Choosing a Flat Coated Retriever

The flat coated retriever is an excellent bird and water dog though no longer as common as the Labrador or golden retrievers. They are sweet and loving family companions and, as the name implies, the flat coated retriever has a beautiful sleek and flat coat.

History and Origin

The flat coated retriever originated in England in the 19th century by crossing various breeds such as the Irish setter, Labrador retriever and Newfoundland. The breed was popular as a companion, swimmer and bird dog until World War I when the Labrador and golden retrievers became more commonly used. Now an uncommon breed, it has been slowly increasing in popularity in the United States.

In 1915, the flat coated retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The flat coated retriever is a strong, middle-size dog with a long head and wide muzzle. The ears are small and lay close to the head and the eyes are set wide. The tail is straight and reaches almost to the hock.

The coat of the flat coated retriever is medium length, flat and sleek with feathering on the chest, legs and chest. The color is a solid black or liver.

The adult flat coated retriever is approximately 22 to 23 inches in height at the shoulder and weighs about 60 to 70 pounds.


The flat coated retriever is a playful, affectionate companion with an amiable personality. They are very cheerful and some can be overly exuberant, acting like a puppy even in their senior years. Very active dogs indoors, they tend to be relatively calm indoors.

Home and Family Relations

The flat coated retriever is an excellent family pet that is good with children and other pets. They do best in a house with a large fenced yard but can live in an apartment if taken on several long daily walks. The flat coated retriever is very friendly but will bark when stranger approach. But, they tend to lick an intruder instead of protecting their home.


The flat coated retriever is intelligent and highly trainable. Start obedience training early in life and keep the training interesting and fun. This retriever gets bored easily.

Special Care

Flat coated retrievers require daily brushing to prevent mats. This breed is a very happy breed and may be too excited to be around very young children.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the flat coated retriever is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

Gastric torsion (bloat) is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland does not function adequately. Without enough thyroid hormone, illness can occur.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 to 5 years.

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas related to insufficient amounts of insulin production.

Hemangiosarcoma is cancer that can results in bleeding tumors of the spleen, liver or heart.

In addition, flat coated retrievers are prone to various cancers, glaucoma and dislocating kneecaps.

The life span of the flat coated retriever is 10 to 12 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.