6 Steps To Grooming a Wavy or Curly-Coated Sporting Breed

Grooming the Curly-coated Retriever

Grooming a dog with a curly or a wavy coat is not as simple as grooming one that has a short and smooth coat.  For example, take the the “water breeds”.  They are sporting dogs with extremely harsh curly coats. Because these dogs typically spend a lot of time out in the field, retrieving items from water, flushing upland game, and serving as all-purpose hunting companions, their coats should be kept short and neat.  If not then their long and straggly curls will latch onto every stray; twigs, burr, pieces of debris, etc.

If your wavy or curly-coated dog is to be shown then their coats should be scissored into a neat shape, and this precise method of scissoring the curly coat takes a lot of time and work. Owners who keep curly-coated sporting breeds for hunting and as pets are much more likely to clip them down with an electric clipper to a length of about 2 inches (with the exception of the Curly-coated Retriever, whose coat is short enough that it doesn’t require clipping).

The following are six steps to groom your wavy or curly-coated sporting breed:

  1. Before bathing your dog, brush out the entire coat with a pin brush and/or a slicker brush to remove as much dead coat as possible. This will also help eliminate tangle. Remove mats with a mat comb or coat rake, or cut through them with scissors.
  1. Next, run a comb through the entire coat to make sure you have removed every tangle. This step may take some time because you do not want to comb too fast and yank out any hair from the skin.
  1. Scissor the leg hair evenly, removing excess hair.
  1. Cut hair from under the foot and between the foot pads. The foot should look rounded and should blend in with the leg hair, appearing like a powder puff over the foot.
  1. Clip down torso to 2 inches, or scissor off fuzz and shape by scissoring the sides to tidy up. Shape the sides and rear to best match the shape of the breed. An imperfect form can be slightly adjusted by the shape in which you trim the curly coat. Make sure to take off just a little at a time, periodically standing back to check the shape of the dog. It is also good to have a picture of a well-groomed specimen of your breeds in order to have a better idea of the proper way of trimming.


  1. After the bath, do not blow-dry or brush the body coat. Let the curls or waves air-dry naturally in order for them to stay intact.