The Flat-Coated Retriever is one of our more unusual working gundog breeds.
It’s origins from St. John’s dog stock with good dash of ‘setter’ can be seen in it’s build and coat.
Only two colours are permitted by the breed standard. Black and the more unusual liver.
More racey and elegant in appearance than the labrador, with a longer wavy coat and feathering, the flat-coated retriever has a narrower skull and a bit of a reputation for being ‘wilful’.
Nevertheless, these are kindly and pleasant dogs that have ample ability in the field and can make very nice family pets.
The main bugbear with flat-coats is the unusually high incidence of cancer in the breed. In a study published in 2009, 172 flat coated retrievers were followed for eleven years. In all, 42% of the participating dogs dies from tumours, mainly soft tissue sarcomas.
The Flat-coated Retriever Society reports that in a recent study, of those dogs which died from tumours, almost half (43%) were over ten years old. Unfortunately that means that well over half 57% didn’t make it to ten.
So if you are keen to bring a flat-coated retriever into your life, it is well worth looking into the longevity of your chosen breeder’s lines.
Any responsible breeder will be willing to discuss this issue and may well be using much older stud dogs on their bitches.
The flat coated retriever is often described as somewhat slow to mature, and many owners have found that these dogs respond very well to non-coercive training methods such as clicker-training.
Gundog training is an ideal way to keep these intelligent and athletic dogs mentally and physically fit, even if the dog is intended purely as a companion.
If you enjoy my articles, you might like my new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.
Suzanne Ibbotson says
I lost my beloved flatcoated retriever in April 2012 he was six days short of his fifteenth birthday!
That’s a great age for a flatcoat 🙂
Richard Hewison says
Your article on Flatcoats has floored mathematics…..43 + 67 = 110
Please check you facts before going to print.
Hi Richard. You are quite right and I have amended my error 67% to a 57 %. Thanks for pointing out the mistake. Pippa