some of the larger dogs with curly hair and just how hard it’s going to be to maintain that hairdo.
Although Poodles can come in miniature and toy varieties, Standard Poodles are a minimum of 15 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 40 to 70 pounds. Add to that a couple of extra inches from the mini afro atop their head, and you get a pretty large curly haired dog!
The Poodle is often most recognized by the distinctive Poodle (or sporting) cut. Originally bred for retrieving ducks from the water, owners would shave their coats along their legs and backs to enable them to swim better, leaving the curls on their heads and chests to keep them warm.
Although most competition Poodles will sport the traditional Poodle cut, some owners decide to leave their pooch’s mane unclipped. Should you choose this route, you will need to commit to combing their coats thoroughly every day to avoid matting. The best news is, despite their long curly coats, Poodles are considered to be the most hypoallergenic of breeds.
These dogs make excellent family pets, get on well with children, are highly intelligent, and are always eager to please. They’re easy to train and will happily swim, retrieve, and love going on long walks with their owners.
2. Curly-Coated Retriever
Curly by name and curly coated by nature, this Retriever is another of those large curly-haired dog breeds known for their high levels of intelligence that love to play and protect their family. Standing anywhere between 23 to 27 inches tall and weighing in from 60 to 95 pounds they’re quite laid-back pooches but do require plenty of exercise.
With the general physique of a Retriever, Curlies lose that smooth, short-haired coat to replace it with short, tight curls. Although they don’t have an undercoat, female curlies will usually blow their coat once every six months and can look relatively bare when shedding. Hence, this breed isn’t a good choice for allergy sufferers.
During the shedding season, a rake-style grooming tool should be used to encourage the removal of dead hair. However, most owners don’t tend to brush the coats of Curly-Coated Retrievers as this causes the coat to frizz. A simple bathing and air drying will enhance the curls between shedding seasons.
The Curly-Coated Retriever is gentle and affectionate. Yet, their independent nature requires lots of physical and mental stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive. Like other Retriever breeds, they get on well with kids, are water dogs — they love to swim — and will be happiest when playing games like fetch or frisbee.
The tallest of all the AKC-recognized Spaniels, the Irish Water Spaniel is a similar size to the largest Standard Poodles at 21 to 24 inches tall and weighing up to 68 pounds. They also have a similar curly coat with a top knot of long, loose curls.
As natural-born swimmers, their curls are water-repellant, and they even have webbed feet. The IWS has a double coat with the undercoat being more tightly curled to protect them from the environment. But despite this, the Irish Water Spaniel is hypoallergenic and suitable for allergy sufferers. And, they only require brushing twice a week and trimming every couple of months to keep them neat.
Sweet, playful dogs, the IWS makes for a great family pet, especially if you live near water. Relatively easy to train, they need a lot of exercise. Long walks, hikes, or swims in a nearby lake will help to keep them physically and mentally healthy, but relaxed and calm when in the home.
From the tallest of the Spaniels, we move to one of the largest of the Terrier breeds, the Airedale Terrier. When fully grown, an Airedale can reach up to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 70 pounds. As dogs with wavy hair, they have famously long curls on their muzzle and chin, giving them the look of a distinguished old man.
The short, wiry coat of the Airedale needs relatively little maintenance, with weekly brushing keeping the coat looking good and helping to remove any dead hair. Considered hypoallergenic, most allergy sufferers should find they can share a home with a well-groomed Airedale without too many issues.
If a weekly brushing should turn up any mats, they should be broken down with your fingers before teasing them apart with a comb. Every three to four months, you may need to hand-strip their coats, and they should also be bathed at the same time.
Clever and alert dogs, they make fiercely loyal companions, but can be more challenging to train — something to bear in mind given their size. Airedales are also high-energy dogs — a Terrier trait — and they also crave mental stimulation. So, keep them busy to prevent mischievous behavior.
Originally bred as working farm dogs, the Bouvier des Flandres is a big dog with curly hair that can grow up to 27.5 inches tall and weigh over 100 pounds. With a shaggy coat and distinctive curly beard, the Bouviers are gentle giants known for their intelligence and loyal nature.
With a double coat, the Bouvier will need frequent and extensive grooming to keep their coat in the best condition. Loose hairs may often be retained in the coat and need combing out. Brushing once or twice a week can prevent matting or debris from getting stuck in their fur.
Many owners prefer to keep the Bouvier’s coat short, but you will need the services of a professional groomer who is experienced in trimming Bouviers to get the correct look. Despite the high grooming needs of a Bouvier, the good news is their coat sheds very little and is considered hypoallergenic.
Bouviers are known for their affectionate nature and crave human companionship. They’re great with kids but don’t do so well with other pets, especially cats. However, the Bouvier isn’t the best choice for a novice dog owner, they’re strong-willed and need an owner who can devote time to firm training and exercise schedules.
Straddling the boundaries between a medium size dog and a curly hair large dog, the Barbet often reaches heights up to 24.5 inches and weighs 65 pounds. They may not be as large as some of the other breeds we’ve looked at, but that mass of tight curls makes them look much bigger.
