Flatcoated Retriever

Lifestyle Needs

Flatcoated Retriever
Flatcoated Retriever

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.

Genetic Diversity
(Known as Coefficient of Inbreeding: 'COI'. It should be as low as possible.)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 6.5% - See 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Gene Pool Size
(Known as Effective Population Size: 'EPS')


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)

Care should be taken to ensure that ears are clean and free from debris

BVA/KC Health Schemes: www.bva.co.uk/chs

  • Hip dysplasia: breed 5 year mean score 7.2 (parents should be lower)
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Eye disease: Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing); Goniodysgenesis/Primary glaucoma (G) (testing every three years)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) : EBVs for Hip Dysplasia are available for this breed

DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)

No relevant DNA tests

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening 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
  • Scheme for Patellar luxation

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; soft tissue sarcoma; lymphoma; bone tumour  *A Cambridge study has found that >50% of Flatcoats died of confirmed or suspected cancer on average at the age of 8/9 years
  • Patellar luxation
  • Arthritis

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.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):  www.puppycontract.org.uk

The breeder should also be familiar with the CFSG/DBRG Code of Practice for Dog Breeding

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

Breed Health Information