13 Cute Dog Breeds With Curly Hair

Big and bold coifs often need their fair share of maintenance

Curly haired dog outside

LSOPhoto / iStock / Getty Images

Curly-haired dog breeds are popular for their low-shedding coats and distinctive appearance. Curly-coiffed pups like poodles and Portuguese water dogs were developed for sporting since their tight curls serve as good insulation for water activities. A herding breed like the Pumi and a companion breed like the bichon also feature abundant coils. Each dog has different grooming requirements: Some require frequent brushing, washing, or grooming appointments, while others require hand stripping or a stripping comb.

Here are 13 curly-haired dog breeds, including their grooming needs.

Tip

Many—but not all—curly-haired breeds are hypoallergenic, meaning they're a better choice for allergy sufferers because they cause fewer allergic reactions. However, there are no dogs that are 100 percent hypoallergenic.

  • 01 of 13

    Poodle

    Toy poodle

    Irina Marwat / Moment / Getty Images

    When it comes to curly-haired dogs, perhaps the first breed that people think of is the poodle. The fluffy poodle is a classic curly-haired dog in large, miniature, and toy sizes. These dogs are known to be highly intelligent and make excellent companions. The standard poodle was originally bred as a keen retriever of game.

    Historically, owners clipped the tight curls to keep the vital organs and joints of the dog warm as it plunged into chilly water. Today, the classic poodle cut is more about fashion than function. Whether your dog is a water retriever or a homebody, be prepared to learn to trim your dog’s coat yourself or find a capable groomer in your area since these coats need frequent trimming to stave off tangles.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: Standard: 15 inches; miniature: 10 to 15 inches; toy: 10 inches and under

    Weight: Standard: 45 to 70 pounds; miniature: 15 to 18 pounds; toy: 5 to 9 pounds

    Coat and Color: Curly, dense single-layer coats that may be one of many solid colors, including white, black, gray, brown, and apricot

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 02 of 13

    Portuguese Water Dog

    Portuguese water dog running

    Suefeldberg / iStock / Getty Images

    The Portuguese water dog, or PWD, is another of the sporty curly-haired dog breeds. Originally bred to assist fishermen in retrieving lost tackle or even rescuing drowning sailors, these dogs needed to be strong and agile swimmers. Today, the breed is popular as both a companion pet or a canine competitor in sports like dock diving, agility, or obedience.

    The Portuguese water dog's coat is hypoallergenic. This breed is considered to be a very minimal shedder but requires regular grooming. You can opt for a standard clipping overall to maintain a coat length of about one inch or go for the "lion clip," which means shaving the hair on the hindquarters and the muzzle down to the skin. This cut gave these working dogs enhanced mobility in the water while keeping their vital organs warm.  

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 23 inches

    Weight: 35 to 60 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Wavy or tightly curled coat; black, black and white, and brown, though color may also be white or silver-tipped

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

  • 03 of 13

    Bichon Frise

    Bichon Frise outside

    MilanEXPO / iStock / Getty Images

    The name "bichon frise" literally means "curly-haired dog" in French. This small companion dog has a white, powder-puff-like coat. It has short, fluffy curls that give the dog a round appearance when groomed right. These dogs have soft hair and coarse guard hairs, which can lead to matting. The Bichon Frise Club of America recommends daily brushing and a monthly trip to the groomer for a bath and haircut. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 9 to 12 inches

    Weight: 7 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Fluffy and curly white hair (may have traces of apricot, buff, or cream), resembling a cotton ball or powder-puff

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 04 of 13

    Airedale Terrier

    Airedale terrier up close

    Oleghz / iStock / Getty Images

    The Airedale is the largest of the terrier breeds and has one of the most distinctive coats. Typically brown and tan in color, the wiry coat can be tightly curled or may have a more relaxed curl that resembles a wave. It's notably different in texture than many other terriers. 

