Flat-coated Retriever Dog Breed Guide | Gundog Journal
Flat-coated Retriever

Flat-coated Retriever

Main sporting role:
Up to 10 years
2 or more hours a day
Coat length:
Vulnerable status:

The Flat-coated Retriever is a little like Peter Pan - it’s an exuberant, cheerful dog that never wants to grow up. Developed by British sportsmen and gamekeepers at large estates in the mid-1800s, it was once the premier retriever breed, valued for its marking, air scenting, and persistence in the field.

Flat-Coated Retriever: Key Characteristics

The Flat-coated Retriever’s constantly wagging tail perfectly expresses its outgoing, friendly demeanour. Its uniquely shaped long head with a wide muzzle along with its elegant silhouette and freely flowing gait make it one of the most handsome gundogs of all. 

This breed makes an ideal companion in the working home with children and is usually friendly towards strangers and other dogs. As a sensitive breed with its own methods and style, it requires more time and patience to train.

Large and sleek with an athletic build, this gundog has been bred to hunt and retrieve dead and wounded game on varied terrain and in water. It’s also a popular picking-up dog with gamekeepers. Some are trained for a variety of service roles and excel in canine sports like agility and obedience. 

Owning A Flat-Coated Retriever: Pros And Cons

Pros Of Owning This Retriever

  • Naturally happy, cheerful nature
  • Very playful
  • Very polite with strangers
  • Good with other animals
  • Has an average lifespan of 10-12 years

Cons Of Owning This Retriever

  • Quite high-maintenance in terms of grooming
  • Very energetic - requires a lot of exercise
  • Can keep their puppy-like manner for 3-4 years, so requires firm command training from a young age
  • May become destructive and chew household items when left alone - make sure it has plenty of chew toys
  • Doesn’t tend to be a straight line hunter, so may not be suitable for all tasks in the field
  • Can be at risk of some health conditions, including hip and elbow dysplasia, and some dog eye infections

You can find out more about what to expect from owning a Flat-coated Retriever here.

Grooming Advice

It’s recommended that you brush your retriever’s coat at least once a week to help keep it in the best possible condition. You should also take care to make sure you don’t trim their fur too short, as this can affect the dog’s ability to regulate its own temperature.

These dogs also have an undercoat that can be prone to matting and impact their temperature, so it’s important to brush this away as much as possible during shedding to ensure as little as possible remains - visit a professional groomer if you’re unsure about tackling this yourself.

Try to clean your retriever’s ears at least once a month too. For more information on caring for different working dog breeds, check out our gundog breed hub here.

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