Flat-coated Retriever; Everything You Need to Know about It

flat coated retriever breed

For people who don’t know much about dog breeds, finding a difference between the Flat-Coated Retriever and the Brown Golden Retriever could be tough! As these breeds have an uncanny resemblance, anyone can get confused between the two. However, in reality, they have stark differences.

Having an origin of being developed in Britain, a Flat-Coated Retriever surely has a unique set of features and characteristics. This article will reveal everything about the Flat-Coated Retriever you didn’t know before.

Flat-coated Retriever

About the Breed

The Flat-Coated Retriever is one of the most active, agile, and happy-go-lucky dogs you would ever encounter. With a size of around 60-70 lbs., this dog is one of the most popular breeds in the United Kingdom when it comes to assistance in hunting!

Owing to the jolly nature of this dog, it is also called the Peter Pan dog. Belonging to the Gundog breed group, their development history goes back to the nineteenth century.

Just as the name depicts, these dogs have flat coats on them, which, in my opinion, make them appear gorgeous! At the same time, it gives them a distinct appearance and sets them apart from other dogs.

What’s even better? They don’t have to be miserable when the weather goes a bit too extreme as the coat protects them and keeps them comfortable.

These flat coats have a natural shine to them. If you see these dogs from afar, you would feel like these flat coats are gleaming. Despite these coats being thick and heavy, you would always see the Flat-Coated Retriever being super active and up to something mischievous.

You would see all the dogs of this same breed having the characteristic naturally floppy ears. Dogs of this breed either have a brown or a dark liver coat color. Their eyes are small but super-sharp. With a straight tail mostly hanging in the air, they are always alert and conscious of what’s happening around them.

In the nineteenth century, the shooting states developed this breed to use them as hunting dogs. Owing to their agility and speed, they can be really good hunting dogs, benefiting their masters the most! To make them good companions in hunting and shooting, they are trained by specialists!

The Flat-Coated Retriever can reside both in dry as well as wet spaces! In addition, these dogs’ legs and tails are feathered, making them even more attractive and pretty.

Though I call the Flat-Coated Retriever dogs the happiest among the dogs, many dog owners believe that these dogs never really grow up. They mature at 3-5 years of age and usually showcase nonchalant behavior. They maintain a puppy-like youthful outlook well into old age.

Being around 24.5 inches in height, these dogs fall in the category of large breeds. This is why, at times, some pet lovers are intimidated by them and prefer smaller pets.

Flat-coated Retriever Vs Wavy-coated Retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever dog breed differs from the Golden Retriever breed because the former has flat fur on its outer body while the latter has a wavy coat. Hence, it’s also named the Wavy-Coated Retriever.

flat-coated retriever

Besides this, where the Golden Retrievers are dull in color, the Flat-Coated Retrievers are darker and brighter. You would be able to spot one even from afar. You would also notice that the Golden Retriever breeds are always the happiest being the human companion; however, Flat-Coated Retriever dogs can have an independent lifestyle easily.

One pretty weird habit of the Flat-Coated Retriever breed is that these dogs love to eat their own poop! Yes, you read that right. This is a regular habit this dog shows, called coprophagy. Hence, if you are planning to pet this dog, make sure to pick up the poop as soon as possible to avoid it becoming the dog’s snack.

History of the Flat-coated Retriever

flat coat golden retriever

Most researchers consider them descendants of the St. Johns Water Dogs, which are now extinct. However, they were brought to the United Kingdom by sailors coming all the way from Canada.

According to the studies, S.E. Shirley brought it to England in 1870. This dog soon turned into a gamekeeper’s dog, which is why it has a prominent position among the well-known breeds in dog sports.

Despite being quite popular initially, their number went down after World War 1. So much so that this dog had reached the verge of extinction. However, this number increased with time, and new puppies were registered.

Rescue groups were made after the world wars that would act as a national resource to help a Flat-Coated Retriever find a happy home for adoption. This way, they would ensure the extension of the breed and avoid its extinction.

The special Flat-Coated Retriever society is the Flatcoat Breed Club, which promotes the breeding of dogs with Flat-Coats. Also, it helps the new owners train their Flat-Coated Retriever dog and assists them in every way. This National Breed Club working in America was founded in 1960 and is still running successfully.

flatcoated retriever

Currently, this breed of dogs enjoys modest popularity as show and companion dogs. These dogs accompany hunters on their adventures and become quite a helping hand for them. In addition, their physical characteristics help them in becoming efficient gundogs.

