Flat-Coated Retrievers: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Flat-Coated Retriever temperament, personality, and behavior.

DOG BOOKS by Michele Welton

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Flat-Coated Retriever dog breed

Flat-Coated Retriever Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Flat-Coated Retriever Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


The AKC Standard says, "The Flat-Coated Retriever demonstrates stability and a desire to please with a confident, happy, and outgoing attitude characterized by a wagging tail."

This cheerful dog is athletic, not a couch potato, so he needs plenty of exercise -- ideally exercise that includes swimming and fetching. Otherwise he will find outlets for his energy through destructive chewing and digging.

The gregarious Flatcoated Retriever thrives on personal attention and doesn't like being left for long periods of time without the companionship of people or other pets.

Optimistic about everyone and everything, this good-natured breed is emphatically not a guardian.

He is eternally lighthearted and playful, doesn't know his own strength, and can be an exuberant jumper. Supervision is important around toddlers and smaller pets.

You must control his tendency to chew on objects and to mouth your hands -- provide a box filled with toys so he can carry something around in his mouth.

A Flat Coated Retriever retains his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into old age, which sounds delightful but which does require patience and control to manage.

Obedience training is a must to instill calmness and good manners. Fortunately, he is responsive and biddable, though not as "push-button" as a Golden Retriever. He has a willful streak.


If you want a dog who...

  • Has the familiar, natural "retriever shape" with a pretty feathered coat
  • Is a cheerful tail-wagger
  • Thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
  • Is polite with everyone
  • Is peaceful with other animals

A Flat-Coated Retriever may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young or not exercised enough
  • Mouthiness -- carrying and chewing objects, mouthing your hands
  • Regular brushing and combing
  • Shedding
  • Serious health problems and a potentially short lifespan

A Flat-Coated Retriever may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Flat-Coated Retriever

If I was considering a Flat-Coated Retriever, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Serious health problems. In my opinion, inherited health problems are the biggest drawback of the Flat-Coated Retriever. The most common cause of death in Flat-Coats is cancer (about 70%). Even more tragic is the young age (around 4 years old) at which cancer appears in so many Flat-Coats.

    Sadly, this lovely breed suffers from malignant tumors of all kinds – most notably deadly histiocytic sarcoma, which occurs in Flat-Coats and Bernese Mountain Dogs FAR more than in any other breed. Also lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, mastocytoma, melanoma, fibrosarcoma, adenocarcinoma, and others.

    Then there is inherited epilepsy. Heart disease. Hip dysplasia. Eye diseases. More on Flat-Coated Retriever Health.

  2. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Compared to the more familiar Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers are more active and more athletic. Flat-Coats need more exercise – more opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
  3. Grooming. To keep their feathered coat free of mats, Flat Coated Retrievers require regular brushing and combing, and occasional trimming.
  4. Shedding. Flat Coated Retrievers shed quite a bit.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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