Flat-Coated Retriever

Origin: EnglandFlat-Coated Retriever Breed

Type: Gun dog / Bird dog

Weight: Male – 27-36kg
Female – 25-32kg

Height: Male – 23-24in / 59-61cm
Female – 22-23in / 56-59cm

Appearance: Flat-­Coated Retrievers are medium to large­-sized dogs. They have a dense coat of rather long and straight hair and come in solid black or reddish dark brown (liver) colour. Flatties have longer hair on the ears, the back of the legs and the chest and belly. They have small floppy ears and dark brown eyes.

Temperament: Retrievers are smart and friendly dogs. They have a high energy level, it’s not a good idea to leave them home alone, as unsupervised they can be destructive of furniture.

Skills: Flat­-Coats are fast learners and very energetic.. Dog sports are a good option for exercise. If hunting is your hobby and you are searching for a dog, these are great choice, especially for bird hunting. The breed is also used as a drug­sniffing dog and as a guide dog for blind people.

Behaviour Toward Other Animals and Kids: Retrievers love to play with children especially if they are a bit older. For smaller children, the energy of the breed might be overwhelming. They do well with other dogs and can learn to live along with cats, birds on the other hand might prove to be a problem.

Common Health Problems: Hip dysplasia is a common health issue. However there are a few more problems that can be often seen with Flat-­Coated Retrievers – progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma and patellar luxation. Also the risk of cancer is higher among this breed (lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, malignant histiocytosis)

Lifespan: Average 8-10 years.

Known as the Peter Pans of the dog world, Flat-Coated Retrievers mature slowly, which might make training a bit of a challenge. Training this breed requires plenty of patience and lots of rewards. If you own a Flat-Coated Retriever and are considering training him yourself, keep in mind that positive training techniques give the best results with the Flat-Coats. This is a sensitive breed and harsh discipline will only result in wilful behaviour, and impede the progress of your training.

Flat-Coated Retriever Training

The breed is generally very trainable, as these dogs are willing to please and quick to respond to their masters. Training sessions should be short and carried out a as form of play. Flat-Coats are intelligent and acquire new skills and habits easily. The breed typically adjusts well to new environment, situations, and settings and are usually willing to try something new, which means they would welcome new, more difficult challenges for each training session. They are enthusiastic and steadfast at tasks and at play, but will rarely become overly tired.

Flat-Coated Retriever Training And Skills

Flat-Coated Retrievers possess an extremely lively nature and are often bred as athletes and sporting dogs. They can compete in a variety of venues. There are Flat-Coats competing in Field Trials, and also doing very well in Hunt Tests. In Obedience, it is not unusual for a Flat-Coat to win High In Trial. And there have been several Flat-Coats giving the Border Collies a run for their money at the National Agility Championships. Many of these dogs are also conformation Champions as well. With their lively demeanour, however, there have been instances of Flat-Coats leaving the Obedience ring to either make friends in the audience, jump into a nearby body of water, or roll on their back in the grass during Long Down Obedience while remaining in place.

Flat-Coats like to please but get bored easily, which occasionally may make them difficult to train. They need a diverse selection of training methods and activities changed regularly. Flat-Coated Retrievers establish strong bonds with their families, which is why owners need to be consistent in providing directions, particularly in the dog’s younger years, and beyond, due to the breed’s slower pace of maturing.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Training

Regardless of the dog’s age, his training programme should include playthings and toys as to help him grasp new abilities relatively quickly. Rewards, such as treats, toys, neck rubs, as well as trips to the park are all useful motivators. When bored, the Flat-Coated Retriever can become wilful, therefore repetitive activities and drilling techniques need to be avoided. Owners should implement positive encouragement and motivation to form a stable, well-adjusted dog. The breed reacts well to positive reinforcement methods and is known to be extremely sensitive to harsh reprimands. They are unable to tolerate cruel handling or correction and will definitely shut out once they feel too anxious, nervous, or stressed. The dog’s character can be perfectly described as outgoing and devoted; they are naturally happy and affectionate and will need proper training so they do not knock over items around the house. Key aspects of teaching them house rules are socialisation and behaviour training. They can be very exuberant and fun-loving, therefore it is essential that they are taught respect and rules through beneficial workout.

Flat-Coated Retriever Toys

In its essence, Flat-Coated Retriever training comes down to:

Plenty of Toys and Exercise

Flat-Coated Retrievers have too much energy to expend, and get bored easily, which may lead to unwanted behaviours. Thus, owners should provide their dogs with plenty of stimulation throughout the day, including puzzle and chewing toys, and varied exercises outside.

No Harsh Methods

Flat-Coated Retrievers are extremely sensitive to scolding and disciplining from their owners. When harshly reprimanded, be it verbally or physically, they become frightened and shut out. Bad behaviours can be dealt with using a firm but gentle tone of voice.

Positive Reinforcement

This breed is very fun-loving and enthusiastic, so owners should keep training sessions entertaining and regard them as a form of play in order to get the best results. Positive reinforcement which involves consistency, praise, and rewards when good behaviours are performed will stimulate the dog to perform more of those behaviours in order to gain more praise and rewards in the future. Keeping training fun also prevents boredom.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Playing

Consistency in Commands

Flat-Coated Retrievers are intelligent dogs and learn easily the basic commands. Choose your commands carefully – it is best that they are one-syllable words and used consistently to always achieve the same result.

