Flat Coated Retriever

FCI standard Nº 121

Great Britain
Group 8 Retrievers-Flushing Dogs-Water Dogs
Section 1 Retrievers
With working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Thursday 23 December 1954
Publication of the official valid standard
Tuesday 28 July 2009
Last update
Wednesday 28 October 2009
En français, cette race se dit
Retriever à poil plat
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Retriever Glatthaarig
En español, esta raza se dice
Cobrador de pelo liso
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Flatcoated Retriever



General appearance

A bright, active dog of medium size with an intelligent expression, showing power without lumber, and raciness without weediness.

Behaviour / temperament

Generously endowed with natural gundog ability, optimism and friendliness demonstrated by enthusiastic tail action; confident and kindly.


Cranial region

Long and nicely moulded.
Flat and moderately broad. 
Slight stop between eyes, in no way accentuated, avoiding a down or dish-faced appearance

Facial region

Good size, with open nostrils.
Jaws and teeth
Jaws long and strong, capable of carry ing a hare or a pheasant, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Teeth sound and strong.
Medium size, dark brown or hazel, with a very intelligent expression (a round prominent eye highly undesirable). Not obliquely placed.
Small and well set on, close to side of head .


Head well set in neck, the latter reasonably long and free from throatiness, symmetrically set and obliquely placed in shoulders, running well into the back to allow for easy seeking of trail.


Short and square. Open couplings highly undesirable.
Deep and fairly broad, with well defined brisket. Foreribs fairly flat. Body well ribbed up showing a gradual spring and well arched in centre but rather lighter towards quarters.


Short, straight and well set on, gaily carried, but never much above level of back.



Forelegs straight, with bone of good quality throughout.
Moving cleanly and evenly on chest.
Round and strong with toes close and well arched. Soles thick and strong.


Muscular. Should stand true all round.
Moderate bend.
Moderate bend, well let down. Cowhocks highly undesirable.
Hind feet
Round and strong with toes close and well arched. Soles thick and strong.

Gait and movement

Free and flowing, straight and true as seen from front and rear.


Dense, of fine to medium texture and good quality, as flat as possible. Legs and tail well feathered. Full furnishings on maturity complete the elegance of a good dog.
Black or liver only.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Preferred height: Dogs: 59 - 61,5 cm (23-24 ins), Bitches: 56,5 - 59 cm (22-23 ins).
Preferred weight in hard condition: Dogs: 27 - 36 kg (60-80 lbs), Bitches : 25 - 32 kg (55-70 lbs).


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.




Additional information from visitors

This old English water dog was developed in the 1800's from various pointers, setters, collies, spaniels and early types of Newfoundlands and St.John's Water Dogs. Originally referred to as the Wavy-Coated Retriever, it was a valued gundog in Britain and America. In the last decade of the 19th century, hunters introduced a "mystery" straight-coated breed into its bloodline, creating a phenomenal new bird dog and water retriever which was immensely succesful up until the 1st World War, when breeds like the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever became overwhelmingly more popular. After WW2, the Flat-Coated Retrievers were nearing extinction, but the breed was saved through dedicated revival efforts and is today found in sufficient numbers worldwide.
The Flat-Coated Retriever is a well-manered house pet, but once on the outside it becomes very alert and active. This is a broad-chested and muscular breed, elegantly built and very powerful. Energetic, intelligent and playful, it responds well to obedience training and is a tough and agile working dog. The coat is dense, flat and smooth, always uniform black or brown in colour. Average height is around 24 inches.

Detailed history

Like all Retrievers, the Flat Coated has a style of its own, even if we find in this dog features common to the entire family, including sociability, taste report and that of water. By its average size, the Flat has many facilities: cc gifted is a true thoroughbred deserves, in this respect, special attention.

The Flat Coated Retriever is of course the fruit of the selection of hunting dogs operated by the British in the nineteenth century. However, it is on the other side of the Atlantic that one must first find one's origins, where the cod fishery was practiced, since the sixteenth century. This activity had led to the emergence of a canine auxiliary able to search the icy water escaped fish or trapped mesh nets. Such a dog, the Newfoundland could neither create it nor bring it from Europe where it did not exist, so the most likely hypothesis is that they found it on the spot, not on the island of Newfoundland, uninhabited before the arrival of the Europeans, but on the northern shores of America.

Still, the canine population multiplied on the island (to the fishermen's dogs were added pack dogs and guard dogs), so much so that as early as 1780, measures were taken by the governor to limit the numbers, and, threatened even to be slaughtered, many ended, after 1815, by flocking to Poole, the English homeport of Newfoundland. These were extremely varied topics that had already been widely discussed. There were small and large dogs, long-haired or very short-haired, with black, yellow, or particolorous dresses, but many of these dogs had a common characteristic: their ability to work with water. Some would become Newfoundland, others would be called Landseers, Labradors or Flat Coated Retrievers.

