Flat Coated Retriever
The Flatcoated Retriever
A Brief Description of the Breed
The Flatcoated Retriever is commonly called the "Peter Pan" of the Gundog Group. He is always ready and willing for any activity, and has a desperate need to do something - or rather anything -that he thinks will please his master. This willingness needs to have a constructive outlet of some kind or your Flatcoat will work one out for himself!
Not a dog to be owned by a couch-potato, the Flatcoated Retriever will turn his hand to many skills, and with correct training, is capable of performing them with a high degree of competence. Originally bred for the shooting field, this activity is still very much encouraged by many breeders. If a trainer is used to the sensitivities of spaniels, he could well make a good trainer of the flatcoated retriever. A trainer ".....needs 'hands', a light but sure touch in his training if his natural dash is not to be so repressed that diffidence replaces it." (Wilson Stevens - preface to Dr Nancy Laughton's book "A Review of the Flatcoated Retriever")
Trainers of Labrador Retrievers find they have to modify their training methods of they are to get the best relationship with a Flatcoated Retriever.
Although many gundog people are content to work their dogs in the field, a few will aspire to competition in field trials. Working Tests have become very popular recently, where the dogs are asked to retrieve canvas dummies in situations similar to Field Trials.
More recent activities for this breed have included Obedience, Agility, Working Trials (not to be confused with Working Tests), Search and Rescue, Assistance Dogs for the Disabled, and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. The Breed is generally considered too lively to be a Guide Dog for the Blind.
This breed has had the bonus of not being bred indiscriminately over the years , and so is relatively free of the genetic disorders affecting other breeds. Even so, Hip Scores and eye tests of breeding stock are carefully monitored to assure the situation is maintained. There does seem to be a rather higher than average incidence of cancer in the breed. This may be due to environmental causes more than genetic.
The Flatcoated Retriever has only two recognised colours, black or liver. Yellow puppies occasionally occur, but it not recommended that these puppies are registered or bred from. The coat is essentially easy -care, a quick brush every day being normally sufficient to keep the dog tidy. The hair between the toes and around the ears is often removed to minimise the accumulation of mud and burrs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should I approach for a puppy?
Never buy from a dealer, pet shop or from any breeding establishment advertising many breeds (the so-called "puppy-farms" or "puppy-mills"). The Flatcoated Retriever Society has a litter recorder who will be advised of litters from reputable breeders. Very occasionally an older dog may be available through Breed Rescue because of changing circumstances. Be well prepared to answer delving questions on your suitability as an owner, as Flatcoat people are very conscientious about the correct homing of the breed.
Should I have a dog or a bitch?
Although this is always personal preference, an adolescent male can get quite boisterous, and will need rather more consistent and firm (but never harsh) training than most bitches do.
However, if you choose a bitch, you have a three week season twice a year when you must keep a close eye on her to avoid unwanted admirers!
Are they good with children?
Flatcoats are some of the best tempered dogs around, but they can get too boisterous around children of crawling age, and possibly also around fragile older folk. As they are passionate retrievers, they will sometimes try to retrieve your hand or arm, which should never be mistaken for biting.
How much exercise do they need?
How long is a piece of string? An adult dog of more than 18 months can take an hour's walking twice a day if this suits your life - style. It is generally better to intersperse periods of constructive training as exercise for the mind, as physical exercise can be cumulative - the more you give, the more they need. However, pups up to 6 months old will have sufficient exercise running round the house and garden; any more puts too much strain on young soft joints.
What about Training?
Emphatically Yes!! The breed is highly trainable, and must be given something to think about. Choose any of the activities listed previously, do some detective work and find a good trainer near you who does not use harsh methods. You will both have so much more fun and it will cement the bond between you.