Like all retrievers, the Flat Coat Retriever will keep you on your toes with their boundless enthusiasm, drive and spirit. These dogs are known for their exuberant, joyful personalities and love of water.
Flat Coat Retriever Origins
The Flat Coat Retriever hails from the United Kingdom and one time they were the most common retriever in England. They were known as the "Gamekeeper's Dog" because they were popular residents of the estates of the British upper class. The breed originated from a mix of retrievers and setters. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1915.
How Are Flat Coat Retrievers Different From Other Retrievers?
Flat Coat Retrievers share many similarities with other retrievers such as the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever. Like its Retriever cousins, Flat Coats are extremely energetic, active and intelligent dogs that love to work. They also enjoy splashing about in water, even at cold, icy temperatures and they are excellent hunting companions. Flat Coats differ from other retrievers in a few ways:
- Their coat is "flatter" and straighter compared to a Golden Retriever and longer than that of a Labrador Retriever. Their coat also only comes in black or liver.
- There is no "show" and "field" version of this breed as there is with other retrievers like the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever.
- Despite being recognized by the AKC, they are much less popular than other retrievers. As of 2018, the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever come in at the first and third positions of AKC breed popularity in the U.S. while the Flat Coat is found at position 91!
- Their exercise needs are a bit more intense than other retrievers.
- They also tend to suffer from deadly tumors more than other retrievers. It's not unusual for Flat Coat Retrievers as young as four years to develop cancer.
Flat Coat Retriever Characteristics
The Flat Coat Retriever weighs about 60 to 70 pounds when full grown and they are about 22 to 24-½ inches tall. The Flat Coat Retriever Society of America describes them as "power without lumber and raciness without weediness." They have a "one piece" head which is a physical feature that sets them apart from other retrievers. Overall they have an athletic frame that is powerful but not as broad as that of a Labrador Retriever.
Flat Coat Retriever Coat
The Flat Coat Retriever comes in only solid black or liver and their coat is generally straight and flat against the body, though some may have wavier hair. Their tail and legs have a feathered coat as well. Their long coat is actually easy to care for and needs no more than a brushing and combing once a week. Grooming should also include regular ear cleaning as their floppy ears and feathered coat combined with swimming can lead to ear infections. They are a breed that sheds so regular grooming can help keep excess hair off your furniture.
Flat Coat Retriever Temperament
Flat Coat Retrievers are called the "Peter Pan" of dogs and it's easy to see why if you've met one in person. These are extremely happy, bouncy dogs who love to play and to work. They naturally enjoy meeting people and strangers will always be their new best friends. They tend to do well with other dogs and other pets like cats. They also can be good family dogs, although their energy level may be more than smaller children or elderly adults can handle. A Flat Coat Retriever is an outgoing, affectionate, non-stop companion and won't settle in well to a sedate, laid-back home.
Flat Coat Retriever Exercise Needs
Like all retrievers, expect to provide a Flat Coat Retriever with a lot of daily exercise. This means a good 30 minute or more jog twice a day at least. If their needs aren't met, they can easily become destructive in the home. These are dogs that will need some type of physical, "working" outlet whether that's hunting with you, going hiking and swimming, or learning dog sports like dock diving and agility.
Training a Flat Coat Retriever
Flat Coat Retrievers are extremely food motivated and people oriented dogs which makes them a dream to train. They love learning new activities and can excel at just about any dog sport including competitive obedience, scent work, agility, and more. They also can make excellent therapy dogs although you want to make sure you've trained them to great people politely without leaping onto them with their enthusiastic joy.
Flat Coat Retriever Health Concerns
- Bloat, or gastric torsion, is a twisting of the stomach that can be fatal if not treated immediately.
- Cancer is the cause of death in about 70% of Flat Coat Retrievers, and common forms of cancer in the breed are histiocytic sarcoma, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.
- Epilepsy and accompanying seizures which can be severe.
- Heart disease and canine congestive heart failure which can happen at any age.
- Eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy can someday lead to vision loss and even blindness.
Where Can You Get a Flat Coat Retriever?
If you'd like to bring a Flat Coat Retriever puppy into your life, the best place to find a responsible breeder is through the Flat Coat Retriever Society of America. You can obtain a list of breeder members through the website. The average price in the U.S. for a purebred Flat Coat Retriever puppy is about $1,300 to $1,800.
Rescuing a Flat Coat Retriever
Since the breed is not as popular as other types of retrievers, they may be a bit harder to find in a rescue. The Flat Coat Retriever Society of America runs a Facebook page for rescue listings and has a list of regional rescue contacts on their website. You can also visit the Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet websites to do a search on the breed to see if any all-breed rescues or shelters have one available for adoption.
Is the Flat Coat Retriever the Right Dog for You?
If you're an active, energetic person who wants a canine companion to match, the Flat Coat Retriever may be the perfect choice for you. They're happy dogs who are "puppylike" far longer than other breeds and can excel at a variety of activities and dog sports. Just make sure you can keep up with their zest and enthusiasm for life!