Flat-coated Retriever Facts

Below are some interesting facts about Flat-Coated Retriever dogs.

The Lifespan

black retriever dogs

This dog has quite an impressive life expectancy compared to other breeds. It can live for as many as eight to fifteen years. Flat-Coated Retrievers owned by humans have the luxury of being rushed to the hospital as soon as something unfortunate happens. Hence, they get treated for all kinds of diseases immediately and end up living longer!

One can say that this dog’s age is mostly fifteen years before it falls asleep, forever!

Low Drooling

Another great feature of this dog is that its drooling tendency is pretty low. It’s not one of those dogs that would keep spreading the saliva everywhere they go. Rather, they are pretty clean and cause no hygiene issues for pet owners.

Impressive Speed

black coated retriever

These dogs are pretty agile and have great speed. They can run at a speed of 30 mph to as much as 50 mph. This is why they are considered a great choice when choosing hunting dogs.

An Expensive Breed of Dogs

These are one of the most expensive breeds out there. As they are a rare breed and not easily found, you may need to pay quite a high amount to buy them. The Flat-Coated Retriever puppies would cost around $1500 to $2500.

Large Appearance and Heavy Body

flat retriever

If there is one dog that’s known for its massive body, it’s definitely the Flat-Coated Retriever. With a pretty long skull that’s wide at the same time, this dog appears quite huge. Its bulky body gives it a majestic appearance.

A very rare feature of this breed is that female dogs are taller than male ones. This is something you won’t see in other breeds too often.

The Shiny/Gleaming Coat

A thick, flat coat of moderate length covers this dog, and the owner needs to take good care of it. The owners of these dogs have to put some effort into grooming the coat. If done properly, the coat looks classy and glamorous. Even if not daily, weekly grooming works well in this case.

Super Friendly and Lively

These flat-coat dogs make amazing friends. If you have just moved to a new place and are looking for some company, having this pet won’t disappoint you. This retriever gets along with the humans and stays pretty calm with them!

black retriever dog

Love going for walks? This retriever can become your permanent companion. Being super agile, it is always looking for something fun and exciting to do.

This retriever can do everything from hiking to climbing, swimming, and even camping. With its impressive activity level, it’s a partner you can never leave at home!

However, don’t think that this hyperactive doggie won’t behave nicely indoors. As a matter of fact, if you teach it good manners and train it well, you will see this dog showcasing nice behavior and staying fairly calm indoors!

Moderate Shedders

Compared to other dogs, these don’t tend to fill your house with hair. Rather, being moderate shedders, they tend to shed loose hair way less than other dogs. Daily brushing keeps the coat in order, and you will see less hair spread across the house.

Registration with the American Kennel Club

If you plan to pet this animal, you need to register it with the AKC. This is simply a registration system that keeps a record of all the Flat-Coated Retrievers residing and taking birth in the United States of America.

Flat-coated Retriever Appearance

If you want to recognize a Flat-Coat Retriever from afar, here are features common to its appearance.

black coat retriever


The height of this dog is around 24 in., making it quite tall compared to other breeds.


The male and female dogs have a similar weight range, around 60 lbs. Being bulky animals, they are great hunters. However, at the same time, they are good at running.


flat coated retriever mix

They have moderately long coat that is straight and flat. It requires grooming, which makes it appear shiny, glossy, and well-kept. The hair on this coat is pretty fine, and the coat appears to be thick and dense.


These dogs come in two major colors that are Solid black and solid liver. The floppy ears are pretty small in size and look kinda cute! You would never see these dogs in lighter colors. Rather, they are always dark, which makes them identifiable even from afar!

Flat-coated Retriever Temperament and Personality

Despite being highly energetic and super lively, they are quite obedient at the same time. This is probably why you can train them easily, whether a puppy or an adult dog.

These dogs are very friendly, making them a good choice for service dogs. For old-aged citizens who are lonely and are looking for lively company, these dogs may add some positivity to their lives.

flat coated retriever breed

As they are agile and active, they always look for space to perform some activity. To fulfill their high energy requirements, you need to give them enough space to play, jump, and enjoy as per their heart’s wishes.

This breed’s dogs also have vigorous exercise needs, and you need to manage them to ensure their good health. You would need to take them for a walk every day and offer them enough exercise. Otherwise, they will let out this energy through chewing and digging.

