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Flat-Coated Retriever
Characteristics, History, and Health

Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat-Coated Retriever was developed in the mid-19th century in England as a gamekeeper's dog. It is believed to have descended from various breeds including the Newfoundland, Labrador, setter-type dogs, Spaniel-like water dogs, and possibly the Collie. These dogs were selected for their exceptional retrieving skills in both land and water, making the breed an excellent bird dog. During the two World Wars, the breed nearly became extinct, but dedicated breeders revived their numbers in the 1960s and 1970s.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Gamekeeper’s Dog, Wavy-Coated Retriever, Black Wavy Retriever, Smooth-Coated Retriever
Life Expectancy
8-10 years
Average Male Height
23-24.5 inches
Average Female Height
22-23.5 inches
Average Male Weight
60-70 pounds
Average Female Weight
60-70 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Black, Liver, Yellow
Coat Pattern

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Flat-Coated Retrievers can suffer from bloat, also known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly, so it’s important to know the warning signs and get an affected dog immediate veterinary care. There are other health conditions to which they may be more susceptible. These include epilepsy, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, and some types of cancer such as hemangiosarcoma, malignant histiocytosis, osteosarcoma, and lymphosarcoma. Genetic testing can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

Flat-Coated Retrievers are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities. They are often described as being "forever puppies" due to their high energy levels and playful behavior that lasts well into their adult years. They are intelligent, trainable, and often do well in obedience, agility, and field trials. They enjoy being part of the family activities and are generally good with children and other animals. However, their exuberance and size can make them too much for very young children or smaller pets.

Fun Facts

The Flat-Coated Retriever was once the most popular retriever breed in Britain before being surpassed by the Labrador Retriever.

They are known for their distinct "Peter Pan" personality, as they maintain their playful, puppy-like demeanor well into their adult years.

Due to their high energy levels and intelligence, Flat-Coated Retrievers often excel in dog sports such as agility, obedience, and field trials.

The founder of the Kennel Club of England, Mr. E. Shirley, was an avid promoter of the Flat-Coated Retriever breed in the 1870s.