All About the Flat-Coated Retriever

All About the Flat Coated Retriever

All About the Flat-Coated Retriever Breed

Flat-Coated Retrievers are highly energetic and loving companions who need a lot of daily activity. They are originally hunting and sporting dogs, but they are extremely good at being a family pet as well. They are very protective of their family. Flat-Coated Retrievers have boundless energy, which needs to be channeled with adequate exercise and engaging activities.

They are highly trainable, although slow-maturing. For these dogs, their puppy-like nature extends well into old age. They are also known as the ‘Peter Pan’ of retriever breeds as they never really grow up from puppy-ish-ness. 

Flat-Coated Retrievers are intelligent, sensitive and respond well to gentle but clear and consistent training methods. They are incredibly athletic and enjoy running, swimming, fetching, and hunting as well.

Flat Coated Retriever Breed Standard

Flat-Coated Retriever Breed Standard

General Appearance

Some of the distinctive features of the Flat-Coat are its smooth and graceful lines as well as effortless movement along with unique head type, coat, and temperament.

Overall, the Flat-Coated Retriever looks sturdy and elegant, and there is a sense of balance and symmetry all throughout the line of the dog. Compared to other retrievers such as a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, the Flat-Coat has a more athletic build, a different type of coat, different character traits, and movement. They are lean and graceful looking, never stocky or muscle-bound.


The Flat-Coat has a long ‘one piece’ head, which is unique. The head’s shape has this particular form so the Flat Coat can retrieve a duck or a large goose with ease. It is long, well molded, and has clean lines.


The eyes of the Flat-Coat are set widely apart from each other. They are medium-sized and almond-shaped. Usually, the color of the eyes is dark brown or hazel.

Flat Coated Retriever Head


The Flat-Coat’s ears lie close to the side of the head and have a lot of hair on it. They are set well back and are relatively small in size. The ears are floppy and feathered.


The Flat-Coat’s nose is long with rather large open nostrils. The nose color is usually black on black dogs and brown on liver color dogs.


The mouth of the Flat-Coat has strong jaws which are long and capable of carrying game without hurting it or crushing it. The Flat-Coat’s lips are tight and remain mostly clean and dry. They have a ‘scissor bite’, which is level. The cheeks of the Flat-Coat are flat, and the face is never loose or wide.


The neck of the Flat-Coat is strong, and there’s a slight arch. The neck has an adequate length that allows for tracking scents on a trail. The neck is never weak or thin. A long neck allows the Flat-Coat to follow a trail easier as compared to dogs with shorter necks.

Flat Coated Retriever Body


The Flat-Coat’s body looks robust and elegant at the same time. It has a deep chest, which is compact and not very broad. The rib cage has a good length, which provides adequate space for all the organs. The body shows gradual spring towards the center of the body, but as it goes towards the loins, it becomes lighter. The loin is strong and well-muscled. It helps to support the freedom of movement and agility that Flat-Coated Retrievers naturally have. They have long shoulders that are well laid back, and overall they look wiry. The four legs are straight and sturdy, with pasterns slightly sloping.


The Flat-Coat Retriever has mighty thighs that are well muscled. The lower legs are slightly longer than the upper; they have an excellent stifle with a strong joint. The hock is sturdy as well, and there are no hind dewclaws.


The tail of the Flat-Coat is fairly straight, and it is carried without curling up and comes out as a smooth extension of the top line. The tail is never carried above the level of the back.


Flat-Coated Retrievers have a lustrous coat with flat hairs. The coat protects the Flat-Coat adequately against all types of weather and provides adequate insulation. The fur is of moderate density and length.

The front, chest, back of all four legs, ears, and the underside of the tail is thickly feathered. They have a mane, which is of a heavier coat on the neck and is more prominent in the male dogs. The hairs on the mane are not excessively long. For a female dog, the coat on the neck might not be as prominent as the male Flat-Coated.

Flat Coated Retriever Coat

What is the Height of a Flat-Coated Retriever?

Flat-Coats are relatively tall, with the males averaging about at 23-24 inches and females averaging 22-23 inches.

What is the Weight of a Flat-Coated Retriever?

The males usually weigh between 60 to 80 pounds. Females can weigh in the range of 55 to 70 pounds.

