Country of Origin: The Flat-Coated Retriever, also called the ‘Flatcoat’ or ‘Flattie’, originated in 19th century England from crosses between the Wavy-Coated Retriever and other flat coated breeds. This produced a waterproof breed which could retrieve on land or water. Such capabilities were increasingly important as firearm technology improved, allowing hunters to shoot down birds in the air. The Flat-Coated Retriever is an ancestor of several other popular breeds, such as the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The Flat-Coated Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1915, however it became overshadowed by the popular Golden Retriever shortly thereafter, dipping to a dangerously low population. Selective Flat-Coated Retriever breeding programs beginning in the 1960’s have kept the breed alive and produced a high quality of health and personality, but the breed serves today mostly as a companion and show dog. A Flat-Coated Retriever named ‘Almanza Far and Flyg’ won the Gundog group at Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, in 2007.
Size: The Flat-Coated Retriever has a shoulder height of 22-24.5 in (56-62 cm) and weighs 55-75 lbs (24-34 kg). It has a long muzzle and strong jaws to allow it to carry large birds or game. The Flat-Coated Retriever has a unique face with slight stop (depression where the muzzle meets the forehead), long backskull, small, pendant shaped ears, and intelligent, dark brown, almond-shaped eyes. Flat-Coated Retrievers have an arched neck, strong, flat back, and moderately long feathered tail. The Flat-Coated Retriever is lighter, faster, and more agile than most other Retrievers.
Coat: The Flat-Coated Retriever has a single layered straight, dense, flat coat which may be solid black or solid liver (deep brown). The coat is of moderate length with feathering on the legs, chest, belly, and tail. Appearance should be as natural as possible.
Character: The Flat-Coated Retriever is intelligent, sensible, outgoing, confident, and happy-go-lucky. It makes a great family companion and tends to bond closely with everyone. Flat-Coat Retrievers are optimistic; constantly wagging tails are their trademark. The Flat-Coated Retriever requires frequent companionship and should not be kept in a kennel—it needs to be a part of the family and will grow destructive if ignored or left alone for long periods of time.
Temperament: Flat-Coated Retrievers are good with larger children, but may be overly enthusiastic and energetic for toddlers. Socialization when young is recommended. They welcome visitors into the home, but will bark at intruders, making them fairly good watchdogs. They get along very well with dogs, cats, and other animals, often greeting other dogs with a kiss on the lips (they may attempt the same maneuver on their human companions as well).
Care: The Flat-Coated Retriever should have its coat cleaned and brushed weekly. It has an average lifespan of 10 years. The Flat-Coated Retriever is susceptible to common canine maladies such as cancer, PRA, glaucoma, epilepsy, and bloat. Incidence of hip dysplasia (malformed hip joint which can cause lameness or arthritis) or luxating patella (dislocated knee) is low. Bloat can be prevented by feeding from a raised dish, spacing meals throughout the day, and avoiding exercise immediately after meals.
Training: The Flat-Coated Retriever is eager to please and enjoys learning, though it may require a little more time to learn than a Golden Retriever. Brief, varied, gentle training sessions are recommended. The Flat-Coated Retriever excels in retrieving, agility and obedience trials, and showing. Early obedience training is recommended.
Activity: The Flat-Coated Retriever requires a considerable amount of daily exercise, though its needs are modest compared to some other sporting breeds. Long walks, games of catch, swimming (most love water and mud), and field sports will keep the Flat-Coated Retriever truly happy. The Flat-Coated Retriever is a versatile hunter on land or water; it can flush game, point downed birds, and fulfill other duties.
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