Flat Coated Retriever: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


The characteristics of the flat coated retriever include its large, active and strong body. Its character is very cheerful , affectionate and kind. It is also known as a smooth-haired retriever or a smooth-haired retriever. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the flat coated retriever dog breed.


Character of the Flat Coated Retriever

The flat coated retriever is not the most popular of its family. It is an extraordinary hunting dog whose fundamental heritage lies in its friendly nature , which it demonstrates with an incessant movement of the tail.

It is a dog with an optimistic, cheerful, lively and enthusiastic personality. Feature that always shows that you have the slightest chance. Confident and good-natured, it is endowed with a natural ability for hunting.

He exudes an extremely sociable demeanour. This dog gets along well with its family, with other animals, and with strangers. Be careful with your approach to young children and the elderly. It can be overly effusive and inadvertently cause a dangerous and unnecessary fall.

Some call them “the canine Peter Pan” as it behaves like a puppy throughout its life and never loses the desire to play.

This sociable and affectionate temperament leads them to need to feel an active part of the family if it wants to have a happy and balanced life. It does not bear loneliness at all well.

The flat coated is one of the most appreciated breeds of retrievers, as its greatest value is a charming, outgoing, cheerful character and always ready for work. What makes them an extraordinary companion animal and a magnificent working dog .

  • Energy: very high level. It is the most active of the retrievers. Needs to exercise daily, whether it’s running, swimming, or fetching a ball, a frisbee, or whatever is thrown at them
  • Temperament: cheerful, resistant and quick in the execution of its tasks, it is also affectionate, trusting and caring.
  • Adaptability: high. It lives well anywhere as long as its doses of exercise are assured, better outdoors. it is not very barking.
  • Sociability: high. Its kind and friendly character makes it get along well with children, the elderly, other dogs and animals, and even strangers.
  • Health: good. Like all retrievers, it has a tendency to develop joint disorders, but with little incidence.
  • Longevity: high. Live 12 or 15 years on average.
  • Utility: very versatile. It is a hunting dog, but also a companion and useful dog. Therapy dog, guide dog or guide dog for people with disabilities. Excels in agility and flyball .
  • Use: hunting and shooting retriever.

Characteristics of the Flat Coated Retriever

The most notable characteristics of the straight-haired retriever with respect to its general appearance are that it is active, alert and with an intelligent expression. It is a dog of considerable stature, strong without being heavy, and thin but muscular.

Regarding its physical characteristics, its body is strong, robust and slim, but without showing heaviness or weakness. The flat coated retriever has a rectangular body frame.

The skeleton is strong and the whole body has good muscles, making it a powerful and flexible animal. In its anatomy, the head stands out, which is long and well molded, it has a flattened and wide skull. The stop is not very pronounced, and the muzzle is long and strong, with a large nose with open nostrils.

The eyes are medium in size and almond-shaped. The iris is brown or hazelnut in color and its expression is that of an intelligent and calm dog.Their ears are small, well set and hang close to the head. They are covered with short and soft hair, without forming fringes.

It has very round and strong feet, the feet of the flat coated retriever have the toes together and well arched. They are provided with thick and strong pads.

It sports a short, straight and well-set tail, it usually carries it happily raised, without exceeding the dorsal line, and in a continuous and joyous movement identifying the breed.

The smooth-haired retriever’s coat is double-layered, dense, which makes it cold-resistant and waterproof, with a fine texture and very straight. Abundant fringes are formed on the limbs and tail.

Also, regarding the colors of the flat coated retriever, it exists in two varieties: the black color and the brown color (liver color).

Let’s now see in more detail what the flat coat retriever or straight-haired retriever looks like and the official breed standard:

Breed Standard Flat Coat Retriever

  • General Appearance: It is active, lean and of strong constitution, but without being heavy. It is smart and of intelligent expression.
  • Size : large.
  • Height at the withers: between 59 and 61 cm for males and between 56 and 59 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 27 and 36 kg for males and between 25 and 32 kg for females.
  • Origin: United Kingdom.
  • Other names: Retriever á poil plat / Glatthaarig.
  • Body: it is strong and muscular.
  • Head: long, delicately molded.
  • Skull: it is flattened and quite wide.
  • Muzzle: it is powerful and strong.
  • Nose: large with open nostrils.
  • Eyes: medium in size, they have a very intelligent expression. They are not set obliquely and are brown or hazelnut in color.
  • Ears: they are small and well placed on the sides of the head.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): between the eyes is slight, without drooping or sunken appearance.
  • Jaws: The jaws are long and strong, capable of holding large and heavy prey like a hare or pheasant. The teeth are healthy and strong, and the bite is complete in scissors.
  • Neck: long, harmonious and without dewlap, it is set obliquely on the shoulders, so that the dog can lower its head well to easily search for the tracks of the prey when hunting.
  • Chest: deep and wide, with a well defined fore chest. The anterior ribs are fairly flat, but are more arched in the center and less curved in the area of ​​the hindquarters, with a gradual curving. The loin is short and the top line is strong and level.
  • Back: the loin is square and short.
  • Forelimbs: straight, have good bones. The elbows with a movement is loose.
  • Hind limbs: they are strong and muscular. The legs are strong and the knees are well angled. The hocks are low and moderately angled.
  • Feet: round, the so-called “cat’s feet”, they are strong and have the toes close together and well arched. The footpads are firm, thick and strong.
  • Tail: it is short, straight and well set. It wears it cheerfully raised, but without going over the dorsal line.
  • Hair: the coat is dense, of a rather fine texture and of good quality, it is very straight. In the extremities and the tail it presents many fringes, which give it a lot of elegance.
  • Color: Flat coated retrievers are presented in black or liver color .
  • Movement: the animal advances with a free and free step.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 121. GROUP 8 Retriever hunting dogs, lifting hunting dogs and water dogs. Section 1 – Retriever Hunting Dogs.

Smooth-haired Retriever Puppies

If you are reading this article with information about the flat coated retriever, it is surely that you are considering the adoption or purchase of a smooth-haired retriever puppy. Before taking the big step, we believe that there are a number of aspects that you should first take into account.

Like all retrievers, the flat coated has a very good character. Affectionate, tender and very in need of pampering, especially in the puppy stage. It is good to allow the young to live with their mother for a time, as they learn many behaviour patterns from her.

It is very important to start the socialization of the puppy from a very young age. With the permission of the veterinarian, you must know other places outside your home and have contact with other dogs, other people, pets and noises.

For the dog to be balanced and happy, it must be subjected to a basic education, regardless of the activity to which it is going to be destined. It is necessary that the educational guidelines are marked as soon as the puppy is picked up from the breeder, between 8 and 10 weeks.

Likewise, it is convenient to dose or plan the doses of daily exercise depending on the age of the animal.

In the case of puppies this must be limited and controlled, to avoid exhaustion syndromes or the appearance of pathologies due to premature physical stress, but from now on, exercise must be programmed into routines that are strictly followed.

It is important to allow them to run free. Although, this activity should be reserved for the educated and likely to come to the order. Only do it in safe places, especially in limited areas where the animal cannot get lost.


Education and training of the Flat Coated Retriever

Regarding how to train a flat coated retriever, note that they love to please. They are much more difficult to train than Golden and Labradors, since their more active and restless nature, inherited from their kinship with Setters, makes them bored with classic repetition training techniques.

Therefore, it is convenient to schedule varied and fun workouts. You have to be sensitive to them, as they do not accept too harsh corrections. They respond much better to positive reinforcement (rewarding when they do it well rather than “punishing” when they do it poorly).

In fact, harsh or unfair training can be the first step in ruining a dog’s temperament and ending its predisposition to please its owner.

Thus, when working on the education of this breed it is necessary to do so using a calm, neutral and firm tone but without being authoritarian or violent.

And it is also necessary to look for very different commands or words for each action that the dog must develop, so that confusion is avoided and it can fix the concepts much better.

It is very important to establish solid routines that include basic functions such as calling, walking with the owner on a leash and without pulling, sitting or staying still in a certain position.

But it must be borne in mind that any work done during this period must be very brief, to avoid fatigue and the consequent rejection of the dog to learning.

Once these basic exercises have been mastered, you already have the fundamental bases for an educated and socially adapted dog and to deepen later in a broader training.

It is important to stimulate the dog’s ability to collect from an early age, throwing small objects that it can bring. Reward them when it hand it over.