What is the Life Span of a Flat-Coated Retriever?

The usual lifespan of the Flat-Coated Retriever is between 10 to 14 years.

What are the Colors of the Flat-Coated Retriever?

This breed is available in 2 colors – solid dull black and solid black liver. A pure breed Flat-Coated retriever does not have yellow or cream colors.

The solid black liver dogs do tend to vary in the intensity of the color. The coat is of moderate density and not too long. 

What are the colors of a Flat Coated Retriever

What Types of Flat-Coated Retriever are there?

There are only two types of Flat-Coated Retrievers that are accepted as pure bred – solid black color or solid liver color.

The liver color is pretty much as the name suggests. There may be darker or lighter shades of liver color but these colors definitely cannot be confused with yellow, light brown, and tan colors.

The black color coat is usually full black. White hairs and light marking are not accepted as purebreds.

What Types of Flat Coated Retrievers Are There

Flat-Coated Retriever Character


The Flat-Coated Retrievers are versatile, multi-talented, intelligent, and adaptive dogs. They have a desire to please and seem confident, excited, and enthusiastic when around people. They are good companions and have a great desire to hunt and can easily adapt to changing circumstances. As a family dog and great companion, they are affectionate and always remain a loyal friend.

Overall they are good-natured, happy dogs and enjoy interacting with family members. One thing to consider is that they do not do well in isolation or being put in a dog kennel for long periods. The Flat-Coated Retriever matures slowly and does not reach full maturity until 3-5 years. So they remain playful and youthful well into their older years.

Are Flat-Coated Retrievers Friendly?

The Flat-Coated Retriever is a friendly dog who adores everyone. They always greet their family members with a wagging tail and are very kind and welcoming towards strangers. Their endearing nature and high spirited energy make them a welcome addition to any family or household. They are confident, kind, and easy to befriend. It is highly unlikely for the Flat-Coated Retriever to be aggressive when unprovoked.

Are Flat Coated Retrievers Friendly

Are Flat-Coated Retrievers Good Family Dogs?

Flat-Coated Retrievers are great with kids. They enjoy activities with kids as they have high energy and are very playful. Kids do not tire out quickly as well so Flat-Coats and kids can be a great combination but only when your kids know how to treat dogs and always under adult supervision. The Flat-Coated is also good with other pets in the family such as cats, other dogs, etc.

The Flat-Coat is safe to have around kids, although it is always necessary to have a parent monitoring the activities, especially with small kids. While playing, it is possible that if the kids are too little, they may be knocked over by the dog when it suddenly moves or runs.

Physical Needs of a Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retrievers are calm as house dogs and family pets if they get enough exercise. Because the Flat-Coat has lots of energy, it is necessary to ensure that daily exercise is given to these dogs as they tend to become overweight or bored if allowed to remain inactive.

It is advisable to give them sufficient physical activity at least once a day but preferably a few times a day. Swimming, playing, and running are excellent ways to give them the exercise they need and the fun-loving Flat-Coated will enjoy as well. It is essential to know that if the adequate activity is missing, you may also see them engaging in destructive behavior such as chewing and tearing stuff that they find around the house.

Physical Needs of a Flat Coated Retriever

It is important to remember that Flat-Coated Retrievers see themselves as part of a pack (you and your family), so isolation or being caged or crated for long periods of time is not advisable. These dogs need space to run, jump, play, etc. An apartment might be stifling for this type of dog unless they are taken on daily walks and given access to open spaces to run and explore. If adequate facilities are not provided to release their energy, it can lead to excessive barking and moping. The Flat- Coats are happiest if they are allowed to stay with the family inside but regularly play outside.

Flat-Coated Retriever Puppy

A Flat-Coated Retriever puppy need your commitmend and time. Before getting a puppy, always consider if you have time to spend with the puppy, especially in the first weeks and months. A lot of time needs to be spent on helping the puppy to adjust to the new surroundings, getting to know all members of your family, including other pets if you have them, and also to potty train your new pup.

Flat Coated Retriever Puppy

Having a puppy is a lot of work. Socializing and training your puppy takes time and energy but it will be worth it in the end! 

