Skip to Content

Do Flat-Coated Retrievers Make Good Pets? (Facts for 2020)

Are you planning on getting a flat-coated retriever as your new family dog but wants to know if it makes a good pet? Then this article is for you. 

So, do flat-coated Retrievers make good pets? 

Flat-coated Retrievers are good family pets. They’re bred for companionship, well-suited for apartment living, affectionate, alert, playful, and above all, they’re easy to maintain, and flat-coated retrievers love being around kids.

Here, you’ll find all the useful information about these retrievers to help you decide whether they make good pets for you or not.

To start with, here is a brief history of the flat-coated retrievers.

Brief History

The flat-coated retrievers, originally known as the Wavy Coated Retriever, were reportedly developed in the mid-19th century, the era when shooting birds for sports was gaining increasing popularity. 

These dogs were developed to help retrieve birds once they hit the ground, hence, the name “retriever.”

They were a popular working breed in England in the 1800s and the US in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Although the exact origin of the flat-coated retrievers can’t be ascertained, they are likely a descent of the now-extinct St. John’s Water Dog and the Newfoundland

However, Setter, Spaniel lines, and possibly Collies were supposedly introduced later on to improve the working ability of the flat-coated retrievers. 

The flat-coated retrievers were originally developed with black color, which was also the only acceptable color but variations and artificial selection led to the development of the liver-colored retrievers, which are now accepted for registration.

Today, These retrievers are likely to be multi-talented individuals. Despite their original “game retrieving” purpose, they make a good companion. 

Their athletic physique and trainable nature mean that they can also excel in modern dog sports like flyball and agility.

More so, this type of retrievers can excel in both agility and tracking tests, which makes them a popular choice as guide and sniffer dogs.

What more? Flat-coated retrievers have this “forever puppy” personality, which makes them a very good family pet.

This nature earned the flat-coated retrievers the name “the Peter Pan of the canine kingdom.

Nature and Personality

The retrievers breed are very friendly and extremely sociable to everyone.

They also love children and love to be with the family. These dogs thrive on attention and affection.

They have a very slow maturing process.

This gives them their “forever puppy” nature and makes them seem forever young.

While it is generally believed that all dogs reach adulthood at the age of one, the flat-coated retrievers would remain puppy-like well beyond three years of age.

Like other breeds of retrievers, the flat-coated retrievers are known to carry things in their mouths.

They are food thieves but they don’t chew excessively.

More so, they are known to be quite sensitive and intelligent. They respond well to all non-coercive and positive training methods.

With all these personalities, the flat-coated retrievers make good family pets.

Let’s say the flat-coated retrievers make good pets for you if you want a dog that:

  • Is small-sized with a pretty feathered coat.
  • Has the natural “retriever shape” 
  • Cheerfully wags it tails
  • Is peaceful with other animals
  • Is polite with everyone
  • Thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities.

However, the flat-coated retrievers may not be right for you if you can’t handle: 

  • A dog that mouths your hand, carries things in the mouth and chews objects.
  • Regular brushing and combing and hair trimming, if any.
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping.
  • Shedding
  • Serious health problems and a potentially short lifespan
  • Vigorous exercise requirements

Generally, if you want a dog that can keep up with an active daily schedule, then you should consider the flat-coated retrievers as your pets. 

Aside from being sociable and energetic, the flat-coated retrievers also enjoy swimming, running, and other forms of vigorous exercise.

Just as their name depicts, these pets are excellent retrievers of birds or objects like tennis balls.

Deciding whether the flat-coated retrievers make good pets largely depends on their temperaments. 

Here is some more useful information about their temperaments that will help you decide whether to bring a flat-coated retriever home as your new pet. 

Flat-Coated Retrievers Are Playful

Being boisterous, flat-coated retrievers are very playful and possess infectious playful energy. This quality makes these pets entertaining and loyal companions.

Flat-coated retrievers jump up on anything and anyone in excitement not considering whether their size would knock down senior citizens or smaller people. 

It’s fun to watch your cute pet jump up on Grandma but it’s no longer fun when your dog has grown much bigger and your Grandma much older.

However, you can train your pet to avoid this bad habit while it’s still young.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Are Friendly

Flat-coated retrievers are tolerant and friendly. They adore everyone, including children and other dogs. 

They make a great companion for active older children but their boisterous nature can sometimes make them too energetic for children. 

Flat-Coated Retrievers Are Alert

Flat-coated retrievers are always alert. They will always bark to alert you that someone is coming. 

However, don’t rely on your cute dog to do anything about it.

This makes flat-coated retrievers inappropriate to be a successful guard dog.

For instance, expect your flat-coated retriever to welcome your guests or stranger with an object in its mouth or bounce up and down to express excitement at making a potential new friend.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Are Not Well-suited for Apartment Living

While flat-coated retrievers can stay calm indoors, they are not well-suited for apartment life. 

Instead, these pets enjoy a house with a backyard – remember their hunting and retrieving history.

Retrievers will do well in a house that allows them to utilize their talents, which include running, hunting, and swimming.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Enjoy Companionship

The flat-coated retrievers enjoy companionship. They love to be around humans, especially their owners, and don’t like it when they are left alone.

