Buying or Adopting a Flat-Coated Retriever
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
Is a DOG really the right pet for you?
I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.
Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?
Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:
Is a Flat-Coated Retriever the right breed for you?
Are YOU right for a Flat-Coated Retriever?
Can you provide what this breed needs?
- Someone home most of the day
- Fenced yard (6-8 feet high, not an electronic/underground fence)
- Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
- Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Flat-Coated Retriever stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
- "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, flyball, field trials); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
- Brushing – moderate
- Trimming – every few months
- An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
- A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
- An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Flat-Coated Retrievers are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
- An owner who is okay with moderate shedding
- Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Flat-Coated Retriever to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior
- Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Flat-Coated Retriever, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say
Should you get a male or female Flat-Coated Retriever?
Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?
Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?
Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new Flat-Coated Retriever be?
Where can you buy or adopt a Flat-Coated Retriever?
Flat-Coated Retrievers are middle-of-the-road in popularity in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, Flat-Coated Retrievers rank 89th.
Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
You might find a Flat-Coated Retriever available from a Dog Rescue group. But also be aware that many retriever crosses and mixes can resemble Flat-Coats without having a single Flat-Coated Retriever gene. So unless the Rescue group is a breed-specific group that knows its own breed, you might find a dog labeled as a Flat-Coat who really isn't.
Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Flat-Coated Retrievers are rarely found here for the same reasons listed above. Flat-Coated Retriever Rescue groups keep their eyes peeled on shelters and humane societies across the country. On the off chance that a Flat-Coat turns up at a shelter, the rescue group typically moves in quickly to take the dog.
Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy a Flat-Coated Retriever from a show breeder, who breeds Flat-Coats to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.
If you're interested in a Flat-Coated Retriever for serious hunting purposes, you would be best off to purchase from a breeder who specializes in hunting retrievers. But not many people use Flat-Coats for serious hunting today, so the closest you will probably come is to look for a show breeder who also turns out lots of dogs with AKC "hunting test" titles.
You might also be able to buy a Flat-Coated Retriever from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.
Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of a Flat-Coated Retriever puppy should have:
- a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal knees
If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Flat-Coated Retriever ends up with cataracts and crippled joints.
Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
Flat-Coated Retrievers are rare in pet shops, but it's possible. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!
How To Choose a Good Flat-Coated Retriever Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Flat-Coated Retriever puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.
AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered Flat-Coated Retriever puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?
To help you train and care for your dog
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.
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.
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.