Flat-Coated Retriever

Temperament: Cheerful, Optimistic, Good-Humored

  • Height: 23-24.5 inches (male), 22-23.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 60-70 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 8-10 years
  • Group: Sporting Group 

The Peter Pan of the Sporting Group, the forever-young Flat-Coated Retriever is a gundog of relatively recent origin. Happy, self-assured, and willing to please, a good Flat-Coat will retrieve a duck or a show ribbon with equal aplomb.


The distinctive and most important features of the Flat-Coat are the silhouette (both moving and standing), smooth effortless movement, head type, coat and character. In silhouette the Flat-Coat has a long, strong, clean, “one piece” head, which is unique to the breed. Free from exaggeration of stop or cheek, the head is set well into a moderately long neck which flows smoothly into well laid back shoulders. A level topline combined with a deep, long rib cage tapering to a moderate tuck-up create the impression of a blunted triangle. The brisket is well developed and the forechest forms a prominent prow. This utilitarian retriever is well balanced, strong, but elegant; never cobby, short legged or rangy. The coat is thick and flat lying, and the legs and tail are well feathered. A proud carriage, responsive attitude, waving tail and overall look of functional strength, quality, style and symmetry complete the picture of the typical Flat-Coat.

About the Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever’s eponymous flat-lying coat comes in lustrous black or liver, with feathering at the legs and tail. A distinctive breed hallmark is the long head—unique among retrievers—which projects a smart and kindly expression. A Flat-Coat will stand as tall as a Labrador Retriever, but in silhouette they present a leaner, more elegant look.

Dogdom’s champion tail-waggers, Flat-Coats are among the happiest of all breeds. They mature slowly; some owners say that they never grow up at all, retaining a puppyish taste for rambunctious mischief into old age. This can be either delightful or exasperating, depending on your tolerance for such antics. This highly energetic breed requires lots of outdoorsy exercise.

NUTRITION The Flat-Coat should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.

GROOMING The Flat-Coat’s moderate-length coat requires a weekly grooming with a brush and a metal dog comb to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. The ears should be regularly inspected and cleaned if needed. The nails should be trimmed often, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running.

EXERCISE The Flat-Coat is an active sporting breed and requires ample exercise every day for his physical and mental well-being. This can come in the form of long daily walks and play sessions with his owner. The breed also exercises mind and body by participating in obedience, tracking, agility, rally, and other activities that can be enjoyed by dog and owner.

TRAINING Flat-Coats are very intelligent, responsive, and eager to please, so they are generally easy to train. They have a sensitive nature and don’t respond well to harsh corrections or training methods. A Flat-Coat wants to be with his family, and undesirable behaviour can result if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time. Early socialisation and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Flat-Coat grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion.

HEALTH There are several health and genetic screening considerations specific to the breed. Responsible Flat-Coat breeders test their stock for conditions the breed can be prone to and communicate with other dedicated breeders regularly, working together for breed health and preservation of the breed’s unique qualities. A Flat-Coat’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Patella Evaluation
  3. Ophthalmologist Evaluation

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