Flat coated Retriever


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Contents

Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Introduction
History
Appearance
Temperament
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Health
Caring for a Flat coated Retriever
Grooming
Exercise
Feeding
Average Cost to keep/care for a Flat coated Retriever


Key Breed Facts


Popularity #113 out of 238 Dog Breeds.


The Flat coated Retriever breed is also commonly known by the names Flatcoat, Flattie, Flatte, Canine Peter Pan.
Lifespan
8 - 10 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Gundog Group
Height
Males 58 - 61 cm
Females 56 - 58 cm at the withers
Weight
Males 27 - 36 kg
Females 25 - 32 kg
Average Price (More Info)
£843 for KC Registered
£558 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics



Introduction

The Flat Coated Retriever is often affectionately referred to as a Flattie. They are large gundogs that resemble Golden and Labrador Retrievers, but with longer muzzles which sets them apart from the other two breeds. They love being in and around water and will naturally gravitate towards it whenever they get the chance. They are slow to mature which has to be taken into account when training them, but this also means they retain their puppy-like traits for that much longer than other breeds.  Flat Coated Retrievers are known for their energy and stamina, often being extremely excitable to boot which is why they are such fun dogs to have around. 


History

There are those who believe the Flat Coated Retriever was developed over 200 years and it's thought that Newfoundlands and St. Johns Water Dogs could be in their ancestry. These dogs were brought to England by Canadian fishermen and traders and they were eventually crossed with native collie breeds with an end goal being to create dogs that boasted more stamina and strength. Irish Red Setters were introduced into the mix for their strong scenting skills.

A man called Mr. J Hull is credited for establishing the breed when he first established a breeding programme in 1864 and pretty soon Flatties became a common sight on larger shooting estates located throughout the country. The first Flat Coated Retriever to be shown in Britain was in the mid 1800's and during the following decades, the breed enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, more especially in the field. However, with the onset of World War I things slowed down. Breed numbers fell dangerously low during and after World War II which nearly led to these handsome dogs vanishing altogether.

Although these handsome dogs were promoted by breed enthusiasts during the late 19th century, the Flattie never became as popular as their Golden Retriever cousins. The upside of this was that the breed remained much "purer" both as a working dog and as a companion. It was Mr. Sewallis Evelyn Shirley, the found of The Kennel Club who worked hard to establish a breed type. His efforts and those of other breed enthusiasts produced the Flat Coated Retrievers that we see today.

By the mid-sixties, breed numbers were still low, but slowly their popularity began to rise with more people becoming familiar with these charming, handsome and hardworking dogs. Today, although still not as popular as other native retriever breeds, the number of Flat Coated Retriever puppies being bred and registered with The Kennel Club continues to rise.


Appearance

Height at the withers: Males 58 - 61 cm, Females 56 - 58 cm

Average weight: Males 27 - 36 kg, Females 25 - 32 kg

The Flat Coated Retriever is a lean, athletic looking dog and one that is super energetic. They have lovely, dense coats that lie close and which have a glorious natural sheen. Their heads are nicely moulded and long with skulls being flat and quite broad. There's a slight stop between a dog's eyes. Noses are a nice size with wide open nostrils and dogs have a strong jaw which allows them to carry game easily. Their eyes can either be hazel or dark brown in colour and moderately large with dogs always having an intelligent, alert look in them.

Their ears are set well and small in size, lying close to a dog's head. The Flattie has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their heads are nicely set in a dog's neck which is quite long and clean. Chests are deep and quite broad with Flatties having a nicely defined brisket and their front legs are straight showing a good amount of bone.

A Flattie has an athletic looking body with their foreribs being quite flat but nicely arched in the middle before getting lighter towards a dog's quarters. Their loins are square and short. Hind legs are well developed and muscular allowing a dog to stand square. Their feet are round, with well arched, close toes and strong, tick pads. Tails are short and straight being well set and which dogs carry very gaily when alert or excited.

When it comes to their coat, the Flat Coated Retriever has a dense, fine coat that lies as close to the body as possible. Their tails and legs are extremely well feathered which adds to their graceful, athletic appearance. The only two accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • Black
  • Liver

Temperament

Flatties mature slowly which in short, means they retain their puppy-like characters for that much longer than many other breeds. They are alert, active dogs that need to be kept busy and they enjoy being out and about as much as possible. They are highly intelligent which means in the right hands and environment, Flatties are easy to train. They are very outgoing, confident characters that boast kind, placid natures although they are extremely fun-loving dogs too.