In this way, in addition to enhancing one of its intrinsic characteristics, the first steps are taken to, in the future, educate the flat coated retriever as a hunting dog. This is the facet, in which it stands out the most, if that is the desire of its owners.

In this case, in the first place it is necessary to document the best possible, either by going to a professional trainer, or by looking for a book or specialized publication that gives a detailed description of the work that the animal must carry out and its process.

In addition to the tasks as a hunting assistant, since it wastes great doses of joy and sociability, this dog also excels in other jobs and functions. Such as Service dogsguide dogs for deaf or disabled people, or therapy dog for autistic children or elderly.

Despite the fact that in these tasks, other dogs from the group of retrievers are still preferred , such as the Golden, the  Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever or the Labrador.

However, thanks to its greater speed and agility, it is much more skillful than these, participating in dog sports such as agility and flyball , in which it obtains excellent results.


Feeding of the straight-haired catcher

Regarding how to feed a flat coated retriever, due to its high level of energy and activity, it needs a caloric intake above average. Especially if the specimen works in the fields or participates in a regular exercise program.

Whatever type of diet is chosen, since there are currently numerous commercial brands that produce balanced and complete foods on the market , it is necessary to ensure that the daily ration meets the needs of a healthy dog ​​based on age. condition of each animal.

A good tip is to keep the dog on a diet of two target meals throughout its life. Thus, an optimal level of energy is guaranteed throughout the day and the risk of possible stomach torsion is avoided.

In fact, the ideal is that as a puppy the ration is divided into four daily intakes, as a youngster it goes to two or three, and as an adult it is given two.

Naturally, the specimens that have a sedentary life will have a tendency to obesity or gain weight. For this reason, it is essential to adapt your diet and amount of food to the daily activity you do.


Flat coated health and diseases

Basically, the flat coated retriever is a healthy dog, in fact, like all hunting dogs and almost all sporting breeds.

Even so, it is the owner’s mission to guarantee the health of their pet and to follow the vaccination and deworming guidelines established by the veterinarian.

Two or three routine visits a year should also be made to the vet to be alert to possible signs that the owner may not otherwise detect.

For example, an important point to check is the ears. Because it has floppy ears, the ear canal is not adequately ventilated and can become a source of infections, especially in dogs that swim frequently.

Likewise, during the spring and summer, if the animal goes out a lot in the field, extreme vigilance of the ears, nose and genitals must be extreme to check that no encrusted spike has been left , or what is worse, a tick, as this it could cause a lot of discomfort and even infections.

Another weak point is the hip, as dysplasia can occur , as in all retrievers, although in this case, due to its body structure and lower weight, the incidence is lower.


Caring for the Flat Coated Retriever breed

As for the hygiene and care of the flat coated retriever, it is an easy-care dog.

It hardly needs aesthetic groomingperiodic bath using a suitable shampoo for your hair type, a regular brushing, more frequent at the time of shedding, a nail cut if natural wear is not enough.

For the little coat grooming work, three types of scissors are used. Small and straight ones to trim and clean excess hair from the feet and hands, thinning ones or even a stripping blade to empty the excess undercoat on the chest, shoulders, ears and hindquarters. And, others of sculpting to give some shape and clean up the uneven fringes on the chest, ears, flanks, fore and hind quarters, and tail.

Of all this hygienic routine, the most important thing is brushing, since it is the task that is carried out most frequently.

Being a breed with a double coat, the undercoat must be worked on one side with the help of a rake. Or, of a king coat type tool to remove dead undercoat, air the skin, massage it and cause an increase in epidermal circulation. Essential for good hair bulb health.

Afterwards, the covering blanket should be brushed with a soft card or a wire brush. A comb for areas with longer fringes, such as those on the tail. You can finish by passing a chamois or a soft horsehair brush that removes all the natural oils they contribute to the hair.

Finally, how have you been able to verify, with an elegant demeanour, a dedicated and enthusiastic attitude, and a beautiful dark coat, the smooth-haired retriever is an exceptional dog, which has not achieved the fame of its golden cousins.

And yet it is the perfect choice for hunters. They are looking for a good animal to help them in their work and with whom they can count on to live in a pleasant way.


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