Puppies are mouthy, and so you will need to puppy-proof your house, especially during the famous “chewing stage”, to avoid your puppy swallowing or to chew up unnecessary items. Puppy training needs to be given consistently and with patience. Harshness and shouting at any point are not advisable as it creates fear rather than a willingness to obey.

How Much Does a Flat-Coated Retriever Puppy Cost?

For a Flat-Coated Retriever puppy, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1200 to $1800.

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Where to Buy a Flat-Coated Retriever Puppy?

The best way to get a puppy is to approach a breeder if you want a purebred Flat-Coated Retriever. The breeder can help you ensure the breed’s authenticity and also possibly help you verify the ancestry for yourself. This, combined with the breeder’s knowledge and involvement, will help you make the decision if a Flat-Coated Retriever puppy is right for you. You’ll gain enough knowledge and experience of how to take care of your new, future Flat-Coated Retriever puppy.

Where to Buy a Flat Coated Retriever Puppy

You can get a puppy online or maybe from a pet shop as well, although you may need to verify the authenticity of the breed’s purity. There are limitations when it comes to doing this and would require the cooperation of the online seller or pet shop owner. I would not recommend buying a puppy online or in a pet shop because you don’t know they history or health of the puppy’s parents or if the puppy is being treated well.

Another way to get a puppy is to check out the rescue homes and enquire about the availability of Flat-Coated Retrievers. However, the chances of getting a puppy here would likely be slim. You may have more chances to get an adult or slightly grown-up dog from such places. Again the purposes for adopting are different than say of a dedicated Flat-Coat breed enthusiast. So those inquiring here may not care much about breed purity.

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What is the Best Way to Pick a Flat-Coated Retriever Puppy?

Choosing a puppy can be difficult because they’re all so cute, sweet and adorable! A good breeder will help you choose a pup or will make a match for you but if you choose yourself you need to be aware what to look for before chosing your little, fluffy bundle of joy. Here are some tips what to look for or check when choosing your pure bred Flat-Coated puppy:

The puppy’s coat color should be black or liver-colored only. The coat color may be difficult to verify with a puppy, but you could ask for pictures of the parents to ascertain. If there are markings or white hairs and you really want a pure bred puppy, it is better not to choose that puppy or go to another breeder.

Also, if you are getting a puppy from unknown sources, check carefully to verify if it is a pure bred Flat-Coated as some retriever crossbreeds resemble these dogs superficially. I’m a dogwalker and I had a crossbreed in my pack that was half Golden Retriever and half Australian Shepherd. She was black and looked a lot like a black Flat-Coated Retriever.

What is the Best Way to Pick a Flat Coated Retriever Puppy

If you are getting a Flat-Coated Retriever puppy from a breeder, then they will also be able to provide (in most cases) you with certificates validating that the parents are free of eye diseases and have healthy hips and knees.

Look for predictable Flat-Coat traits in the physique as well as personality aspects. It would be good to see the entire litter and observe them carefully before picking a puppy. You will be able to see the other puppies in the litter, their health, color, interaction, and energy levels. 

You can also try interacting with a few puppies before deciding which one to pick. Good luck with that cuteness overload! 

Flat Coated Retriever Puppy Checklist

Flat-Coated Retriever Puppy Checklist

Here is a checklist of things you need to have on hand before you bring your new Flat-Coated puppy home.

  • Dog Crate and Dog Bed. One of the most important things to have for your pup is a dog crate. It will provide your pup with a safe place to rest and can help with potty training your pup. It also helps you when for example, you have to do some chores in or around the house and can’t watch your pup for a while, you can safely leave your pup in the dog crate. The crate also helps when training your pup to be alone at home for a while. You can lay a dog bed or a few blankets in the crate if your puppy loves to snuggle up. 

