Flat-Coated Retriever

"The Tail-Wagging Water Retriever"

Photo of Flat-Coated Retriever


This breed was developed in the United Kingdom as the result of crossings from various retriever types, most notably the Newfoundland and the Labrador. The dog, which in the early days more nearly approximated the Flat-Coated Retriever of the present-day breed standard, was Wyndham, owned and exhibited by R. Braisford, circa 1860. He was much like the Labrador of today in conformation (this was before there was an official Labrador breed). In the later part of the 1800s, this retriever's popularity began to diminish, giving way to the newly-developed Labrador and Golden, despite the Flat-Coated Retriever's superb hunting and retrieving skills, not to mention his highly companionable personality. In England, Flat-Coated Retrievers have worked successfully and popularly as upland game and waterfowl sporting dogs. In the United States, however, their work has been confined to retrieving, so their appeal as companion dogs has been limited here.


These are bright, active dogs of medium to large size with an intelligent expression. When working in the field they are without emotion and easily controlled. They go about their work in a quiet, businesslike manner and take direction easily. These dogs are obedient, intelligent, very sweet-natured, and easily trained. They love people, and especially children. Of course, like most retriever breeds, they are not territorial and absolutely useless for guard work, but acceptable as a watchdog in a city apartment. These high-energy dogs love to play, splash in water, swim, and wallow in mud. It's essential to give them lots of exercise, early bonding, and obedience training.


The distinction Flat-Coated really means that the dog's double-coat, with moderate feathering on the chest, legs, and tail, is simply not curly or wavy. Despite its density, his coat should lie as flat as possible against his body. They stand at 24 inches from the shoulder and weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. The coat color is either black or liver with dark brown or hazel colored eyes. Beneath his ordinary look is a magnificent dog that seems to be the best-kept secret in the pet world.


A tad stubborn at the beginning, Flat-Coated Retrievers are excellent obedience training students. They love to please, once they understand that training sessions a) require them to calm down and b) are not play sessions. The key to training is maintaining a serious attitude and keeping the canine student's attention on you. Training should begin as early as possible.

Grooming & Care

Like all double-coated breeds, they do shed. Owners must comb and brush them at least twice a week for ten minutes or so. Some moderate trimming becomes necessary from time to time as the length of the coat increases. Exercise for these dogs is extremely important to express their pent-up energy and avoid periods of boredom, during which they can become destructive. If allowed, they will overeat and take on excessive weight. They love to swim, which keeps them in good physical condition and helps solve some of the shedding problem.

Health Concerns

Although healthier than the Golden or the Labrador, Flat-Coated Retrievers are susceptible to hip dysplasia, disorders of the eye, and cancer.

Famous Flat-Coated Retriever

Blarney, champion in both hunting/field trials and conformation competitions.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 33
Home 44
Children 10
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 14
Challenges Needs to hunt things.
Height 22 to 24 inches
Weight 55 to 75 pounds
Life 9 to 15 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 86
With Strangers 22
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

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