Canine Hair Curl


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Canine Hair Curl


There are three variables involved in canine coat types:  the length of the coat, the presence of furnishings, and the presence of curly hair. Hair curl is a dominant characteristic caused by a mutation in the KRT71 gene. This gene codes for keratin, a protein that determines the type of hair a dog will have.

This mutation is fixed in some breeds, such as the Irish Water Dog. This mutation is, however, variant in other breeds, such as the Kuvasz. The hair curl mutation can also be accompanied by the other mutations that can change coat length and type. For example, the Airedale Terrier has both the curly coat and furnishings that are responsible for their trademark eyelashes and mustaches. Other breeds, such as the Standard Poodle, can have all three mutations, creating a long-haired curly coat with furnishings.

Because the hair curl gene is dominant, a dog only needs to have one copy of the gene to express that phenotype. This can appear as either C/c or C/C. Hair curl would not appear in dogs whose gene codes as recessive (c/c). A dog can carry the allele responsible for non-curly hair, and could pass the recessive allele on to any offspring. If two dogs that are both carriers of the non-curl gene are bred (C/c), there is a 25% chance per puppy that they will inherit the recessive alleles (c/c), resulting in a dog with non-curly hair.

Hair Curl (KRT71 gene) Testing:

Animal Genetics offers a test for the mutation in the KRT71 gene that controls hair curl.

Dogs can be DNA tested at ANY age.

Sample Type:

Animal Genetics accepts buccal swab, blood, and dewclaw samples for testing. Sample collection kits are available and can be ordered at Canine Test Now.

Testing Is Relevant for the Following Breeds:

Testing is appropriate for any type of dog suspected to carry the hair curl gene. Testing is recommended for the following breeds that are not fixed for the dominant C allele:

Airedale Terrier, American Water Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Border Collie, Boykin Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Havanese, Kerry Blue Terrier, Kuvasz, Leonberger, Maltese, Pharaoh Hound, Portuguese Water Dog, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Welsh Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier.


Animal Genetics offers DNA testing for hair curl. The genetic test verifies the presence of the mutation and presents results as one of the following:

C/C Curly Hair The dog has two copies of the hair curl allele. The dog will have curly hair, and will always pass on a copy of the hair curl allele to any offspring. All offspring of this dog will have curly hair..
C/c Curly Hair Both the dominant and recessive alleles detected. The dog will have curly hair, and carries the gene responsible for non-curly hair. The dog can pass on a copy of either allele to any offspring.
c/c Non-Curly Hair The dog is negative for the hair curl allele. The dog will have non-curly hair, and will always pass on the allele responsible for non-curly hair to any offspring