These small, curly-haired dogs are definitely one of the cutest in the entire canine world. Their soft, curly coat invites you to touch them, cuddle, and run your fingers through it.
Curly-haired dogs are special for many reasons, but one of them has been quite popular for the past several decades. It’s their hypoallergenic trait. Curly-haired dogs are mild to people who are prone to allergies. They won’t cause you to sneeze or make your eyes red and runny.
Yup, hypoallergenic dogs are pretty great! Add the fact that they’re also easy to look after, and you get one of the best dogs of them all.
Today, I’ll show you the top 22 best small, curly-haired dogs. They’ll make you want to cuddle them, play with them all day long, and lock them in your heart furever.
After reading this article, I’m pawsitive you’ll consider owning a curly-haired dog.
1. Mini Poodle
The smaller version of the moyen Poodle, the miniature Poodle is the first dog that pops in my mind when someone mentions small, curly-haired dogs, and I bet it’s the same deal with you, too. Poodles are one of the most popular curly-haired dog breeds. Their popularity has been escalating for centuries now, and I see no end to it.
Why would it end when Poodles are prime pets for allergic people?
One of the biggest reasons why someone would want a small, curly-haired dog, besides the cuteness factor, is its hypoallergenic trait. Poodles never shed. They would make ideal pets for you if you sneeze around dogs.
The good news for all mini Poodle lovers is that PupVine has lots of great mini Poodle breeders to recommend. I’m pawsitive you’ll find the ideal mini Poodle pooch for you.
2. Spanish Water Dog
The second pooch on our list is a dog born for water activities. You’ll see that we have lots of water dogs, but our Spanish Water dog is a pretty special one. These high energy pups come in small, but lovely sizes, making them ideal for all kinds of living arrangements.
The Spanish Water Dog is a handful for inexperienced owners. They need to exercise regularly and to be groomed by a knowing hand. Their small and tight curls look like someone gave these dogs an Afro hairdo.
Yes, Spanish Water Dogs are that good looking. These pups have their entire body covered in curls, even their small and stubby tail and floppy little ears.
The Spanish Water Dog enjoys water and everything that has to do with it. Their herding instincts are strong, but they still prefer going for a swim rather than running after a ball. If you live somewhere with a nice climate, make sure you let these pups have their daily swims and they will thrive.
3. Bichon Frise
Name a better small, curly-haired dog than the Bichon Frise. This dog’s name actually means curly-haired dog. You can’t get more accurate than that!
The Poodle’s distant buddy from France, the Bichon Frise, is another very popular choice for people who are prone to allergies, or simply those who don’t like to vacuum every day. The good news is that with Bichons around, you won’t have the feeling like you have a dog. There’s no smell, and no loose hair flying around the house.
Bichons get even prettier if you cut their hair into some fancy hairstyles. You can look them up here.
But, what really bought me with this dog breed is their extremely sweet temperament. Bichons are born companions. They thrive when they’re around people, and they tend to make them the center of their universe.
Bichons are also one of those low-maintenance dogs, so you’ll definitely appreciate that. They’re trainable, obedient, and want to make you happy.
The only issue you might encounter with this dog breed is their price. Bichons can cost a lot of money, especially if you decide to groom them at a professional saloon.
4. Curly-coated Retriever
Have you ever heard of a Curly Coated Retriever?
I guess a lot of you folks haven’t. Don’t worry – after this section, you’ll feel like you have known this good boy for ages.
The Curly-coated Retriever looks like a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. But, that’s not the truth. This is a purebred dog with lovely curls that will make you wish for one.
This dog is on the bigger end of the scale, but they’re still pretty compact and good for owning even if you live in an apartment.
What makes this dog so special, other than the curly coat, is the fact that they’re actually one of the oldest retriever breeds. Curly-coated Retrievers were used to hunt down water game. Their curls aren’t just a fashion statement.
They were purposely there to protect the dog from wild thorns and bushes, as well as to repel water.
