Breed Standard - The Flat-Coated
The Flat-Coated Retriever is a versatile family companion hunting
retriever with a happy and active demeanor, intelligent expression, and
clean lines. The Flat-Coat has been traditionally described as showing
"power without lumber and raciness without weediness." The distinctive and
most important features of the Flat-Coat are the silhouette (both moving and
standing), smooth effortless movement, head type, coat and character. In
silhouette the Flat-Coat has a long, strong, clean, "one piece" head, which
is unique to the breed. Free from exaggeration of stop or cheek, the head is
set well into a moderately long neck which flows smoothly into well laid
back shoulders. A level topline combined with a deep, long rib cage tapering
to a moderate tuck-up create the impression of a blunted triangle. The
brisket is well developed and the forechest forms a prominent prow. This
utilitarian retriever is well balanced, strong, but elegant; never cobby,
short legged or rangy. The coat is thick and flat lying, and the legs and
tail are well feathered. A proud carriage, responsive attitude, waving tail
and overall look of functional strength, quality, style and symmetry
complete the picture of the typical Flat-Coat. Judging the Flat-Coat moving
freely on a loose lead and standing naturally is more important than judging
him posed. Honorable scars should not count against the dog.
Size-Individuals varying more than an inch either way from the
preferred height should be considered not practical for the types of work
for which the Flat-Coat was developed. Preferred height is 23 to 241/2;
inches at the withers for dogs, 22 to 231/2 inches for bitches. Since the
Flat-Coat is a working hunting retriever he should be shown in lean, hard
condition, free of excess weight. Proportion-The Flat-Coat is not
cobby in build. The length of the body from the point of the shoulder to the
rearmost projection of the upper thigh is slightly more than the height at
the withers. The female may be slightly longer to better accommodate the
carrying of puppies. Substance-Moderate. Medium bone is flat or oval
rather than round; strong but never massive, coarse, weedy or fine. This
applies throughout the dog.
The long, clean, well molded head is adequate in size and strength to
retrieve a large pheasant, duck or hare with ease. Skull and Muzzle-The
impression of the skull and muzzle being "cast in one piece" is created by
the fairly flat skull of moderate breadth and flat, clean cheeks, combined
with the long, strong, deep muzzle which is well filled in before, between
and beneath the eyes. Viewed from above, the muzzle is nearly equal in
length and breadth to the skull. Stop-There is a gradual, slight,
barely perceptible stop, avoiding a down or dish-faced appearance. Brows are
slightly raised and mobile, giving life to the expression. Stop must be
evaluated in profile so that it will not be confused with the raised brow.
Occiput -not accentuated, the skull forming a gentle curve where it
fits well into the neck. Expression- alert, intelligent and kind.
Eyes- are set widely apart. Medium sized, almond shaped, dark brown or
hazel; not large, round or yellow. Eye rims are self-colored and tight.
Ears -relatively small, well set on, lying close to the side of the head
and thickly feathered. Not low set (houndlike or setterish). Nose-Large
open nostrils. Black on black dogs, brown on liver dogs. Lips -fairly
tight, firm, clean and dry to minimize the retention of feathers. Jaws-
long and strong, capable of carrying a hare or a pheasant. Bite-Scissors
bite preferred, level bite acceptable. Broken teeth should not count against
the dog. Severe Faults-Wry and undershot or overshot bites with a
noticeable gap must be severely penalized.
Neck- strong and slightly arched for retrieving strength.
Moderately long to allow for easy seeking of the trail. Free from
throatiness. Coat on neck is untrimmed. Topline- strong and level.
Body-Chest (Brisket)-Deep, reaching to the elbow and only
moderately broad. Forechest- Prow prominent and well developed.
Rib cage- deep, showing good length from forechest to last rib (to allow
ample space for all body organs), and only moderately broad. The foreribs
fairly flat showing a gradual spring, well arched in the center of the body
but rather lighter towards the loin. Underline-Deep chest tapering to
a moderate tuck-up. Loin -strong, well muscled and long enough to
allow for agility, freedom of movement and length of stride, but never weak
or loosely coupled. Croup- slopes very slightly; rump moderately
broad and well muscled. Tail -fairly straight, well set on, with bone
reaching approximately to the hock joint. When the dog is in motion, the
tail is carried happily but without curl as a smooth extension of the
topline, never much above the level of the back.
