Flat Coated Retriever

  • Overview

    The Flat-Coated Retriever's beautiful black coat leads some people to think they're simply a not-so Golden Retriever, but these enthusiastic dogs are a unique breed with plenty of personality and energy to spare. They weigh between 60 and 70 pounds and stand about 23 inches tall. Flat-Coat Retrievers are social, active dogs who will do well in busy families. They love to be constantly entertained by new faces and frequent activity. In fact, because these dogs are not couch potatoes, they will flourish in homes where they can receive plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

  • Personality

    Flat-Coated Retrievers are social butterflies who are friendly to everyone they meet. They are lively and exuberant, especially when greeting guests and playing with their owners. Training the Flat-Coated Retriever is a fun and rewarding process because these dogs live to please their favorite people. They are incredibly responsive to their owners and they love to learn, so they pick up commands quickly. Focus on emphasizing positive behaviors and toning down some of the Flat-Coat's natural exuberance. They can be joyful jumpers and enthusiastic chewers who won't realize that these habits are wrong unless they are taught otherwise.

    These big bundles of energy may seem like perpetual puppies, and in a way, they are. They retain much of their puppy-like enthusiasm and high levels of energy throughout their lives, so they can be a little intimidating for quieter owners or young children. They need to burn off all their energy somehow, which means they require several long walks or active play sessions each day. Flat-Coats love to swim and retrieve, but they also make great jogging companions.

  • Coat Care

    Flat-Coat Retrievers' coats are straight and — that's right — flat. The black or liver coat is one of the dog's most beautiful and distinctive features. It is moderately long and feathered on the ears, chest, legs and tail. The feathering serves as protection for these dogs when they work and retrieve in cold water and rugged conditions, so it shouldn't be excessively long or get in the way of their ability to work.

    Brush your dog's coat thoroughly about once a week with a large pin or slicker brush. You can brush your dog more frequently if they pick up some underbrush outdoors, and you will need to brush your dog more frequently when they shed. They shed about twice a year, and brushing during their shedding period will help reduce the amount of black hair you find around your house and on your clothing.

Flat Coated Retriever
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You will need to brush your Flat Coated Retriever more frequently when he sheds. They shed about twice a year, and brushing during their shedding period will help reduce the amount of black hair you find around your house and on your clothing.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

Breeds with combination coats should be bathed seasonally, or about every three months. Naturally, it can be done more often if needed. The coat should end up fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with combination coats generally require routine trimming. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It’s a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use trimmers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Trim with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Small dogs, like Dachshunds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillions and Japanese Chins, and dogs with hanging ears like the Saluki,  have sensitive ears that need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Small dogs like Papillions and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to developing tear stains around their eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.