Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Profile


KC Group Gundog

Size Large

Weight 25 - 36kg

Height 56 - 61cm

Average lifespan 10 years

Good with children? Yes

Good guard dogs? No

Moulting level Medium

Grooming Moderate

Exercise requirement Lots

Jogging partner Short runs

Colours Black or liver

Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Profile

Flat Coated Retrievers are extroverts and have a sense of humour. They are slow to mature and retain their playful puppy qualities into adulthood.

History of the Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat Coated Retriever appeared in England in the late 1800s, and quickly became very popular because he had a softer mouth and a more docile temperament than any retriever in the past.

One particular Flat Coated Retriever called Jack, who lived in Wales, became a self-appointed lifeguard and local hero. He saved 27 people from drowning in Swansea Docks, collected money for charity, and became a national treasure. Jack received numerous awards, and today a stone memorial to ‘Swansea Jack’ stands on the seafront.

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Flat-Coated Retriever health

Flat Coated Retrievers are generally a healthy breed but the following conditions are known:

  • Glaucoma.
  • Patellar luxation.
  • Cancer.
Glaucoma is when the pressure of the fluid inside the eyeball is high. The internal structure of the eye is destroyed. The condition is painful and must be caught early if the dog's sight is to be saved.
Patellar luxation is where the dog's kneecap slides out of place, causing the leg to lock, with the foot held off the ground.
The breed also appears to have a higher than average mortality rate from cancer.
Health tests
Kennel Club assured breeders must use the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club hip dysplasia scheme. The average hip score in the Flat Coated Retriever is nine (each hip is scored individually and the two figures are added together to give the dog's final hip score). Breeders are strongly encouraged to only breed from dogs with scores well below this figure.
Kennel Club assured breeders must also use the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheepdog Society eye scheme, to check for glaucoma. The KC strongly recommends using the eye scheme to monitor the breed for other eye diseases too, such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts, although this is not compulsory.
And, again, it is strongly recommended that bitches do not produce a litter under the age of two, do not produce more than three litters in a lifetime, and never have more than one litter in a 12-month period.

Flat-Coated Retriever temperament

  • Flat Coated Retrievers are extroverts and have a sense of humour.
  • Faithful and loving.
  • Energetic and playful.

Flat-Coated Retriever lifestyle

Flat Coated Retrievers thrive on company. They do not enjoy being left alone for too long, otherwise they will get up to mischief or try to escape.
They need more than an hour of exercise a day and lots of mental stimulation. They enjoy socialising with other dogs and will get on with other pets too. They are good with children, but interactions should be supervised.
Although Flat Coats are comfortable living in both town and countryside, they need a good-sized house and garden.

Flat-Coated Retriever trainability

  • Flat Coated Retrievers are usually easy to house-train.
  • They are versatile, tireless, working dogs, and can also take part in other dog activities.
  • They get bored easily so keep training sessions short and interesting.

Flat-Coated Retriever general care

Their coats need brushing and combing several times a week to maintain their looks.


  • Affectionate.
  • Loyal.
  • Eager to please.


  • Above-average exercise needs.
  • Can be boisterous.

Facts about the Flat-Coated Retriever

  • Flat Coated Retrievers are natural swimmers.
  • They are slow to mature and retain their playful puppy qualities into adulthood, earning them the nickname the Peter Pan of the dog world.
  • Founder of the Kennel Club, Sewallis Evelyn Shirley, helped to stabilise the breed type.