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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Flat-Coated Retriever Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Flat-Coated Retriever Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Flat coated retriever dog in the garden

Sometimes called the ‘Peter Pan’ of retriever dogs, The Flat-Coated Retriever is a friendly dog with a puppy-like nature that extends well into old age. If you’re looking for a lifelong companion that will be friendly to everyone he meets, you can’t go wrong with this breed!

Breed Overview


23 – 25 inches


60 – 70 pounds


10 – 12 years


Black, liver

Suitable for:

Active individuals looking for a wonderful family dog that’s extremely social


Friendly, optimistic, energetic, sensitive, devoted, outgoing, confident

The Flat-Coated Retriever makes a wonderful pet. This highly energetic dog has a boundless amount of energy which means it must be provided with lots of exercise opportunities. This is a highly trainable, although slow-maturing dog that’s eager to please its owner at all costs. This breed is incredibly athletic and loves running, swimming, fetching, and hunting. It’s the ideal dog for an active individual or family that has no problem providing their pet with lots of daily activities.

Flat-Coated Retriever Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Flat-Coated Retriever Puppies

Flat Coated Retriever puppy eats a chicken carcass
Image By: Phil stev, Shutterstock

Before you buy a Flat-Coated Retriever, be very sure that you have the time available to provide this active dog with the daily exercise it needs. A Flat-Coated Retriever loves being active and needs to be taken on daily walks and given access to open areas where it can run and explore. This is a good-natured, friendly dog that’s intelligent and easily adaptable. One thing to keep in mind is that the Flat-Coated Retriever matures slowly which means it will be eager to play most of the time. This dog doesn’t do well in confined areas so if you live in an apartment, this isn’t the best breed for you.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-Coated Retrievers love their owners and enjoy spending time with their favorite humans. This happy dog loves being showered with affection and attention. When you include a Flat-Coated Retriever in your outdoor activities, this energetic dog will bring you much joy.

Because the Flat-Coated Retriever matures slowly, you’ll enjoy having a dog that exhibits puppy-like behavior for several years. This dog has a light-hearted, youthful charm and is very friendly toward everyone it meets as well as with other dogs and pets. The Flat-Coated Retriever loves snuggling up on the couch with its favorite person as much as it enjoys taking long walks, partaking in training, or joining its family on an adventure-packed weekend.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Flat-Coated Retrievers make wonderful family pets as they get along with people of all ages. This gentle, big-hearted dog loves running and romping with children. This dog is best suited for house living and prefers having a large yard to run and play in. It’s not a good dog for a family living in an apartment as it wouldn’t be happy living in a confined space.

flat coated retriever hiking
Image By: FotoEmotions, Pixabay

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

A Flat-Coated Retriever can live in harmony with other dogs as well as with pets like cats and rabbits. However, since this dog was bred to retrieve birds when hunting, it’s best to keep it away from pet birds as it may look at them as prey.


Things to Know When Owning a Flat-Coated Retriever:

Along with the joy of owning a Flat-Coated Retriever comes the responsibility of time and money. Like with owning any dog, there are some things you need to know before you buy a Flat-Coated Retriever.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

This is an active dog that needs a lot of exercise. Therefore, you must provide a Flat-Coated retriever with a well-balanced healthy diet. It’s up to you whether you feed your dog dry kibble, wet dog food, or homemade dog food. Just be sure that the food you give your Flat-Coated Retriever is packed full of all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to live a long and healthy life.

To make sure your Flat-Coated Retriever doesn’t overeat, feed him 2-3 meals a day and pick up the food dish when the dog is done eating. It’s fine to provide your Flat-Coated Retriever with some dog snacks now and then, as long as the dog treats are healthy.

Exercise 🐕

Like other retrievers, the Flat-Coated Retriever needs a lot of daily exercise. This dog is willing to partake in all types of activities including running and romping with kids, going on long hikes, or playing rousing games of fetch in the backyard.

Training 🎾

As dogs that are responsive and eager to please, it’s not difficult to train a Flat-Coated Retriever. This gentle, sensitive dog responds very well to positive reinforcement. True to their background, Flat-Coated Retrievers love to retrieve items like balls and stuffed toys so plan on providing your dog with plenty of toys to play with.

This breed is very food-motivated, which proves helpful when training them to release the items they’ve retrieved. Simply give your dog a favorite treat in exchange for the item it has in its possession and praise your dog for a job well done.

black Flat Coated Retriever in training
Image By: Sven Mewis, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

The Flat-Coated Retriever has a straight coat of medium length and is an average shedder. This dog needs to be brushed often. Start by brushing your Flat-Coated Retriever every day so he gets used to grooming, then brush your dog at least once a week so his fur doesn’t mat, and keep your home free of dog hair.  Every few weeks, trim the dog’s ears, feet, and belly, and bathe your dog only as needed as too much bathing can lead to dry skin.

To remove tartar buildup and reduce the number of bacteria lurking inside his mouth, brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week. Use a dog toothbrush and meat-flavored toothpaste to make the process easier.

It’s important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed. When you hear the nails clicking on the floor when your Flat-Coated Retriever is walking, it’s time to get out the clippers. Just be sure to only remove the tips of the nails so you don’t cut into the quick which can cause pain and bleeding.

Health and Conditions 🏥

While the Flat-Coated Retriever is generally a healthy breed, this dog is prone to some health issues like all dogs. When you own this breed, it’s important to know what health problems to watch for.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Male vs Female

When it comes to size and appearance, the male and female Flat-Coated Retriever are mostly alike although the male’s coat has some added depth and height on the neck, giving it a mane-like appearance.

Concerning temperament, the male dog of this breed is more exuberant when showing affection. A male Flat-Coated Retriever is more likely to jump on its owner when greeting them and enthusiastically lick their face and neck. The male is also more likely to approach anyone or anything without hesitation.

As a general rule, the female Flat-Coated Retriever is less stubborn, making training a bit easier. Males get more easily bored with training than their female counterparts.  If you decide to get a male, focus on keeping the training interesting.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Flat-Coated Retriever

1. It Makes a Poor Guard Dog

Of all the retrievers, the Flat-Coated Retriever makes the worst guard dog. This dog is so friendly it wouldn’t be hard for an intruder to lure it with some affection or a treat. The Flat-Coated Retriever would be willing to go with any stranger that offers it a stick to fetch so don’t get this breed if you need a guard dog to protect your property!

2. It’s One of the Oldest Retriever Breeds

The Flat-Coated Retriever dates back to 19th Century England, making it one of the oldest retriever breeds. This gun dog was originally used for hunting as shooting birds in flight was very popular. The Flat-Coated Retriever was praised for its ability to retrieve dead and wounded birds from the water.  While this breed was popular in Britain for a long time, the rising popularity of Labradors and golden retrievers at the end of World War II resulted in a decline in popularity for the Flat-Coated Retriever.

3. They’re One of the Easiest Dogs to Train

Because this dog is responsive and eager to please, training the Flat-Coated Retriever is relatively easy. This dog responds very well to positive reinforcement and it’s a well-mannered dog that is very food-motivated.


Final Thoughts

The devoted and fun-loving Flat-Coated Retriever is a beautiful dog that loves people. If you’re interested in getting a dog that acts like a puppy for several years, this breed may be the right pick for you. This is a dog that will shower you with love and affection and be more than eager to join you on all your adventures. Just make sure you can dedicate a good deal of time toward giving a Flat-Coated Retriever plenty of exercise and attention!

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Featured Image Credit: kimkuehke, Shutterstock

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