Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Curly Hair? [5 Revealing Reasons!]

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So, you’ve noticed that your Golden Retriever has a curly coat, rather than the long flowing coat that many other Golden Retrievers have.

Naturally, you’re dying to find out, why does my Golden Retriever have curly hair?

Well, you’re not alone.

Since most Golden Retrievers are adopted as puppies, their owners only see their pup’s fluffy, straight puppy coat, not their adult coat.

Therefore, they’re a bit surprised when their pup’s adult coat is wavier than expected.

So, what causes some Golden Retrievers to have curly hair?

Find out as we reveal everything you need to know below!

Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Curly Hair?

The number one reason your Golden Retriever has curly hair is genetics. Genetics plays a huge role in what type of coat your Golden Retriever has, whether it is curly or wavy, or straight. The correct Golden Retriever coat, according to breed standards, may be straight or wavy. So, having a curly/wavy coat is completely normal. However, a lack of coat growth, improper grooming, and health issues can affect your Golden’s coat causing the hair to become curlier than normal.

1. Genetics Is The Reason For Your Golden Retriever’s Curly Hair

An adult Golden Retriever and puppy laying together on a field of grass.

Genetics plays a huge role in virtually everything that your Golden Retriever puppy inherits from his parents.

Genes passed down from your pup’s parents not only determine your dog’s coat colour, but also the length and texture.

So, this means that if your pup’s parents had a curly/wavy coat, then your pup will as well.

I’ve discussed how genes play a role in determining the colour of your Golden Retriever’s coat, as well as the length of your Golden Retriever’s coat in my previous articles.

Now, we’ll look at how genes determine texture.

Your Golden Retriever’s curly or wavy coat is a genetic trait that is inherited as a semi-dominant gene, which runs in the family.

The KRT71 gene and variants within the gene are responsible for giving your Golden Retriever a curly, wavy or straight coat.

There are 2 versions of this gene:

Alleles: N = No Curl C = Curl

Dogs with two copies of N/N will have a straight coat.

Dogs with N/C are expected to have wavy coats.

Dogs with two copies of C/C will have a curly coat.

The reason curly hair is a semi-dominant gene is that only one copy of the gene is required to produce a wavy coat.

But, two copies of the gene will produce a very curly coat.

Hopefully, that gives you a bit of understanding as to the texture of your Golden Retriever’s coat.

But, genetics isn’t the only reason for curly hair in your Golden Retriever.

2. Lack Of Coat Growth May Cause Curly Or Wavy Hair

We’ve learned that looking at your pup’s parents gives you a good indication of how your Golden Retriever will look as an adult.

But, sometimes having a curly or wavy coat is not inherited, but instead caused by a lack of coat growth.

To understand a Golden Retriever’s coat growth, we’ll look at the different stages below.

Stage 1: The Puppy Coat

A Golden Retriever puppy laying on a brick fireplace.  The pup is looking at you.

Puppies are born with a thin straight coat that is wet at birth. It quickly dries and becomes soft and fluffy.

The puppy coat is designed to keep your pup warm and help regulate his body temperature.

Stage 2: The Adult Coat Starts To Grow

Around the age of 3 to 6 months, your puppy will start growing his adult coat.

Darker hair begins to emerge through the undercoat, starting at the tail.

Your puppy’s fluffy coat becomes the undercoat, while the darker hair becomes the top coat.

Stage 3: The Adult Coat Is Set

At the age of 2, your Golden Retriever will have his full adult coat.

This can vary between Golden Retrievers, as some may grow their coats quicker. It depends on genetics.

Your Golden will have feathering on his tail, legs, chest and belly. This new adult coat will be the coat your Golden has for the rest of his life.

During your pup’s coat growth stages, it is important to feed him proper nutrition, not only to ensure overall health but to ensure a healthy coat and proper growth.

Feeding your Golden Retriever an improper diet, as well as too much or too little can result in a lack of coat growth. This causes the hair to become curly or wavier than normal.

3. Overall Health Affects Your Golden Retriever’s Coat

A happy Golden Retriever laying on a big rock, with a red tennis ball between its paws.

Nutrition plays a huge role in your Golden’s overall health. Diet affects coat texture and appearance.

With proper nutrition, your Golden should have a soft and shiny coat, it should not be dry or brittle.

Along with diet, exercise is vitally important, and Golden Retrievers require plenty of daily activity.

Physical exercise keeps the blood flowing, and maintains healthy skin and coat.

Oftentimes, your dog’s overall health can be observed through his coat appearance.

Changes in the texture, and feel of the coat can indicate underlying health issues.