As you’re about to see, a lot of small, curly-haired dogs come from Hungary, and the Pumi is one of them. These dogs have a special appearance that will make you remember them. And, when you see how wonderful Pumis are, you’ll wish you had one, too.
Pumis actually have a combined coat. It’s a pretty mixture of curls and waves. The texture ranges from super soft to coarse hair. But, they don’t always fashion this type of coat. Pumi puppies are actually either straight-haired or wavy-haired.
As these puppies grow up, they develop the popular curls.
What makes Pumis different from other Hungarian dogs is the fact that they will not develop corded hair. They are soft to touch, and pawfectly curly dogs with a sweet temperament.
There’s one thing you might have issues with, and that’s the Pumi’s grooming. These dogs require an experienced hand – someone who knows how to take care of their curls and make them all bouncy and fresh.
If you believe you’re not capable of doing that, then you should either pay for grooming services or pick another small, curly-haired dog.
Pulis and Komondors are distant cousins, but we can all agree that both dog breeds look spectacular.
Pulis are, in fact, more popular in the States; hence, the many Puli breeders to choose from.
What sets Pulis apart from other dogs on this list is the fact that their fur can be fluffed up in order to achieve a softer look. The reason why this is possible is because of the Puli’s double coat. There’s a super soft undercoat and a coarse overcoat.
What your Puli will look like depends only on you. When Pulis reaches maturity, their coat will begin to cord. However, you don’t have to keep it corded if you don’t like it. A corded coat is much more difficult to deal with.
Depending on your preferences, Pulis can either stay corded or become fluffed up.
I recommend a fluffed up look, even though it does require more grooming.
7. Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog (or PWD) became popular when the Obamas moved into the White House. Dog allergies were the reason why the former first family had to pick a hypoallergenic dog. Enter the scene, PWDs – a breed that wasn’t so in demand before the early 2010s.
But, the Portuguese Water Dog definitely deserves all the attention he can get. These dogs are exceptional family dogs, always ready to play, but still keen to keep an eye out for possible danger.
Portuguese Water dogs have short and tight curls. This is mainly because they were used to assist fishermen with hunting lost catches. Their coat is water repellent and perfect for water sports and activities.
But, it’s not the super hypoallergenic coat that makes PWDs so special. They’re also brave dogs! Back in the days, PWDs used to rescue drowning sailors, too. That’s pretty impressive for a small, curly-haired dog!
What will amaze you about PWDs is the fact that they don’t need much grooming. An occasional clip will do it, along with some light brushing.
This is one of the French dog breeds that isn’t as popular as others.
Have you heard of the French Barbet? Have you ever seen one?
I guess the answers aren’t pawsitive, but you’ll get to know them pretty fast.
The French Barbet isn’t as soft and cuddly as you might think. They actually have a wooly coat and loose curls. Their coat is meant to be thick and warm to protect them from icy-cold waters while fetching water game.
The French Barbet is one of the greatest hunting companions, standing proudly next to his distant cousin, the Poodle.
This dog breed might remind you of Poodles. Some even think that they’re a Poodle mix. But, that’s far from the truth. The French Barbet is a purebred dog breed, equally as great as any other small, curly-haired dog on this list.
The Barbet does require a bit of extra grooming in order to achieve the spectacular soft, curly coat. So, either find a good groomer or learn how to do it alone at home. With the amount of grooming required, I recommend the second option.
9. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel (or IWS) is a dog with a coat you’ll spot among hundreds of others. This dog breed has quite a special appearance, and probably the most interesting curls of all the dogs mentioned today.
The IWS is another hunting buddy perfectly bred to fetch water prey.
Although dog experts believe the IWS was bred by using the Poodle, the Barbet, and the Portuguese Water Dog, this is still a recognized purebred dog breed, accepted by the AKC sometime in the late 19th century.
The Irish Water Spaniel is special because he has a combination of two coats. His face and tail have straight hair covering them, while the rest of the body is covered in tight curls. Even though you might assume these dogs need lots of grooming, that’s really not the case.
