The Flat Coated Retriever hunting dog breed originated in Great Britain and developed from the same lines as Labrador and Golden Retrievers. These hunting dogs have been tailored to be an excellent gun dog. The Flat Coated Retriever will make a fantastic companion, with an outgoing, playful personality. They were popular as gamekeeper’s dogs during the 19th century in England.
The Flat Coated Retriever is a very versatile hunting dog breed. Suitable for work both on land and in water, they are able to flush and retrieve waterfowl and upland game alike. Long trained as hunting dogs or bird dogs, they will work a field within gun range. They have good noses and can follow a scent well. When flushing game, these hunting dogs range from bold to slightly hesitant. These hunting dogs are bred to excitedly retrieve game for their handler.
These hunting dogs are very intelligent and eager to learn. This makes them very trainable. However, trainers should be flexible in their training styles due to the hunting dog breed’s intelligence; a smart gun dog will get bored with the same old strategies and sometimes try to find a different way to do things than what the trainer is teaching. The Flat Coated Retriever can be willful, but positive reinforcement of behaviors (rather than harsh, punishing methods of training) can yield a very obedient bird dog.
The most common coat color for the Flat Coated Retriever is black, but the hunting dog breed standard also allows these hunting dogs to have a liver-colored coat. As suggested by the breed’s name, their coat is fine, thick, medium-length, and flat. This results in their “silky” appearance, which is very appealing. These hunting dogs are of medium build, reaching up to 24.5 inches in height and 75 pounds in weight. The muzzle of this bird dog is longer in this breed, allowing them to retrieve and carry game more easily.
These hunting dogs have a great temperament to be family dogs and they make wonderful companions. They are very sociable and friendly, even to strangers. The Flat Coated Retriever is intelligent and eager to please. These gun dogs have a reputation for being “goofy” and always wagging their tails. Like all dogs bred to be hunting dogs, they tend to be very active and need daily exercise. Withholding this exercise could lead to a bird dog of this breed becoming disruptive or loud inside the house. Regular outdoor exercise and proper training can curb these negative behaviors.
Flat Coated Retrievers are a healthy hunting dog breed in most aspects and have a very low rate of hip dysplasia compared to other hunting dogs of this size, according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. However, there is a higher cancer risk associated with this gun dog. A high number of hunting dogs in this breed die of cancer, contributing to an average lifespan of 8-10 years. Anyone considering buying or breeding a hunting dog from this breed or any other should have the animal screened for conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye conditions, cardiac conditions, and epilepsy.