If you notice your Golden’s coat becoming curlier or wavier than normal, or there is excessive hair loss, it could indicate an underlying health issue.

Certain health issues cause a change in hair texture, as well as hair loss, such as:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Parasites
  • Allergies
  • Nutrient Deficiency

Always consult your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s overall coat health.

4. Improper Grooming

An adult Golden Retriever standing looking straight ahead.  The dog's tail is up in the air, and its mouth is open.

I have talked about the importance of grooming your Golden Retriever in several of my articles, and I will stress it again here.

Brushing your Golden Retriever regularly is a must! I highly recommend daily brushing to remove any dirt, debris and tangles.

Not only does brushing stimulate blood flow, but it distributes natural oils to help keep the coat soft and shiny. It promotes hair growth as well.

Bathing regularly is important as well to keep the coat clean to promote new hair growth.

By not brushing or bathing your Golden regularly, you are allowing dirt and debris to build up, as well as oils, which can make the hair appear wavy or curlier than normal.

Also, matting can occur which is super painful to your dog.

5. Being Wet Causes Curly Hair & Crimped Ears

Have you ever noticed that when your Golden Retriever is wet his fur starts to get curly or crimped?

This is especially true around the ears.

My Golden Retriever, Ellie gets crimped ears and the hair along her butt becomes super curly.

It turns out that the curls actually serve a purpose! They repel water so that the fur doesn’t become soaking wet.

Ear crimping seems to be pretty common, and it’s really cute. But, many owners have issues with matting behind the ears, because hair tends to be curlier there.

Again, brushing is important, to avoid mats from forming.

Most of the time, the curls and crimping go away after you brush them, however, in some Golden’s the crimping stays even when the fur is dry.

This cute Golden Retriever in the video below is fortunate enough to have beautiful ear crimping all the time:

What Type Of Coat Is Typical Of A Golden Retriever, Curly Or Straight?

A close up of a happy Golden Retriever looking off into the distance.  A field of grass and trees is in the background.

A Golden Retriever’s typical coat can vary between wavy and straight, depending on breeding and genetics.

Golden Retrievers who are bred for show tend to have longer and finer coats, whereas those bred primarily for hunting tend to have shorter, wavier coats.

When we talk about curly hair, it’s not like the tight curls you see on a Poodle. Instead, a Golden Retriever’s waves are found mostly along the back, chest, tail, and ears.

Regardless of whether wavy or straight, all Golden Retrievers have a double coat, meaning they have a topcoat and an undercoat.

This double coat plays an essential role in what Golden Retrievers were primarily bred to do, hunting and retrieving waterfowl.

Without the dense, water-repellent, wavy topcoat, and insulating undercoat, a Golden Retriever would get cold quickly and tire easily when doing what he was bred to do.

In recent years, many people have started favouring the long-flowing coat of a Golden Retriever.

While a long, soft and silky coat might look beautiful, it is not functional or typical of the breed.

According to breed standards, excessive length, as well as soft coats are undesirable. Golden Retrievers are primarily hunting dogs and should be shown in working condition.

How Should I Maintain My Golden Retriever’s Curly Hair?

Whether your Golden Retriever has a wavy or straight coat, you will need to take proper steps in order to keep his coat healthy and looking its best.

  • Feed a nutritionally balanced diet.
  • Do not feed too much or too little.
  • Use supplements such as Omega 3 fatty acids to help nourish skin and coat.
  • Brush and bathe your Golden regularly.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Consult your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s coat texture or appearance.

Final Thoughts

As we have learned, the texture of your Golden Retriever’s hair, whether that is curly or straight, is due to genetics.

It is quite common for a Golden Retriever to have a wavy coat, and it shouldn’t worry you, especially if your pup’s parents had the same type of coat.

A change in hair texture, however, could be a sign of an underlying health issue, and you should consult your vet.

Regardless of your Golden Retriever’s coat type, make sure it is healthy and looking its best through proper nutrition, grooming, and exercise.

Does your Golden Retriever have curly hair? What about crimped ears? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Curly Hair? [5 Revealing Reasons!]”

  1. Very interesting. I learned a lot about why they have curly hair being a dog lover. I love articles like this, my daughter has a black lab named, snickers and her boys love that dog. He’s very protective of his family. But getting back to your article, very informative.  I often see Golden Retrievers that have curly hair along their neck, but the rest of their hair is straight, I understand it’s mainly due to genetics, but can be caused by other reasons according to your article. 

    • Hi Russell,

      I’m glad you found this article informative.  The way that genes play a role in determining a dog’s coat colour, texture, and length is pretty fascinating.  There are so many different outcomes.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,



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