Last Updated on 11/25/2021 by Veronica Jones
There’s just something so adorable about a dog with curly hair. From the fluffy and scruffy to the preened and pampered, it’s hard not to fall in love with these curly-coated beauties.
But a coiled coat doesn’t just look great. In fact, many curly-haired dog breeds throughout history have relied on their curly hair to help keep them warm in the water or in harsh conditions.
So if you’re searching for a pooch with luscious locks to add to your family, check out our list of the top 10 curly-haired dog breeds.
Our Favourite Curly-Haired Dog Breeds
What better way to start than with one of the most easily recognizable curly-haired dog breeds in the world, the Poodle. However, while pretty much anyone could pick a Poodle out of a crowd, not many people actually know the breed very well.
This is largely due to those unique and sometimes outrageous hairstyles Poodles are known to sport, which lead many to believe that the Poodle is something of a pampered princess. The reality is very different.
Poodles were originally developed in Germany as water retrievers. Their curly coat provided a thick layer of protection against the chilly water, where these excellent swimmers spent a lot of their time. The haircut for which Poodles are famous actually served a practical purpose, protecting their vital organs against the elements while offering increased range of movement while swimming.
And after first gaining popularity in France, Poodles are now recognized around the world as wonderful companion animals. They’re extremely athletic, highly intelligent and love an active lifestyle. Thanks to a low-allergen coat, they’ve also been widely used to create a range of “oodle” crossbreeds like the Labradoodle.
And with three different sizes of Poodle to choose from — standard, miniature and toy — this really is a breed that offers something for everyone.
2. Bichon Frise
If you’re searching for a curly-coated dog suitable for apartment living, the Bichon Frise may be the perfect choice. Playful, affectionate and oh-so-cute, this adorable little ball of fluff has plenty to offer to the right owner.
The breed’s main attraction is of course that gorgeous white coat, which is often compared to a cotton ball. If you want that distinctive “powder puff” look, you’ll probably need help from an experienced groomer — it may be a bit of a hassle, but the results are simply adorable.
Best of all, there’s a winning personality hiding behind that curly coat. The Bichon is a curious and exuberant little fellow, and he loves spending as much time with his human family as possible.
Bichons have enjoyed a long history as the much-loved lapdogs of the European aristocracy, so it’s no great surprise that they make such loving and devoted companions. Welcome one into your family and you’ll be rewarded with a dog that’s as charming as he is beautiful.
3. Portuguese Water Dog
Before the Obamas announced Bo the Portuguese Water Dog as the newest member of their family back in 2009, few people had heard of this gorgeous curly-haired breed. That all changed in the decade that followed, with this curly-haired beauty experiencing a huge surge in popularity.
As the breed’s name so clearly implies, the Portuguese Water Dog was originally developed on the Portuguese coast as a fisherman’s dog. Whether retrieving items that fell overboard, pulling in nets or delivering messages to shore, these rugged dogs were never afraid of a hard day’s work. And with their dense, hypoallergenic coat, they were well protected from the elements.
But these athletic dogs were also wonderful companions to their fishermen masters, a fact which makes them great pets today. Loyal and loving, they’re known as excellent family pets and will usually get on well with children. Porties are also intelligent and easy to train, but do need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy.
4. Curly-Coated Retriever
With a name like the Curly-Coated Retriever, it’s no surprise to see this brown- or black-haired beauty on our list. Boasting a thick coat of tight, crisp curls, this eye-catching breed was first developed in England in the late 1700s.
Bred as a water retriever, the Curly-Coated Retriever boasts a confident demeanor, a high level of intelligence and plenty of athletic ability. He’s also known for his steady temperament, a fact which helps make him a wonderful housemate.
With plenty of affection to share with his people, the Curly-Coated Retriever thrives when made to feel like an important part of the family. And because he’s so smart, he can also respond well to training. They are actually among the brightest of all the curly-haired dog breeds on this list.
However, with his sharp mind and high energy levels, you’ll need to give your Curly a job to do if you want to make him as happy as possible.
5. Irish Water Spaniel
Next on our list of the top 10 curly-haired dog breeds is another dog that was bred to work in the water. A breed with roots thought to date back to ancient times, the Irish Water Spaniel stands out from the crowd thanks to his crisp curls and distinctive “rat tail”. Add in that gorgeous topknot and this spaniel is one very cute package indeed.
An excellent swimmer, the Irish Water Spaniel is right at home in the water. He’s also right at home with his role as a family companion, especially when welcomed into the family home and given all the attention and TLC he desires.
Loving and affectionate, this curly-haired fellow tackles each day with an infectious enthusiasm. He’s playful, inquisitive and always up for a game, while he does best when paired with owners who enjoy an active lifestyle.
And while his curly coat does require a bit of maintenance, you’ll surely agree that it’s one of his most endearing features.