Some may have said that the Flat Coated is from Newfoundland, but if we notice how much its average size makes it look like dogs arrived in France and used in rescue, for example in Saint-Malo, it seems more accurate to that Newfoundland and Flat Coated are both from Newfoundland dogs, and that dog breeding, based on utilitarian and morphological criteria, has led to the creation of two distinct breeds.

And here comes the genius of British breeders, who, from the first half of the nineteenth century, were precursors in the breeding and improvement of dog breeds. This advance was sensible in the field of hunting, considered already by the English as a sport in itself, where each actor had to have a well defined role which he had to fulfill to perfection.

Thus, if the Setters and Pointers were able to deploy their remarkable talents in the quest and stopping, the hunter worthy of the name could not count on them in the last phase of the hunt and could therefore only wish his creation of an auxiliary specialized in the research and the report of the dead or wounded game, whatever the difficulties of the grounds (plains, thickets, swamps).

In fact, the selection of British Pointers was contemporary with that of the Retrievers. Sir Laverack began his famous Setters breeding in 1825 and the first Labradors appeared in England around 1820. The Pointer was officially introduced in 1859 in Newcastle and the Flat Coated Retriever in 1860 in Birmingham. But it must be admitted that more attention was then paid to the selection of breeds of arrest, which enjoyed almost universal success in this period. Regarding the Flat, his specialization as a Retriever required improving his flair, receptivity to dressage and activity, and from this perspective he was probably crossed with other breeds. Moreover, its silhouette immediately reminds that of the Setter.

He began by calling himself Wavy Coated Retriever, in other words, a wavy, non-wavy Retriever, the difference being of importance. It was Mr. Braisford who first introduced a dog so named at the Birmingham Exhibition in 1860, one of the first English dog shows. Unfortunately, this breeder omits to specify how he got his dog, hence the mystery surrounding since the origins of Flat. We have invoked a cross with a Setter or a Pointer, the latter assumption being less credible. What is certain, however, is the contribution of Labrador, but towards the end of the nineteenth century only. This breed, whose selection had undoubtedly been more careful, had in fact already reached a more efficient type than Flat was then.

Amazing is the use of Borzoi, at the turn of the century, to improve the jaws of the flat that was considered a little weak to carry a large piece such as a capuchin. This crossing, one imagines, gave disastrous results, and it took many years to remove the footprint of this Russian Greyhound, of which no characteristic was able to refine the qualities required for a retriever.

The erasure of the Flat that followed this experiment left the Labradors and Golden Retrievers free space before he returned to the forefront of the dog scene in the early thirties. Indeed, in 1932, at the Cruft dog show, there were more than a hundred entries, but it was already a little late for the race to win against the other Retrievers. Thus, its decline was inexorable until the early sixties. Since then, without having become a star, Flat has considerably increased its workforce in Great Britain. There is no doubt that its progression will continue in the years to come.

The Flat Coated Retriever is still imperfectly known in France, although it was the first of the imported Retrievers in our country in 1984. But the Labradors and Golden Retrievers that followed it quickly became more popular, no doubt obscuring its presence. Still, at the end of 1987, there were hardly more than fifty subjects settled in France, the majority of which came from a single regular breeder.

Yet Flat is a dog that does not lack qualities; its morphology and average size make it particularly effective on all terrains, and its water aptitude is obvious: it has a very protective oily hair, slightly webbed fingers and especially a great robustness, because the aquatic work requires more than energy and resistance than that performed on land. On the other hand, this dog well built, with multiple physical possibilities, can not be criticized in the field of receptivity to dressage, the passion of the report: by the way, it is the champion of the report in speed. It is therefore an unusual hunting dog.

Like all Retrievers, the Flat is above all a working dog, even if its natural soft, calm and sociable can turn it into a good pet dog. It is in any case indisputable that it is made for a rustic life and outdoors, because it needs exercise to release its overflow of energy. In this sense, an exclusively sedentary and urban existence is likely to alter a character deemed very accommodating. Indeed, the Retrievers are not by nature undisciplined dogs, all crazy or nervous, but, let us specify it, one should not also believe them soft or lymphatic because of their round appearance: having been created to work in the icy water, they are only predisposed to be "coated", and this characteristic characterizes them as well as their robust skeleton. The hair of the Flat is dense and thin, but lying on the body and long without exaggeration. Usually black or liver; which is rarer; his elegant dress is very easy to maintain.

The Flat is distinguished from other Retrievers by its elongated head made of a skull not too wide, long and strong jaws, the stop (the depression between the forehead and the chamfer) being slightly accentuated. In "morale", the Flat combines the calm assurance of Newfoundland and the influx of the Setter, which makes it easier to train than the average of his fellow creatures. This remarkable compromise leads him to be a balanced and safe family dog, as long as we respect his sporting nature. The paradise situation for the Flat is to be able to go crazy in the water among many children. To preserve its character of "good dough", it is advisable not to completely remove the Flat opportunities to engage in its original occupation, research and game report. Newfoundland and Labrador, two of his parents, are currently on a roll: we do not see what would prevent the same for the Flat Coated Retriever in the near future.

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