Flat Coated Retriever



Specifically bred to retrieve upland game and waterfowl, the Flat Coated Retriever, or Wavy Coated Retriever as it was originally known, was a popular companion for gamekeepers on large estates in England.

Thought to have come from stock imported from North America, the first examples of the breed were introduced around 1860. The final type was established around twenty years later under the patronage of Mr S E Shirley MP, who is also credited as the being the founder of the UK Kennel Club.


The Flat Coated Retriever is an active, multi-talented land and water Retriever with a strong desire to please people. Confident and outgoing, the breed makes a loving family pet, outstanding showdog and exceptional companion.

The Flat Coated Retriever requires stimulation to help channel its natural sporting energy. The breed has an inherent love of water and will happily work in any weather conditions, from dawn to dusk.

Eager to please and quick to learn, the Flat Coated Retriever is best trained in short intervals as it can become bored with repetition.


The most important feature of the Flat Coated Retriever is its unique head, which is often described as being ‘moulded’ or ‘one-piece’.

The breed is exceptionally well balanced and strong, but always pleasing to the eye; never cobby, short legged or rangy. The single coat, black or liver in colour, is thick and lustrous and as flat as possible. Full feathering on maturity completes the elegance of a good dog.

Health & Suitability

All stock are required to be hip scored and eye tested prior to breeding. Through plenty of exercise, engagement and mental the actions of responsible breeders, the majority of health issues that have affected Flat Coated Retrievers in years gone by have diminished.

In England and Europe the breed can be seen in Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Field Trial and Tracking and as valued family companions. In Australia, numbers are slowly rising, however the Flat Coated Retriever is still outnumbered by other Retriever breeds.

Given our climate and active, outdoor lifestyle, it is difficult to understand how the breed is not more popular; the Flat Coated Retriever makes a wonderful companion and is ideally suited to the Australian way of life.

Words: Peter King

Image: justusdogs

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Flat Coated Retriever, you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Flat Coated Retriever and its needs, and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.