Short Training Sessions

Because Flat-Coated Retrievers have short attention spans, it is best to space out your training sessions. The dog has to be focused on the person conducting the training and not get distracted by other animals, people, or the treats he gets as a reward. If you notice that the dog is getting sidetracked and unwilling to perform new commands or tricks, end the session with a command or a trick he can do, and pick it up later when he’s more focused.

Fetch Games

As the name suggests, the breed has a natural instinct to fetch things for their owners. A game of fetch is the perfect opportunity for bonding, having fun, teaching commands, and venting the dog’s pent-up energy.

Flat-Coated Retrievers were purposefully bred as bird dogs in the 1800s. The breed’s stature and appearance are attributed to the Retriever Proper, a cross-breed emerging from the Large Newfoundland, Setter, Sheepdog, and Spaniel-like water dogs, as well as other breeds that were used in creating the Flat-Coated Retriever. The greatest credit for developing this variety of retrievers into a stable type goes to S.E. Shirley, founder of the Kennel Club.

Flat-Coated Retriever History

The Flat-Coats were very popular until the beginning of WWI. The breed was of great importance to fishermen and was often part of trade between Britain and North America during the 19th century. With the growing popularity of the dogs, numerous important breeders made their contribution to the working abilities and elegance of the Flat-Coated Retriever. The dogs were excellent swimmers and were used by both fisherman and hunters. The Flat-Coats were valued for their superior sense of smell and ability to retrieve on plains, marshy areas, and areas thick with trees and bushes.

Flat-Coated Retriever Retrieving

In Britain, the first British dog show was held in 1859, and classification for Retrievers, comprising both Curly-and Wavy- or Smooth-Coated, began a year later. Accurate records of the breed do not appear until 1874, but it is known that from 1864 on, two female dogs of a working strain of retrievers were featured in the awards of the British shows of that time.

The breed was considerably popular in 1915 when it was admitted to the AKC, but as Labrador and Golden Retrievers were becoming famous, there was a steady drop in popularity for the Flat-Coat Retrievers. Its levels reached a new low following the World Wars. Stanley O’Neill, one of the greatest authorities on the breed, took it upon himself to revive the breed. Eventually, interest in the Flat-Coat was renewed in the mid-1960’s and the breed began to flourish on both sides of the Atlantic as retrieving, hunting, and tracking dogs.


The Flat-Coated Retriever has a straight, moderately long coat with feathering on the ears, chest, front, backs of forelegs, underside of the tail, and the thighs, with a mane of longer, heavier coat on the neck. The coat comes in solid black or solid liver, a deep reddish-brown colour. It protects the Flat-Coat Retriever from all types of weather, water, and ground cover. Typically, the coat needs brushing once a week, and two-three times a week when the dog is shedding more heavily – usually twice a year. Bathing for this breed is necessary only when the dog has gotten into the muck, or when he starts to emit a doggie odour. Some owners prefer to clip the hair on the ears, feet, belly, and tail for neatness sake.

Flat-Coated Retriever Care

Ears should be checked weekly for signs of wax build up, irritation, or infection. Owners can use a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved solution to clean them. Never use a cotton swab and make sure you don’t reach the dog’s ear canal. It is best that teeth be brushed daily, or at least a couple of times a week, to keep bad breath in check and prevent tartar build up. Active dogs will wear down their nails naturally, but if you can hear a clicking sound on hard surfaces, they need trimming.


Research by the Flat Coated Retriever Society of The USA (FCRSA), has set the usual life duration of the Flat-coated Retriever of just about eight years, with a very high proportion of deaths because of cancer. According to studies carried out in Denmark and United Kingdom, the average life span of the breed is around ten years. Flat-Coats have a larger chance of cancer compared to the majority of dogs. Fibrosarcoma, Hemangiosarcoma, Malignant histiocytosis and Osteosarcoma are very disastrous, and occur at much higher rates in Flat-Coated Retrievers compared to various other breeds. University cancer researchers and breeders have helped decrease the incidence of cancer in future generations.

Flat-Coated Retriever Caring Tips

Usual checks and clearances for genetic problems like eye problem (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), glaucoma and hip dysplasia should be performed by breeders on every dog chosen for reproducing. Flat-Coats show a low rate of luxating patellas and hip dysplasia compared to various other medium-sized dog breeds, with 4.5% of males and 3.5% of females clinically determined as luxating patellas. Epilepsy is sometimes observed in the breed.


The Flat-Coated Retriever’s diet should be based on a blend of poultry, fish, wheat, oats, and yellow corn. High quality protein from lean animal meat or fish is essential for such high-energy dogs. One-quarter of a Retriever’s diet should be protein in order to help him maintain stamina and muscle tone. Complex carbohydrates from sources such as brown rice and sweet potatoes are also important for this breed.

Flat-Coated Retriever Dog

Don’t feed a Flat-Coated Retriever any soy products, beet pulp, any red meats with low fat content, and supplemental Vitamin C.

Supplements can include Vitamin A Beta Carotene, Vitamin B-1 Thiamine Mononitrate & Yeast, Vitamin B-2 Riboflavin & Yeast, Vitamin B-6 Pyridoxine Hcl & Yeast, and Vitamin B-12 Cyanocobalamin & Yeast.