A wavy coat Labrador Retriever is often what people think the Curly Coated Retriever breed is! It is possible for purebred Labs to have some slight waves in their fur. Particularly a raised line of wavy fur along the ridge of their back. In fact, this is even accepted in the breed standard. But, it’s much more common for Labs to have short, straight, dense fur on all of their body. If your Labrador has wavy fur over its entire body, there’s a chance that it’s not a purebred Lab. Let’s take a closer look at the possibility of wavy fur in a Labrador Retriever.
Can Labradors Have Wavy Fur?
Labradors typically have a short, dense, double-layered coat. It will feel quite firm to the touch, and is a distinctive feature of the breed! Lab coats aren’t just bred for aesthetics. This coat type is useful for their working purpose. It protects them from extreme cold temperatures and water when retrieving, and has done so since the early days of the breed.
According to the AKC breed standard, Labs “should have a soft, weather-resistant undercoat that provides protection from the water, cold and all types of ground cover. A slight wave down the back is permissible”.
A ridge of slightly wavy fur down a Lab’s back is surprisingly common. And, many owners are concerned it must mean their Lab isn’t purebred. But, as you can see, not only is it a common trait, but it is also accepted in show dogs. Although not desirable.
Curly fur all over a Lab’s body is not permissible. And, the breed standard specifically excludes “woolly coats”. Some Labs may have a slight wave to the fur at the tip of their tail. And, some may have a dense ruff that appears to have a slight wave. But, a wavy coat all over is not a typical Labrador trait. So, if your Lab has wavy fur all over their body, there’s a chance they’re not all Lab.
Is Wavy Fur Allowed in the Breed Standard?
Labradors make wonderful show dogs, thanks to their eagerness to please, their friendly temperaments, and their intelligence. Training them for a show ring can be a dream! But, there are certain traits that will cause some Labs to be excluded from the show ring. Wavy fur all over a Lab’s body is just one of those traits.
A show Labrador is allowed a slight wave down the line of their back. It’s common to see Labs with a ridge of slightly wavy fur here. However, waves anywhere else are not going to be so acceptable. And, even this slight wave is undesirable in show dogs.
Wavy Coat Labrador Retriever vs Curly Coated Retriever
The Labrador Retriever and Curly Coated Retriever share some common ancestors, such as the St John’s Water Dog. So, it’s no surprise that these two breeds can look quite similar. The Curly Coated Retriever can look just like a Lab with very curly fur. If you have a Lab with lots of curls over their body, there’s a chance you actually have a Curly Coated Retriever.
A wavy coat Labrador Retriever is most likely to have waves in only a few places. This is usually along the ridge of their back, but some slight waves may also be seen around their ruff, at the tip of their tail, and on their paws. Overall, they will have the typical Labrador straight, dense coat.
Other than their fur, wavy coat Labrador Retrievers and Curly Coat Retrievers can look quite similar. And, their temperament and care needs will also be quite similar! In fact, many Labrador fans also love the Curly Coat Retriever breed.
Is a Wavy Coat Labrador Retriever Purebred?
It’s very difficult to tell if a Labrador is purebred by their appearance alone. In fact, this is one of the least reliable methods of judging a dog’s purebred status. For a more accurate idea of whether or not your wavy coat Labrador Retriever is purebred, you should invest in DNA testing. This can be done through your veterinarian, or with an at-home kit.
If your Lab has a slight wave down their back, or a slight wave to fur elsewhere on their body, it’s not necessarily a sign that you have a mixed breed dog. But, wavy fur all over a purebred Labrador is highly unlikely. So, if your puppy has shed their puppy coat to reveal wavy adult fur, there’s a chance that your breeder was incorrect or was misleading you about your puppy’s heritage. Investing in a DNA test will help you learn more.
Can Wavy Hair be a Sign of a Health Problem?
Wavy fur in dogs in and of itself isn’t necessarily a sign of any illness or disease. In fact, as we know, a slight wave is quite common for Labs on some parts of their body. However, it can be a sign of illness if your Labrador’s fur changes in adulthood. For instance, you may notice that your Lab’s fur has gone from being glossy to dull, or has thinned out. If your Labrador’s fur is usually straight and dense, but starts to turn wavy or thinner, you should book an appointment with the veterinarian. They will be able to check your dog over and make sure there’s nothing causing this change in fur quality.
What Labrador Mixes Have Wavy Fur?
Wavy fur is common in a lot of Labrador mixes. In fact, many mixes are bred in order to achieve a different fur type, such as the ever popular Labradoodle. Here are some Labrador mixed breeds that may show a curl or wave in their fur:
- Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle mix)
- Labrador Cocker Spaniel mix
- Curly Coat Retriever Labrador mix
- Golden Retriever Lab mix
- Irish Water Spaniel Lab mix
- Bichon Frise Lab mix
- Spanish Waterdog Lab mix
- Portuguese Waterdog Lab mix
Does it Matter if my Lab’s Fur is Wavy?
Wavy fur all over a Lab can be a sign that they aren’t purebred, and even small amounts of wavy fur can disqualify your Labrador from the show ring. But, if you aren’t interested in showing your dog, it won’t matter at all. As long as your Lab is suitable for your home, you shouldn’t be concerned about a small amount of wavy fur.
If your dog’s fur has changed quite suddenly, it can be a sign of a health problem. Especially if they are an adult dog. So, take your dog to the vet if you’re at all concerned.
Wavy Coat Labrador Retriever – A Summary
A purebred Labrador can have a slight wave along their back and still be accepted for show. But, wavy fur anywhere else may result in their disqualification. If you’re concerned about your Lab’s purebred heritage, you can always invest in a DNA test. But, a small amount of wavy fur won’t make your Lab any less lovable as a family pet!
Does your Lab have any wavy fur on their body? We would love to hear about your wavy coat Labradors in the comments!
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References and Resources
- ‘Official Standard for the Labrador Retriever’, AKC (1994)
- Credille, K. (et al), ‘What Happens When a Dog Loses its Puppy Coat? Functional, Developmental and Breed-Related Changes in the Canine Hair Follicle’, Advances in Veterinary Dermatology, Vol 4 (2002)
- Sponenberg, D. & Rothschild, M. ‘Genetics of Coat Color and Hair Texture’, The Genetics of the Dog (2001)
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website