9 Big Curly Haired Dog Breeds

Are you looking for a big dog with lots of curls?

Have you always been a fan of Poodles and want to find out more about other breeds of dogs with curly hair?

Or perhaps it’s simply all about mess.

You’ve heard that curly haired dogs shed less and since you don’t like housework, these dogs seem like a dream come true.

Or it could be that you are an allergy sufferer and so you are doing more research into hypoallergenic dog breeds. 

Whatever brings you here, this article contains a list of nine big curly haired dog breeds.

What is a big dog breed?

So an obvious question to ask at the start is what do I mean by a big dog, 

Big dogs can be defined by both their height and weight. 

In my selection of nine breeds, the shortest and lightest curly haired dog breed is the Portuguese Water Dog. 

A mature adult male will typically measure about 22 inches or 55 cm tall and weigh a “mere” 60 lbs or 27 kg.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Black Russian Terrier (BRT.)

This brute can stand up to 28 inches or 70 cm tall and weigh a massive 150 lbs or 68 kgs. 

In between these two breeds sit seven other large curly haired dog breeds.

And talking of curly hair… 

What do I mean by curly haired?

Not all curly hair is the same. Some dogs will have a light wave to the hair in their coat whilst other dogs will have hair that is so curly that it forms rings. 

Whilst a light wave on a dog’s coat will make it look somewhat unkempt and untidy, hairs that are very curly will make a dog’s coat seem like lambs wool.

And so, in my sample, I have the full spectrum.

From the loose, rough waves of Kuvasz and a Borzoi to the spring like curls of a Standard Poodle or Irish Water Spaniel. 

Added to the mix are breeds like the Komondor which don’t have waves, or curls on their coat.

Instead they have “cords” or hair that looks like dreadlocks.  

Now you might be thinking about how dogs get curly hair in the first place?

Well, let me give you a brief explanation.

How do dogs get curly hair?

Out of all the dogs breeds in all the world, any breed will have one of seven different varieties of coat (think short hair or long hair.)

But of these seven types, three coat varieties involve some sort of curl, and they are:

  • Wire and curly
  • Curly
  • Curly with furnishings

 And that these three sorts of curly hair are all caused by a gene mutation (or malfunction.)

And in 2010 the gene was identified.

And for all you science buffs out the name of the gene is KRT71.

If you are getting a bit of “brain strain” from all of this, it is time to introduce my list of big dog breeds with curly hair.  

[1] Komondor 

A Komondor’s hair is called “cords” ²

So, you’ve seen what could pass for a floor mop with four legs frolicking in the local dog park, and you’ve been wondering just what type of creature it is.

Wonder no more! You’ve probably spotted a Komondor. This breed of dog originated in Hungary, and, despite its appearance, was not bred for household chores, but for more outdoor work, namely sheep herding.

The Komondor is white, with long cord-like curls that resemble dreadlocks covering his whole body, reaching to the floor. The Komondor lives most of his life outdoors, among the sheep he protected. His coloration and long coat helped to blend in with the flock, as well as to keep warm on those cold winter nights.

This canine is a large, muscular animal, befitting his occupation. The Komondor stands from 25” to 27” (63.5cm to 68.5cm), and males weigh-in from 110 to 130 pounds (50 to 60kg). The Komondor is not the best choice for apartment living, as it requires a large area in which to expend his high energy level, and will require quite a bit of exercise.

Because he was bred to guard sheep, the Komondor retains more than a bit of that protective nature, making him an excellent watchdog. Komondors are very affectionate with family members and will protect them with their lives if necessary.

They are quite intelligent, as are most herding dogs, and take well to training with a firm hand.

This breed also appears in my lists about: 11 dogs with curly ears, dogs that are big, white with long hair and 11 large blonde dog breeds.

[2] Barbet

As well as having curly hair, a Barbet has
webbed feet ³

The Barbet is another medium to large dog with a great looking curly coat, which is, by the way, highly water-resistant.

The Barbet originated in France, perhaps as far back as the eighth century, and is related to two other water dogs, the Poodle and the Briard. He even has webbed feet!

The male Barbet stands about 22” to 26” tall (57cm to 66cm), and will weigh about 37 to 62 pounds (17kg to 28kg) at maturity.

The name Barbet comes from the French word “barbe”, which means beard, and this dog does, indeed, sport a beard.

The hair can be either wavy or curly, but either variety will require a daily brush to remove any burrs he may have picked up on his travels. And travel he will! This dog has high energy levels which require a large space in which to exercise.

