Curly-haired dogs are unique canines with their own grooming needs. However, we just can’t resist the appeal of these adorable dogs, even if they do require a little more of our time. There are curly-haired small dogs as well as larger curly-haired breeds. Many curly-haired dogs are purebred canines, such as the Poodle or the Bichon Frise. However, breeding trends have created crossover breeds such as the Labradoodle and the Maltipoo which may be born with a mix of curly or wavy hair in addition to a double coat, which can require unique grooming situations.
The curly coat actually serves a purpose in dogs, and that purpose is not just looking good! Curly-haired dogs, as you’ll see, are often “sporting” dogs. Their curly coats might seem to be cumbersome— caught in bushes or tangling easily. However, these dogs’ curly coats actually served to protect them from thorns in bushes or brambles, and they did a superb job of keeping dogs’ bodies warm in cold water. The curly-haired dog is a great example of adaptation, even if modern owners do spend a great deal of time grooming their fuzzy fur babies.
There are dozens of curly-haired dogs, and, while not all of them were originally bred as sporting dogs, their unique coats give them originality that other breeds just can’t replicate. Let’s begin by taking a look at the unique factors in caring for a curly-coated canine.
Caring for your Curly Haired Dog
Grooming a curly-haired dog requires different brushes or combs, a little extra patience, and more frequent bathing than grooming a dog with short, straight hair. One thing you must be careful of is removing dirt and debris from the curly coat. Many curly-haired dogs are also “sporting breed” dogs, meaning they thrive in the outdoors. This also means they will often come back after being in the yard with burrs, sticks, or twigs, and possibly mud in their beautiful coats.
Now, one CAN keep the coat trimmed short so that they can let their dogs out to play without having to give them a bath and brush their long hair each and every time the pup goes out for playtime. Typically, those with an active curly-haired dog will keep their hair trimmed to about two inches.
Those who prefer to take their dogs to the groomer will often go monthly or every six to eight weeks. They do brush their dogs between grooming appointments, sometimes every two days. Some owners will bathe their dogs and home and leave the expert trimming to their groomer. Much of this depends on the dog, its purpose, and its propensity for getting down and dirty.
Some curly dogs are naturally born hunters, and they will want to get outdoors, splash through the pond or other murky water (rain puddles are a particular favorite for some dogs). Other curly dogs, particularly the smaller breeds, maybe just as content staying indoors and playing fetch with you. Each of these curly-haired dogs’ personalities will somewhat dictate how frequently you must bathe and groom the frizzier fur babies.
If you have a curly-haired dog, you might want to be particular about what type of area she plays in; for instance, there are some conditions that are more beneficial to the health of your dog than others.
Curly Haired Dog Breeds
Now that we’ve discussed the dedication caring for a curly-haired pup can require, let’s take a look at five of the most popular breeds of curly or wavy-haired dogs.
Let’s take a look at various curly-haired dog breeds, their special grooming needs, and other daily care basics for these fun and frizzy dogs.
1. The Poodle
Hands down, when it comes to dogs with a curly coif, the Poodle (whether it’s the Standard Poodle or the adorable Toy Poodle) comes to mind. The Poodle is a great companion because she is very intelligent, and she loves to spend time with her human family.
The Poodle of today can be found in a few variations, but all have the same curly coat. The “toy” Poodle is the smallest of the Poodle varieties, and they are typically kept indoors. The Miniature version is slightly larger than the “toy” version, and they are also indoor dogs. The Standard Poodle is the one you often visualize when you think about the larger, curly-haired dogs that have the “continental cut” when groomed properly.
You might not know that the Standard Poodle was actually bred to retrieve game, particularly waterfowl. The Poodle, unlike many breeds that love the water, does not have a double coat, but a single coat that requires regular grooming.
Poodles are some of the curly haired dog breeds considered hypoallergenic because they do not shed – at least not in the way most dogs do. Their loose hair tends to fall back into the curly hair of the Poodle so that you don’t see a great deal of loose hair on furniture or your dog’s bedding. However, the Poodle does require some unique regular grooming both at home and at the groomer.
You’ll want to brush your Poodle’s hair at least two or three times a week, but some owners prefer a daily brushing. Either is fine depending upon your preference and availability of time. You’ll want to use a slicker brush, a brush that is equipped with stiff, short wire bristles, and brush down to your Poodle’s skin. Even so, be careful not to brush so that you cut or scratch your dog’s skin.
Experts say a Poodle may be bathed every four to eight weeks; however, keep in mind that Poodles do have a tendency to explore and find unsavory things in which they might roll and require extra baths. This is perfectly fine and shouldn’t impact your bathing schedule.
Some people choose to carry their Poodle to a groomer for trims, and this is perfectly acceptable. Your Poodle should be trimmed with the frequency of bath time, every four to eight weeks.