  • Food and Water Bowls. Food and water bowls will be in use almost immediately when your pup is home. You can also use these to train your puppy on where to get food and water. So as a part of the training, it is an essential requirement. Get steel ones, not plastic, even though they are cheaper.
  • Dog Food. Make sure you get dog food especially for puppies. It’s common to feed your pup the same kibble the breeder has fed the puppies. It’s highly recommended to feed your pup reputed and branded company products.
  • Storage containers. These are very handy to have. You could get some boxes for your puppy’s food and for your pup’s toys. Keep them in places that are accessible to you but away from the dog’s reach. This will help you find things when you need them.
  • Dog Toys. Puppies are very playful and active. They love to chew on things as well so dog toys are a must. You can use them for playing but also for training your puppy or to distract your pup for example if your puppy plays with your shoe. Give the pup a toy and teach your pup that he or she can play with a toy but not with your stuff.
  • Grooming Items. Brushing is something you need to regularly do and it’s best to already let your puppy get used to brushing, grooming, being touched and handled by you. So getting a few brushes of various sizes would help. You may also need trimmers, scissors, flea powder, and a soft sponge.
Flat Coated Retriever Puppy Health and Care

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Flat-Coated Retriever Health & Care


The Flat-Coat being an active dog, the Flat-Coated Retriever’s nutrition requirements are high. An adult dog can eat around 3-4 cups of dry dog food in a day, ideally split between two meals.

The nutrient and calorie requirements will vary with age, metabolism levels, and activity levels. It is good to have dog food kept on hand and a mix of home-cooked food such a certain veggies or fruits so that there is a variety of nutrients that your dog gets.

If you visit your local vet, you could get more advice on your dog’s nutritional needs and get diet suggestions.

Flat Coated Retriever Nutrition

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Does a Flat-Coated Retriever Need Grooming?

The Flat-Coated Retriever has smooth, shiny, and soft hair. The coat is both weather-proof and water-resistant. This also makes the coat very easy to maintain. The beautiful black or liver-colored coat is one of the distinctive characteristics of this beautiful breed. So it would be good to take extra care to keep the coat looking shiny and clean.

Does a Flat Coated Retriever Need Grooming

Does a Flat-Coated Retriever Shed?

This breed tends to shed heavily in certain seasons, so regular brushing is essential. Using a wide-toothed comb can help remove excessive hair during these times. A weekly brushing session using a Slicker Brush would be advisable. If the shedding is more, you can look at more brushing in those seasons.

The coat is shiny and smooth and can be kept in beautiful condition by brushing. Do not give baths frequently as this tends to remove the oils and destroy the shiny look and feel of the coat. In a year, about four baths are more than sufficient.

Does a Flat Coated retriever Need baths

How To Groom a Flat-Coated Retriever?

It’s best thing to do is to start grooming your Flat-Coat as a small puppy so that your dog does not resist the grooming process as it grows.

Before grooming, always check the following:

  • Are there sore spots or bald spots?
  • Is there any smell in or coming from his/her mouth or nose?
  • Is the fur shiny?
  • Are there any fleas or other parasites?
  • Are the nails too long?
  • Do the ears have extra-long hairs behind or around them?

If you find fleas, you need to handle them immediately. You can either give flea baths or try a flea powder. If this does not work, ask the vet for a solution. Please remember that some of the medicines for removing fleas may be dangerous for small puppies, so please use them with caution. Some dog owners make their own home-made remedies and mixtures, these can be effective in some cases. If you find too many fleas, it is better to take your dog to the vet. 

How to Groom a Flat Coated Retriever

If you find that your dog’s paws make a clicking sound while walking or if your dog is slipping too often, that usually is because the nails are becoming too long, and you need to trim them. While trimming, you mustn’t cut too close to the skin as it can hurt the dog. Instead just trim the nails short enough so that the dog does not hurt itself and others. Some dogs are terrified of trimming, in which case you need to firmly but gently trim. Please avoid any sudden movements while trimming nails.

Bathing should only be done when needed and not regularly as it tends to harm the coat. Using flea powders or shampoos which are hypoallergenic, can also be very harmful to the dog’s skin and hair. It is better to look at herbal alternatives or ones specially formulated for dogs. Under no circumstances should human shampoos be used for dogs.

Trim the longer hairs of the coat so that it does not grow too long or look shaggy in appearance.

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How Much Exercise Does a Flat-Coated Retriever Need?

It cannot be stressed enough that Flat-Coated Retrievers are sporting dogs, so a sedentary lifestyle is not for them. The owners should also be adequately active in caring for this dog. Around 2 hours of walking or vigorous running and jumping activities for an hour would sufficiently help the dog dispense its energy. As for puppies, they are full of energy, and the only way to wear a puppy out is by playing with your puppy or exercising your pup regularly. Training time can also be made activity-based, and hence their bursts of energy will be used up adequately. 