The defining characteristic of the Barbet is their dense curly coat, which covers their entire body from the tip of their curled tail to the top of their large head. Boasting an array of colors — including white, black, gray, and brown — this breed is a boon for those with mild allergies, as shedding is minimal.
That thick coat requires regular grooming to keep your pup looking so cute. Weekly brushing will keep them tangle-free, but the coat should be trimmed to approximately 3 to 5 inches to avoid them picking up too much debris. Bathing your pooch and blow drying can straighten your furball’s coat for a trim, but the Barbet should be left to air dry normally to form those curls.
Sporting a dense, curly-haired coat and webbed feet for adept water movement, the Barbet is a versatile breed. When walking by the local lake they will quickly jump in, but being the loyal creatures they will always come back. Barbets are sweet and affectionate with the family, eager to learn, and adapt well to most situations.
7. Black Russian Terrier
Bred by the Russian military with attributes from more than 17 distinct breeds, the Black Russian Terrier attains a height of 27 to 30 inches at the shoulder. As robust guardians, their weight can tip the scale up to 130 pounds, which reinforces their inclusion in the list of our large dog breeds with curly hair.
Wrapped in a tousled curly coat, the BRT remains cozy even in the harshest climates. However, this coat demands regular upkeep to stave off matting, particularly around the facial and beard regions.
The Black Russian’s double coat consists of a thick, soft undercoat, which is protected by a coarse outer coat. A thorough brushing once or twice a week will remove most tangles. But, you will need to learn how to scissor carefully around the face, especially the large beard and mustache, to keep your pooch looking their best.
Although they may be super affectionate dogs with the family, Black Russians can be more aloof with strangers — harking back to their guard dog nature. And, while they exhibit obedience when treated kindly, their stature might render them more suitable for households with older children, as they could be a bit much for toddlers.
8. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Standing 21 to 26 inches tall and weighing up to 80 pounds, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of the All-American curly haired large dog breeds. Affectionate, high energy, and very trainable, the Chesapeake is an intelligent water dog breed that makes a great curly companion for the family.
Being a dog bred for outdoor sports such as swimming and hunting, their coats are a mix of wavy and wiry curls. The Chessie comes in various shades of tan or brown, often with white markings on their body or chest area.
As a low-maintenance short-haired pooch, Chessies don’t demand too much in the way of grooming and only need bathing when absolutely necessary. A once-weekly brushing should be enough to pick up any loose hair from their double coat.
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are not quite as bouncy as some other Retrievers, but they still generally get on well with children and are friendly with strangers. As sporting dogs, they require a fair amount of exercise and do better living in areas where they can freely romp, swim, and hunt.
Whether it’s the poise of a Poodle gliding gracefully or the playful antics of an Irish Water Spaniel immersed in aquatic revelry — big dogs with curly hair personify the astonishing diversity within the canine world.
From mastering the art of water retrieval to achieving rockstar status within households, large dogs with curly hair have been favored pets and companions for many years. Their one-of-a-kind coats, Sherlock-level smarts, and hearts full of snuggles come together like a symphony of charm that strikes a chord with both dog aficionados and new owners alike — and some are even allergy-friendly.
Large Dogs With Curly Hair FAQs
Are Large Dogs With Curly Hair Hypoallergenic?
Yes, many are low-shedding — for example, the Poodle, Airedale, and Bouvier des Flandres to name a few. But, the likes of the Curly-Coated and Chesapeake Retriever, and the Black Russian Terrier are not.
Check out our complete list of large hypoallergenic dogs.
Are Large Dog Breeds With Curly Hair High Maintenance?
Some of the breeds we’ve looked at can be considered very low maintenance grooming-wise, with the occasional brushing to remove any knots or matting. However, as they’re large dogs they will need considerable exercise. Plus, as many come from a working/hunting/gun dog background, they require plenty of mental stimulation. In short, keep them occupied.
Owning a dog, no matter how beautiful they are, is a responsibility, which needs time and commitment from the owner.
Why Do Dogs Have Curly Hair?
Genetically, the curly hair of a pooch is caused by a pooch inheriting two mutations of the KRT71 gene — only one gene will result in dogs with wavy hair rather than curly.
Many big curly haired dog breeds were developed for use as water dogs — retrieving waterfowl — or herding dogs, working in the harsher climates of many European countries. The curls would not only keep the pups warm but could also prevent water from reaching their body underneath.
Is a Big Curly Hair Dog Suitable for Families?
Yes, many large dogs with curly hair are excellent family companions. Breeds like the Irish Water Spaniel and Poodle are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. However, consider the specific breed’s temperament and energy levels, and ensure that the dog’s size is suitable for your living situation.
Are Curly Hair Large Dogs Intelligent and Trainable?
Indeed. Poodles, for instance, are renowned for their exceptional intelligence and versatility in various tasks. Irish Water Spaniels and Barbets are also intelligent and eager to please, making them receptive to training and commands. Proper training methods and socialization are essential for harnessing their potential.