2. The Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is another dog breed that was originally utilized by hunters to retrieve waterfowl, but in some instances, this strong swimmer was used to locate lost fishing tackle. The Portuguese Water Dog was even used to assist in rescuing drowning sailors! Today’s PWD, as it is often nicknamed, participates in some competitions such as dock diving, and, of course, obedience.
The Portuguese Water Dog is also a great companion dog. They are highly intelligent, and they love interacting with their humans. Like the Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog is one of the canine breeds with curly hair considered as hypoallergenic. Like the Poodle, they do not shed the way a straight-haired or long-haired dog with straight hair might. The Portuguese Water Dog does require regular grooming in order to remain happy and healthy.
It is highly important that the PWD get a bath before every brushing. While the Poodle and other curly-haired dogs can be brushed regularly to keep their coat clean, the PWD will require a bath prior to brushing. The hair of the PWD can break easily if it is not wet.
Brushing the PWD requires sectioning off his hair for proper grooming. The Portuguese Water Dog possesses a single coat rather than a double coat (such as you’d see on a Labrador Retriever), but it is important to make sure every area of his coat is brushed properly. Failure to do so could lead to the matting of his curly coat.
The PWD should be brushed out weekly, although some owners will lightly spray the PWD with water before brushing rather than completely bathing the dog. Grooming styles for the PWD include a “lion cut,” which leaves the hair shorter around the dog’s hindquarters and muzzle. Otherwise, many owners will clip the hair to one inch over the dog’s body.
3. Bichon Frise
This adorable little pup is often confused with the Poodle and the Maltese breed. However, this sweet little pooch is a breed that is unique to itself!
The name “Bichon Frise” literally translates to “curly-haired dog” in French.
The Bichon Frise has a white coat that, when brushed out, may look a lot like a cotton ball! However, when the coat is clipped to about one or two inches in length, the Bichon Frise has puffy white curls.
When groomed for the show ring, the Bichon Frise will appear to have a “round” appearance. The hair is typically soft, but a few hairs (the “guard” hairs) will be coarse and stiff. The Bichon Frise requires monthly trips to the groomer for bathing and proper haircuts.
4. The Airedale Terrier
The Airedale’s distinctive coat is both curly and wiry; however, some Airedale coats will appear to be wavy rather than curly.
Like many of the other curly-haired dogs, the Airedale Terrier is considered to be hypoallergenic.
The Airedale’s coat does not require the grooming and bathing that most other curly-haired dogs’ will. The Airedale can be brushed weekly in order to avoid tangles and matting. Some groomers will use a “stripping comb” to detangle the Airdale’s unique coat.
The Airedale will only need a haircut three to four times per year, so he can set a schedule of visiting the groomer every three months in order to maintain the health of his coat.
5. The Irish Water Spaniel
Yet again, dogs that were traditionally bred to dive off into the water to retrieve waterfowl happen to have a beautiful curly coat. The Irish Water Spaniel has very thick, curly hair over its body. Like many other curly-haired dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel does not shed often and is considered a hypoallergenic dog.
The Irish Water Spaniel, like the Airedale Terrier, does not require the monthly (sometimes weekly!) grooming of other curly-haired breeds. Owners can simply brush their hair every two to three days with a de-matting comb so that their coat will not become overrun with tangles.
The only likely problem you’ll have with keeping your Irish Water Spaniel’s coat clean is the fact that he loves playing in the water. Therefore, if there’s a local stream or a pond on your property (or even an in-ground swimming pool), then Fido is likely going to find a way to jump in and play. Yes, after a dunk in the water you’re going to want to give him a bath.
What breed of dog has curly hair?
There is no particular breed that exclusively has curly hair. There are many curly-haired breeds, and they vary in size and purpose much like dogs with “traditional” short and smooth hair.
What type of dog has wavy hair?
Again, there is no one breed that can claim the title of sole wavy-haired dog. One might remember former President Obama’s Havanese, a breed that tends to have wavy locks. Some “curly” haired dogs have wavy hair rather than tight curls like that of the Poodle or the Bichon Frise.
How do I treat my dog’s curly hair?
As a general rule, aim to brush your dog’s hair weekly. Use a detangling comb or a slicker brush, which is less likely to break your dog’s hair. Lightly spritz your dog’s coat with water if you aren’t bathing her, then thoroughly work the comb or brush through her coat in order to rid the coat of dead hairs and tangles.
Plan to devote time weekly to brushing or combing your dog’s hair. You may not be comfortable cutting your dog’s hair; this is perfectly acceptable. You may also prefer to simply keep the curly hair clipped close to the skin (about one to two inches in length) in order to keep your dog’s coat healthy without the obligation to go to the groomer frequently.
Monthly trips to the groomer (some breeds require more frequent or less frequent grooming appointments) will ensure that your dog is properly clipped to prevent matting and tangling. Again, if you wish to bypass the groomer, you can carry out a great deal of grooming at home, and Fido will be happy and healthy.