6. Airedale Terrier
Lovers of the Airedale Terrier all around the world commonly refer to the breed as “the king of all terriers”, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Developed during England’s Industrial Revolution to hunt rats and ducks, this gorgeous fellow would later serve in World War I as a messenger and guard dog.
With his wiry coat and handsome facial hair, not to mention his alert and regal demeanour, the Airedale is instantly recognizable. That gorgeous coat is also relatively low maintenance, so it’s practical as well as stylish.
But it’s the Airedale’s impressive personality that really shines through and makes this terrific terrier such a popular pet in many countries around the world. Friendly and affectionate, the Airedale Terrier simply adores spending time with his family. He loves a game and plenty of regular exercise, and generally tends to get on better with other dogs than most terrier breeds.
He’s also highly intelligent when it comes to training, but you may need a little patience to overcome his stubborn streak. If you can do that, the Airedale Terrier makes a loyal companion for life.
One of the lesser-known curly-haired dog breeds, the Pumi actually originated in Hungary. While he’s still a relatively rare breed, he’s quickly developing a legion of loyal followers.
Why? Well, maybe it’s his corkscrew-curled coat which, along with his so-called “whimsical” facial expression, makes him look simply adorable. Perhaps it’s the Pumi’s courage and athletic ability, which served him well as an agile and hard-working sheepdog. Or maybe it’s his affectionate nature and the fact that he forms such a strong bond with the people he loves.
Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of good reasons why it’s easy to fall head over heels in love with the Pumi. He’s smart, he’s got plenty of energy and he’s happy to be by your side no matter what you’re doing, so if you’re not careful a Pumi could quickly steal your heart.
If you’re willing to satisfy his high exercise requirements and provide all the attention he desires, this handsome Hungarian might just be the ideal breed for you.
8. Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is recognized as one of the best curly-coated dog breeds for several reasons. Developed in Kerry County, Ireland, as a versatile farm dog, this tenacious terrier is one of the all-rounders of the canine world.
The first thing you notice when you lay eyes on a Kerry Blue Terrier is that stunning blue coat, which is soft to the touch and comes in anything from a deep slate to a light blue-gray. Interestingly, puppies are born black, and the coat doesn’t develop its distinctive blue hue until they reach 18 months of age.
Hidden behind that coat and handsome beard you’ll find a muscular dog with all the tenacity you’d expect to find in a terrier. Known as an excellent watchdog, the Kerry Blue is also a loyal family pet. He adores his humans and will want to spend as much time with you as possible, sticking to your side through thick and thin.
But while the Kerry Blue Terrier loves plenty of cuddle time with you, he’s also an energetic and athletic fellow. Regular exercise is essential, while early socialization and patient training will help overcome his occasionally stubborn nature.
9. Bedlington Terrier
Curly-haired dog breeds don’t get much more adorable than the Bedlington Terrier. Thanks to his uncanny resemblance to a lamb, this beautiful breed is sometimes described as a dog in sheep’s clothing.
Developed in Northumberland, England, in the 1800s, the Bedlington Terrier was used for ratting, poaching and even dog fighting. Today, however, he’s better known for the love and affection he offers as a companion animal.
There are plenty of distinguishing physical characteristics to take in when you first meet a Bedlington Terrier. There’s that crisp and curly coat, which is particularly noticeable on the head and face, paired with a graceful arched back and a unique pear-shaped head. It all comes together to create one very cute and cuddly package, and a dog who makes a wonderful family pet.
Unfailingly loyal, the Bedlington has plenty of affection to share with his humans. He gets on well with people of all ages, even strangers, and is able to adapt to life in a wide range of homes.
If you want to welcome one of these tenacious terriers into your family, you’ll need to socialize him from a young age to help him get used to other pets. But if properly socialized and cared for, the Bedlington will be a loyal friend for life.
10. Lagotto Romagnolo
The breed with perhaps the toughest of all the curly-haired dog breed names to pronounce, the Lagotto Romagnolo hails from Italy. Originally bred as a water retriever, this beautiful curly-coated fellow has more recently been putting his exceptional sense of smell to work sniffing out truffles.
Recognized as one of the world’s best truffle hunters, this powerfully-built dog is also easy to pick out of a crowd. Boasting a dense, woolly coat with plenty of adorable curls, Lagotti also feature an impressive crop of facial hair.
But behind the profuse eyebrows, beard and whiskers you’ll find an alert and active dog known for its strength and endurance. You’ll also discover a breed that’s intelligent, easy to train and highly adaptable.
Lagotti love their family and form strong bonds with the people they care about, but can be reserved around strangers. And provided you live an active lifestyle, these charming Italians have plenty to offer to any curly-coated dog lover.
There’s no doubt about it, curly-haired dog breeds offer something very special, and are highly practical. The question is, which are you going to go for?