Breed Category: Gundog
Country of Origin: England
Average Size: 55-60 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 25-35 kg
Average Life Span: 9-11 years
Grooming Requirements: Medium
Exercise Requirements: High


The Flat-coated Retriever is an intelligent gundog that is skilled at assisting hunters in retrieving game from land and water. It has keen eyesight and a remarkable sense of smell, in addition to being a skilled swimmer. These characteristics are thought to be the result of the intentional breeding of multiple dogs in the 1800s, including setters, collies and various water dogs. Its origin is tied to England, though it is now known worldwide.

The population of this breed has been in jeopardy on a number of occasions and has now stabilised. Other retriever breeds, specifically the Golden Retriever, has surpassed the Flat-coated Retriever in popularity, which has decreased its use as a gundog and as a companion. Following World War II, the Flat-coated Retriever was near extinction, though dedicated breeders worked to repopulate the dog.

Today, the Flat-coated Retriever is best known for its spirit and endurance. It is a tireless gundog with a playful personality that is beloved by owners in its native England and far beyond.


This breed has a smooth coat that is of medium length. Its fur is typically straight, though a slight wave is also allowed in show dogs. Its coat generally lies flat to the body and feathering can be seen on its ears, tail, legs and stomach. It sheds an average amount, so frequent brushing is recommended. If the Flat-coated Retriever spends a great deal of time outdoors, regular bathing may also be necessary. Its coat is generally black or liver in colour with little variation, especially in show dogs.

The Flat-coated Retriever has wide-set, expressive dark eyes that highlight its intelligence and sense of alertness. Its tail, which is long and feathered, is often seen wagging. This breed carries itself with confidence and enthusiasm towards whatever its role may be.

This breed averages 55-60 cm in height and 25-35 kg in weight. Males are generally taller, though females are likely to be longer.


The Flat-coated Retriever is a remarkably well-rounded breed. It is a skilled retriever of birds and a loyal family dog; it is happy when it has a place in both of these worlds.

This athletic breed requires significant exercise due to its high energy and endurance. If this breed is not used in a hunting and retrieving capacity, there must be a proper substitute. Other suitable forms of exercise include long walks, jogging, swimming or agility exercises.

When the breed is not active outdoors, it enjoys spending time with its owners. It is an enthusiastic family dog that thrives upon spending quality time with people. It likes to be included in daily activities and relies on its owner for gentle, yet consistent direction and discipline.


Cancer is a common threat to the well-being and longevity of the Flat-coated Retriever. It may also experience other genetic problems that affect the heart or eyes. Occasionally, hip dysplasia or epilepsy may be seen.

Due to its high risk of developing cancer, the average Flat-coated Retriever has a shorter lifespan than many other breeds of its size. It lives to be a median age of 9-11 years old.


Flat Coated Retriever Organisations in Australia
Flat Coated Retriever Association of Victoria Inc

Flat Coated Retriever Organisations in the UK
Flatcoated Retriever Society

Flat Coated Retriever Organisations in the US
American Kennel Club – Flat-Coated Retriever
Flat Coated Retriever Association of Victoria Inc

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