They need as many as 90 minutes of exercise daily. If you love jogging, this dog will turn out to be the best companion to have with you as it will be able to match your speed easily.

With a pleasant temperament, these dogs are quite easy for novice pet owners. This means that if you are petting a dog for the first time, a Flat-Coated Retriever could be an ideal dog to opt for. However, as they need a lot of space to showcase their exuberant jumping, many flat coats may not adapt to apartment living easily.

As these flat-coated retrievers have a thick cover over them, it protects them from extreme weather conditions, water, and ground cover. This means that even if you keep them somewhere that’s pretty hot or a bit too cold for other dogs, they might be quite okay living there!

This is a kid-friendly dog. Families with children mostly opt for Flat-Coated Retriever dogs as they are quite sociable and easily get along with the children. They love affection and don’t like being left alone for long periods of time.

Flat-coated Retriever Health and Care

The Flat-Coated Retrievers are healthy dogs, which is why they are quite suited for adoption. One major reason they showcase good health is their healthy lifestyle. They love to stay active and are high on energy; hence, they always thrive.

flat coated retriever breed

Taking care of their health is pretty easy and straightforward. All you would need to do is take good care of the diet, feed it high-quality food, and provide daily exercise sessions.

Consistent activity is not only needed to keep this dog physically healthy but is also needed for its mental stimulation.

Feeding the dog well, brushing its teeth on a regular basis, cleaning the coat daily, and keeping a check on the environment are some ways you can ensure your pet’s lasting health. At the same time, making an effort to vaccinate the dog whenever needed will keep it away from all kinds of diseases and infections.

Hip dysplasia is a common health issue these flat-coat dogs have to deal with. In simple words, hip dysplasia is the deformity of the hip socket. It can be extremely painful and requires surgery to treat it completely. It may get worse as the dog ages.

Like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation is also a physical issue showcasing kneecap dislocation. It is a congenital disorder, mostly appearing when the dog exerts too much pressure on its knees. Patellar luxation is an orthopedic disorder that affects a lot of breeds.

As this dog has a high energy level and is always looking for some activity, you must ensure the doors are always closed. If you don’t do that, the dog may end up exposing itself to outer dangers.

Another major concern for a Flat-Coated Retriever is the teeth! If the dog has healthy teeth, it can stay away from diseases and infections. Hence, brush its teeth twice a week so that no bacteria enter its body through the teeth.

Flat-Coated Retriever Training

black flat coated retriever

As mentioned before, training flat coats is fairly easy. The Coated Retriever is a compliant animal, which means it’s really good for obedience training. They are intelligent and find it pretty easy to make an association between prompt and action, reaching the consequence efficiently.

Being highly respectful, they comply with the orders easily. Moreover, being sporting dogs, they play the fetch game quite enthusiastically.

However, at the same time, you must ensure that you feed this dog some high-quality dog food. This will give the animal the energy needed to ensure this training is successful.

To train the dogs, you need to offer them the rewards they would like. Their favorite training reward is chew toys. Your dog would run to you with a wagging tail as soon as your dog sees them.

Most successful training methods include positive reinforcement. This means you must constantly shower the dog with its favorite treats. Besides this, praising it and playing with it would also keep it interested in the training process.

flat haired retriever

However, at the same time, you need to consider that harsh corrections can induce negative reactions. Resultantly, the Flat-Coated Retrievers may start acting stubborn and unwilling to learn.

With proper training and consistent efforts, you can manage the oral fixation of the dog as it loves to chew. Start training as soon as the dog enters your life, and you will soon see it adapting to your lifestyle!

As they are easy to train, it’s quite simple to turn them into service animals, but they require decision-making for that. Compared to other pets, they can take good care of the elderly members of society.

Your pet wouldn’t want to live inside most of the time. Hence, it’s necessary to train it to avoid accidents and other mishaps outside the house. And, even when inside, coach it on how to avoid bumping into expensive pieces of furniture during its jumping sessions.


The Flat-Coated Retrievers are friendly, affectionate, easy-going, and extremely sporty dogs. They are easy to recognize, thanks to a thick layer of hair.

For new dog owners, they are pretty straightforward to train. However, if you are a couch potato, this dog will surely turn you into an active human being by always keeping you engaged in some activity at all times.

Related Guide:
Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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