Labrador’s With Curly Hair: Is it Possible + What are They?

Labrador That Has Curly Hair
This is a Labradoodle

It’s not uncommon to see a Labrador with straight hair, but it’s definitely a sight to behold when you see one with curly hair.

If you see a Labrador with curly hair, it is undoubtedly mixed with another dog breed, or one of the breeds mentioned below.

Three common dog breeds look like a Labrador with curly hair. They are the Curly Coated Retriever, Labradoodle (still not AKC recognized), and the Portugese Water Dog.

Curly Hair is Not Part of the Lab Breed Standard

While many pet owners adore their pups with curly locks, it’s important to remember that a curly coat is not part of the AKC breed standard.

Woolly coats, soft silky coats, and sparse slick coats are not typical of the breed, and should be severely penalized.

Per AKC Lab breed standard

Regardless of any misgivings you may have, certain breeds must adhere to specific physical characteristics in order to be officially considered purebred. Labs need to have a slick straight coat.

The good news is there are a couple of really great choices for you if you have your heart set on a curly-haired Lab. Let’s take a look.

What Breed is a Curly Hair Lab?

Here are three dog breeds you can get that look just like a curly haired Lab. They are similar in size and temperament as well.

Curly Coated Retriever

Curly Coated Retriever Looks like a curly haired lab

If you are looking for a Labrador with curly hair, the closest breed would be the Curly-Coated Retriever. It resembles the Labradors in size but has a distinctive curly or wavy coat. The coat features thick tight curls.

It is a working breed originally bred for hunting birds and other waterfowl. It’s one of the oldest retriever breeds.

The Curly-Coated Retriever is an intelligent and independent dog breed with a lot of energy. They are great family dogs due to their intelligence and willingness to please.

They are also highly active, which can make them a bit difficult to train. However, with proper training and socialization, they can thrive in any home environment. They are recognized by the AKC.

Here’s more on the CCR from the Curly Coated Retriever Club of America.

Labradoodle

Labradoodles have made a splash in the dog-owning community in the last 10-15 years. While not recognized by the AKC, Labradoodles are a hybrid breed that has been bred for their friendly and affectionate nature.

Labradoodles are created by breeding a Labrador Retriever with a Poodle, resulting in a pup with the best traits of both parents. The coat can range from straight to curly, depending on which parent they take after the most.

Labradoodles are highly trainable and can make great family pets due to their intelligence, friendliness, and ease of training.

They require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation in order to thrive. The Labradoodle is the dog most people are looking for when they search for a Lab with curly hair.

Goldendoodle

Curly Coated Goldendoodle

The Goldendoodle is a combination of the Golden Retriever and a Poodle. Like Labradoodles, they are not recognized by the AKC, but have become incredibly popular in recent years due to their intelligence and friendly nature. Goldendoodles can come in different coat varieties, including straight or curly hair.

Portuguese Water Dog

Dogs that look like Labs with curly fur

The Portuguese Water Dog is another breed that can produce a curly-coated pup that looks like a Labrador. This breed was originally bred as a working dog to help fishermen, and they have thick wavy fur coats that protect them from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Most Portuguese Water Dogs will have either a wavy or curly coat, but it is possible to find one with a straight coat.

Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Spaniel looks like a Labrador with curls

The Irish Water Spaniel is another breed that looks similar to a Labrador and can have a curly coat. It also makes a great hunting companion.

They are a popular gun dog. This breed was originally bred to retrieve game from the water, so they have a dense outer coat with a wooly undercoat which helps keep them warm in cold temperatures. The coat can range from straight to tight curls, but it will always be wavy or curly.

The Irish Water Spaniel is an intelligent and loyal breed, but they can also be independent and stubborn at times (but, so can my wife and she still makes an excellent companion).

Conclusion

A Labrador with curly hair is not a Labrador. It’s been bred with something else to get curly hair.

If you are looking for an AKC-recognized breed, the Curly Coated Retriever is the closest in size, looks, and personality. It looks like someone took a Lab and gave it a Poodle’s coat of hair, while retaining the Lab’s frame.

If you are looking for a hybrid with a lot of energy and a curly coat, then a Labradoodle or Goldendoodle is your best choice. But be aware that hybrid dogs are more likely to have health problems than a standardized breed.

Finally, the Portugese Water Dog or Irish Water Spaniel may also be worth considering, but they don’t look as much like a Lab with curly hair.