Flat-Coated Retriever

Infobox Dogbreed
akcgroup = Sporting
akcstd = http://www.akc.org/breeds/flat_coated_retriever/index.cfm
ankcgroup = Group 3 (Gundogs)
ankcstd = http://www.ankc.aust.com/flatcoat.html
ckcgroup = Group 1 - Sporting Dogs
ckcstd = http://www.ckc.ca/en/Default.aspx?tabid=99&BreedCode=RTF
country = United Kingdom
fcigroup = 8
fcinum = 121
fcisection = 1
fcistd = http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:nwUBB2YI3k8J:www.fci.be/uploaded_files/121gb99_en.doc+site:www.fci.be+%22121+/+29.+01.+1999+%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

image_caption = A black Flat-Coated Retriever
kcukgroup = Gundog
kcukstd = http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/107
name = Flat-Coated Retriever
nickname = Flatcoat, Flattie
Flatte (Sweden)
nzkcgroup = Gundog
nzkcstd = http://www.nzkc.org.nz/br316.html
ukcgroup = Gun Dogs
ukcstd = http://mail.ukcdogs.com/UKCweb.nsf/80de88211ee3f2dc8525703f004ccb1e/8f1693594b07f070852570460054c5ed?OpenDocument
maleweight = 27 - 36 kg (60 - 80 lb)
femaleweight = 25 - 32 kg (55 - 70 lb)
maleheight = 59 - 61 cm (23 - 24 in)
femaleheight = 56 - 59 cm (22 - 23 in)
coat = Glossy and smooth
color = Black and liver
litter_size = 4 - 8 pups
life_span = 8 - 10 years

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a gundog breed from the United Kingdom. It was developed as a retriever on both land and in the water. Flat-coats make exceptional family companions, bonding very closely with all members of the family. Compared with other sporting breeds, Flat-coats have a relatively low activity level indoors, but outdoors can play, run and retrieve tirelessly. Flat-coats given too little exercise, companionship and mental stimulation, however, can become overly active or destructive indoors, especially if left alone for extended periods of time. They are wonderful with older children but may be too exuberant for very small children. Early obedience training and socialisation are highly recommended. The well-socialised and well-trained Flat-coat is an optimistic, enthusiastic dog with a constantly wagging tail who is a friend to all.



The Flat-Coated Retriever breed standard calls for males to be 23–24.5 inches (58–62 cm) tall at the withers and for females to be 22–23.5 inches (56–60 cm), with a recommended weight of 55–75 lb (24–34 kg). Flat-Coated Retrievers have strong muscular jaws and a relatively long muzzle to allow for the carrying of birds and upland game. Their head is unique to the breed and is described as being "of one piece" with a minimal stop and a backskull of approximately the same length as the muzzle. They have almond shaped dark brown eyes that have an intelligent, friendly expression. The ears are pendant, relatively small and lie close to the head. The occiput (the bone at the back of the skull) is not to be accentuated (as it is in setters, for example) with the head flowing smoothly into a well-arched neck. The topline is strong and straight with a well feathered tail of moderate length held straight off the back. Flat-coats should be well angulated front and rear, allowing for open, effortless movement. They are lighter, racier and more elegant in appearance than the other retriever breeds.


The Flat-coat's colour is either solid black or solid liver (a deep, rich brown), more commonly the former. The single coat (there is no undercoat) is moderate in length, dense, and lustrous; ideally it should lie flat and straight, but a slight wave is permissible. Body coat is of moderate length with longer feathering on the backs of the legs, chest, under body, tail and feet.


The Flat-coat’s personality is described as outgoing, devoted, and friendly, an ideal companion with a strong bond to its owner and family. It is a versatile hunting dog, retrieving well on land or in the water, flushing upland game, marking downed birds, and generally performing all the tasks expected of a multi-purpose gundog. Although not as well known and much less popular than the Labrador and Golden Retrievers, it has benefited from that lack of popularity by enjoying more careful breeding and better maintenance of its working ability.

Flat-coats love to please, but may be slightly more difficult to train than Golden Retrievers and Labradors. They are easily bored with repetitive training techniques and can exhibit a streak of wilfulness at times. For this reason, it is best to make training sessions fun, varied, and relatively short for the dog. Flat-coats are very sensitive and respond best to positive reinforcement. They cannot tolerate harsh handling or corrections.

Flat-coats are known for having a sunny optimism and a tail that is always wagging. They are capable of getting along well with cats, other dogs, small pets, and strangers. However, due to their exuberant nature, they may tend to knock over very small children. Socialisation and obedience training are highly recommended. Flat-coats are known to demonstrate their affectionate natures by frequently kissing their human friends. They also display an unusual habit with their canine friends: the "flat-coat kiss", where the dogs lick each others mouths as a form of greeting. Since they are inclined to be friendly to all, they make only adequate watchdogs to give warning.