The Barbet also loves to compete in agility contests where he can show off his skills. The Barbet makes a joyous and affectionate companion, getting along well with the entire family, kids and other dogs included.

This breed comes in a variety of colors such as white, black, fawn, grey, and brown, and you will be pleased to know that they do not shed very much at all.

[3] Bouvier Des Flandres

Bouviers are big dogs used to guard big stock
such as cows⁴

When you see a Bouvier Des Flandres dog, you just know that he was bred to work. This breed has a well-muscled body on an impressive skeletal system.

The name means, literally, “cowherd of Flanders”, and he was named for his occupation and his place of origin, the Flanders region of Belgium.

These dogs were sturdy farm dogs, helping with the herding and protection of cows, sheep, and other livestock.

They are highly intelligent and loyal, which makes them a joy to own if you can make the commitment, because they may require a bit of attention.

Their coat is thick and tousled, and their face sports a beard and a mustache. The coat may display a variety of colors, such as black, brindle, fawn, grey, and combinations such as black and brown and salt and pepper. Bouviers stand about 24.5” to 27.5” (62cm to 68cm), and can weigh in at 70 to 100 pounds (35kg to 45kg).

Up until the early part of the twentieth century, the breed was not well-defined, and, in fact, almost vanished as a result of their use in the trenches of World War I.

A dog named Nic, who served in the trenches and was a repeat winner at post-war dog shows, is widely considered to be the foundation stock of the breed which was finally established in 1936.

[4] Standard Poodle

Poodles were bred to originally retrieve water
fowl ⁵

When most of us think of the Poodle, we think of delicate little furry things with adorable puffballs leading pampered lives. But this was never true at the origin of the breed.

Poodles were bred as hunters, helping their masters to retrieve waterfowl after they had been downed. And they performed this task admirably for centuries, always eager to please their masters. Just as they are to this day. 

And those puffballs, called pompons, were originally designed to serve a purpose. Hunters wanted their dogs to enter the water as unencumbered as possible but left the hair intact around important joints to prevent damage from the cold. An untrimmed poodle has a thick, curly, water-resistant coat in addition to a fearless attitude.

These are energetic animals who will require a good deal of exercise. Poodles are quite speedy animals, coming close to the canine speed demon Whippet. In addition to regular exercise, they will also need quite a bit of grooming. The American Kennel Club recommends brushing each day down to the skin to prevent matting.

Once a poodle’s hair becomes matted, it may be necessary to shave it and allow the hair to regrow. And no one wants to see a naked poodle! A standard poodle will stand 18” to 24” (46cm to 61cm) tall and weigh from 60 to 70 pounds (27kg to 32kg).

It’s interesting to note that, although most people associate Poodles with France, the breed originated in Germany centuries ago as duck hunters. The very name poodle is from a Germanic root which is also the origin of the English word “puddle.”

Interestingly, In France, a Poodle is not a Poodle, but a Caniche, or “duck dog.” Poodles come in a rainbow of colors: black, white, brown, blue, red, apricot, beige, grey, and silver.

[5] Irish Water Spaniel

As well as their curls, Irish Water Spaniels have
a beautifully coloured coat ⁶

The Irish Water Spaniel is sometimes mistaken for a Standard Poodle because of his thick, curly hair. But, although there may be some relationship in their distant ancestry, make no mistake about it – these are two distinct breeds.

Maybe you should consider the Irish Water Spaniel the blue-collar version. This spaniel was bred, as was the Poodle, to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl. And it loves the water, as evidenced by its water-resistant coat and its webbed toes.

If allowed to frolic in the water, or even if not allowed, it may take more than a bit of coaxing to get him to leave it. This breed is liver-colored, standing 22” to 24” (56cm to 61cm) and weighing 55 to 65 pounds (20kg to 26kg).

The IWS is an energetic, intelligent dog with lots of energy. He can also be highly mischievous, so it may take a bit of patience to deal with him. He is easily trainable but will require a strong hand to deal with his streak of stubbornness.

This breed is friendly with all family, friends, and other dogs, and likes to be the center of attention with his clownish ways. The IWS is usually a quiet dog, leaving his barks for when they are truly needed.

[6] Portugese Water Dog

This Portuguese Water Dog is called Caesar! ⁷

Yet another dog with curly or wavy hair is the Portuguese Water Dog. These dogs, like many others, were bred for herding, but in their case, they herd fish into nets for their masters.

