The Chatham Hill Retriever is a cross between the Flat Coated Retriever and the Cocker Spaniel. This hybrid was first developed as a smaller sized Spaniel dog that had some of the physical traits and the retrieving nature of the Flat Coated Retriever. The Flat Coated Retriever breed is a relatively new variety of gun dog developed specifically for bird hunting in England in the 1800’s and was known colloquially as the gamekeeper’s dog.The ancestry of this dog breed is a bit muddled, but the St. John’s Dog, a now extinct water retriever, or their descendants the Labrador, are believed to have made a large contribution to the breed, along with Newfoundland, Spaniel, and Setter type dogs. Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1915, they are a friendly and outgoing dog who not only excels at the job they were developed for, but due to their easy going nature, youthful vigor, and high intelligence, they are also excellent candidates for service dogs as well. Spaniels, in general, are also classified as a type of gun dog, but they have been assisting hunters since long before the gun was invented. Initially, these dogs were bred to flush game out of the deep brush for bow hunters and in some cases, to retrieve birds from where they had fallen. The first Spaniels were divided into two groups based on where they worked; water Spaniels and land Spaniels. It was sometime in the 17th century that a distinction was first made between types of land Spaniels and they began to be classified as either Springer or Cocker Spaniel, based entirely on the size of the dog. The taller Spaniels were used to “spring” game animals for the hunt and were therefore called Springers, where the smaller dogs were particularly adept at flushing out woodcocks and other such birds for their owners, earning them the name of Cocker Spaniel. In 1902 The Cocker Spaniel Club was founded in England. When the Cocker Spaniels began developing in America they changed considerably, their backs lengthened, their heads became more domed, and their prey drive was greatly reduced. The change was so great that in 1935 a group was formed for those who preferred the traditional look of the English Cocker Spaniel and were intent on discouraging interbreeding between the original English Cocker Spaniel and the newer Americanized version of the Cocker Spaniel. In 1946 the Cocker Spaniels that had developed in America were recognized as a separate breed, the American Cocker Spaniel, which is the breed most often utilized to create the Chatham Hill Retrievers.