Flat-Coated Retriever

Breed History

Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retriever is a medium sized Sporting dog, or Gun Dog, that has high energy levels and a strong prey drive. Outgoing with dogs and people makes them social by nature with a great temperament.

Coming from the United Kingdom they were bred to retrieve both on land and in the water. Specializing in grabbing different animals without causing further damage, known as having a soft mouth.

There are many dogs that have an association with the ancestry of the breed but there were no records kept and no one is too sure outside of educated guesses.

Origins are unknown but it is a fact that they were crossbreeding with Labradors for a long time in their history especially in the United States in the early 20th century.

Breeders at the time were in need of a dog that was smart, had a strong nose, and the drive to track down animals on the trail.

Bigger dogs have less stamina and need more food out in the field. Both were something that breeders would like to get rid of by making a smaller version of a retriever that can do the same thing.

Like many dogs they would suffer a loss of a lot of members from the breed and extinction was a reality for several years after World War II. In addition, Golden Retrievers would gain more popularity after this time period as well.


In 1915, they would receive recognition with the American Kennel Club after already receiving registration in their native land of England.

Top 90 in popularity there is a great chance they will maintain their position. Other retrievers are more popular but overall retrievers are a popular dog group due to their appearance and skillsets.

Sporting Group, or Gun Dog, is the category every major kennel club puts them into. Here are the major kennel clubs and their breed standards for the Flat-Coated Retriever.


Male Height: 23-24 inches

Female Height: 22-23 inches

Male Weight: 60-70 pounds

Female Weight: 50-60 pounds

Litter Size

6 puppies are the average litter size for the Flat-Coated Retriever. Breeders should be aware of how many puppies to expect. Waiting for eight weeks before selling the puppies to a responsible owner is the best practice.


  • Black
  • Liver

No color other than black or liver is acceptable.


$1,000-$2,000 is the average price of a Flat-Coated Retriever. Prices can vary depending on location, currency, supply, demand, and other factors that can change the cost.

Papers will ensure you that the dog is meeting and adhering to the breed standard. Tracking the registration from England until they came to the United States. Cost will be more for these puppies.

Without papers you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars. Only thing that is bad about this is that one, or both, parents, weren’t allowed to get registration. Most likely due to crossbreeding.


Take the dog for a long run or walk before you start the grooming process. A total of one hour should be the goal and then the dog will be calm and ready for a brush, comb, and bath. Understanding how to exhaust the dog first and then start activities will be life changing.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brushing the coat at least once per week is ideal. Flat coats that are not curly, wholly, or wavy are easier to maintain then other types.

Comb the coat multiple times per week but at least one time. Best practice is going to be brushing and combing at the same time one after another.

Bathe the dog once a week or six weeks apart at the latest. Water hose is a dog’s best friend after a long run or walk. Use this to your advantage.

Ears can develop an infection at any time when the owner is negligent in cleaning them. Once a week is a good rule of thumb to keep dirt out of the area.

Trimming the nails should happen during long walks and runs on the ground, which we recommend. If you don’t run or walk the dog, which we don’t recommend, cut them with clippers.

Professional help is not a recommendation due to the low maintenance.

Life Span

8-10 years is the average lifespan for a Flat-Coated Retriever. Owners should be aware of the time commitment when deciding to own one of these dogs. Adopting these dogs is a decent option due to how long they live you will still own them for a long time.

Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia – is something that all dogs should get a test for at the age of 24 months old. Whenever the dog is having difficulties or a disinterest in exercising then you should take them right away to get an examination. Professional will be able to determine the health condition and actions to take afterwards.

Luxation Patellar – kneecaps are an issue mostly with smaller dogs, but the Flat-Coated Retriever has problems as well. Partial or complete dislocation will cause painful discomfort and cause the dog to limp and lose normal mobility.

Eye Examination – cherry eye, cataracts, and glaucoma are all problems that can and will affect the dog at some point in their life. Some conditions are not serious while others can lead to partial or complete blindness.

Breed Group

Proud members of the Sporting Group, or Gun Dog group. These dogs are known for retrieving other animals from land or water terrain and bringing them back to the owners.

Hunters may use ducks or birds but either way these dogs can handle animals of a large size in their jaws and bring them back. Although not in use for real hunting anymore they are still in use for competitions.

Here are some of the Sporting dogs

Exercise Needs

Flat-Coated Retriever needs a lot of exercise and they need it daily. Whenever an owner chooses not to exercise the dog every day, they will start to see undesirable behavior start to develop.

Strong connection exist between bad behavior and a lack of exercise. Boredom in the backyard can cause the dog to start developing habits that are not ideal.

For example, digging, jumping, barking excessive, nipping biting and other activities all come from a lack of exercise. Once you start changing the dynamics of this relationship you will a different dog.

Laying around the house or backyard recovering in the right view when you make the dog work daily. Next, over excitement will be low and listening to the owner will be more powerful when you are not dealing with a high energy level.

Plan on always adjusting to the dog when it comes to exercising. What I mean is that sometimes they will need more and other times they will need less but its important to know where to start.

Here is a basic recommendation we would give to a new client

Morning: Hour (run, walk or treadmill)

Evening: 30 mins (run, walk or treadmill)

Young dogs will need a lot of exercise and will be the most time intense out of our three age groups. Running them three to four times, a week is the best option in most cases. Two sessions will happen a lot during this time.

Adult dogs, three years or older, will need a moderate level of exercise and their energy levels will start declining around this age. One exercise session will start to be all they need a lot of times.

Lastly, senior dogs need low levels of exercise and one short session will be all they need.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Every house should be built on a solid foundation and no foundation is more solid than a daily exercise program. Taking a dog from a puppy and giving them enough exercise to keep them calm and well behaved will be the best practice at all ages daily. Imagine never exercising and having a wild out of control pet. Next thing the dog knows they are on track for 365-720 hours of exercise this year. That’s going to have a profound difference on their behavior.

Commands are a smaller part but still works hand in hand with exercise. Main dish is the exercise and the sides are commands when it comes to the training meal. Remember to give a lot of repetition and the dog will get most commands in a few days. Learning first from your body language and after with your voice.

Socialize the dog after a long exercise session. Best way to get the dog under control is to exercise them first and socialize after. Before vet visits, car ride, beach, parks, dog parks and other activities give them an hour to get it all out first.

Correct the dog verbally, on or off leash. Off leash corrections are the best because they teach you, and the dog, how to maintain control regardless of a leash. Time the correction to where they prevent the entire event from happening in the first place. Using our article on corrections will give you the best examples.

Are Flat-Coated Retrievers Protective?

Yes, they are known to protect their property and territory from strangers and unknown visitors. Preventing the dog from becoming aggressive is something you need to do in training and exercising them every day but most people won’t have an aggressive dog from this breed.

Additional Resources