Retriever breeds were developed in the early 19th century as dogs whose sole purpose was to pick up shot game. The Flat-coat was developed from the Lesser Newfoundland as a land retriever and evolved into a fine water and land retriever much favoured by gamekeepers. They have the added skills of flushing game from cover and will hunt game in upland areas. The credit for establishing this breed is given to Mr. J Hull who began breeding them in 1864 and they came to be commonly used on estates throughout Great Britain. In the 20th century their numbers began to decline and  after the Second World War numbers fell drastically. Although the breed was re-established by the mid 1960s numbers remain relatively low. This is seen as an advantage to the breed as the low demand for them has prevented commercial exploitation and their soundness, type and working ability has been retained.



The Flat-coat is a long, lean looking dog, bright and active with an intelligent expression. They have dense, flat coats with  high lustre, their legs and tails are well feathered and they give the impression of power and raciness.
Size Large
Colour The Flat-coated Retriever is commonly solid black or solid liver in colour.
Coat Length Medium Long
Weight/Height Range Ideally dogs should measure between 58 - 61cms at the withers and weigh between 25 - 35kgs. Bitches should measure between 56 - 59cms and weigh between 25 - 34kgs.
 Ailments These are generally healthy dogs with very few breed-specific ailments. There is a low incidence of Hip Dysplasia in the breed and pups should be chosen from parents who have been screened for this. As with all breeds, choosing from healthy stock increases the chances of having a healthy puppy.
Breed Classification

Flat-coated Retrievers are the lightest of the Retrievers and are members of the Gundog group. They are both working dogs when they retrieve shot birds, hares and rabbits, and  companions.

Feeding & Ownership


These dogs are good eaters, unfussy  and do not require any special diet so are easy to feed. They should not be overfed as this may lead to them being overweight, Flat-coats are not intended to be bulky dogs.


Food Cost $15 to $20
 Other Expenses
 These are normally fit healthy dogs with low veterinary expenses. Feeding costs are moderate and they do not require professional grooming.



The Flat-coated Retriever is a kindly, intelligent and lively dog who loves humans. They are slow to mature and retain their puppy-like qualities for several years. They are extroverts, good family dogs, even-tempered and adaptable but with a deep bark which will give warning of the approach of both visitors and strangers. Their tails wag constantly but they do not like being left alone for long periods preferring the company of humans or other dogs. They are very enthusiastic dogs who demand a lot of attention from their owners and potential purchasers of a Flat-coat pup must be prepared to give him this time. They are better suited to country living than town dwelling.


Intelligence Flat-coats are very intelligent and quick to learn. They are eager to please and keen to join in with all activities but may want to do things their own way so require firmness and consistency in their training.
Energy Medium
Suitability for Children High
Tendency to Bark Low
Overall Exercise Requirement The Flat-coated Retriever is a tireless worker and as a companion is capable of covering long distances but is happy with moderate exercise. They are keen to join in with any activity. They are excellent water dogs and  natural swimmers, enjoying this form of exercise. Excessive exercise should be avoided for the first year of their life to help prevent bone and joint problems.
Suitability as a Guard Dog Low
Ease of Transportation Medium
Level of Aggression Low
Other Animal Compatibility Medium



Flat-coated Retrievers require daily brushing to maintain their coats, particular attention should be paid to the feathers which may collect debris and their feet should be checked for dried mud or other foreign matter. The eyes, ears and teeth should be checked on a regular basis.
Grooming RequirementsEvery Day
Amount of Hair ShedModerate

Discover Other Dog Breeds

Dog Welsh Corgi Cardigan Card Desktop

Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)