What is a Flat-Coated Retriever?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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A Flat-Coated Retriever is a breed of dog bred for hunting purposes. It is particularly well suited to retrieving game that has been shot by hunters and can retrieve either on land or in water effectively. The most common color for these dogs is solid black, but the dogs also are bred to be dark brown or yellow. While they are primarily bred as hunting dogs, many people keep them as pets because they are obedient, friendly, and easy to train.

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a breed that originated in Great Britain. Before World War II, they were very popular in England. It is thought that the Flat-Coated Retriever breed developed out of Newfoundlands, Collies, and Setters. The American Kennel Club first officially recognized the breed in 1915, although it had been around informally for much longer.

These dogs are known to have a friendly, intelligent expression and a good demeanor. They are excellent watchdogs, given that they are very alert, but they are not good guard dogs because they are very friendly. Their gentle nature makes them excellent family dogs, and they may be suitable for families with other pets. Obedience is not usually a problem with a Flat-Coated Retriever, but training must begin early.


Flat-Coated Retrievers are often praised as having beautiful coats. Their fur is dense and ideally lies flat, although slight waves are considered acceptable in the breed. They were even once called Wavy-Coated Retrievers. These factors are primarily important for showing these dogs, as a dog with a wavy coat will be just as bright and friendly as a dog with a flat coat. Likewise, while yellow coats are not acceptable for show, a dog with a yellow coat can make a perfectly fine pet.

Some of the common disorders associated with the Flat-Coated Retriever breed include hip dysplasia, glaucoma, and cancer. Cancer is particularly prevalent in this breed, and is a quite common cause of death. The lifespan of a Flat-Coated Retriever is only ten years, on average.

When looking into purchasing a Flat-Coated Retriever, one should look into the reputation of other dogs the breeder has produced. Alternatively, there are many rescues devoted solely to retrievers, some even specific to Flat-Coated retrievers. This breed is considered somewhat unusual, and therefore can be more expensive than more common retrievers. Adopting a rescue dog can often mean getting a purebred dog for significantly less money than a dog purchased from a breeder.


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