Shoulders- long, well laid back shoulder blade with upper arm-
of approximately equal length to allow for efficient reach. Musculature wiry
rather than bulky. Elbows- clean, close to the body and set well back
under the withers. Forelegs- straight and strong with medium bone of
good quality. Pasterns- slightly sloping and strong. Dewclaws-Removal
of dewclaws is optional. Feet- oval or round. Medium sized and tight
with well arched toes and thick pads.
Powerful with angulation in balance with the front assembly. Upper
thighs- powerful and well muscled. Stifle-Good turn of stifle
with sound, strong joint. Second thighs -(Stifle to hock joint)-Second
or lower thigh as long as or only slightly longer than upper thigh. Hock-Hock
joint strong, well let down. Dewclaws-There are no hind dewclaws.
Feet- oval or round. Medium sized and tight with well arched toes and
Coat is of moderate length, density and fullness, with a high lustre. The
ideal coat is straight and flat lying. A slight waviness is permissible but
the coat is not curly, wooly, short, silky or fluffy. The Flat-Coat is a
working retriever and the coat must provide protection from all types of
weather, water and ground cover. This requires a coat of sufficient texture,
length and fullness to allow for adequate insulation. When the dog is in
full coat the ears, front, chest, back of forelegs, thighs and underside of
tail are thickly feathered without being bushy, stringy or silky. Mane of
longer heavier coat on the neck extending over the withers and shoulders is
considered typical, especially in the male dog, and can cause the neck to
appear thicker and the withers higher, sometimes causing the appearance of a
dip behind the withers. Since the Flat-Coat is a hunting retriever, the
feathering is not excessively long. Trimming-The Flat-Coat is shown
with as natural a coat as possible and must not be penalized for lack of
trimming, as long as the coat is clean and well brushed. Tidying of ears,
feet, underline and tip of tail is acceptable. Whiskers serve a specific
function and it is preferred that they not be trimmed. Shaving or barbering
of the head, neck or body coat must be severely penalized.
Solid black or solid liver. Disqualification-Yellow, cream or any
color other than black or liver.
Sound, efficient movement is of critical importance to a hunting
retriever. The Flat-Coat viewed from the side covers ground efficiently and
movement appears balanced, free flowing and well coordinated, never choppy,
mincing or ponderous. Front and rear legs reach well forward and extend well
back, achieving long clean strides. Topline appears level, strong and supple
while dog is in motion.
The Flat-Coat is a strong but elegant, cheerful hunting retriever.
Quality of structure, balance and harmony of all parts both standing and in
motion are essential. As a breed whose purpose is of a utilitarian
nature„structure, condition and attitude should give every indication of
being suited for hard work.
Character is a primary and outstanding asset of the Flat-Coat. He is a
responsive, loving member of the family, a versatile working dog,
multi-talented, sensible, bright and tractable. In competition the Flat-Coat
demonstrates stability- and a desire to please with a confident,
happy and outgoing attitude characterized by a wagging tail. Nervous,
hyperactive, apathetic, shy or obstinate behavior is undesirable. Severe
Fault-Unprovoked aggressive behavior toward people or animals is
Character is as important to the evaluation of stock by a potential
breeder as any other aspect of the breed standard. The Flat-Coat is
primarily a family companion hunting retriever. He is keen and birdy,
flushing within gun range, as well as a determined, resourceful retriever on
land and water. He has a great desire to hunt with self-reliance and an
uncanny ability to adapt to changing circumstances on a variety of upland
game and waterfowl. As a family companion he is sensible, alert and highly
intelligent; a lighthearted, affectionate and adaptable friend. He retains
these qualities as well as his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into
old age. The adult Flat-Coat is usually an adequate alarm dog to give
warning, but is a good-natured, optimistic dog, basically inclined to be
friendly to all. The Flat-Coat is a cheerful, devoted companion who requires
and appreciates living with and interacting as a member of his family. To
reach full potential in any endeavor he absolutely must have a strong
personal bond and affectionate individual attention.
Yellow, cream or any color other than black or liver.
Approved September 11, 1990
Effective October 30, 1990