Typically, these breeds of retrievers are attention-seeking dogs and may become destructive when left alone for too long to handle all their pent-up energy.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Have an Oral Fixation

A little has been said about this above. Flat-coated retrievers have an oral fixation, they are “chewers.” That means they always hold up things in their mouths.

While they hold and carry things in their mouth for fun, they won’t realize that some things may be destroyed by this act, like your favorite shoes. 

At other times, your pet dog may nibble your hands just to have something in its mouths.

However, you can prevent this by keeping a boxful of favorite toys within the reach of your dog.

This way, you would be able to quickly substitute a toy in place of your hand or other useful objects.

Simply put, flat-coated retrievers are food thieves.

So, it’s advisable to always watch your foods around flat-coated retrievers or better still keep your food away from them. 

Don’t leave your foods within reach or on counters, your cute pets would find a way to get to it.

To worsen the case, some flat-coated retrievers may go as far as eating their poop – coprophagy. 

So make sure to always scoop up your retriever’s poop before it gets a chance to snack on it.

Flat-Coated Retrievers Need Guidance

As flat-coated retrievers are poor guard dogs, they also need guidance. They are not as easygoing as their Golden Retriever cousins.

While they are willful and willing to learn, they must be taught good manners. 

Now that you know that flat-coated retrievers make good pets, here are a few tips that will help you cater well and enjoy your new pet:

1. Health

The flat-coated retrievers have an average life expectancy of about eight to 10 years. According to the UK Kennel Club:

  • Female flat-coated retrievers under two years of age should not have a litter.
  • Female flat-coated retrievers should not have more than three litters in their lifetime.
  • Female flat-coated retrievers should not have more than one litter in any 12-month timeframe.

Flat-coated retrievers are generally healthy. Nevertheless, they’re prone to certain health conditions.

Though not all flat-coated retrievers are infected by all of these diseases, it’s very important to know and be aware of these diseases if you’re planning on keeping a flat-coat as a pet:

Hip Dysplasia (HD)

This is a health condition where one or a combination of several different developmental hip anomalies contributes to the formation of joint problems in older flat-coated retrievers.

Hip dysplasia, which is either genetic or environmental, is a condition where the thighbone fails to fit tightly into the hip joint.

This condition makes your pet dog show pain and lameness on either one or both rear legs.

Unless with careful examination, signs of discomfort in a flat-coats with hip dysplasia may not be noticed.

However, x-raying the hips of your retriever when it is over a year old will help to evaluate whether your dog is affected or not.

Although flat-coated retrievers with hip dysplasia should not be bred, it is important to always ask the breeder for proof that the parent flat-coats are not suffering from hip dysplasia and are free from other health problems. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This condition includes different inherited health conditions that affect the retina and its ability to function properly within the eye. 

These health conditions ultimately impair vision and can either be degenerative or developmental.

While degenerative forms progress more slowly and usually occur when your flat-coat is older, the developmental forms progress more rapidly and occur in younger dogs.


This health condition occurs when there is a build-up of fluid in the eye, which subsequently leads to an increase in pressure in the eyes.

This condition usually affects sight and is associated with pain and discomfort. 

You can find out if your pet is developing glaucoma by regular testing with gonioscopy.


This is a neurological disease that leads to seizures.

These seizures are of varying frequency and severity and it can be very complicated to identify what triggers them.

The good news is that epilepsy can be easily controlled with medication though with dedication and consistency of the owner.


Flat-coated retrievers suffer from a higher rate of various types of cancers, which include the following:

i). Malignant Histiocytosis: Though this type of cancer is rare, it’s the most common type of cancer seen in flat-coated retrievers.

ii). Lymphosarcoma: This is another common cancer seen in flat-coats. It affects the bone marrow, liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and gastrointestinal tract.

iv). Hemangiosarcoma: This is a type of cancer and can be found in the lining of blood vessels as well as the spleen.

v). Osteosarcoma: This is an aggressive bone cancer and usually affects large dogs.

The first sign of Osteosarcoma is lameness, but the dog will need x-rays to determine if the cause is cancer. 

Generally, all these forms of cancer can be treated with chemotherapy.

2. Character and Temperament

As earlier stated, flat-coated retrievers are bright, active dogs with confident and friendly characters.

Flat-coats are very kind-natured and are always eager to please everyone and enjoy human company.

This breed of retrievers makes an excellent family pet as long as it can be provided with sufficient exercise. 

Though flat-coated retrievers don’t always suffer from separation anxiety, it’s not ideal to leave them alone for a long time.

More so, flat-coats are slow-growing and often described as being forever young.

3. Trainability

Flat-coated retrievers are not only eager to please but are also very trainable. They are energetic and intelligent.

As a result, flat-coats learn very quickly and can easily recall house training without any problem.

4. Exercise and Activity Levels

Flat-coated retrievers have high exercise and activity levels.

Normally, they need about two hours of exercise daily to allow them to expend their endless energy. This makes flat-coated retrievers an ideal choice for an active family.

5. Grooming

Flat-coated retrievers have medium-length furs that are soft and shiny to touch.

These furs provide excellent protection against cold and water. However, these furs can shed fairly heavily. 

Hence, this breed of retrievers requires regular brushing to prevent matting and having a lot of hair lying around the house.


You have seen that flat-coated retrievers make good pets.

So, if you are looking for a companion that will also excel at sports, then the flat-coated retriever might just be the right pet.