Flat-Coated Retriever – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Before you get Flat-Coated Retriever make sure that you know everything there is on this breed. Check this guide for more on the breed's history, personality, and even grooming needs. Read on.
Dog Breed Group:
Sporting Dogs
1 foot, 10 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder
55 to 70 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Is this in fact Golden Retriever? Well, no. The entire world is familiar with a globally friendly Golden Retriever known for his love toward humans and playfulness.

Goldens are proud owners of gold-like coats, while the Flat-Coated Retriever has a liver or dark, black-colored fur coat, although they can still come in reddish color.

They may also differ in color and feathering, with both types having different head shapes. The Flat-Coated Retriever always has a light and young spirit which only adds to their willingness to please.

This is a self-assured dog who is always ready to follow you on the next big adventure, even if it’s just around the block. They are tall as Labrabord Retriever but have a leaner and elegant look.

This breed communicates that he is the happiest breed alive. Their walk is lively, their moves are swift, and the overall impression is powerful.

Flat-Coated Retriever is a breed of long body and lean-looking appearance. An adult male is ideally 58-61cm in height and 27-36kg in weight, while adult females are 56-58cm and 25-32 kg.

No matter how big or how old they might be, this breed will always have a puppyish attitude.

If you are thinking about getting this dog, know that they have a lot of energy and will demand a fair amount of outdoorsy exercise. Be sure that you are up for that challenge and learn more about what’s like to have a high-energy dog.

Quick Facts

Real name: Flat-Coated Retriever
Other names: Flatcoat, Flattie, Flatte, Flatt
Origin: England
Breed type: Sporting Dogs
Weight: 55 to 70 pounds
Height: 1 foot, 10 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 4 – 8 puppies
Color: Black, liver
Coat: Glossy and smooth coat

Flat-Coated Retriever History

Retrievers are one of the most beloved dogs worldwide. As for the States, they are continually among the top three most favorite breeds, and for great reasons.

They are amazing companions, great family dogs, and impeccable protectors when needed. Originally created to be working dogs Retrievers came a long way from working all day long to being full-time pets.

Golden Retriever is one of the most famous Retrievers ever, but… Have you heard about Flat-Coated Retriever?

This breed was developed in England in the mid-1800s when they were initially used to be a close-working shooting dog.

Creating this breed was challenging, which is why this striking dog has Labrador, Newfoundland, spaniel-type water dogs, setter, and sheepdogs in his blood.

They almost disappear during the World Wars, but strong efforts of dog lovers and breeders lead to breed protection. They may not be today popular as Golden Retriever, but their popularity is still modest with a tendency to grow.

If you are thinking about getting this breed, know that they are great swimmers and massive water lovers.

After all, they are retrievers and they were great working dogs both on land and in the water.

Flat-Coated Retriever Physical Appearance

Recognizing the Flat-Coated Retriever is actually easy.

In many ways, they are similar to their Golden relatives, with the biggest difference in color. The Flat-Coated Retriever should be in black or liver color, with a very glossy and smooth coat.

As expected, females are slightly smaller than males.

Males are around 24 inches, while females are between 22 and 23 inches. The average weight both for males and females is 55 to 70 pounds. If you provide proper care and overall well-being, your Flat-Coated Retriever should live between 10 and 12 years.

Life span is something that you should consider when getting a dog – how long a breed will live matters.

For example, if you decide to get a really large dog such as Great Dane you can expect a shorter life expectancy, and for some people, it’s not something that they want to deal with after only having a dog for only seven years.

The Flat-Coated Retriever comes with strong muscular jaws and a muzzle that can be described as long.

The ears are small and set close to the head. Eyes are usually of dark brown color, and always of friendly expression. After all, this breed is a huge people lover.

Flat-Coated Retriever Personality

This is a Retriever… This means that you can expect a lot of love, energy, and companionship from this breed. They are friendly, intelligent, and highly adaptable. They may also be a bit mischievous.

The Flat-Coated Retriever comes with a high energy level, which means that they need a fair among of exercise.

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a slow-maturing breed. Why is this important? Slow-maturing breeds need more time to reach their true adult years.

In another word, your Flat-Coated Retriever will act puppylike for several years beyond physical maturity. True to their retrieving roots, this breed will always be sensitive and react negatively to any form of harsh training methods.

They may be a bit stubborn from time to time, but it has more to do with their independent spirit, than with their plan to disobey. This is why they may prefer experienced dog owners, over novice owners.

