Flat Coated Retriever
The man most credited with the breed’s development was S.E. Shirley, who helped mold them into a stable type. Also contributing to their advancement was H. R. Cooke, whose Riverside Kennel produced many fine field and show Flat-Coats. The Flat-Coat was a popular hunting dog through the end of World War I, but then Labrador and Golden Retrievers began to steal his thunder. His numbers became dangerously low, and he flirted with extinction a time or two. Fortunately, his fans were able to bring him back from the brink by the mid-1960s. The Flat-Coat never regained his early popularity, but breeders count that as a plus. It has helped them to preserve his natural working ability, intelligence, and sweetly goofy nature. He is still a rare breed.
The Flat-Coated Retriever is a beautiful medium to large sized dog. The head is long with a fairly flat skull. The muzzle is long, deep and strong with a gradual, slight stop. The large nose is black on black dogs and brown on liver dogs. The teeth meet in a scissors or level bite. The medium sized eyes are almond shaped and can be dark brown, or hazel. The well-feathered ears are relatively small compared to the size of the head, hanging to the sides. The chest is deep and wide and the back is short and square. The strong feet are round. The medium length, thick, fine coat lies flat to the body and comes in solid black, or a solid liver, with well-feathered legs, tail and chest.
The typical Flat-Coat feels more “worthwhile” and expects to be admired when he is carrying something (anything) in his mouth. His natural instincts are strong and he likes to dig and chew, but usually not to excess. He is a bright dog whose intelligence can get him into trouble if not channeled in the right direction. He is a happy dog who keeps his youthful outlook on life into old age. In the field the Flat-Coat is birdie and usually responsive, but he can be headstrong because of enthusiasm, birdies or enjoyment of the run. He is very versatile and adaptable and at his best when challenged the most. The gregarious Flat coated Retriever thrives on personal attention and doesn’t like being left for long periods of time without the companionship of people or other pets. Optimistic about everyone and everything, this good-natured breed is emphatically not a guardian. He is eternally lighthearted and playful, doesn’t know his own strength, and can be an exuberant jumper. Supervision is important around toddlers and smaller pets. A Flat Coated Retriever retains his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into old age, which sounds delightful but which does require patience and control to manage.
To keep their feathered coat free of mats, Flat Coated Retrievers require regular brushing and combing, and occasional trimming. Flat-Coated Retrievers are relatively easy to maintain and require only weekly brushing unless the dog is shedding. Then you’ll probably want to brush daily to keep the amount of loose hair floating around under control. You can trim the ears, feet, belly, and tail tip for neatness. Bathe as needed.
This cheerful dog is athletic, not a couch potato, so he needs plenty of exercise — ideally exercise that includes swimming and fetching. Otherwise he will find outlets for his energy through destructive chewing and digging. He has a moderately high energy level and is best suited to a home where he has many opportunities to run and swim. Expect to exercise him about 90 minutes a day, or two 45-minute walks, runs, or other vigorous activity such as playing fetch or training for agility or fly ball. Flat-Coated Retrievers make wonderful jogging companions when they are trained properly and have reached maturity. Remember that jogging on cement or other hard surfaces can damage your dog’s joints; it’s best to run on grass or other soft surfaces.