The Curly-Coated Retriever is a large, hardy, athletic retriever with a distinctive crisp curly coat. The thick, black or liver-colored coat of tight curls protects the dog from brambles and icy water. Even the small ears, back of the head, neck and tapering tail are covered with little curls. Only the face, hocks and front of the legs are smooth. The ideal Curly should be agile, graceful, and strong, yet elegant. The body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. The back is strong and level. The limbs are muscular. The head is wedge-shaped - longer than it is wide. The foreface and skull are approximately the same length, with their toplines forming parallel planes when viewed from the side. The muzzle tapers to a well-developed, wide-nostril, dark nose. In black dogs the nose is black and in liver dogs the nose is amber or brown. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The smallish ears are pendant. The eyes are either black or chestnut. The tail reaches approximately to the hock and is carried straight.
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