Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever, or Flat-Coat for short, is a young-at-heart breed that is known for its silliness and big heart. These dogs are always trying to make you laugh and love to be the center of attention.

But under all that goofiness is a hard-working breed that excels at hunting on both land and water. These dogs are still great at hunting today, but their amazing personality has turned them into a popular companion breed as well. Read on to learn more about the Flat-Coated Retriever.

Description of the Flat-Coated Retriever

This breed is one of the happiest around. Many fans of the Flat-Coated Retriever say that these dogs stay puppies forever and only grow on the outside. Their happy-go-lucky attitude and natural inclination for mischief mean they are a ball of energy and entertainment 24/7.

But as a natural sporting dog, this breed knows when to get down to business and is a diligent and focused hunter. Strong and agile like other retrievers, the Flat-Coat has a leaner and more streamlined body that is even more adept at moving quickly and efficiently over varying terrain. Their head is also longer and more triangular than their close cousins.

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a relatively recent retriever. Breeders of the 1800s ensured that this dog’s signature coat would be able to withstand all types of weather, from icy water to cold winds.

This is one of the most standout attributes. Their thick coat is medium-length and lies flat against the body, with at most a slight wave. The coat has feathering around the chest, legs, and tail. This breed is either all black or all liver, so be wary if a breeder is saying they have yellow Flat-Coats because they don’t exist!

Life Expectancy and Size

The Flat-Coated Retriever is often prone to health problems like cancer that may shorten his average lifespan of 8 – 10. While you can never predict when your dog may be sick, working with a reputable breeder is the best chance at getting the healthiest puppy possible.

Slightly leaner than most of his cousins, the male Flat-Coated Retriever stands 23 – 24.5 inches tall, the females stand 22 – 23.5 inches, and they weigh 60 – 70 pounds.

Protective Ability

While naturally alert and loyal, the Flat-Coated Retriever is no guard dog. They may bark if a stranger approaches, but their often-wagging tail is a dead giveaway to how excited they are to meet new people. Your dog may sound imposing, but this is as close to guard dog as he will get. Expect an open and watchful dog that is friendly to everyone he meets.


You can’t ask for more when it comes to the trainability of the Flat-Coated Retriever. They are smart, eager to learn, and pick things up quickly. The most important thing to do in training is use consistent and positive methods. These dogs are very sensitive and only respond well when given positive feedback.

Like many dogs, this breed responds well to treats. As a retriever, he is probably even more food motivated than many other breeds. This is a great aid to using in training and to get some extra motivation out of your dog. But be careful, as these dogs can easily become overweight.

Early socialization is a great way to ensure your puppy grows up to be a well-mannered dog. This will help teach them how to behave in many different situations.

Energy Level

Buoyant and full of life, the Flat-Coated Retriever needs plenty of daily exercise to remain fit and healthy. But no matter what these dogs are doing they do it with lots of joy and energy. They make wonderful dog for those looking to have an up-for-anything companion who is always excited.

This breed is no inside dog, and will not do well in a family that cannot provide him with plenty of room to move and exercise opportunities. While they love to snuggle and are very affectionate, they love to run even more and can’t help how active they are. Be sure you are ready for such a rambunctious companion before getting this breed!

What Living with a Flat-Coated Retriever is Like

This is a goofy and energetic breed.

These dogs love to be in the center of things and always act with an air of silliness. They love your attention and will do crazy things to get it. But if you provide them with plenty of exercise and love they will make warm and affectionate pets.

On the other hand, keep your Flat-Coated Retriever pent up and he is sure to become miserable and destructive. Their natural hunting abilities give them lots of energy and stamina so be ready for plenty of daily activity to keep your dog calm.

Care of the Flat-Coated Retriever

Wide-open spaces to run and lots of family time are a must for the Flat-Coated Retriever. They will forever be your loyal and loving companions if you can just give them these things.

Environmental Needs

Built to tolerate all kinds of inclement weather and icy water, the Flat-Coated Retriever does well in cold climates. But they can also adapt to warm climates just as well. They can do well pretty much anywhere.

Exercise Needs

The Flat-Coated Retriever requires at least an hour and a half of solid activity each day to be healthy and happy. They have seemingly endless energy that can become difficult to handle if not channeled through a proper outlet.

Chewing is what your dog will think is the best use of his time and energy if you don’t take him out for a long walk or a game of fetch. Save your furniture and get your dog outside.

Multiple long walks, backyard playtime, and canine sports are all great ways to work out some of your dog’s energy.

Shedding and Grooming

A weekly brush should be enough to keep the Flat-Coated Retriever’s fur mat-free and shiny. This will also help prevent long hairs from invading every inch of your home. As with most labs, this breed sheds quite frequently so be ready to wear lots of black and have extra lint rollers on hand.

This breed sheds regularly.

Check your dog’s ears weekly and keep their nails trimmed so that they don’t have discomfort when they walk.

Ideal Home Environment

These fun and lively dogs do best in a home where lots of activity is going on. They love to be the center of attention and need lots of exercise and affection to be happy.

While they are incredibly friendly to everyone they meet, the Flat-Coated Retriever may not be ideal for homes with small children or the elderly. Their exuberance and always wagging tail are likely to knock over an unsuspecting toddler or senior. But they always mean well and are a great choice for families with older kids.

Always excited to meet new people, this breed is not really guard dog material, but they will happily let you know when a stranger is approaching and will be the first to give that person a wagging greeting.

But it isn’t always fun and games and this breed can suffer from health issues that may be costly to deal with.

Health Concerns

The most serious threat for these dogs is cancer. Retrievers are often susceptible to various forms of cancer and it can drastically shorten their lifespan. Regular check-ups are the best course of action to catching and treating this problem as early as possible

Other issues include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, ear infections, and gastric bloat.

Behavior Problems

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a naturally mouthy dog. They love to chew and so it is important to begin training them on what is appropriate to munch on from a young age. Providing them a good outlet for the energy is also a good way to prevent them from gnawing on your new pair of boots.