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The Flat Coat Retriever is a magnificent and noble looking gun dog who is equally at home on land or in water. The lustrous coat is traditionally black but liver colour is also found.
The evolution of the Flat-Coated Retriever is thought to have occurred over two centuries within the UK. Some theories report the development began with Newfoundland and St Johns Water Dogs who were brought to English ports by Canadian seafarers. Later it is thought they were crossed with Collies to increase working strength and stamina and Irish 'Red' Setter to enhance scenting abilities.
The first Flat Coats were shown in Britain in the mid 1800's. From the end of the last century until the beginning of World War I, the Flat-Coated Retriever enjoyed success as a show dog and a sporting dog. Although the breed was heavily promoted by lovers of the breed in the late 19th century, the dog never became as popular as the Golden Retriever did both as a companion and a working dog, which allowed it to retain more of its innate field and working abilities.
Average height to withers: Males between 23-24 inches and females between 22-23 inches.
Average weight: Males and females range between 24-34kg, with makes being heavier.
Flat-Coated Retrievers are truly majestic dogs, having a strong, but soft, jaw and quite a long muzzle to allow for the carrying of birds and other game under field conditions. They have almond shaped dark or brown eyes that have an intelligent and expressive look in them. The ears of this breed are triangular in shape and flop forwards in a pendulum. They are also quite small and lie close to the head. The head flows smoothly into a well-arched, strong neck which leads into a back which is strong and straight, tapering into a well feathered tail of moderate length held straight to the back.
Flat Coat Retrievers are generally lighter than its Golden counterpart and its movements are very fluid. The beautiful coat is usually black but also comes in a liver colour with well feathered head, neck, legs, belly and tail.
Eager to please and even tempered describe the Flat Coat Retriever perfectly, with the addition of being affectionate, fun and slightly juvenile (even in advancing years), it is no wonder these dogs are sometimes nicknamed the 'canine Peter Pan'!
They are wonderful dogs to be around and make perfect pets for a family with children and adults of any age, provided their exercise requirements can be met - at least two brisk daily walks are needed to keep this dog out of mischief. This is a real people's dog though, and does not like to be alone for large proportions of the day and likes to be part of the family. It is equally at ease with other animals in the household and ones it meets outside the home. Essentially, the Flat Coat needs a family who leads and active life and wants a dog to share that with.
A firm but kind training routine is required and this dog will learn new commands easily and readily - but in short bursts of attention. It has a notoriously low threshold when it comes to training so the owner must be patient when teaching this breed. Its loyalty is that of many gun breeds and the owner will be rewarded greatly in that respect with a loving, fun and gentle dog who will do anything for them.
A healthy Flat Coat Retriever will live up to 10 years of age and they are reasonably healthy dogs. They do appear to be more predisposed to some cancers than other breeds of dog. Studies in America have shown that the highest rate of mortality for this breed is cancer, outside of old age. It is not clear why, but ongoing research into this may shed light in years to come. Owners should look out for generalised clinical symptoms of cancers including general fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss and seek immediate veterinary advice if they have any concerns.
This is a dog which loves water and mud and the lucky owner will probably spend quite a lot of time hosing them off at the end of one of its many walks! The coat of this breed will require regular brushing to keep the coat healthy and free of detritus - at least twice weekly is acceptable, but a quick brush each day is optimal.