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

Flat-Coated Retriever temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Flat-Coated Retriever dog breed

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.

  2. Serious health problems (part two). Then there is inherited epilepsy. Heart disease. Hip dysplasia. Eye diseases. As I said, the health problems in this breed are significant. See more on Flat-Coated Retriever Health.
  3. 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.
  4. Grooming. To keep their feathered coat free of mats, Flat Coated Retrievers require regular brushing and combing, and occasional trimming.
  5. Shedding. Flat Coated Retrievers shed quite a bit.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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