Surprisingly, the IWS only needs brushing a few times a week, and hair clipping every few weeks. They’re pretty simple to look after, and they make good dogs for active first-time owners.
Of course, we had to mention the most popular Doodle of them all!
Poodle mixes are alway in demand, and I don’t see their popularity fading anytime in the future. The Labradoodle was one of the pioneers – one of the first Doodles that got introduced to the world. And, the world went nuts about them.
The Labradoodle can be a mini or a micro Labradoodle, depending on the Poodle parent. But, what doesn’t change is the curliness of their coat. Sure, Labradoodles can also come as straight-haired Labradoodles, but that’s a whole other story.
What’s important to know about Labradoodles is that they’re considered hypoallergenic. Depending on their generation, the hypoallergenic factor will increase. The further the generations go, the more hypoallergenic traits these dogs will have.
Labradoodles are known for being one of the friendliest dog breeds ever. They make perfect pets for families with kids. The adjective loyal stands right next to their name.
11. Bedlington Terrier
When I first saw a Bedlington Terrier, I had to blink a few times because I thought it was a baby lamb. Bedlington Terriers are one gene away from being lambs!
Just kidding – I know they’re a purebred dog breed recognized by the AKC. But, come on! Have you ever seen something so adorable!
While they may look all sweet and innocent, Bedlington Terriers are still terrier dogs. This means they’re super active and need an owner who will keep up with their pace. As a matter of fact, they’re one of the most active dogs on this list.
But, that’s not why they’re here. The Bedlington Terrier belongs on this list of the best small, curly-haired dogs because it is also a super-curly dog. Its head is the part of its body that features lots of curls. That’s why you’ll easily spot a Bedlington Terrier. Of course, the rest of the body is curly, too.
What’s so unusual about Bedlington Terriers is that they are born with a dark coat that becomes lighter over time. The coat can either turn white or fashion shades like liver, tan, or even blue.
12. Airedale Terrier
The Airedale Terrier is another of the hypoallergenic dog breeds that doesn’t raise much fuss. Airedale Terriers may look like they’re high maintenance, but they really aren’t. The only thing that’s high-maintenance about these dogs is their need for exercise. If you’re a couch potato, then you won’t agree with an Airedale Terrier.
What makes Airedale Terriers so different from other small, curly-haired dogs on this list is exactly their coat. It has loose curls and wiry hair that appears rough. Compared to other terrier breeds, the coat of an Airedale Terrier is much different.
These dogs are recognizable for their brown and tan coat, their small, triangular-shaped floppy ears, and their block-shaped muzzle.
Airedale Terriers need only light brushing throughout the week. This shouldn’t take you a lot of time. It’s much simpler to learn how to brush these dogs at home than to visit the groomer every now and then.
If you’re interested in getting an Airedale Terrier, PupVine has some pretty good Airedale Terrier breeders to recommend. Check them out here.
13. Kerry Blue Terrier
Feels like this list is over-swamped with terriers. Surprisingly, a lot of them are curly, despite the popular belief that terriers have a short and straight coat.
The Kerry Blue Terrier is one of the most special terrier dogs. Their blueish gray coat is truly stunning, and it changes shades depending on the natural light. But, their coat color isn’t the only thing that makes them better than other canines.
Kerry Blue Terriers are known for their soft and wavy coat, which is supposed to be dense. It is a terrific barrier between the dog’s skin and the outside factors like cold water or harsh winds.
And, since these are terrier dogs, you can only imagine how helpful the dense, curly coat was during their hunting days.
Kerry Blue Terriers should always be nice and tidy. Their scruffy appearance isn’t welcome at all. They must be groomed regularly in order to achieve a super shiny, curly coat.
I feel like I’ve seen this dog before.
I know I’ve seen this dog before!
Hey, didn’t we already have a Bichon Frise on this list?