How Much Exercise Does a Flat Coated Retriever Need

If you have kids, they will really enjoy playing with these dogs, and kids can help them get adequate exercise as, in most of their games, running around is involved. A healthy and happy Flat-Coat is one that gets loads of exercise and loads of time with its owner. Hence this breed is more suited for the country home rather than a city environment.

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Flat-Coated Retriever Training

The Flat-Coated Retriever is sharp, intelligent and quick to train. To add to their trainability, they are eager to please their owners. These dogs have a good recall as well. This good trainability makes the Flat-Coat very friendly, can be easily housebroken and be taught necesarry, basic skills and behaviors needed to live with their humans. They are playful and enjoy learning when rewards, play or praise is involved.

They also have boundless energy and can be an asset when it comes to training for more serious work. Serious work such as search and rescue tracking etc. are easily learned to a Flat-Coat. Harshness is to be avoided at all costs, as these are sensitive dogs. Patience and gentle approach is the way to get the Flat-Coated Retriever to learn fast. It is also seen that they learn quicker when trained in short intervals. 

Flat Coated Retriever Training

Flat-Coated Retriever Health

This breed tends to have a susceptibility to joint and bone problems, eye diseasess and epilepsy. Routine check-ups, balanced diets, adequate grooming, and exercise are necessary to ensure overall health. Some specific diseases that this breed is believed to be prone to are the following:


The breed tends to have a build-up of fluid in the eye, which can lead to a lot of discomfort. Regular visits to the vet can ensure that this is identified early on and taken care of.


Epilepsy is the occurrence of seizures. These seizures can happen with Flat-Coats in some cases. The frequency and the severity can vary but need to be looked at immediately. The vet usually gives medications for coping with this. The medicine is generally long term.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is the reduction of sight and eventual blindness. In this, the retina is progressively curbed from its functioning, and this, in turn, affects the eyesight.


This breed can be prone to a few types of cancers, although a genetic cause has not been identified yet. 

Hip and Leg Dysplasia

As with other retrievers, hip dysplasia and leg dysplasia are common problems for this breed.

Other issues, such as deafness and gastric conditions, are also observed in these breeds. It is advisable that as soon as you get your puppy, show it to the vet, get a full understanding of any potential issues.

Flat Coated Retriever Health

Flat-Coated Retriever History

In Great Britain, out of all the retrievers, the Flat-Coated Retriever was one of the first-ever retriever breeds to be developed. As with other retrievers, Flat-Coated Retriever breeds were developed in the mid 19th century because of the popularity of hunting for waterfowl and birds. Its gene mix includes Spaniels, Setters, and water dogs, familiar to most retrievers. Saint John’s water dogs, water spaniels, and collies are rumored to be significant breeds contributing to the ancestry of a Flat-Coated Retriever.

In addition to tracking the game that was shot and delivering it to the huntsman without crushing the bird, it was one of the most essential purposes of the breed. They were also bred to be dual purpose dogs to be helpful at the house and for hunting. They are also obedient and sensitive to their owner’s needs.

Flat Coated Retriever History

Because of breeding, they have excellent tracking skills. This breed is also known to consistently ace agility tests. They are used as show dogs, hunting companions, and also as service dogs. Their sense of scent and persistence makes them ideal as sniffer dogs for tracking drugs and contraband. 

The breed was popular in the US during the 19th century but after the second world war the numbers diminished and there was an effort to bring this breed back into popularity. The popularity of the Flat-Coated Retriever is modest but increasing as more and more dog owners become aware of the temperament, trainability, and good health of the breed.

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Nova Scotia Ducvk Tolling Retriever

About us

Hi, welcome to my blog about the amazing breed Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!

My name is Eline van Stiphout and I live in The Netherlands. Together with my husband Arthur and our sweet Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy, the three of us love to travel and go on outdoor adventures. 

Currently, I’m a professional, fully licensed dog walker since 2017. I gave up my stressful fulltime office job to follow my dream which is working and walking with dogs.


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