    The Airedale terrier is a low-maintenance, hypoallergenic dog. You should brush or use a stripping comb to go through the curls each week but will only need to visit the groomer for a haircut three to four times a year. This schedule saves significant time and money compared to the monthly grooming needs of other curly-haired breeds. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 23 inches

    Weight: 50 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Sturdy yet athletic in appearance; tight, curly coat in black and tan; typically has a beard on the muzzle

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.
  • 05 of 13

    Pumi

    Pumi dog sitting

    Mirceax / iStock / Getty Images

    The Hungarian Pumi has a unique medium-length coat characterized by a combination of curls and waves and is a mixture of softer hair and more coarse guard hair. At birth, the Pumi’s coat is usually straight or wavy. After a few months, the coat changes as the guard hairs grow, resulting in its characteristic curls. Unlike other Hungarian herding breeds, like the Puli and Komondor, the Pumi's hair should not be corded.

    Grooming a Pumi includes the time-consuming method of hand stripping. The coat could be clipped, which may change its texture and appearance. In between visits to the groomer, comb the curls every few weeks. After combing, wet the curls, and let them air-dry so they spring back to life. Blow-drying this dog’s coat will flatten the curls.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 15 to 18.5 inches

    Weight: 22 to 29 pounds

    Coat and Color: Compact body with semi-erect ears and a tail that curls over the back; wavy, curly coat in black, white, gray, or fawn

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

  • 06 of 13

    Curly-Coated Retriever

    Black curly-coated retriever

    Bloodstone / iStock / Getty Images

    The curly-coated retriever is one of the largest curly-haired dog breeds and one of the oldest retriever breeds. Curly-haired dogs like Irish water spaniels and poodles likely contributed to this breed’s development. These dogs were hunting companions that retrieved game from lakes and rivers in all sorts of weather and often trudged through brambles and thorns. The curls kept the dog warm and acted as protection against the brush.

    Unlike other curly-haired dog breeds, these dogs have a single coat of hair that sheds every six months or so. Regularly comb the curls (especially during shedding season), but avoid brushing the coat, or else it will create a frizzy appearance. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: 50 to 90 pounds

    Coat and Color: Small, tight, water- and weather-resistant in solid black and dark brown; curls cover the body from the tail all the way up to the top of the head with a feathering fringe of hair on the ears, belly, thighs, feet, legs, and tail

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 14 years

  • 07 of 13

    Bedlington Terrier

    White Bedlington terrier

    GavinD / iStock / Getty Images 

    The Bedlington terrier bears a resemblance to a lamb—and feels as soft as one with its combination of soft and coarse hair. The dog’s head tends to be the curliest part of its body. These dogs are often born with a dark coat, which gradually lightens to a softer blue, sandy, or a dark-brown liver color.

    Maintaining the coat of a Bedlington terrier isn’t too complicated, and it doesn't shed as much. A weekly combing will keep the curls free of debris and matting. You can learn to trim the dog’s coat yourself or make an appointment with a groomer about every eight weeks. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 15 to 18 inches

    Weight: 17 to 23 pounds

    Coat and Color: Arched back; shaggy, rugged curls; colors include blue, liver, and sandy shades, with or without tan markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 08 of 13

    Bolognese

    White Bolognese dog outside

    Sssss1gmel / iStock / Getty Images

    The Bolognese is a companion breed related to the bichon frise. Unlike the bichon, which has tight, short curls, the Bolognese has medium-length curly fur. This wavy look means it needs its coat brushed a few times each week, though it’s probably best to make it a daily habit. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Foundation Stock Service; this breed is not registered by the AKC but can be recorded for breeding and competition purposes

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 5.5 to 9 pounds

    Coat and Color: Petite dog with long, curly hair that's always solid white with a black nose and dark eyes

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

    Continue to 9 of 13 below.
  • 09 of 13

    Kerry Blue Terrier

    Kerry blue terrier with black and brown coat

    DevidDO / iStock / Getty Images

    The curly blue-gray coat of the Kerry blue terrier is its most unique feature. According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, the coat should be soft, dense, and wavy. Unlike some other curly-haired dog breeds, the overall appearance of the Kerry blue should be tidy.

