Flat Coated Retriever

Flat Coated Retriever dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Cheerful, humorous, optimistic and a complete extrovert, the Flat Coated Retriever is the perfect companion for those who desire a loyal and high-spirited dog breed. Possessing the built of a full-grown dog and the heart of a 6-month old puppy, human companions of this breed are in for a real treat as the Flat-Coated Retriever never fails to paint happy and vibrant colors in any home.

Its sweet and exuberant nature makes it an ideal household pet, but what makes it even more extraordinary is its devotion to its human companions. With the Flat-Coated Retriever, every homeowner can look forward to brighter and happier tomorrows.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Sporting dog/ Gundog 
Height:Around 1 foot and 2 inches – 2 feet tall at the shoulder
Weight: About 55 – 70 pounds
Life Span: 9 to 12 years

Characterized by its wagging tail, the Flat-Coated Retriever is one of the best dog breeds ideal for any home because of its unique, friendly and child-like personality. It bears a strong resemblance to the Golden Retriever, but its lineage is completely different. Industrious and cheerful, the Flat-Coated Retriever was originally bred for sporting events both on land and in water, which explains its amazing capability to swim effortlessly.

As the breed started to attract public attention before the First World War, the spotlight was stolen by the Labrador and Golden Retriever. But while this is true, the Flat-Coated Retriever’s merry disposition and one-of-kind personality still make it one of the most lovable breeds in the world.

A dog breed that loves playing and going for walks in the park, the Flat-Coated Retriever is a large dog with an even bigger heart. Since it matures quite slowly, its desire to play lasts for years, making it the perfect companion for children and adults who are looking for love and affection.

Hence, since the Flat-Coated Retriever is outgoing in nature, it is not ideal to keep him inside a flat and ignore his need to run free in wide, open spaces. So if you are considering this dog breed, prepare yourself for 45-minute jogging sessions and hours of walking and cuddling as the Flat-Coated Retriever’s cheerful and child-like personality can keep you up your feet.

When it comes to trainability, on the other hand, the Flat-Coated Retriever is sensitive and responsive in nature. However, its desire to play around can make it quite challenging to make this dog breed follow simple rules especially since it can easily get bored with repetitive routines.

Nonetheless, with gentle and firm leadership combined with a positive rewards system, this highly intelligent dog breed can greatly adapt to training. Trainers just need to make sure that they are formulating short, fun activities that are comprised of exercises that are not too monotonous.

As a household pet, the Flat-Coated Retriever is a sweet, fun-loving dog that expresses warmth and affection to children and other pets in the house. Its carefree personality makes it friendly even to unfamiliar visitors of their human companions. This dog breed craves for attention and companionship, making it the perfect addition to a typical family.

Main Highlights
  • The Flat-Coated Retriever only comes in two colors: solid liver and solid black.
  • This dog breed matures slowly, retaining a puppy-like personality. Fun-loving and cheerful in nature, the Flat-Coated Retriever requires a home with a family that is willing to keep up with its energetic, sunny and happy disposition.
  • The Flat-Coated Retriever is known for its all-around friendliness, making it far from being a guard dog. While it will bark as a warning sign that there is an intruder in the house, it is not prone to attacking strangers.
  • This dog breed is obedient to their human companions. However, it does not respond well to harsh training methods. When training the Flat-Coated Retriever, it is important for trainers to create short, fun and engaging training methods that are not too repetitive. In the like manner, rewards such as food and praises and playtime.
  • The Flat-Coated Retriever is a rarer breed as compared to the Golden and Labrador Retrievers.
  • Since the Flat-Coated Retriever has high energy levels, it requires daily training and physical exercise.
  • This dog breed is not suitable for fragile members of the family such as small children and senior citizens since the dog’s enthusiasm can lead to unwanted injuries due to its excessive jumping and careless movements.
Breed History

Ranking 90th most popular dog breed by AKC Dog Ranking, the Flat-Coated Retriever was on the brink of extinction in the earlier years. Originally bred as a dual-purpose retriever, the Flat-Coated is a great competitor in both land and water sports. Also, it was used in the hunting arena before World War I broke out.