What do you mean they’re not the same? This is a Bolognese?
Oh, that’s right! It’s the Bichon’s cousin, the Bolognese!
I know you’ve heard of the spaghetti bolognese, but I doubt you know a dog named Bolognese.
This small, fluffy dog breed shares a lot of similarities with the popular Bichons. But, they are still a breed of their own.
Bolognese dogs are known for their medium-length curls that aren’t so tight as with Bichon Frises. These pooches are delightful companions, and they always look so eye-catching.
What’s curious about Bolognese dogs is that they always feature the same coat color – white! Don’t they look like adorable little white Teddy bear dogs?
Finally, a dog breed you all know, but probably didn’t know its name.
This is the Komondor, a herding dog from Hungary that looks nothing like other curly-haired herding dogs. As a matter of fact, Komondors are also known as mop dogs, referring to their corded coat.
Yes, Komondors are those pups with unusual hair that drops down in long cords. Name a more unique coat in the entire canine kingdom! I’ll wait…
Komondors are a bit tricky to groom. It’s really difficult to relieve them of those nasty tangles and matting, so make sure you don’t lead your Komondor dog into such a situation. Compared to some other sheepdogs, Komondors are medium-sized to small. They’re more heavy than they are tall.
There’s no way to brush a Komondor’s coat, but at least you can keep them clean with regular baths.
What’s so interesting about these dogs is that the corded hair doesn’t bother their daily activities as farm dogs at all.
16. Lagotto Romagnolo
Lagotto Romagnolo dogs are other terrific hunting dogs. They’re known for retrieving water prey, much like Poodles and Labrador Retrievers.
Originally from the marshlands in Italy, Lagotto Romagnolo dogs translate to lake dogs. Still, today’s Lagotto dogs are dear companions, rarely serving their original duty as hunting buddies.
What’s so great about Lagotto Romagnolo dogs is that they have an impeccable work ethic. They’re excellent working dogs, always making sure they satisfy you.
These water retriever dogs have curls that don’t allow them to become too cold as they run in and out of the water.
The Lagotto’s grooming needs aren’t too high. They need a normal amount of weekly brushing, just like any other dog on this list. Probably the cutest thing about them, besides 6 incredibly cute Lagotto coat colors, is their curly face. It only adds to the incredibly high cuteness score.
If you want to enrich your life with a terrific, small, curly-haired dog, then the Lagotto Romagnolo is the one for you. Make sure you check out these Lagotto breeders in the States.
17. Bouvier Des Flandres
We can’t forget about this little rockstar from Belgium… precisely the Flanders region. The Bouvier Des Flandres gets honorable mention on this list because they’re not quite the small dogs you’d expect them to be.
Bouviers are small to medium-sized dogs, with a curly coat that is so fluffy and soft they’ll make you want to cuddle them all the time. Sure, being one of the fluffy dog breeds makes their grooming a tad bit more time-consuming, but this is not that big of a deal… not when you consider how sweet and caring Bouviers are.
These might be large dogs, but the only thing bigger than them is their heart. They’re super friendly, intelligent dogs that know the true values of being a good family pooch.
Most dog owners don’t know about Bouviers, but it’s good to recognize them as excellent watchdogs and even possible guard dogs.
Bouviers know their priorities, and would never allow something bad to happen to their people.
Havanese dogs are small and adorable pooches, and one of the finest hypoallergenic dogs. Yes, Havanese don’t cause allergies, and they are a delight to own. These are one of the sweetest little dogs on this list – even sweeter than toy Poodles and Doodles.
The Havanese is a dog from Cuba, but he has become more and more popular in the States over the past few years. The reason why people let Havanese pups grow into them is because they’re friendly like no other breed.
Havanese aren’t good watchdogs because they’re very nice to everyone, including strangers. They’re wonderful companion dogs, but they still come with a downside. Havanese dogs are prone to developing separation anxiety because they get attached to their owner like no other breed.
