Flat-coated Retriever Dog Breed Profile

The Flat-Coated Retriever may look like a mix between a Golden and a Black Lab, but these sporty and smart dogs are a different breed all their own.

Bred to excel both on land and in the water, Flat-Coated Retrievers, commonly referred to as Flat-Coats, are nicknamed the “Peter Pans” of the Retriever family.

This is because of their puppy-like appearance that lasts into their adulthood. Flat-Coats are enthusiastic, and they love to please their owners.

They make excellent sports animals and are active in canine animal competitions. They are funny, loyal, very friendly, and don’t mind being spoilt by their owners.

Because these dogs are very energetic, they require plenty of exercises.

Table of Contents

Breed Overview

  • Group: Sporting Group
  • Height: Males can reach up to 23-24.5 inches, while females can reach 22 to 23.5 inches
  • Weight: 55-70 pounds
  • Coat: Moderate length
  • Coat color: Colors can be solid black or liver
  • Life expectancy: 8 to 10 years


  • Affection: High
  • Friendliness: High
  • Kid-Friendly: High
  • Pet-Friendly: High
  • Exercise needs: High
  • Playfulness: High
  • Energy level: High
  • Trainability: Medium-High
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to Bark: Medium to High
  • Amount of shedding: Medium


People often affiliate Flat-Coat Retrievers with being all-American dogs; however, Flat-Coated retrievers originated from the United Kingdom and were bred for hunting and work alongside their keepers as early as the mid-19th century.

The dog breeders linked with the development of Flat-Coated Retrievers were very few, and one of them includes S.E. Shirley.

Shirley was considered to be the breed’s originator. Flat-Coats were generally appreciated for their impeccable hunting ability.

Through the end of WWI, Flat-Coated Retrievers were the go-to breed for hunters in the UK on both land and lake, even though the rise of Goldens and Labs later overshadowed the breed.

The concerted effort by Flat-Coat owners was all it took to maintain and secure the future of the breed.

Even when the Flat-Coats lost their position as the go-to breed, they still have the love of many dog lovers – especially since they are intelligent, active, and very social dog breeds.


Flat-Coats did not become recognized as one of the world’s leading sport animals without the power to back it up. For this reason, they need plenty of exercise to meet up their energy level.

Talking them for walks doesn’t cut it in any way. Flat-Coats love to run and romp, and they also enjoy displaying their skills in outdoor sports, such as agility and tracking.

They prefer long walks, rather than short walks- as it helps them stretch their legs and to get familiar with their environment better.

Due to their high level of intelligence, Flat-Coats are responsive to positive reinforcement training. Still, their naughty streak may mean occasional disobedience if they are aware it will get a laugh.

The use of training to work more physical and mental exercise into a Flat-Coat’s daily routine, as well as proper obedience training alongside socialization training, helps to bring out the best in your dog.

While Flat-Coats are usually a dog-friendly breed, it’s still important to instill proper social manners from puppyhood and beyond. The grooming of Flat-Coats is no different from grooming other Retrievers.

They require regular brushing (at least once a week) to get that proper shiny coat and to also reduce tangles and matting.

Other standard grooming routines should be maintained continuously, as with other dogs. This includes ear cleaning, nail trims, and dental checks.

Common Health Complications

Purebred dogs are susceptible to specific genetic diseases. While Flat-Coats are generally healthy, it may help to know the following conditions that can be linked with the breed.

  • Joint disease, which may include arthritis and patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cancer

It is advisable to look out for reputable breeders when adopting a Flat-Coated Retriever. Especially breeders that test their stock to minimize the risk of passing on some genetic diseases.

Even though it’s impossible to prevent the occurrence of the above-mentioned conditions or any other conditions, so to speak, you may need to provide proper care for your dog to mitigate the risk.

Diet and Nutrition

To maintain their high energy level, Flat-Coats require a proper amount of nutrition. Their diet should include a high-quality protein meal.

They also love treats, especially if the goal is to reinforce them positively. However, it’s essential t to know when to cut back on the treats, especially when your dog is gaining too much weight.

You may also want to discuss with your vet the right diet for your dog.


  • A family-friendly dog that does well with other animals and children
  • They maintain puppy-like features into adulthood
  • Athletic, active and happy to join in for swims, hiking, runs, bike rides and more


  • They get bored quickly and may become destructive and/or stressed when they are left alone for too long
  • They aren’t ideal for owners who are always busy
  • Flat-Coats require plenty of exercises
  • They aren’t the perfect apartment dogs because they need homes with plenty of room to explore

Adopting or Buying a Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retrievers are relatively rare, and only a few breeders have them. Fortunately, they aren’t impossible to find. You can check out local rescues as well as Retriever societies online.

It is essential that you deal with reputable breeders only when purchasing a Flat-Coated Retriever. You may also have to have your vet check your dog for any signs of diseases.

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