Curly Health

Photo: Louise Thomas

In general, it is fair to say that the Curly is a relatively healthy breed.

The ‘Top 5’ conditions reported to the Health Coordinator are currently;

  1. Cancer. Cancer can appear at any age and in almost any part of the body, the highest reported Cancer in Curlies is Lymphoma.
  2. Bloat and Gastric Torsion.  (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus/GDV). These conditions are true emergencies. It is essential if you suspect your Curly is bloating or experiencing a torsion that you seek veterinary attention immediately. The speed with which your Curly receives veterinary attention could determine whether he lives or dies. Unfortunately, from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time so know your dog and know when it is not acting it’s usual self. A useful link to more information on Bloat and Gastric Torsions including symptoms to look out for is:
  3. Epilepsy & Seizures. Not all seizures will be diagnosed as Epilepsy. The youngest reported case was 2 years old, the oldest was 9 years.
  4. Renal Failure.
  5. Allergies. These were various cases of stings, bites, mites and food intolerance


If you are thinking of breeding from your Curly bitch, or allowing your Curly male to be used at stud, the Kennel Club ask for the dogs’ hips to be scored. Most Breeders and Stud dog owners will also carry out eye testing, and are also encouraged to make use of DNA testing available for PRA, EIC, and GSDiiia for their breeding stock. These are recommendations in the CCRC ‘Code of Ethics’

Consideration should also be given to the Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) – please click here for more information.

When looking for a puppy, never be afraid to ask questions of the breeder. It is advisable to see the dam of the puppies and where possible the sire too, although this may prove more difficult as not all stud dogs live with the dams.

Hip Scores

For a list of UK hip scores please click here.

Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) – 4 May 2023

The Kennel Club has approved a new official DNA test reporting scheme for Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) following consultation with the breed’s health co-ordinator on behalf of the Curly Coated Retriever breed clubs.

EIC leads to a defect in nerve communication during intense exercise. In affected dogs, certain factors can trigger them to collapse, including excitement, some types of exercise and changes in temperature. First clinical signs are usually noticed between five months and three years of age, but they can also appear later in life.

This disease is described as an autosomal-recessive condition. For most breeds, this means that a dog must inherit two copies of an abnormal gene (one from its mother and one from its father) before its health is affected.

For Curly Coated Retrievers, this disease is more complex and researchers believe that environmental factors and/or other genetic influences can also contribute to whether a dog’s health is affected. Having other factors that influence whether or not a dog develops this condition means that their results are not as definitive as other tests. Instead, these results are a measure of risk. For example, having two copies of the abnormal gene may increase a dog’s risk but it doesn’t necessarily always result in clinical disease.

Since the impact of the EIC gene test for Curly Coated Retrievers is different to EIC seen in Labradors and Clumber Spaniels, results will be recorded as EIC_IncP. Tested dogs will be recorded on The Kennel Club systems as either:

Minimal risk (0)

These dogs do not have any copies of the EIC gene variant and are at minimal risk of developing the condition.

Minimal risk (1)

These dogs have one copy of the EIC gene variant, but are at minimal risk of developing the condition and may pass either one copy of the normal gene, or one copy of the abnormal gene on to future puppies.

Increased risk (2)

These dogs have two copies of the EIC gene variant and have an increased risk of developing EIC, and will pass a copy of the abnormal gene to all of their puppies.

The numbers assigned to each status indicate the number of copies of the EIC gene variant a dog has. Since this test for EIC evaluates a dog’s risk, rather than giving a definitive result, The Kennel Club cannot assign progeny as ‘hereditary clear’ and therefore results will only be recorded for individual dogs.

Test results will be added to the dog’s registration details which will trigger the publication of the result in the next available Breed Records Supplement and can also be viewed by visiting The Kennel Club website.

Results for dogs already tested can also be recorded, but owners will need to submit copies of the DNA certificates themselves. DNA test certificates should be scanned and emailed to Health Results (The Kennel Club).

To see the KC Announcement click here.

Breed Health Surveys

For the results of the Curly Coated Retriever Club and outside bodies Health Surveys into the breed in the UK please click here.

2014 saw the launch of the most comprehensive breed health survey the Curly Coated Retriever Club has ever undertaken. It was hoped that a completed questionnaire would be received from owners of all Curlies owned since 2004. Please see Health Survey page for results.

Download the ‘Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus’ article from Dr Ben Harris, Curly Congress 2010

Download ‘DNA Archive’ article

The Breed Health Co-ordinator also holds a Breed Health Database including a Cause of Death Register. If you have any information regarding any illness your Curly may be experiencing or has had in the past please contact the health co-ordinator, Nina Parker-Miles