(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)

General Appearance

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, Proportion, Substance

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 24; inches at the
withers for dogs, 22 to 23 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, Topline, Body

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 thight. 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 thick pads.


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 totally


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

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