Flat-coats tend to have a good deal of energy, especially when young, and need to have appropriate outlets for this energy. They need plenty of activity and stimulation, both physical and mental, throughout their lives. Sometimes they are referred to as the "Peter Pan of dogs" because they never grow up, acting playful and puppy-like well into old age. They need to be an active participant in the daily life and activities of the family to lead a happy, well balanced life.


Originating in the mid 19th century in England, the Flat-Coated Retriever gained popularity as a gamekeeper’s dog. Part of its ancestry is thought to have come from stock imported from North America from the now extinct St. John's Water Dog, however this is unfounded. Canadian seafarers brought Newfoundlands to British ports. The Collie breed was added to the Newfoundland for strength and Irish Setter blood for enhanced scenting ability. The first breed was introduced around 1860, but was only established twenty years later. [The Reader's Digest Illustrated Book of Dogs, 1982]

After its introduction into the U.S., the Flat-coat began to quickly gain in popularity as a gundog, and from 1873 when the breed became a "stable type" according to the American Kennel Club until 1915 when it was officially recognized as a breed, [cite web | url= http://www.akc.org/breeds/flat_coated_retriever/history.cfm | title= Flat-Coated Retriever History | work= American Kennel Club | accessdate= 2007-07-08 ] the number of Flat-coats grew rapidly. However, soon after, the popularity of the Flat-coat began to decrease, eclipsed by the Golden Retriever, which was actually bred in part from the Flat-coat, along with other breeds. By the end of World War II, there were so few Flat-coats that the breed's survival was uncertain. However, beginning in the 1960s, careful breeding brought the population back and the breed gained in popularity again, for both the sport of conformation showing, and as a companion pet. Today, the Flat-coat enjoys a modest popularity and is moving ahead as a breed through attentive breeding for the conformation, health, multi-purpose talent and exceptional temperament that are its hallmarks. It has yet to return in substantial numbers to field competition.

Flat-coat owners were delighted to see "Almanza Far and Flyg" (a.k.a. Simon), from Oslo, Norway, win the Gundog Group at Crufts in 2007. [cite web | url= http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/986/23/5/3 | title= Crufts 2007 Day 1 (Gundog) Show Report | date= 8 March 2007 | work= The Kennel Club | accessdate= 2007-07-08 ] The last win for a Flat-coat in the Gun Dog Group at Crufts was a Swedish Flat-coat in 2003. The last Flat-coat to win Best in Show at Crufts was "Shargleam Blackcap" in 1980. These wins have contributed to the breed's popularity in Europe and the United Kingdom.


Regular tests and clearances for hereditary joint conditions such as hip dysplasia and eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma should be conducted by breeders on any dogs used for breeding. Occasionally epilepsy is also seen in the breed.

Flat-coats have a higher risk of cancer than most dogs. Hemangiosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma and malignant histiocytosis are particularly devastating, and occur at higher rates in Flat-coated Retrievers than in many other breeds. According to studies sponsored by the Flat Coated Retriever Society of America (FCRSA), [cite web | url= http://www.fcrsainc.org/healthmanual/index.html | title= The Flat-Coated Retriever Health Manual | work= Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America | accessdate= 2007-07-08 ] the average lifespan of the Flat-coated Retriever is only about 10 years, with a high percentage of deaths due to cancer. The FCRSA sponsors many university cancer studies and breeders have benefited from increased information on cancer in Flat-coats to reduce the incidence of cancer in future generations.

Flat-coats have a very low rate of hip dysplasia and luxating patellas compared to other medium-sized breeds; the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) statistics consistently show a rate of hip dysplasia in the breed of less than 3%. In 1997 FCRSA health survey, 4.2% of males and 3.2% of females had been diagnosed with luxating patellas.


External links

;Breed clubs, societies and associations
* [http://www.flatcoat.ca Flat-Coated Retriever Society of Canada]
* [http://www.fcrsainc.org Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, inc.]
* [http://www.flatcoated-retriever-society.org Flat-Coated Retriever Society] Breed club in England.
* [http://www.sabernet.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/flatcoat/index.html The Flat-Coated Retriever Club of Scotland] ;Information
* [http://www.flat-coats.co.uk/ History and breed Standard]
* [http://www.kennelbrynje.com/interaktiv/fcr.html A visual breed standard]
* [http://www.gundogmag.com/gundog_breeds/GDblack_1005/ Gun Dog Magazine Article]
* [http://www.working-flatcoats.com Working Flatcoats]

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