Overall, getting this breed means that you are getting a true family dog of mild temperament and soft nature. They are great buddies for older children that are active.

As long as children know how to behave around dogs, they will spend hours being good canines.

Still, accidents happen, and the best way to keep dog and child interaction safe is to supervise them all the time. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child, no matter how well behaved and trained he might be.

Flat-Coated Retriever Training

If you already have experience as a dog owner, training retrievers should be easy and fast. This breed is such a people pleaser that mastering any trick should be a true breeze.

Make sure that training sessions are consistent, fun, well-structured, and interactive. Don’t forget to serve treats as a reward after every well-performed trick.

Dogs are huge food lovers, and using food to reward them is always a good idea. They enjoy the company of other dogs, which is why puppy training puppy classes, or dog school may be a real deal.

This way you will make training faster and more effective. Plus, getting some professional inputs is always a plus. On top of that, puppy classes can be a great way to bond with your dog. If you have a bird, be careful.

You may want to keep the bird in a separate room that is well-secured.

Never use any harsh training methods. The Flat-Coated Retriever, just like any other dog should never experience any harsh or painful training methods.

Dogs thrive on positive training methods and a lot of treats. However, be careful when it comes to serving treats.

You don’t want to serve extra portions that may lead to weight gain. Obesity in dogs is on the rise, and you don’t want your Flat-Coated Retriever to be part of this trend.

Extra pounds can lead to many health issues, including heart pressure, poor teeth health, and joint issues.

Flat-Coated Retriever Exercise

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a high-energy dog.

This means that this breed additional exercise time next to regular walks to keep him healthy and happy. Do you enjoy long-running sessions?

If so, this breed is a perfect jogging companion for you. At least, he will be once he reaches physical maturity. Don’t over-exercise him, to avoid any injuries.

How much exercise does a Flat-Coated Retriever need? They need at least two hours of exercise per day. This is a lot of outdoor time, and something to take into consideration when thinking about getting this breed.

If you know at the start that you cannot invest this much time into training and exercising this breed, don’t get one. In that case, focus on getting more of a lap dog such as Pomeranian, or a breed that needs less time exercising, such as Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

All in all, the more exercise this breed gets, the happier they will be.

The saying: a tired dog is a happy dog is based on real-life experiences. These dogs are also great swimmers, so whenever possible provide a water-based activity.

Flat-Coated Retriever Grooming

A simple bristle brush, slicker, and metal comb should make the brushing process easy and fast. With the right grooming tools, brushing will be more of a bonding experience, than a stressful practice.

If you are not too much of a grooming fan, you will love this breed. The Flat-Coated Retriever doesn’t require many grooming tools, and as for the time, you should invest not more than an hour weekly.

Keeping the dog’s coat is easy if you do it continually, with the right tool, and treats afterward. Make sure that you brush the areas behind the ears and in the feathered areas to keep the coat mat-free.

Expect your retriever to shed more intense during the spring, which is the shedding season. The rest is based care and should include monthly nail trimming, regular ears and gums check, and ear cleaning when needed.

Learn how to clean a dog’s ears here. Bathe only when needed and use only shampoo designed for dogs.

Flat-Coated Retriever Health

Dealing with responsible dog breeders only should guarantee that your puppy is healthy.

Once you start communication with reputable breeders you will discover that they are serious, organized, and not the kind of people who will give their puppies to anyone.

That being said, expect a lot of questions. Conversation with responsible dog breeders often feels like an interview.

They will ask you a lot of questions to make sure that you are a good fit for their puppy. Plus, they will show you the facilities, let you meet the bitch, and present you with medical documentation on the puppy.

On top of that, they will do their best to help you choose the best puppy for your lifestyle and needs.

If you are not given this kind of treatment, know that you are standing in the middle of the puppy mill. This would be a good time to walk away and do more throughout the research to find the responsible dog breeder.

As for the health issues in this breed, you may want to learn more about the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Luxating patellas
  • Hip dysplasia

This doesn’t mean that your dog will get any of the listed conditions. No, it only means that you should provide regular veterinarian check-ups to avoid this type of condition.

In fact, prevention is what will keep your Fido healthy and long-living next to proper nutrition, enough exercise, and a controlled amount of treats.

If you are only 100% sure that you can afford to get a dog, and that you can invest two hours per day in the exercise you should think about getting the Flat-Coated Retriever.

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