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The Flat Coated Retriever
By Diane Constable

THE Flat Coated RETRIEVER was originally bred as hunting and retrieving dog, and has continued to be bred with the working aspect in mind. The dog needs a close personal bond with its owner. This is NOT a dog you can just pat on the head once or twice a day and think nothing more of it. The Flat Coat is a high-energy breed. They thrive on (and demand) a lot of attention. They are naturally birdy and talented hunting dogs ---but can be more difficult to control than other retrievers due to their setter ancestry. They love to retrieve and will continue to "insist" you cooperate in this endeavor. This dog will chase birds in the yard and will head for the nearest body of water, whether it is a large lake or a small mud-puddle. I have found that they will retrieve whatever they find handy, from your dirty socks to your favorite book. They can be destructive, especially if bored. Flat Coats have been know to tear up newspapers, chew shoes, get into the garbage, eat stool, swallow socks and other inedibles that can lead to emergency health problems. Flat Coats also like to dig in the yard. I try and have a spot set aside for their digging. They also like to lick people, which can be bothersome at times, especially for someone who does not like doggy-kisses. The can be mischievous and never 'quite' grow up.

I am often been asked how they compare to a Golden. Flat Coats seem to have more of a need to have a "job" to do. FCR's are easily distracted and tend to bore easily. They don't do well with repetition and like to think up their own ways of doing things, which can be exasperating when trying to train for a specific task. Goldens aren't as likely to contemplate their own approaches to training. Flat Coats are an active, high-energy dog -more so than a Golden, and they do demand almost constant attention. They can be a little over-exuberant and tend to try to jump up on people when excited. They get along well with other animals and children and are quite affectionate. FCR's DO NOT do well in a kennel situation, or where they will have little human contact. They do best as a house dog where they can have interaction with the family. They are generally a good watch dog, that is, they WILL let you know if someone is at the door, but are just as likely to help them "load up the van" and drive away.

Flat Coats need a lot of exercise. They need to be walked or exercised daily--or they may put their energy to less desirable or destructive pursuits. Mine get a 1/2 to 1 mile run at least twice a day. They need a fenced yard. They don't tend to wander off as a rule, but their curiosity is likely to take them beyond their owner's boundaries. A Flat Coat should have the minimum of a household obedience class --if just to learn 'manners'.

My dogs eat 3-4 cups of a good quality dog food daily.

They need moderate grooming, a good brushing once a week and some trimming of the hair on their ears, tail and legs. They get a bath every 3-4 months, sometimes more often as they have a propensity to roll in organic materials that I would prefer they didn't. They shed about twice a year.

A typical adult Flat Coat will stand 23-24.5 inches at the shoulders (an inch less for females) and run 60 - 75 pounds. There are two accepted colors -- black and liver, but the liver color is not common. The hair is long, similar to a Golden's, but not as dense.

Flat Coated Retrievers are not a "popular" dog, I believe they rank in the mid to high 90's on the AKC's breed popularitly list. They can be hard to find. People sometimes have to wait 6 months to a year to find a Flat Coat, and often have to go out-of-state.

Generally only Champions and dogs with obedience or hunting titles are used for breeding stock to ensure the quality and working aspect of the breed.

Breeders screen for Hip dysplasia , patellar luxation, Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Some will also screen for Elbow dysplasia and Gionioscop.y None of these are common in the breed, although they do appear. Other health problems can include low thyroid and cancer, which is prevalent in the breed. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Flat Coats, with some extreme cases as young as 1 year of age. They usually live to be 8-10 years old, with some living to 12 and 13.

There are Flat Coats in obedience, fieldwork, companion hunting, fly ball, tracking, agility, drug searching, search-and-rescue, therapy dog work, and as "helping paws" dogs. They are a good companion dog for someone who likes interacting with their dog, and they will try their best to please their owner.

For more information on the breed, go to the
Flat Coated Retriever Society of America at http://fcrsainc.org/

For the Breed Standard go to http://fcrsainc.org/standard.html