The Flat-Coated Retriever Dog Breed | The ‘Un-Generic’ Retriever

I have written about the Flat-Coated Retriever Dog Breed before and have referred to it as the “un-generic” retriever. I will still lead off with that: Un-generic.

When you first set eyes on a Flat-Coated Retriever with good type, I promise, you will smile. Everything, from the perfectly molded skull and dark eyes, to the tip of the sleek, feathered tail, is pleasing. So, how do I best describe this truly unique breed? Let’s start with a brief history to understand utility, and describe the ideal size, substance, and proportions to further understand its singularity.

Flat-Coated Retriever Dog Breed
The Moving Silhouette should be balanced, free-flowing and well-coordinated, with good reach and drive.

The Flat-Coated Retriever dog breed was developed in Britain in the mid-to-late 1800s. Originally known as Wavy-Coated Retrievers, the breed likely descended from the St. John’s Newfoundland, crossed with a variety of other breeds such as Setters and Water Spaniels. It was developed as a moderate, lean retriever with more endurance than its heavier predecessors, but with the same keen nose and soft mouth for retrieving on both land and water. The breed was established as the Wavy-Coat, known for its marcel waves of black coat, differentiating it from the Curly-Coat. It was later named the Flat-Coated Retriever and is now commonly referred to as the Flat-Coat. In early days, they were mainly black or liver, although other colors existed. Today, only black and liver are permitted to compete in conformation, and yellow is the only disqualification listed in the official standard.

According to the breed standard, the Flat-Coat has traditionally been described as showing: “Power without lumber and raciness without weediness.” It also calls for a moderately-sized dog, with a preferred height of between 23 to 24 1/2 inches at the withers for dogs, and 22 to 23 1/2 inches at the withers for bitches. There is no disqualification for height, but note that the Flat-Coat should be slightly longer than tall. It would be the goal for breeders of quality dogs to be well within these parameters, but there are occasions in which a dog or bitch may fall one inch below the preferred standard or stand one inch above. A reasonable practice would be to find a dog of good type and quality before using size as a consideration.