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Flat-Coated Retriever

Other names: Flatcoat, Flattie

Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat-coated Retriever is an outgoing and affectionate dog belonging to the Retriever Group. Originally bred in Victorian England as a gundog it became the popular choice of companion for gamekeepers of the large sprawling estates of the Upper Class. A Retriever by name and nature, this agile dog moves powerfully and without lumber. Although still used by some huntsmen and women for retrieval of bagged game the Flattie is more widely known to be an amiable addition to the modern family home.

Key facts about the Flat-Coated Retriever

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Intelligent Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

The ancestor of the Flat-coat breed was created in the middle of the 1800s; successive inbreeding with the North American water dog, native collies and the Newfoundland dog is thought to have given rise to the Flat-coated Retriever familiar to us today. The pedigree was finally established in 1880. The hereditary of this dog is believed to be the cause of its predisposition to the cancers listed above.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs


Section 1 : Retrievers

Physical characteristics of the Flat-Coated Retriever

    Adult size

    Female : Between 22 and 23 in

    Male : Between 23 and 24 in


    Female : Between 55 and 71 lb

    Male : Between 60 and 79 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The muzzle of the Flattie is strong and muscular; the top-line from the point of its nose to the back of its head is relatively smooth. From the nape of the dog’s head the top-line then descends gracefully, strong and straight until ending at the croup above the tail. The tail itself is well-feathered and moderately long, held almost horizontally from the set. Ears are relatively small and hang close to the side of the head. Overall, the body of the Flattie should be light and agile.

    Good to know

    This dog is eager and quick to learn but will do so at its own pace and only if the reward for learning is worthy. Keep training sessions short and varied otherwise the attention of the dog will be lost. If the Flattie thinks it can get the better of its owner it will.


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      If socialised well, Flat-coated Retrievers are loving companions; they quickly accept their place in the family and if given enough attention and treated well are exceptionally loyal and affectionate.

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      Flatties tend to be slow to mature; this gives them a puppy-like temperament well into their middle age. As such they rarely tire of playing and will be especially happy when playing with other members of their clan. Due to their sometimes rowdy antics care should be taken of small toddlers whom the dog can easily knock over.

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      Calm is not an apt word to describe a Flat-coated Retriever. The energy and vitality of the dog is not only constant but is infectious, and they are known for their never-ending boisterous demeanour. The Flattie will not easily tire after a walk; plenty of exercise is essential for this dog.

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      As well as famously having the look of an intelligent dog, the Flat-coated Retriever has a wilful and independent mind. It is quick and eager to learn and to please its owner, but it is easily bored by something it does not find stimulating.

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      The Retriever was born to enjoy the hunt, and in some parts of the country it still does. However, it seems the prey drive of a domesticated Flat-coated Retriever is exorcised by a want to be more companionable. This dog may still give chase but it is unlikely to harm an animal smaller than it.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Flat-coat is not wary of strangers. It is friendly and excitable when meeting new people and can become a handful if not previously taught to ‘behave’ in public. This confident dog will not hesitate to approach new visitors to the home.

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      The Flattie is a wilful dog and may look for ways to gain some reward without putting undue effort into a task. They are used to ‘thinking’ independently in scenarios that require a degree of initiative. This talent can lead an owner to assume that the dog is disobedient, but in fact it is simply adept at bending the rules in its favour.

      Behaviour of the Flat-Coated Retriever

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        Tolerates solitude

        A Flattie will cope with solitude for only so long. Like any dog, they should not be left alone for long periods of time. Flat-Coated Retrievers develop severe separation anxiety when isolated from their pack.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        The Flattie’s extended puppyhood can cause some problems when it comes to training. As well as being a wilful dog, it will test human boundaries and patience, and lose attention very quickly. Training should be consistent and forthright but not harsh: the dog’s behaviour will only worsen if it is shouted at. Successful training of a Flat-coat results in the dog’s exceptionally obedient behaviour.

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        The Flattie’s zest for life gives rise to barking, but it will bark no more than any other dog, and the barking quickly subsides. Training will curtail any excessive vocalisation.

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