One of its ancestors, Old Bounce, demonstrated enthusiasm for play and other outdoor sports and activities. Both Old Bounce and its daughter, Young Bounce, played a crucial role in the continuation of the Flat-Coated Retriever’s lineage.

As the Flat-Coated Retriever rose in popularity before World War I, the spotlight was stolen by the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever. Because of this, the Flat-Coated Retriever faced near-extinction a couple of times until supporters of the breed exerted time and effort for the breed to re-populate. Fortunately, they were successful in their goal as the breed’s population managed to grow by the mid 1960’s.

While the Flat-Coated Retriever did not go extinct, its lineage is still rare, making it quite challenging to look for a breeder. Some aspiring owners even have to wait for a year before they find responsible breeders who are looking for a new home for their puppies.


The Flat-Coated Retriever stands at around 1 foot and 2 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder. It weighs about 55 to 70 pounds, depending on its height.

Personality and Character

The Flat-Coated Retriever may be a large breed, but it is always young and puppy-like at heart. Cheerful, high-spirited and playful, this dog breed has many unique and lovable traits that make it a great addition to households that need extra warmth and affection. Aside from its liveliness, this dog breed is also intelligent and obedient.

Since it takes years for the Flat-Coated Retriever to outgrow its puppy-like traits, its human companions must be prepared to take care of a large dog that has the need of a small puppy. A 90-minute daily exercise is crucial for the Flat-Coated Retriever to be able to retain a calm and sweet temperament. Likewise, while this dog breed is highly adaptable, it is not recommended for owners living in an apartment as the Flat-Coated Retriever needs space to play.

Furthermore, the Flat-Coated Retriever’s friendliness to children and other pets is exemplary. Since it is a dog breed that loves socializing with other people, it is not a suitable guard dog since it has a very minimal tendency to be protective of its household. In fact, it can be friendly even to strangers. Nonetheless, while it is the Flat-Coated Retriever’s nature to offer its friendship even to unfamiliar faces, it is still vital for owners to let it interact with children and other pets at its early age so it can grow up to be a well-versed dog.

Lastly, training a Flat-Coated Retriever requires the right combination of firmness and tenderness. Since this breed is very sensitive in nature, it does not respond very well to punitive training methods. It may become disobedient or unresponsive unless its human companions have already taken actions to pacify its hurt feelings. Rather than employing harsh training techniques, it is ideal for trainers to incorporate a positive rewards system.

To sum it all up, if you are considering a Flat-Coated Retriever, it’s important that you willing to take care of a large dog that has puppy-like traits because homeowners who love spending their time alone may not be able to keep up with this breed’s need for play and interaction.

Health and Potential Problems

In general, the Flat-Coated Retriever is a healthy dog breed that necessitates love, care and attention. However, just like other breeds, it is also vulnerable to certain health conditions that can affect its overall wellness.

Hence, if you are considering this breed, it is important that you ask for clearance from the breeder to ensure that the dog is less vulnerable to inheriting certain medical conditions. Below are some of the most common disabilities that affect minority of this dog breed:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A medical condition that occurs mainly because the bone in the thigh does not fit into the hip joint, dysplasia can greatly affect a dog’s quality of life. It can either be symptomatic or asymptomatic, so owners should be very vigilant in providing their dogs with regular check-ups. While it may be hereditary, hip dysplasia can also occur once the dog suffers from arthritis because of old age. Flat-Coated Retrievers that suffer from this condition are not allowed to breed, so before buying a puppy, always ask for clearance from the breeder.
  • Patellar Luxation: Patellar luxation, a condition common in the Flat-Coated Retriever’s lineage, is described as the patellar slip. This refers to the condition where the knee is slipping out of place, which can eventually affect the dog’s ability to walk. In severe cases, the dog may have to undergo
  • Osteosarcoma: Typical for large to giant breeds, osteosarcoma is a medical condition that requires extreme intervention. Limb amputation, along with chemotherapy, may be advised, depending on the severity of the dog’s condition. Luckily, dog breeds suffering from osteosarcoma can adapt well to chemotherapy and limb amputation.
  • Lymphosarcoma: Treated by chemotherapy, lymphosarcoma is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow, the spleen, the lymph nodes and the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Malignant Histiocytosis: Malignant Histiocytosis may be a rare medical condition amongst other dog breeds, but it is common for the Flat-Coated Retriever. It is a type of cancer that originates in the connective tissue and white blood cells of the skin. It can be treated by chemotherapy or other surgical procedures.
  • Hemangiosarcoma: A type of cancer that affects the spleen and the lining of the blood vessels, hemangiosarcoma is usually treated by either chemotherapy or a surgical procedure.

