Types of Dogs With Curly Hair

A head full of curls often makes a person stand out in a crowd; this is especially true when it comes to our canine friends. Although the terms "wavy coat" and "curly coat" are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a defining difference. While a wavy coat consists of a series of flowing curves, a curly coat is made up of cylindrical, compact curls. Regardless of the coiffure specifics, these eye-catching breeds most definitely stand out in a crowd, or pack, as the case may be.

Close Up of a Bichon Dog
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Poodle and bichon frisè

Although poodles originated in Germany and are regarded as the national dog of France, their easy temperament and high intelligence make them one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They're considered a nonworking breed, and their curly coats are naturally hypoallergenic. Another popular curly top is the bichon frisè. Frisè is a French word for curly. The breed was a favorite among French royals because of their lapdog tendencies. Their fluffy white coat makes them easily recognizable, and their charismatic personality makes them a loved and pampered family pet today.

Irish water spaniel and Portuguese water dog

As the name implies, Irish water spaniels originated in Ireland. Although an Irish spaniel's coat is similar in texture to that of a poodle, the growth pattern has distinctive characteristics. The tail, often referred to as a "rat-tail" is smooth and void of long hair growth. The hair on the face is also smooth, and unlike a poodle does not require shaving. Portuguese water dogs are a working breed. For centuries they have been revered by Portugal's fishermen for their diving and swimming abilities. Their densely thick coat comes in curly and wavy varieties. Both types are recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Curly coated retriever and Airedale terrier

Although the exact origin of curly coated retrievers is unclear, this breed is believed to be one of the oldest in the retriever lineage. They are a popular hunting dog used by both land and water hunters. Their coat is made up of tight, water-resistant curls. This makes them ideal for hunting through heavy thicket or cold waters. Airedale terriers are known as the "king of terriers." They originated in Great Britain and were used to chase badgers and otters into the water. They have a wavy to curly coat that is wiry to the touch. Their thick double coat rarely sheds but requires regular brushing.

The puli

No curly haired list would be complete without mentioning the impressive puli, after all, according to The Puli Club of America, "It's not a dog, it's a puli." Originally bred in Hungary for sheep herding, the puli's hair is often referred to as "mop-like" or similar to a shag rug. Their undercoat is wooly, while their topcoat is course and wavy causing their hair to grow into long ringlet cords if not brushed. The length of these cords can reach the ground within five years. If these cords are allowed to grow, heavy maintenance is required to prevent severe matting and eventual health problems.

Lagotto Romagnolo

The Lagotto Romagnolo, whose name literally means "lake dog from Romagnolo," is an Italian dog bred specifically for the purpose of finding truffles. It is, in fact, the only dog in the world to with this bragging right. As expert truffle hunters, these stocky, enthusiastic dogs are naturally equipped with dense, curly, woolen coats that are able to withstand all kinds of weather, water, and terrain. The coat should never be shiny, brushed, or overly groomed, but rather it should maintain the rustic look that hearkens back to its utilitarian origins.

The pumi

Another dog of Hungarian origin, and a direct descendant of the puli, the diminutive, swift-footed pumi was born and bred to herd sheep, pigs, and cattle along the narrow, winding roads between the pastures of western Hungary. This spirited, quick-thinking dog is adorned with a harsh topcoat and softer undercoat, consisting of a combination of waves and corkscrew curls. Pumik do not shed; they should be gently combed and wet down every three to six weeks to maintain their characteristic curls.

Your curly coated dog

If you were able to trace the lineage of your curly coated dog, you would most likely find hard-working ancestors who toiled within brambly forests and frigid waters, accomplishing the tasks for which they were bred and for which their curly coats were designed. Although your pampered pup may not herd swine or hunt for truffles, it's still important to maintain the health and cleanliness of his beautiful, curly coat.