Flat-Coated Retriever breed characteristics, origin and care

Flat-Coated Retriever breed characteristics

  • Size: Large
  • Traits: Smart, friendly, adaptable, cheerful, mischievous
  • Maintenance: Low
  • Best Suited To: Families with older children, Active adults

Active, obedient and playful, the Flat-Coated Retriever is a loyal companion that loves hanging out with his favourite people. Better still, if you’re looking for a running buddy there’s no greater match than this canine. It will happily spend 90 minutes a day working out with you.

Where I'm From

The Flat-Coated Retriever was developed by J. Hull in the mid-1800s to serve as a gamekeeper’s dog. It’s related to various breeds including the Labrador, Newfoundland and and some types of Water Spaniel.

You can no doubt tell from the name that the Flat-Coats defining feature is indeed its flat, wavy coat. It’s also the feature that lead the canine to be recognised as a separate breed all those years ago.

Flat-Coats had many adoring fans until the beginning of WW1 but during the war numbers dwindled and the breed never regained its popularity. Dog lovers became increasingly drawn in by the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever because they were more available and thus cheaper.


What I Look Like

Flat-Coats are bright and active dogs with lean bodies. They come in two colours; solid black or solid liver (which is a reddish brown colour) and will grow to around 60 centimetres in height.

The trademark flat coat of these powerful dogs protects it from the weather and water. It’s shiny, dense and medium in length.

How I Act

The Flat-Coated Retriever is known for its agility and obedience. It’s a talented watchdog and also a suitable therapy dog.

People who enjoy getting into the outdoors and going for a run will love this breed. These canines require 90 minutes a day of exercise to keep them in peak health so make sure you can match their active lifestyles! You’ll need to go easy in their first year though. A puppy that’s exercised too much in its first year may develop bone and joint problems.

This breed is not suited to apartment life so if you live in a small space, start searching for a different doggy companion! You should also keep in mind that these canines enjoy having company and become destructive if they’re left for long periods on their own.

You’ll need to put some time and effort into training this breed. A couple of their hobbies include jumping and chewing, which can be problematic for obvious reasons.

These dogs are not suited to elderly or very young children because they can be unaware of their own strength and thus easily knock someone over when jumping. Slightly older children will be fine though and will appreciate this dog lack of aggression.

They’re a smart, adaptable and friendly breed that take their time to mature. If you think you’ll quickly tire of a dog with puppy-like qualities then this breed is not for you.

Looking After Me

These canines will need to brushed daily when they’re shedding but you can drop it back to weekly when they’re not. Their eyes, ears and teeth should be cleaned regularly to keep them in top form.

Flat-Coated Retrievers have few breed-specific health problems as a result of dynamic cross breeding although some may develop hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and gastric dilatation volvulus.

Am I the pet for you?


  • Low level aggression, friendly temperament
  • Well suited to active owners
  • Enjoy playing with older children


  • Elderly and very young children may be knocked over by this breed
  • Won’t enjoy spending too much time on their own
  • Require 90 minutes a day of exercise


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