While not all Flat-Coated Retrievers suffer from these diseases, it is still important to note that this breed is vulnerable to different types of cancer, so it is crucial for owners to learn how to take precautionary measures.

Care Features

The Flat-Coated Retriever is an energetic and cheerful dog that is perfect for people who are willing to devote time to play and interact with their pet companions. Since the dog breed needs to release its energy, its human companions must make walks in the park a daily habit. A loving companion with a big heart, the Flat-Coated Retriever is ideally bred in a home that has enough space to accommodate the dog’s need to play and interact.

Since the Flat-Coated Retriever can be vulnerable to joint-related medical conditions, taking proper care of the dog at an early age is necessary. In order for their human companions to not introduce stress to the hip or joint area, a puppy should be given a limited time for exercise. Ideally, the puppy should jog for 5 minutes for each of its month of age. Hence, if the puppy is 3-month old, it should exercise for 15 minutes every day.

As the Flat-Coated Retriever matures, it also becomes an ideal running mate. Nonetheless, it is better for this dog breed to run in grassy areas since running on cement may cause excessive friction that can in turn lead to problems in the joint area.

Moreover, owners of the Flat-Coated Retriever should not resort to harsh punishments as this dog breed is sensitive in nature. Instead, a positive reward system works better in aiding the dog in learning and becoming well-rounded.

The only downside of taking care of the Flat-Coated Retriever is that owners have to really watch out and clean after their dog’s poop right away since the Flat-Coated Retriever has a poop-eating habit, medically known as coprophagy. Nevertheless, this dog breed is a great companion overall.

Feeding Schedule

A Flat-Coated Retriever’s necessary amount of feeding depends on its size. Ideally, 3.5 to 4.5 cups of high grade dry food is the recommended amount of feeding per day. This amount should be divided into two equal servings.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Bearing strong resemblance to the Golden Retriever, the Flat-Coated Retriever is characterized by its long straight coat, which functions as protection from the harsh outside environment. The neck has a more abundant amount of coating as compared to other parts of the body, but the difference is barely noticeable. The coating is either solid liver or solid black in color, making the breed more distinguishable.

The Flat-Coated Retriever is not as challenging to groom as compared to other dog breeds. Unless it is shedding, it only requires one combing or brushing session a week. However, owners who love grooming their pets can also brush their Flat-Coated Retrievers on a daily basis to make sure that the coating won’t get tangled.

Also, regular trimming is required for the dog’s coating not to be too long to maintain. Owners who are not experienced in trimming the coating of their pet companions may want to ask advice from professional groomers and start learning how to trim the ear, belly and feet areas. Speaking of trimming, the nails of the Flat-Coated Retriever should be trimmed once they are already too long to avoid unwanted scratches. If the nails are already screeching on the floor, it is a definitive sign that the nails need to be trimmed.

Bathing, on the other hand, does not need to be done on a weekly basis. Owners should bathe their Flat-Coated Retrievers only when necessary.

Lastly, owners must brush their pet’s teeth at least 2 times a week to avoid the development of tartar and gum diseases.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Flat-Coated Retriever is popular for its bubbly and friendly personality, making it the perfect companion of older children who love playing outdoors. This dog breed is an ideal companion that can engage both in land and in water activities because it is an excellent swimmer, which explains why it is also known as the dual-purpose retriever.

However, since the Flat-Coated Retriever is extremely playful, close supervision is needed whenever it comes in contact with younger children and old members of the household as the dog breed is not aware of its own strengths. This can potentially introduce injuries to fragile family members.

Its pet compatibility, on the other hand, is extremely high. It can successfully socialize and interact with other pets in the house since it is friendly in nature.

Ideal not only for older children, but for men and women who are kids at heart, the Flat-Coated Retriever is definitely a loving and loyal companion that can light up anyone’s world.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.