Let's talk Flat-Coated Retrievers

A flowing ebony coat may be their trademark but it’s merely the starting point for the positive attributes for the Flat-Coated Retriever. An incredibly docile nature dwells within, and a huge zest for life: the Flat-Coated Retriever is a very, very contented dog, nicknamed the “Peter Pan” of the canine world for their puppy-like conduct that lasts well into adulthood. That said, the Flat-Coated Retriever is known for usually being on their best behaviour, a plus whether this sporting dog is in the house or out.

Official name: Flat-Coated Retriever

Other names: Flat-Coat, Wavy-Coated Retriever, Black Wavy Retriever, Smooth-Coated Retriever

Origins: England

Black and white portrait of a Flat Coated Retriever
 Drooling tendencies

Warm weather?
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Very low
 Physical activity needs (high, low, medium): High Kid-friendly? 
Very high
 Compatibility with other pets Very high
Can stay alone?* Very low

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Flat Coated Retriever
Male
58 - 61 cm Height
27 - 36 kg Weight
Female
56 - 58 cm Height
25 - 32 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  from 8 years

A black and a brown Flat Coated Retriever sat next to each other in grass

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Get to know the Flat-Coated Retriever

All you need to know about the breed

A regal dog with a jubilant disposition, the Flat-Coated Retriever is one of the ultimate convivial breeds. Originally bred for hunting, the breed was often seen on the 19th century estates of the English upper class, earning their keep by accompanying masters into the field and stream and excelling at what Retrievers do best: fetching and retrieving.

That athletic ability, along with an amicable manner, has made the breed a cherished family dog and a frequent sight in the show ring, showing off the long locks that are the Flat-Coated Retriever’s standout trait. Functional as well, their signature coat protects this active dog from the icy conditions they often find themselves in.

The breed does have what can be called a mischievous side, a factor potential owners should think about when matching their activity level to a new pet. It’s because the Flat-Coated Retriever is known to mature slowly so best to have plenty of toys on hand to keep them occupied. They can also be mouthy (all that retrieving leaves its mark).

Although perhaps not as well-known as Labradors or Golden Retrievers, the Flat-Coated Retriever flourishes with all family members, especially children, once properly introduced and trained. They just may not be the best guard dog since they’re a little too welcoming of everyone they meet.

Chocolate Flat Coated Retriever sat on the edge of a pond surrounded by puppies

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2 facts about Flat-Coated Retrievers

1. Water baby

Nothing pleases the Flat-Coated Retriever more than being in the water. Lake, ocean, river, or bathtub, they’re more than content to dive right in and splash around - and fetching something? All the better. Their breeding as a hunting dog, used to retrieve waterfowl in frozen conditions, continues to this day.

2. Chew on this

The Flat-Coated Retriever is by all measures a great dog, for both families and single people alike, but can have the propensity to chew, especially if they are bored or unoccupied. The habit can be curbed with properly training your Flat-Coated Retriever in puppyhood. Stocking your house with chew toys will ensure they put those - and not your shoes - in their mouth.

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History of the breed

The origins of the Flat-Coated Retriever are said to have been on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, where fishing is a mainstay of life. Catch that would bounce out of fishermen’s nets necessitated a dog that could jump after it, while withstanding the very chilly northern waters.

The dog’s breeding then took off in Britain in the mid-19th century, using a mix of Setters, Newfoundlands, Water Spaniels, and Sheepdogs. The Flat-Coated Retriever dog was seen on the vast estates of the English gentry, earning the nickname, the “Gatekeeper’s Dog.” The breed was widely used in the hunting of waterfowl, valued for their quick retrieval and upbeat demeanour.

The Flat-Coated Retriever‘s popularity receded over time with the rise of the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever, but they are still highly beloved by those who know the breed. The American Kennel Club registered the breed in 1915 and the United Kennel Club in 1984.

Black and white portrait of a Flat Coated Retriever

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Flat-Coated Retrievers

1. Ears

Thick, feathered ears, fairly small, lying close to head.

2. Body

Long, well-muscled body, strong deep chest.

3. Coat

Signature flat coat, dense with slight wave, almost exclusively black, sometimes liver-coloured.

Close-up of a black Flat Coated Retriever tongue wagging against a blue sky

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Flat-Coated Retriever
Chocolate mother and puppy Flat Coated Retrievers snuggling on the grass

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Caring for your Flat-Coated Retriever

Grooming, training and exercise tips

A dog with a “signature coat” conjures up visions of arduous grooming. Not so for the Flat-Coated Retriever, whose hair falls straight away from their body into divine waves. A weekly run-through with both a brush and a metal dog comb is sufficient to remove dead hair and dirt. An active dog like this will need regular nail trims, and a clean-out of debris from those lovely ears. Brush their teeth often to ward off tartar build-up. When it comes to exercise for your Flat-Coated Retriever, think swimming and fetching. Anything that involves either of these two activities will make your dog’s spirit sing. This is a dog that needs space to run so a country locale would suit them perfectly, but if they’re suburban dwellers, daily walks will work (at least two). As one would expect, the very jubilant Flat-Coated Retriever is easy to train, but it’s important to not apply any harsh methods as this is one breed who won’t react well. Correct your dog with ease and they will respond in kind. Consistent socialisation and puppy training classes will help form a well-behaved Flat-Coated Retriever.

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All about Flat-Coated Retrievers

Newfoundlands, Sheepdogs, Water Spaniels, and various types of setters were all part of the mix that created the Flat-Coated Retriever. With time, the breed came into their own, and developed a devoted following where humans were concerned. A sturdy dog who could withstand the elements yet remain chipper was the aim, and the result.

Hugely merry, easily trainable, oodles of affectionate - the Flat-Coated Retriever is a sheer delight! With a perpetually wagging tail and pleasant expression, is there a downside? Excessive jumping up to offer even more affection can often be a problem. Ensure your Flat-Coated Retriever puppy enters early training classes to keep their bounding in check.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/