Flat Coated Retriever Breed Information and Buying advice

Flat Coated Retriever

Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Flat Coated Retriever?

Quick Flat Coated Retriever Facts

Average Size of Adult
Large (4/5)
Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy
Grooming Requirement
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Average Life Span
8-10 years (3/8)
Exercise Requirements
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Child friendly
Yes (1/2)
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Breed Group
Gundog (1/8)
No (2/2)

Despite having flat in their name, the Flat Coated Retriever is a well-rounded breed. For those looking for an energetic, playful, and compassionate companion to match an active and outdoors lifestyle, look no further than the Flat Coated Retriever. These large gundogs retain their puppy-like youth for years and are similar in many ways to Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Sometimes referred to as Flatcoats or Flatties, this breed is an ideal puppy choice for active families, particularly where sports are played. Flatties love to play interactive and engaging games and can keep owners and families fit and healthy as well. They’re also ideal for first-time puppy owners, which is perhaps preferable since they’ll happily reciprocate the care and affection given to them as they grow older.  

Why Flat Coated Retrievers are Great

Some highlights of Flat Coated Retrievers:

  1. Energetic: this breed thrives in active households, where it can get plenty of exercise.

  2. Family-friendly: Flat Coated Retrievers get along well with families and children of all ages.

  3. First-time owners: for those willing to put in the effort, Flat Coated Retrievers are an attractive choice for first-time owners.

  4. Affectionate: this breed will form a loving companionship with owners and their families and return the care and affection given to them in kind.

  5. Intelligent: this breed is intelligent and can be trained easily to associate actions and commands.


Things to Consider when Looking at Flat Coated Retrievers for Sale

Some downsides to the Flat Coated Retriever:

  1. Isolation: this breed requires plenty of stimulation to remain healthy. Flat Coated Retrievers won’t tolerate isolation from their owners or their families.

  2. Watchdogs: Flat Coated Retrievers aren’t ideal watchdogs or guard dogs.

  3. Maturity: perhaps an advantage to some, but nevertheless Flat Coated Retrievers are slow to mature and retain their youthful characteristics into adulthood.

  4. Grooming: this breed requires daily brushing to prevent knotting of their fur.


History of the Flat Coated Retriever

The origins of the Flat Coated Retriever can be traced to England in the middle of the 19th century. It’s possible that this breed came about after breeding local Collie-type dogs with Newfoundlands and St. Johns Water Dogs from Canadian fishermen. This mixing continued with Irish Red Setters to further boost their scenting ability. In 1864, the Flat Coated Retriever was established as a breed and it quickly became one of Britain’s favourite gundogs. It took another two decades thereafter to finalise the breed to what it has become today. Another important milestone in the development of the Flat Coated Retriever was their popularity brought about by Mr Sewallis Evelyn Shirley, founder of the Kennel Club of Great Britain. Mr. Shirley was an avid supporter of the Flattie and did much to propagate their popularity in the UK and worldwide.  


The Flat Coated Retriever can be recognised by its high energy, lean physique, and its black or liver colour. Whether as puppies or adults, Flatties are as cute as they are energetic. Their long muzzles complement their unique skull size, upon which their small and close-lying ears comfortably sit. Compared with other retriever breeds, the Flat Coated Retriever has an elegant and graceful movement that sets it apart. This may be because the breed is purer than many other retrievers.  

How big is the Flat Coated Retriever?

Flat Coated Retrievers are large-sized dogs. Males grow on average to 58-61 cm in height, whilst females can grow up to 56-58 cm high.  

How heavy is a Flat Coated Retriever?

Fully-grown adult male Flat Coated Retrievers weigh between 27-36 kg on average, whilst females weigh between 25-32 kg.  

What colour is the Flat Coated Retriever?

Flat Coated Retrievers have the following commonly-accepted coat colours:

  • Black;

  • Liver.



A Flat Coated Retriever’s temperament can be summarised simply: they just want to make people happy. This breed is highly energetic and always excitable. They love the company of others just as much as they enjoy healthy exercise, sport, and playing with owners and their families. Due to their high energy, Flat Coated Retrievers may not be the best choice for the elderly or less active owners. Without proper exercise and an outlet for their incessant excitability, they can become easily bored   

Do Flat Coated Retrievers make good guard dogs?

Flat Coated Retrievers are excellent observers and in theory would make good watchdogs, but in reality, they are not the best at performing watchdog duties. Similarly, they are seldom aggressive and would not make a good choice for a guard dog.  

Do Flat Coated Retrievers bark a lot?

