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 :

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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

  • Flat-Coated Retriever
    Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
    Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
    Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
    Flat-Coated Retriever
  • Flat-Coated Retriever
    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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        Tendency to run away

        Once trained, the Flat-coat is known for its obedience. As a gun dog it would have walked beside its owner until it was required to collect the spoils of the hunt. The Flattie can be trained to recall and is not a problem dog when let off its lead.

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        If it finds itself in an enclosed space or at home for long periods of time without exercise and fresh air the Flattie will notify you of its displeasure by destroying your furnishings, doors, window sills and carpets.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        The Flat-coated Retriever is known to be greedy and plays the role of the beggar at dinner times. Forthright and consistent training (and not giving in) will put pay to this trait. They have very large appetites and if fed too much human food or substandard dog food they can quickly gain weight.

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        Guard dog

        Although this dog’s alert barking will make you aware of someone approaching the house, the bark is no more than an alarm call: it is likely a Flattie would not willingly attack an intruder.

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        First dog

        Although friendly, the Flat-coated Retriever is a handful. Its never-ending want of exercise must be catered for, and its energy and boisterous behaviour about the house may be too much for some, especially those with young children. Consistent training is required for the Flat-coat.

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          Flat-Coated Retriever in a flat

          The Flat-coated Retriever needs lots of exercise and ideally should have access to a large outdoor space in which to run and explore. To be let out to roam a small garden does not constitute enough exercise for such a dog. Furthermore, a small indoor living space may curb the Flattie’s need to run about and in doing so cause problem behaviour to creep in.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          Walks with a Flattie should not be just walks. The Flattie will want to swim, run, jump and chase and will do so for hours if allowed to. The dog is athletic and energetic and must be given ample opportunity to flex the muscles of its body and mind.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          The Flat-coat is easily over-excited by the prospect of an adventure. Crate training this dog is recommended to ensure that the dog’s movements are controlled when travelling.


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            Flat-Coated Retriever and cats

            The playful and exuberant nature of the Flat-coat may be attractive to us but to cats it is unnerving. A Flattie is more likely to want to befriend a cat than kill it but this is of no consolation to a cat.

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            Flat-Coated Retriever and dogs

            The Flattie enjoys the company of other dogs and does not tend to exhibit jealousies or a strong mating drive (especially if neutered). However, the boisterous Flattie may be too much for some smaller dogs.

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            Flat-Coated Retriever and children

            The Flat-coated Retriever is an excellent playmate for older children. Young children may be scared of the dog’s antics and agility; the Flattie is liable to knock very small children down if they have the misfortune of getting in the way. Do not berate the dog if this happens. Very few dogs tolerate being teased and children should be taught the old adage about letting sleeping dogs lie.

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            Flat-Coated Retriever and the elderly

            Due to its boisterous nature and need for exercise the Flat-coat is not ideal for elderly owners.



            The price for a Flat-Coated Retriever can vary according to its origin, gender and age. For a dog registered at the Kennel Club, they will cost on average £900.

            Concerning your average monthly budget to satisfy your Flat-Coated Retriever’s needs, it will vary between £120 and £175 per month.


            Brushing several times a week is called for in order to keep the Flat-Coated Retriever's coat shiny and healthy; bath only when necessary.


            Flat-coated Retrievers shed a fair amount. On the lead up to summer the ‘blow coat’ leads to an increase of moult.

            Nutrition of the Flat-Coated Retriever

            Feed a Flattie two meals a day of premium dog food formulated for an active dog. Doing so ensures the dog takes in sufficient calories and protein to maintain a healthy body. Try to avoid feeding a Flat-coated Retriever food intended for human consumption.

            Health of the Flat-Coated Retriever

            Life expectancy

            8 to 10 years.

            Strong / robust

            This is a dog that was initially bred to work outside over long periods of time and in all sorts of weather. It can be a hard-working dog and is willing to work with its owner as long as it sees some reward for doing so. A dog suited to outdoor living.

            Withstand heat

            The Flattie will not tolerate hot weather; care should be taken to keep the dog cool in the summer months. Never leave a dog in a car (even in shade).

            Withstand cold

            The dense coat of the Flattie keeps the dog warm even in the snow.

            Tendency to put on weight

            Weight gain is seen of some Flatties; these dogs have a huge appetite and will eat to obesity.

            Common illnesses

            • Distichiasis
            • Entropion
            • Gastric torsion or bloat
            • Glaucoma
            • Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia
            • Micropapilla
            • Progressive retinal atrophy
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