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No Poodle, No Doodle

For some reason, every time an article is written about curly coated retrievers the breed is linked to poodles. Even a recent article from the American Kennel Club almost immediately linked poodles to curly coated retrievers.

Let’s say it loud: No Poodle, No Doodle! AGAIN: NO POODLE, NO DOODLE!

The curly coated retriever and the poodle are NOT closely related. In fact, according to the great folks who mapped the canine genome, the curly coat’s closest relative is the Irish Water Spaniel while poodles are in a genomic group far away from that of the curly.

The myth about crossing curly coated retrievers to poodles in the late 1800’s to ‘tighten up the curl’ of the curly coat is just a myth. There are no documented crosses of poodles and curlies in the late 1800’s or ever!

Sure, a random mating of one poodle and one curly coat from time to time isn’t out of the realm of possibility but there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE of a concerted effort to breed curlies to poodles in the 1800s. There isn’t any evidence or documentation that poodles and curly coated retrievers were ever crossed together.

Most long-time curly breeders and fanciers realize breeding a curly to a poodle would result in a longer, looser coat, not the tight, crisp, short, self-limiting curls seen in most curlies. Poodles must have their hair trimmed because it is continuously growing. Curly coats do not require hair cuts like poodles or doodles. The hair is a mass of curls and stays at one length—it does not continuously grow longer and longer.

Thanks to genetic researchers, we also know the curls in the poodle breed are caused by one gene variant while the curliness of a purebred curly coated retriever is caused by an entirely different gene variant! This gene variation is another indication that curly coated retrievers do not have poodle ancestry.

The curly is NOT a doodle, either. Curly coated retrievers have been purebred since at least 1860 and were actually exhibited at dog shows in England starting in 1860. Labrador and golden retrievers were not yet recognized as breeds when curly coated retrievers began being shown and bred and listed in kennel club registries as a pure breed.

There were many more curly coated retrievers shown in these early shows than poodles.

Curly coated retrievers have been in existence for at least 160 years and were shown in 1860 at the second ever dog show in England. The first doodle ‘breed’ was only developed about 40 years ago.

Standard poodles are a breed I've long admired and the doodle owners I've met absolutely love their dogs. My curly coated retrievers are a whole separate breed and I hope people can recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate the difference.

So, to the AKC and others who might be confused about the curly coated retriever, just remember the mantra:


To learn more about the curly coated retriever and its history, visit

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