This breed barks on occasion, but no more or less than the average breed does. Some Flat Coated Retrievers may compulsively bark if neglected as puppies, so ensure that they are well-trained and corrective action is taken whilst they’re young.  

Are Flat Coated Retrievers easy to train?

Flat Coated Retrievers are easy to train thanks to their intelligence. Unfortunately, they can also develop bad habits just as easily. As a sensitive breed, they respond poorly to harsh punishment and should be trained with care and proper behaviour should be rewarded.  

Are Flat Coated Retrievers playful?

This breed is amongst the most playful puppies one can find. They love to play as puppies and continue to love playing as adults as well due to their tendency to remain puppy-like well into their adult years.  

Are Flat Coated Retrievers good with children?

Flat Coated Retrievers get along very well with children of all ages, but younger children should be supervised in case the puppy becomes overly excited. They are playful and easily excited and will form a loving bond with young family members well into adulthood.  

Are Flat Coated Retrievers good with other pets?

This breed gets along well with other dogs, provided that it’s been well-socialised as a puppy. They don’t get along very well with cats or other smaller pets, however, so avoid this breed if you’ve got smaller pets or cats at home.  

Can I leave a Flat Coated Retriever alone?

Flat Coated Retrievers are able to tolerate short periods of isolation, but they should receive plenty of attention, especially as puppies. Extended periods of isolation can lead to boredom, which in turn may promote naughty behaviour.  

Do Flat Coated Retrievers like water?

Most Flat Coated Retrievers love swimming and don’t mind being on boats at all. Some puppies may be frightened of the water, however, so allow them to dip their feet in on their own accord rather than risking traumatising them.  


How long do Flat Coated Retrievers live? 

Generally, Flat Coated Retrievers are expected to live anywhere from 8-10 years.  

How much exercise does a Flat Coated Retriever need?

Flat Coated Retrievers require plenty of exercise. Owners that engage in frequent jogs and outdoor activities will be well-complemented by this breed. Less active owners should not consider this breed if they cannot keep up with its high exercise requirements.  

What are Flat Coated Retrievers’ common health issues?

This breed is prone to a few common health issues that should be noted before purchasing. These include:

  • Hip dysplasia;

  • Deafness;

  • Glaucoma;

  • Progressive retinal atrophy;

  • Epilepsy.

  This breed also has a higher than average disposition to developing cancer.  


How much space do I need for a Flat Coated Retriever? 

As a historical gamekeeping dog, Flat Coated Retrievers are happiest and healthiest in large homes with big gardens in which they can let out their high energy levels. This breed is unsuitable for small homes and apartment dwelling.  

What should I feed my Flat Coated Retriever?

Flat Coated Retrievers should be fed between 3 to 4 cups of high-quality dog food designed for large dogs, divided into two meals per day. Puppies can get by with a little less food, and adjustments should be made to account for weight gain and exercise levels.  

How much grooming do Flat Coated Retrievers need?

Flat Coated Retrievers require extensive grooming and need to be maintained regularly. Since they love playing and tend to enjoy swimming, they can accumulate lots of dirt in their fur. Moreover, their long coats of fur can easily become tangled, so they’ll need to be brushed daily.  

Do Flat Coated Retrievers shed?

This breed sheds an average amount and needs to be brushed daily to promote healthy growth. Their fur sheds significantly more in the spring and autumn months.  

Average Costs

How much does it cost to keep a Flat Coated Retriever?

As a rough guide in pricing:  Cost to buy: roughly £700-800 for a well-bred Flat Coated Retriever puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £80-120 per month  

Specific Buying Guide

You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Flat Coated Retriever puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder.  More specifically, here is some Flat Coated Retriever puppy buying advice:

  1. Large dog breeds tend not to live very long, and Flat Coated Retrievers are no exception. Approximately half of all deaths are attributed to cancer, generally setting in at 10 years of age. Prospective buyers should be aware of this short lifespan before purchasing.

  2. As one of the UK’s more popular gundog breeds, Flat Coated Retriever puppies can be purchased relatively easily. This also means that many sellers may take advantage of the high demand by selling undesirable puppies bred in questionable conditions. Always purchase from reputable dealers.


Other Reading, Adopting Flat Coated Retriever Puppies and Rescue Organisations

A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: Kennel Club of Great Britain: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/display.aspx?id=2046 Federation Cynologique Internationale: https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/121g08-en.pdf Dogell: https://dogell.com/en/dog-breed/flat-coated-retriever https://www.flatcoated-retriever-society.org/rescue