They were also used to retrieve lost fishing tackle which may have fallen overboard, and to deliver messages between ships at sea.

These dogs love the water and are ideally suited to a home with a pool or beach nearby, although other forms of exercise can do just as well.

They will love to accompany you on bike rides or jogs. Just make sure you are prepared to exercise them every day as they can become bored, and therefore destructive if their energy is not depleted.

Portuguese Water Dogs are high on the friendliness scale, getting along well with friends and family, as well as other dogs. They grow to a height of 20” to 22’ (50cm to 57cm) and weigh about 42 to 60 pounds (19kg to 27kg).

Their hair can be black, white, brown, or a combination of these colors.

[7] Borzoi

Borzois have thick wavy coats ⁸

The Borzoi is a Russian dog breed whose elegant look belies its working dog roots. Tall and slender, with longish wavy hair, the Borzoi was originally bred to hunt rabbits, foxes, and even wolves, before it’s the regal look and laid-back demeanor made it popular as the companion of choice of European royalty.

The Borzoi is calm, gentle, quiet, as well as intelligent and athletic. Left to its own devices, it may well become a couch potato, but what it lacks in exercise requirements, it makes up for in grooming needs. The Borzoi is a sight hound, and will probably take off after anything that catches its eye.

For this reason, it is advisable to always keep this pet on a leash when outside of your home or your enclosed yard.

Also for this reason, if you plan to keep smaller pets such as hamsters or even cats in the same home, the Borzoi pup must be introduced to them at an early age to have them properly acclimate. Borzois can be extremely laid back and cannot be counted on to raise the alarm at intruders.

For this reason, they do not make good watchdogs. This dog will reach a height of between 29” to 32” (73cm to 81cm) and weigh between 75 to 100 pounds (34kg to 47kg) when fully grown. The coat comes in a variety of colors such as black, white, brindle, fawn, cream, and red.

The Borzoi appears in three other lists that I have created:

[8] Black Russian Terrier

This dog was bred for military service ⁹

There is yet another Russian curly-haired canine with a rather more checkered history. In the 1930s, between the two World Wars, a group of scientists and breeders worked at a facility outside Moscow to produce a so-called “super dog” for the Russian military.

Combining elements of seventeen different breeds, including Giant Schnauzers, Rottweilers, and, to even out the temperament, Newfoundlands, they came up with the Black Russian Terrier, a breed well-suited to patrol and guard Stalin’s internment camps and border crossings.

Nowadays, the breed is more likely to be found patrolling suburban backyards. The Black Russian Terrier grows to about 26” to 28” (66cm to 72cm) at the withers, and will weigh in the area of 100 to 150 pounds (45kg to 68kg). The dog is big-boned and well-muscled.

This breed will require 30 to 40 minutes of exercise each day, as well as grooming three to four times a week to keep its thick, curly double coat from marring. As the name implies, the Black Russian Terrier comes in a limited variety of colors, namely black.

But sometimes, salt and pepper, leaning heavily on the pepper.

[9] Kuvasz 

The Kuvasz is the oldest of the three ancient Hungarian dog breeds. Like many other dogs, it was bred to herd and protect sheep. The striking white color was incorporated into the breed to allow farmers to differentiate between their helpers and the legendary “wolf in the fold”. The Kuvasz is noted for its distinctive running stride, which is often compared to a wolf’s gait. Because they were bred to guard and protect their charges, this breed may be a little wary and aloof with strangers, but they are dedicated to family members. The Kuvasz is a large and powerful animal, standing 28” to 30” (72cm to 75cm), and can weigh from 99 to 110 pounds (45kg to 52kg). While Kuvaszok (the plural form of Kuvasz) are highly intelligent, they can be relatively difficult to train, especially for inexperienced owners. Additionally, because of their protective nature, this breed should be socialized early on to prevent unfortunate altercations with strangers and other dogs. But this very protective nature will make them ideal companions for young children. They will provide as much protection to suburban children as they did to Hungarian sheep centuries ago.

Photo Credits 

¹ Photo by Ger Dekker on Flickr

² Photo by adam w on Flickr

³ Photo by CT M by on Flickr

⁴ Photo by Svenska Massan on Flickr

⁵ Photo by Dorien Wallender on Flickr

⁶ Photo by Andrea Pokrzywinski on Flickr

⁷ Photo by Raymond Brow on Flickr

⁸ Photo by Karolina Wv on Unsplash

⁹ Photo by Seongbin Im on Flickr