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Flat Coated Retriever

 Photo of Flat Coated Retriever

Flat Coated Retriever Books

Group: Gundog - Breed Standard


Originating in the mid 19th century in England, Flat-Coated Retrievers gained popularity as a gamekeeper's dog.


Height: dogs: 58-61 cms (23-24 ins); bitches: 56-58 cms (22-23 ins). Preferred weight in hard condition: dogs: 27-36 kgs (60-80 lbs); bitches: 25-32 kgs (55-70 lbs).

Flat-Coated Retrievers have muscular jaws and a relatively long muzzle to allow for the carrying of birds and upland game. Their head is unique to the breed and is described as being "of one piece" with a mimimal stop and a backskull of approximately the same length as the muzzle. They have almond shaped dark brown eyes and have an intelligent, friendly expression. The ears are pendant, relatively small and lie close to the head. The topline is strong and straight with a well feathered tail of moderate length held straight off the back. Flat-coats should be well angulated front and rear, allowing for open, effortless movement. They are lighter, racier and more elegant in appearance than the other retriever breeds. The single coat is moderate in length, dense, and lustrous; ideally it should lie flat and straight, but a slight wave is permissable. Body coat is of moderate length with longer feathering on the backs of the legs, the chest and the tail. Its colour is either solid black or liver, more commonly the former.


The Flat-coat's personality is described as outgoing, devoted, and friendly, an ideal companion with a strong bond to its owner and family. Flat-coats are known for having a sunny optimism and a tail that's always wagging. They are capable of getting along well with cats, other dogs, small pets, and strangers. However, due to their exuberant nature, they may tend to knock over small children. Socialization and obedience training are highly recommended. Flat-coats tend to have a good deal of energy, especially when young, and need to have appropriate outlets for this energy. They need plenty of activity, both physical and mental, throughout their lives. Sometimes they are referred to as the "Peter Pan of dogs" because they never grow up, acting playful and puppy-like well into their years.

Breed Health

The Flat-coat is prone to certain hereditary diseases such as luxating patella and glaucoma. Regular tests and clearances for these conditions should be available from breeders on any dogs used for breeding. Sometimes seen in the breed as well are epilepsy and diabetes. Flat-coats also have a significantly higher risk of cancer than most dogs. Hemangiosarcoma and malignant histiocytosis are particularly devastating, and occur at much higher rates in flat-coated retrievers than in any other breed. Flat-coats do, however, have a very low rate of hip dysplasia compared to other large breeds.


Flat-coated retrievers love to please, but may be slightly more difficult to train than the popular Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. They are easily bored with repetitive training techniques and can exhibit a streak of willfulness at times. For this reason, it's best to make training sessions fun, varied, and relatively short for the dog. Flat-coats are very sensitive and respond best to positive reinforcement. They cannot tolerate harsh handling or corrections. See our books on training

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Last link added: 07 Apr, 2008