Flat-Coated Retriever

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60-80 lbs
Flat Coat, Flat-Coat Retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a magnificent dog with a shiny black coat, although the color described as dark liver is also seen.  He is considered a large dog, standing at up to 24.5 inches and weighing up to 80 pounds. This retriever line was developed in England as a water dog and hunting companion in the 1800s but lost some of its popularity to its Golden Retriever cousin after World War I.  The Flat-Coat has a goofy nature and tends to mature slowly despite his physical size, but the Flat-Coated Retriever is a sweet, hardworking breed who will make you laugh.

water retrieving
Date of Origin
retriever, newfoundland water dog

Flat-Coated Retriever Health

Average Size
Height: 23-24 inches Weight: 60-80 lbs
Height: 22-23 inches Weight: 60-80 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Cancer
Minor Concerns
  • Distichiasis
  • Glaucoma
  • Histiocytosis
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Blood Test
  • Physical Examination

Flat-Coated Retriever Breed History

The Flat-Coated Retriever drew its ancestry from the Black Retriever and Newfoundland breeds and was developed as gundog retrievers capable of water retrieving.  It was thought that progenitors of the modern-day Flat-Coated Retriever were too curly-haired and the dogs were outcrossed with Newfoundlands and possibly other Setter types to produce an all-purpose retriever with a flatter coat.  As firearms became more sophisticated, hunters needed an all-purpose dog capable of retrieving its quarry on both land and in the water. The Flat-Coated Retriever gained popularity in England and later in the United States as a gundog in the 1800s through the end of the First World War.  Shortly after World War I, the Flat-Coat lost is popularity to its very-near cousin, the Golden Retriever who developed from the Flat-Coat.  Despite waning popularity, the Flat-Coat was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1915.  The Flat-Coated Retriever’s numbers became so low that by the mid-1960s the breed threatened extinction. Thankfully, breeding programs resumed in the 1960s to restore the breed and reintroduce the Flat-Coat as a wonderful family dog.  However, the Flat-Coat never fully recovered the popularity he once enjoyed in the 1800s. Today, the Flat-Coat is a relatively rare breed, and breeders are particularly selective about adoptions.  This breed is a wonderfully affectionate dog but highly sensitive and maintains his puppy mentality well into adulthood.  In fact, the Flat-Coated Retriever is so puppy-like as an adult dog that he is referred to as the “Peter Pan of Dogs.”   As such, breeders today want to make sure the potential owners of Flat-Coats have a capable sense of humor and love for goofy dogs.

Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Appearance

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a large dog with a long head.  This breed’s eyes are dark, almond-shaped, and set widely apart.  The Flat-Coat’s ears are small, set close to the head and not too low with a high amount of feathering.  The Flat-Coat’s muzzle is long, and its nose is dark and matched to its coat color.  The jaws on the Flat-Coat are also long to accommodate retrieving larger game, such as pheasant or hare, and his bite can be either scissor or level. As the name suggests, the Flat-Coated Retriever’s coat lays flat and is of moderate length.  His coat protects him in all weather conditions and is black or dark liver.  The Flat-Coat is adorned with feathering on his ears, legs, and tail but is not excessively long.  The tail is set on straight and carried happily while in motion but never curled or much above the level of the back. The Flat-Coat has strong straight forelegs that are more wiry than bulky with elbows set close to the body.  His feet are well-arched, thickly padded, and oval shaped.  The hindquarters are in balance with the forelegs and are angled with muscular thighs and end in feet the same as the forelegs.

Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Maintenance

The Flat-Coated Retriever's coat is moderately long and should have weekly brushing.  Brushing your Flat-Coat will significantly help with shedding as loose and dead hair is removed from the coat.  Brushing will also keep your Flat-Coated Retriever's coat shiny and looking well as help with potential "doggy" odor smell.  The retriever family tends to develop unpleasant dog odor, especially when wet and the Flat-Coat loves the water.  Additional grooming should include clipping or grinding their fast-growing nails and checking their ears regularly to remove any wax build-up.  Teeth cleaning is also an important aspect of care, but you should only use tools designed specifically for dogs.  You can consult with your veterinarian or dog grooming specialist on the best way to care for your Flat-Coats grooming needs. The Flat-Coat is a large dog and requires between 3.5 and 4.5 cups of dry food, divided into two meals daily.  The amount of food you give your Flat-Coat will depend on his age, activity level, and metabolism and you should stay aware any changes related to his diet including weight changes and food allergies. The Flat-Coated Retriever is not well suited for apartment living since this breed stays fairly inactive while indoors.  The Flat-Coat needs space and time to run and play to live a happy, healthy life.  However, the Flat-Coat does well in a wide variety of climates from cold to hot.

Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Activity Requirements