Dog breeds: Flat-Coated Retriever characteristics and behavior

The Flat-Coated Retriever dog was developed in the United Kingdom to retrieve game on land and in water. He is a cheerful dog and great companion.

Dog breeds: Flat-Coated Retriever characteristics and behavior – discover it on Dogalize!

The Flat-Coated Retriever dog was developed in the United Kingdom to retrieve game on land and in water.  Today, not only he still serves that purpose but also competes in obedience and agility rallies.


The purpose behind the creation of the Flat-Coated Retriever dog was to selectively breed a bird dog.  This is how, in the mid 19th century, in England, these dogs became popular as gamekeeper’s dogs.  The foundation for this dog includes several breeds including the Retriever Proper, which is a result himself of the crossing between the Large Newfoundland, sheepdog, setter, and spaniel water dogs.

S.E. Shirley, founder of the Kennel Club in 1873, is credited with crossing and stabilizing this breed.  These dogs became very popular during their first years but the World Wars made this popularity drop.  The AKC recognized the Flat-Coated Retriever in 1909.

Physical characteristics

The name of this dog makes honor to his coat, which only comes in solid black or solid liver.  He has an elegant appearance with a distinctive head.  The body of the Flat-Coated Retriever dog is muscular and well balanced. Males can be 23 to 25 inches tall with a weight of 60 to 80 lb.  Females are usually 22-24 inches high with a weight of 55 to 74 lb.


This is a versatile and working dog.  He is sensible, smart, and bright.  He is cheerful, playful and easily adaptable.  This dog makes a great companion and is very sought after due to his multiple qualities.

He matures pretty slowly and might take on puppy-like behavior for several years.  Having a Flat-Coated Retriever will bring you plenty of laughs and good times.

Caring for a Flat-Coated Retriever

This dog is a working breed so you need to give him plenty of exercise.  This is important if you want to keep the calm and sweet nature we all love.   Allow at least 90 min of exercise and activities that include running, playing, and swimming.

Regular tests and clearances for hereditary conditions like hip dysplasia and eye conditions should be conducted by breeders on any dogs that wants to become parent. Occasionally, epilepsy is also seen in this breed.

Flat-Coated Retrievers have a higher risk of cancer than most dogs. Hemangiosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and malignant histiocytosis are devastating, and occur at higher rates in them than in other breeds.

The average lifespan of the Flat-coated Retriever is only about eight years, with a high percentage of deaths due to cancer. More recent surveys in Denmark and the UK show an increased lifespan around 10 years.

Many university cancer studies, and breeders have benefited from increased information on cancer in Flat-Coated Retrievers to reduce the cancer in future generations.

Flat-Coated Retrievers have a low rate of hip dysplasia and luxating patellas compared to other medium-sized breeds; the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals statistics show a rate of hip dysplasia in the breed of less than 3%.

In the 1997 FCRSA health survey, 4.2% of males and 3.2% of females had been diagnosed with luxating patellae.


Due to their desire to please people, this dog is fairly easy to train.  Just like with any other dog, use positive reinforcement and avoid harsh behavior on these sensitive dogs.   He learns quickly but start training him from the very first day you bring him home.

Fun facts 

  • The popularity of these dogs was eclipsed by the Labrador and Golden Retrievers.
  • The Flat-Coated Retriever dog comes from the same family as the Labrador Retriever.
  • These dogs will become destructive if left alone for too long.

Stay with us here in Dogalize to learn more about other amazing dog breeds.  We have a lot of resources or information on how to better take care of your pooch.