By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 27th October 2022

Flat-Coated Retriever


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 27th October 2022

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a breed of attractive gun dog deriving its roots from the United Kingdom, developed with the purpose of retrieving games on land as well as water. It distinctive features include a clean, one-piece head, with a longish muzzle, almond-shaped, widely set eyes, small, pendant-shaped feathered ears located close to its head, and a straight, well-set tail. Having an intelligent and alert expression, this is indeed a versatile breed as besides performing its task to the tee it also excels as a warm and affectionate family companion.

Flat-Coated Retriever Pictures

Quick Information

Common nicknamesFlattie, Flatte, Flatcoat, Flatt, Smooth-coated retriever, Wavy coated retriever
CoatSmooth, glossy, weatherproof and waterproof coat
ColorBlack, liver, yellow
Breed typePurebred
GroupSporting, retriever, gun dogs
Average lifespan 8 to 10 years
Size (How big do they get)Medium
Height Male: 23 to 24 inches
Female: 22 to 23 inches
WeightMale: 60 to 80 pounds
Female: 55 to 70 pounds
Litter size4 to 8 puppies
Behavioral characteristicsOutgoing, confident, alert, loveable, affectionate
Good with childrenYes
Climate CompatibilityAdapts to warm as well as cold climates
Braking tendencyModerate
Shedding (Does it shed)Moderately throughout the year (except twice when it sheds heavily)
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationAKC, CKC, CNKC, FCI, NZKC, UKC KC (UK)
CountryUnited Kingdom

Video of 7 Week Old Black Flat Coated Retriever Puppies

History and Origin

Originating in England in the middle of the 1800s, they rose to popularity as the gamekeeper’s dog, adept for its tireless disposition and effective retrieving skills that it displayed while tracking down a waterfowl or any other game.

Their ancestry is said to be linked to St. John’s Water dog that is extinct at present. Other breeds contributing to its development include the Newfoundland dog brought to the ports of Britain by the Canadian seafarers, the Collie type herding breeds (for increasing its trainability) and canines of Setter origin (for enhancing its scenting skills). The first varieties of these dogs came to light in 1860, along with the Curly Coated Retriever.  The dogs which we see at present came into effect only after a span of 20 years.

Officially registered by the American Kennel Club in 1915, they were famous at the beginning, though their popularity saw a decline after the development of the Labrador Retriever in 1918 and the Golden Retriever in the 1920s.

After the Second World, the number of Flatcoats remaining was so small that their survival became doubtful. However, in the 1960s, the process of proper and selective breeding helped in their revival. At present they are widely bred as house pets as well as for conformation showing. The FCRSA (Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America), formed in 1960 with the purpose of enhancing the betterment of this breed is AKC’s official parent club to this breed.


Temperament and Personality

Beneath its outgoing and exuberant nature lies an affectionate family dog with an immense desire to please all those who are close to it. Their fun-loving and cheerful nature has earned them the nickname “Peter Pan of Dogs”. They are a perfect lap dog as they often end up cuddling with you in bed and detest being left alone for prolonged periods.

Surprisingly, their energetic and spritely demeanor is seen even as they age. Being a people’s dog, they love to greet and be friendly with anyone they see.

As far as their equation with strangers is concerned, it varies from dog to dog as some might immediately intimate their owners on seeing an unfamiliar face in their locality, while others could even get friendly the moment they spot an outsider in their vicinity. Its overfriendly nature thus comes in the way of making it a good watch or guard dog, though its innate sense of smell often makes it to be used for drug-sniffing.

They share a great rapport with children though keeping their boisterous and over-energetic nature in mind, these dogs would not be a safe option for little ones as they could knock them down accidentally in pursuit of play. It is for this same reason that they should not be brought in homes having elderly people who are sick and fragile.

They get along well with other dogs as well as cats but are not suited for homes with birds keeping the kind of work they were bred to do in mind.



Since it is active and highly energetic, it needs at least two hours of exercise on a daily basis. Besides taking it out on a long leashed walk, arrange sufficient playtime for it in a big fenced yard. If keeping it in an apartment make sure you engage it in a lot of activities, though it would be better suited in big, spacious homes, probably those in the countryside.


Its medium-length coat needs a weekly combing using a brush with firm bristles alongside a metal comb to eliminate dead hair and dirt. However, during the shedding season which occurs two times in a year, brush it more frequently, at least twice or thrice a week. Bathe your Flatcoat when it gets dirty, clean its eyes and ears, brush its teeth and trim its nails on a routine basis.

Health Problems

Flat coated retrievers suffer from greater incidences of cancer than any other breed and have a longevity of only 8 to 10 years. Surveys and research conducted have mentioned that over 50% of the deaths in this breed is because of cancer (lymphoma, fibrosarcoma, malignant histiocytosis, and osteosarcoma). They could even suffer from volvulus and gastric dilatation since they are big-sized and deep-chested. They might be prone to other conditions like hip dysplasia, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, and epilepsy.


Though high on intelligence, these over-energetic dogs require a firm taskmaster to handle them in a skillful and tactful way.

Socialization: Though they are sociable and friendly dogs, imparting the Flattie socialization training and acquainting them with incidents and people of different kinds since their puppy days would help them realize the difference between the good and the bad so that they do not get friendly with everyone they see and intimate their masters on time the moment they sense danger.

Crate training: Since they are prone to suffer from separation anxiety, it is essential to accustom them to live in a crate at least for few hours in a day so that they may learn to live by themselves also and not always be dependent on you. Go for a well-ventilated big crate so that your Flat Coated Retriever puppy can move about freely without feeling suffocated. Make it comfortable and cozy by keeping blankets and its favorite playthings within. Let him get accustomed to the crate at first and reward him each time he gets in and sits for at least ten minutes. Increase the time span and continue reinforcement techniques. However, never leave it in the crate all night and do not use it as a way of punishing it.

Obedience training:  If given from an early age, obedience training would help it get more disciplined. Moreover teaching it commands like “sit”, “no” and “stop”, would help in keeping its chasing or hunting instincts in check.


Good quality dry dog food of reputed brands is all that your Flatt needs to remain healthy. If you are mixing homemade food to its regular kibble, make sure you consult the vet and know well about what to add and what not to.

2 responses to “Flat-Coated Retriever”

  1. Lari says:

    You have done a thorough and accurate representation of the wonderful flatcoated retriever. Having owned several, and had a best in show flatcoat in obedience, I offer a few amendments to your article.

    Flatcoats have a short attention span for mundane training, but they are eager to please. Thus being a firm taskmaster is not only unnecessary, it will be at odds with this breed’s gentle disposition. Patience is the trait that the trainer best needs with their at times mischievous nature.

    Flatcoats do indeed need exercise, more in their first two years when they still have puppy like enthusiasm. But two hours a day through their life is a bit of an overestimation. A couple of half hour sessions chasing a ball, a good long hike, or several shorter walks will keep them happy.

    And while flatcoasts do indeed need to be with you, I have been able to leave them at home while I go to work. Exercise before leaving them and as soon as you get home will do.

    I wish you were wrong about the issue of cancer in this breed, sadly you are correct. Thanks for the information, and the nice puppy video.

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