Other than that, the Havanese is a delight to own and groom. They do need a more professional approach to grooming, so you better learn how to style a Hav’s hair at home. Since they don’t shed like crazy, brushing them will be a breeze.
19. American Water Spaniel
No, that’s not another Standard Poodle and Retriever mix. The American Water Spaniel is a purebred dog like any other on this list… okay, with the exception of two extra popular hybrids. But, you get the point, don’t you?
American Water Spaniels are small, but mighty. Their work ethic is super high, making sure they perform any given task with the utmost care and precision. The American Water Spaniel is an excellent swimmer. That’s why it has lovely curls that don’t allow water to penetrate deep into their coat.
American Water Spaniels aren’t that popular, despite being 100% American dogs. Still, if many people knew about their friendly behavior and absolutely delightful character, they’d be as popular as their Labrador buddies.
Although those curls may seem like something difficult to groom, they really aren’t. Weekly brushing with a good slicker brush is all they need.
20. Cocker Spaniel
Who could say no to that gorgeous, silky coat? Every time I see a Cocker Spaniel, I immediately want to cuddle its soft, curly ears. These are one of the prettiest looking dogs in the entire canine world.
But, even such perfection comes with a downside.
Despite what many of you believe, Cocker Spaniels aren’t hypoallergenic dogs. They still shed quite a bit, which makes them unsuitable for people who are prone to allergies.
But, if you’re not allergic to dogs, you should definitely get a Cocker for their bouncy personality and lively temperament that will make you want to jump up and start running with them.
21. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are very similar to Labradors and American Water Spaniels. They share the same passion, and similar appearance traits.
These pups of the Chesapeake Bay are excellent hunting dogs for water prey like ducks. Their work skills are just as great as with any other Retriever dog. The only bonus that goes in favor of Chessies is that they’re much smaller, and are of compact size.
Chessies have a lovely appearance, with a thick coat covered in loose curls. Of course, it’s water-repelling and great for upkeeping at home. Chessies need only light brushing throughout the week. They’re not on the hypoallergenic dogs list, but there is a catch.
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are still good for people who are prone to allergies because they don’t shed that much or spread dander around the house. They’re one of the rare, curly-haired breeds that isn’t 100% hypoallergenic, but that’s really not a big deal.
Besides having a unique coat, Chessies come in the prettiest coat colors, mainly shades of brown.
Lastly, we come to the dog breed that’s actually a hybrid, probably one of the most popular ones.
Here’s the Goldendoodle – a cross between the Golden Retriever and the Poodle. The Golden parent always stays the same. It’s the Poodle parent that changes sizes. And, since we’re talking about small, curly-haired dogs, then the Poodle parent has to be small.
That’s why we have different sizes of Goldendoodles, including micro Goldendoodles, mini Goldendoodles, and even teacup ones. Of course, the teacup Goldendoodle might not be a good idea for all of their possible health issues.
People adore Goldendoodles for their incredibly sweet temperament, but more for their hypoallergenic traits.
If you breed Goldendoodles back to their parents or mix two Goldendoodles together, you can achieve even more hypoallergenic traits. That’s how we get different Goldendoodle generations.
Goldendoodles don’t need daily brushing. You can get away with one good weekly session.
It is sad that the American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize them as a separate breed because they have so many wonderful features and a recurring pattern that almost makes them a distinctive breed of their own.
To Sum Up…
Of these 22 small, curly-haired dogs, which one is your favorite?
I know I have a lot of favorites, and if I didn’t have any dogs at home, I’d definitely consider adopting at least one of these mentioned breeds. And, no… I’m not allergic to dogs, and none of my family members are. I find it really convenient to have a low-maintenance dog breed.
All of the pups listed today are very mild towards people who are prone to allergies. They won’t trigger reactions even if you sleep in the same bed with them. Of course, some of them, like different generations of Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, will be more hypoallergenic than others.
But, the bottom line is the same: all of these small, curly-haired dogs are a delight to own.