Having been originally bred as working dogs, the Flattie remains very much a "working" dog even in a home environment. As such they are best suited to families who lead active, outdoor lives and where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. They do not do well if they are left on their own for longer periods of time and if they are, a Flattie will do everything in their power to escape out of a home. In short, they would quickly get bored and this can lead to them developing some very destructive behaviours around the home.

They are often referred to as the "gamekeeper's dog" and are never happier than when they live in a country environment. These dogs need enough space to express themselves as they should and this means lots of indoor and outdoor space. They are often referred to as the canine world's "Peter Pan" thanks to their lively, excitable and puppy-like traits which they retain even into their golden years.

Flatties are a great choice for first time owners because they are so intelligent and quick to learn new things. However, they are extremely high maintenance on the exercise front and need to be given a ton of mental stimulation every single day for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. In short, new owners need to have the right amount of time to dedicate to their canine companion.


Intelligence / Trainability

Flatties are highly intelligent dogs and they pick things up quickly. This paired to the fact they love to please makes them easy to train. However, the downside is that they learn the bad things just as quickly. In the right hands and environment, they are a delight to train because they are so receptive. However, they can be a little wilful at times which means they need to be handled with a firm yet gentle hand to get the best out them. They can also be a bit "naughty" thanks to the fact they mature so slowly so it's important never to rush a Flattie's training, but to give them the time they need to really grow up.

Like many other breeds, the Flattie is a sensitive dog and therefore they do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods. They do answer extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these dogs. They are never happier than when they know what an owner expects of them and who they can look to for direction and guidance. As such it's important for a Flattie's training to be consistent and always fair.


Children and Other Pets

Flatties are highly intelligent dogs and they pick things up quickly. This paired to the fact they love to please makes them easy to train. However, the downside is that they learn the bad things just as quickly. In the right hands and environment, they are a delight to train because they are so receptive. However, they can be a little wilful at times which means they need to be handled with a firm yet gentle hand to get the best out them. They can also be a bit "naughty" thanks to the fact they mature so slowly so it's important never to rush a Flattie's training, but to give them the time they need to really grow up.

Like many other breeds, the Flattie is a sensitive dog and therefore they do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods. They do answer extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these dogs. They are never happier than when they know what an owner expects of them and who they can look to for direction and guidance. As such it's important for a Flattie's training to be consistent and always fair.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


Flat coated Retriever Health

The average life expectancy of a Flattie is between 8 and 10 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Flat Coated Retriever is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Hip dysplasia – Breeders should have stud dogs hip scored
  • Cancer
  • Eye issues – Breeders should have stud dogs eye tested
  • Ear problems
  • Bloat

Caring for a Flat coated Retriever

As with any other breed, Flatties need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming

Flatties have medium to long coats and ideally they need to be brushed every day to prevent any matts and tangles from forming. Particular attention has to be paid to a dog's ears and their underbellies as well as the feathering on their legs where the hair tends to be that much finer and therefore more prone to getting tangled. Flatties shed throughout the year, only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to keep on top of things and to remove any dead and loose hair from a dog's coat.

Because Flatties love being in and around water, they tend to pick up quite a bit of mud and debris in the coats too. It's important for dogs to be thoroughly dried off once they get home paying particular attention to a dog's ears more especially as Flatties are so prone to developing ear infections. Flatties also benefit from being taken to be professionally groomed several times a year which makes keeping things tidy that much easier in between visits to a grooming parlour. A professional groomer would also be able to thin out a dog's feathers if they get too thick and long.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Exercise

Flatties are high energy, intelligent dogs which means they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and enough mental stimulation to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need to be given at least 2 hour's a day and more if possible. The more exercise a Flattie gets, the happier they are because they are literally tireless dogs that are always ready and willing to be out and about with their owners.

They are naturally strong swimmers and enjoy being taken where it is safe for them to jump in the water for a dip. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Flattie would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which includes trying to break their way out which could result in them injuring themselves in the process.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, Flattie puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


Feeding

If you get a Flattie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Because Flatties are known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Flat coated Retriever

If you are looking to buy a Flat Coated Retriever, you would need to pay anything from £700 to over £800 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Flattie in northern England would be £20.78 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £49.73 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £50 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Flat Coated Retriever and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Flat Coated Retriever would be between £80 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.


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