    It's essential to groom a Kerry blue terrier regularly, brushing and combing your dog a few times a week to keep it from matting. This breed's hair grows continually, so plan on learning to trim the dog yourself or making a visit to the groomer every six to eight weeks. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 19 inches

    Weight: 30 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-size breed with a short blue-gray coat of curls that is soft and wavy with no undercoat; a bearded face with heavy eyebrows often conceal this breed's eyes

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 10 of 13

    Barbet

    Brown barbet dog

     Fotoeventis / iStock / Getty Images

    The French barbet water dog is a lesser-known curly-haired dog breed. The coat is best maintained at a medium length—three to five inches—allowing curly locks to hang loose. The barbet's hair is thick and wooly, a significant characteristic as this dog earned its keep by retrieving game from chilly water.

    Keeping the barbet well-groomed is no small task. The coat needs to be brushed and combed several times each week to keep the hair from becoming a tangled mess. Regular visits to the groomer will ensure that the coat maintains its shape and length. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Miscellaneous (AKC); awaiting acceptance by the AKC as a recognized breed

    Height: 19 to 24.5 inches

    Weight: 35 and 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-sized dog with a long, dense, curly coat that comes in black, gray, brown, or fawn

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 11 of 13

    Irish Water Spaniel

    Brown Irish water spaniel

    Dan Iggers / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Another curly-haired breed with traditional water duties, the Irish water spaniel (IWS) has a double coat of curls that keeps it warm during water retrieving tasks. The Irish water spaniel is a popular sporting dog in Europe and the United States and was among the first breeds registered with the AKC in 1878. Some believe the breed developed from the mixture of a poodle, barbet, and Portuguese water dog. 

    The breed has smooth, short hair on the face and tail, while the rest of the coat is tight curls. Its care is pretty straightforward: It should be brushed or combed at least once a week and bathed and trimmed every six to eight weeks.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 24 inches

    Weight: 45 to 68 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium to large breed with dense, crisp, and tight dark curls in a dark-brown liver color; coat on the face and tail is short and smooth

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 12 of 13

    Puli

    White puli dog sitting

    GoodLifeStudio / iStock / Getty Images

    The curly-haired sheep-herding Puli is closely related to the Komondor and is also sometimes referred to as a "mop dog" because of its coat's appearance. The Komondor's hair is corded, while a Puli's fur can be corded or kept as a fluffier, brushed-out mass of curls.

    The Puli's fur is a combination of a soft undercoat and coarse guard hairs. The coat will naturally begin to separate into felted cords as the dog approaches nine to 10 months of age. If you opt for a corded coat, it will need regular baths. To maintain a powder-puff look, you will need to brush its coat several times a week with periodic visits to the groomer for trimming.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 17 inches

    Weight: 25 to 35 pounds

    Coat and Color: Naturally corded coat; colors include black, silver, and white

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • 13 of 13

    Komondor

    White Komondor dog

    volofin / Getty Images

    A unique look for a curly-haired dog breed, the Komondor has a coat that naturally forms into long cords, also giving this dog a "mop dog" nickname. A working sheepdog, this particular coat helps it blend in with the flocks and protects it in inclement weather. The natural dispersion of coarse guard hairs among the softer hairs of the undercoat results in this natural felting process.

    Keeping up with the care of the Komondor’s coat involves a special regimen of bathing but not brushing. A regular bath can keep dirt and odors away. Its locks will need thorough rinsing and then towel-drying, and it needs adequate airflow to complete the drying process. Otherwise, the hair can develop an odor.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 26 to 28 inches

    Weight: 80 pounds and up

    Coat and Color: White corded coat; large head, deep chest, and muscular body

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Breeds to Avoid

If you're partial to dogs with bouncy, luscious locks or abundant coils, then short-haired or flat-haired breeds might not appeal to you. Steer clear of Labrador retrievers or flat-coated retrievers if you want the curly hair type. Although, if you like that dog and temperament, the curly-haired retriever is a good alternative. Similarly, if you want a terrier, a Jack Russell or American Staffordshire terrier has short hair with very little texture; a Kerry blue or Airedale might be more your style.