Thought to have developed in the mid-19th century as the result of crossing between various retriever and spaniel-type dogs, the Flat-Coated Retriever enjoyed great popularity in its early existence, being widely utilised as a bird and gamekeeper's dog. Well suited to working over difficult terrain in all manner of weather conditions, the Flat-Coated Retriever was employed by fishermen and hunters, helping to successfully detect and capture game. Eclipsed by the rising popularity of the Golden Retriever, the Flat-Coated faced near extinction, only being saved by the efforts of careful breeding in the 1960s. Officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1915.
Believed to boast several forebears, including the Newfoundland, Labrador, Irish Setter, Water Spaniel and possibly the Collie, the Flat-Coated Retriever is easily mistaken. Possessing a medium-sized build with a long head and muzzle, well feathered ears that are relatively small in comparison, and a deep chest for enhanced lung capacity, thus aiding stamina. The coat is typically thick and fine, common in solid black or solid liver. Adapted to working difficult, marshy terrain, the breed is a keen swimmer and boasts an excellent sense of smell.
Whilst its numbers are few as a domestic pet, the Flat-Coated Retriever makes an exemplary companion. With a gentle and reliable temperament, the breed is highly compatible with children, acting fearlessly to protect its family if potential danger is perceived, whilst otherwise remaining calm, mannered and charming. Highly trainable, the Flat-Coated is adaptable to the domestic setting, requiring regular exercise and human companionship in order to demonstrate its pleasing potential. On average, a healthy Flat-Coated Retriever will weigh 27-32 kg, with a life expectancy of 10-13 years.
Various genetic conditions are identified in the Flat-Coated Retriever, including hip dysplasia and associated orthopedic disorders. Bloat and gastric tortion are also identified, potentially fatal conditions if left untreated for any length of time. Besides this, the most common cause of breed mortality is cancer.