When I was looking at the Curly as a potential breed for my first puppy (Tess), I had a heck of a time finding any info out on what kind of exercise requirements they had. I was very busy at the time and wanted to be sure I could handle the exercise requirements of my future dog. However, I had a heck of a time figuring out what they were like to live with.
The Breed Standard gives you an idea, you know they are going to be active dogs due to their history and breed purpose. The AKC website has a handy chart that shows their energy level.
With this accompanying write up:
Energy & Exercise
Curlies are charming, affectionate, and gentle housemates in the way of all retrievers. They are, though, more emotionally complex—a bit more independent-minded and less needy—than Labs or Goldens. With loved ones they’re playful and mischievous, but Curlies will hold themselves aloof from strangers until proper introductions are made. This wariness makes them more discerning watchdogs than other, more compulsively gregarious retrievers. As hunting companions Curlies are famously versatile gundogs and peerless swimmers, and they’ll never quit before you do.
However, this didn’t really give me a whole lot more information than I already had. I picked up a few books on Curly’s which gave me a little more info:
- Curly-Coated Retrievers: A Complete and Reliable Handbook, by: Gary & Mary Meeks
- Curly-Coated Retriever, by: Nona Kilgore Bauer
- The Puppy Diary, by: Cathy Lewandowski
I would highly recommend reading all three if you are looking at the breed for the first time.
At the end of the day here’s what I’ve found my girl needs:
- Minimum 30-45 minute walk on leash: This takes the edge off, she’s hardly exhausted but she is no longer bouncing off the walls. The next day we might need a good off leash romp or play sesison; or
- 45-90 minute walk on leash: This is more our average everyday walk, again she isn’t tired but she’s content; or
- 60+ minutes off leash: Best! She’d love it if we could do this every day; or
- 30+ minutes swimming and fetch: Great! The cold water makes her want to go forever, we usually stop when she is shaking from being cold (why again do I live in Canada?), rather than fatigue; or
- 15-30 minutes of fetch: depending on the weather she can do more or less. I find she overheats very quickly, so in mild to warm weather we don’t play these games very long. When it’s cooler she can play a long time; or
- 20 minutes tracking: we might be in the field around an hour with me setting tracks or playing with her after, but generally about 20 minutes of actual tracking time wears her out mentally; or
- A few 2-3 minute disc/frisbee sessions: disc dog games really tire her out mentally and physically; or
- 45-60 minute agility/flyball/disc/obedience class: mentally she’s tired at the end of class, if we are working on something on our own (with shorter breaks between runs) around 20 minutes and she’s mentally & physically tired.
Again these have been my observations to give you a bit of a ballpark idea; I’d be curious what more experienced owners of the breed would say.
From some of the exercise options above I’d guess my girl is about average in her exercise needs. I recently read online on one of the breed pages of a kennel club that the Curly needed a 2 hr off leash run for daily exercise; while I could see some hunting dogs wanting this if they are physically fit, it certainly hasn’t been my experience. Would she love it? Absolutely! Is she capable? You bet! Do we do it sometimes? Of course! Does she need it to be happy and to be enjoyable to live with? Nope.
With all the activities we’ve done together I’ve only once seen Tess where I would say she was physically tired – on a hot day I was riding my horse on a trail ride with her tagging along. We were out maybe 45-60 minutes, and probably walked more than half that time. I would guess this would be a little less demanding than quading or biking with your dog. Snowshoeing or hiking – even if she were off leash bounding through 2 foot snowbanks – would not get her physically tired, so if you have concerns that the breed won’t be active enough…don’t worry!
If you own a Curly I’d love to see your comments on how this compares to your dog!