Flat Coated Retriever

An Extremely Friendly Dog Characterized by Lifelong Exuberance, This is the Perfect Pet for your Children

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a loyal, lovable family dog with an enormous amount of energy. It was originally bred to be a hunting or "gun dog," suitable for retrieving game during the hunt. Originally part of the "retriever proper" crossbreeding that included the Sheepdog, Setter, Newfoundland, and Water Dogs, today, Flat-Coated Retrievers most often function as companion dogs. The Flat-Coated Retriever enjoys hard work, has a lot of stamina and is eager to please. This dog is well-suited as a family pet, since it exhibits a rare and pleasing combination of breakneck energy and relaxed, easygoing patience.

Flat-Coated Retrievers’ History

Beginning in the mid-1900s, the Flat-Coated Retriever was originally a gamekeeper's dog in England. The now-extinct St. John's Water Dog may be part of its ancestry, as well as the Newfoundland, Collie- type dogs, and Setters. The first Flat-Coated Retrievers began to appear around 1860, but the breed itself was only firmly established in about 1880.

Once it came to the US, the Flat-Coated Retriever quickly became popular as a gun dog, and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1915. Today it is classified as a member of the Sporting Group. The Golden Retriever is actually bred in part from the Flat Coat and other breeds, but it began to take over the popularity of the Flat Coat so that by the end of World War II, very few Flat-Coated Retriever puppies remained. It was thought that perhaps the Flat Coat would not survive this time, but it began to resume its place in society in the 1960s. Breeders carefully developed and brought back the Flat-Coated Retriever, both as a companion pet and for show. Currently, it remains modestly favored as compared to other breeds like the Golden Retriever, although it is becoming more celebrated thanks to its exceptional intelligence and personality.

Flat-Coated Retrievers’ Appearance

These are moderate-sized dogs that weigh between 45 to 75 pounds and stand between 22 and 25 inches at the shoulder. The head is long and flat, and the nose is deep and long. The ears, which hang to the side, are feathered and fairly small compared to the size of the head. The thick, fine, solid brown or black coat lies flat on the body and is of medium length. There are feathers on the chest, tail and legs. The tail is long and slightly curved. Because these dogs are so happy all the time, you can expect your pet's tail to be wagging constantly.

Flat-Coated Retrievers’ Temperament

These exuberant, energetic dogs are extremely friendly, confident and outgoing. Your new pet will be very good even with small children as long as you channel its enthusiastic and boisterous behavior. A Flat-Coated Retriever would never hurt a small child on purpose, but could inadvertently knock a child over, for instance, with its sheer effervescence. But once you train your pet to be careful around small children, the dog will be very composed and protective.

The "Peter Pan" Of Dogs

What is most notable about the Flat-Coated Retriever is that unlike most dogs, your new pet will never seem to quite "grow up." Instead, it will remain very puppy-like and energetic, cheerful and enthusiastic well into old age. While most exuberant dogs like the similar Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever tend to mellow with age, that's not really going to be true of this dog. That said, even though your pet will continue to have the exhilaration of a puppy, you can most certainly train this very intelligent dog to behave and obey you. Despite its frisky personality full of the love of life, you can expect to have a very well-trained dog with just a little bit of structured guidance.


These gentle, exceptionally vivacious dogs should never be disciplined harshly. Instead, a firm tone of voice and consistent rules should be enough. Remember that this is most certainly a sweet-tempered dog that will love you unabashedly for its whole life. That said, your dog can get bored with excessive repetition, so it's important to keep the routine interesting when you train or work with your dog and offer lots of positive reinforcement. Because this dog’s genetics include working both on land and in the water, this dog will like to swim, jog, and do just about any other kind of exercise you might find suitable for yourself. Playful and tireless, you'll find your pet to be truly joyful – and that joyful, jubilant nature will rub off on you!

People Dogs

Above all, this dog is extremely gregarious and will always require companionship. Alert and very intelligent, this exceptionally lighthearted, good-natured pet can also function as a service dog if necessary.

Flat-Coated Retrievers’ Proper Environment

Although the Flat-Coated Retriever is very obedient when given clear guidelines, apartment living is really not preferable for this dog. The combination of its size and level of energy demands ample space even though the Flat-Coated Retriever is pretty inactive when indoors. Plenty of physical activity, including a daily walk where you establish your leadership, is absolutely necessary for this pet.

The Flat-Coated Retriever will adore your children, as they will adore their new pet. However, your new puppy’s high-spirited elation may unintentionally startle small children until both learn to be more careful. Once these dogs are aware that small children are vulnerable and need to be pampered, they will restrain their conviviality to become the perfect companion dog for your children.

Flat-Coated Retrievers’ Health

Your pet will be very healthy and sturdy, but prone to problems common to many other relatively large dog breeds including hip dysplasia, diabetes, epilepsy, and congenital deafness. This breed is also prone to cancers like fibrosarcoma and osteosarcoma in adulthood, with approximately 75% of such cases terminal. Average lifespan is about 10 to 11 years. Choosing a reputable breeder who has screened your dog for hereditary conditions and visiting a veterinarian on a regular basis will help to control and treat any problems which may arise.

Flat-Coated Retrievers’ Grooming

Your pet requires a good daily brushing, especially if it has been outside. While this breed sheds moderately, it should not be necessary to bathe or shampoo unless your dog is very dirty. Because this dog loves outdoor activity, it's also important to regularly check your pet for ticks.

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