The Flat Coated Retriever is generally a happy dog and an extrovert, although as in most breeds temperament is not always typical. He takes rather a long time to grow up so his owner will need to be prepared for puppy-like behaviour for several years. He’s a tireless working dog who likes to be out in the hunting field retrieving game. Most Flatcoats love water and are natural swimmers. He is not happy to be left on his own and needs plenty of exercise every day. Ideally he needs to live in a house with a decent sized garden and have access to the open countryside. His fine, glossy coat should be groomed every day.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 6.5% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS67.91
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- Hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 7.4 (parents should be lower)
- Eye disease: Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing); Goniodysgenesis/Primary glaucoma (G) (annual testing) (predisposes dog to a painful and sight threatening disease)
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
- Bitches should not produce a litter under 2 years of age
- Bitches not to produce more than 3 litters in their lifetime
- Bitches not to produce more than 1 litter within a 12 month period
- Proposed cause of death register
- Owners encouraged to submit DNA and clinical information to the Animal Health Trust
More information: www.flatcoated-retriever-society.org/health/more-health-matters
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Cancer: malignant histiocytosis (a multi system, rapidly progressive type of cancer); Soft tissue sarcoma. *A Cambridge study has found that >50% of Flatcoats died of confirmed or suspected cancer on average at the age of 8/9 years.
- Juvenile kidney disease (JKD)
- Patellar luxation (dislocated knee-cap)
- Cranial cruciate ligament (CLL) failure
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Gastric dilatation and volvulus (Bloat) (stomach fills with air and twists – requires urgent vet treatment)
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Renal dysplasia
- Entropion (inversion of an eye lid)/Ectropion (the skin is so contracted that the mucous membrane is on the outside)
- Distichiasis ( a double row of eye lashes which rub the eyeball causing inflammation)
- Glaucoma (adult onset – due to pectinate ligament dysplasia)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: