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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Flatcoated Retriever

The Flat Coated Retriever is a long and lean, and is the most racy-looking of the retrievers. They are bright and active with an intelligent expression. The dense, flat coat has a high shine, legs and tails are well feathered, giving an impression of a smart, attractive and athletic animal.  

  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • Great with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 8 – 14 years
Weight:  27-36kg for males and 25-32kg for females
Height:  58-61cm for males and 56-58cm for females 
Colours:  Black or liver 
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Gundog 


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5
Three Flat-Coated Retrievers sitting on the grass


Kindly, lively yet gentle, the Flat Coated Retriever is less prone to the rather over-enthusiastic and potentially boisterous nature that some other retrievers are known for! Slow to mature and rather sensitive in nature, the Flat Coat is even-tempered and highly adaptable. A good family dog with the right training and an understanding home, the Flattie will enjoy accompanying family on long walks and taking part in training, and competitive dog sports. Snuggling up on the sofa is also a popular activity for the well-exercised Flat Coated Retriever! 

Black and brown Flat Coated Retriever puppies

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

In the 1800’s landowners and the sporting nobility of Great Britain were heavily focused on producing recognisable types of working dogs with a specific job. In the Flat Coated Retriever’s case, their only purpose was to pick up and retrieve shot game, accurately and without damaging the flesh. Developed from the Lesser Newfoundland as a land retriever, they were further refined into an excellent water and land retriever and became much favoured by gamekeepers. The ‘Flattie’ is also well able to flush game from cover and hunt where necessary. First established by Mr. J Hull in 1864, the breed was extremely popular until the creation of the Golden Retriever, and two World Wars also took their toll on numbers. Now rising in popularity again as a pet and competition dog, the Flattie is an intelligent yet gentle breed and makes a delightful companion in the right home. 

Health and Common Issues

For the Flat Coated Retriever, the most concerning breed-related problem is a high predisposition to some certain types of aggressive dog cancers. As with many breeds, they can also suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. Visit the Kennel Club website and the breed club for the most up to date health information. 

Exercise Needs

Two hours of dog exercise a day is the bare minimum for the Flat Coated Retriever. This tireless worker is easily capable of long-distance walks, running, swimming and following scents. Keen to join in any activity, the Flattie is happiest when working with their person, at whatever activity is offered. A variety of walking routes and opportunities to swim would be ideal. Taking part in canine sports or pet gun dog training are all good outlets for a Flat Coat’s energy! 

Space Requirements

A secure garden is important, but the Flat Coat does not require a vast amount of space. Room to sprawl out and relax after a hard days walking or swimming, space to dry off after exercise and a comfy sofa to snuggle on will be all that’s necessary. As long as you can meet their need for countryside exercise, the Flat Coat will be happy housed almost anywhere, however keep in mind that noisy, bustling and busy locations will likely cause stress in any breed and this is very much the case for the sensitive Flat Coat.

Nutrition and Feeding

Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Flat Coated Retrievers are prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk. Discover more about how to offer your dog a balanced diet with our easy-to-follow guide. 

Grooming Flat Coated Retrievers

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. Find out more about dog grooming and daily care with our article. 

Training Flat Coated Retrievers

The Flat Coated Retriever will enjoy dog training with a patient, highly motivating trainer. Plenty of food and toys as rewards, plus the opportunity to tug, retrieve and follow scent will get the Flattie on-side. Beware however, the Flattie is easily bored and surprisingly sensitive, so keep training rewarding, fun and engaging, and provide variety as the Flat Coat can switch off easily and decide ‘not today thanks’ if things become too repetitive. 

Best Family Dog Breeds

The Flat Coated Retriever is a sensitive breed and slow to mature, meaning puppies need careful raising in a quiet, steady environment. This plus the time and exercise requirements for adults means that they are better suited to a home with older children or teenagers, rather than a young family with very small children. Older children and teens who enjoy long walks and dog training will find the Flat Coat a loyal, gentle and loving companion. 

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them. 

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Flat Coated Retriever was originally named the ‘Wavy Coated Retriever’ however as breeders bred primarily for function rather than appearance, the wavy coat was slowly lost and eventually the name was changed to Flat Coated Retriever to reflect their appearance.
  • They are known amongst fans as the ‘Peter Pan’ breed due to their slow maturing, puppy-like behaviour that extends well into adulthood and even old age.

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