Flat-Coated Retrievers have the classic, athletic retriever build. They are sleek and fit looking, with long, molded heads, wide muzzles with a barley noticeable stop. Their almond-shaped eyes are dark brown or hazel in color and have that classic, friendly retriever gleam. The ears of the Flat-Coated Retriever lie flat against the head, are set moderately high on the head, are small, and elegantly feathered. The coat is long and straight, protecting the dog from the elements of the hunting field and there is feathering on the ears, chest, tail, thighs and the back of the forelegs. They come in shades of black and liver, and their noses correspond to the coat color: black for black and brown for liver. According to the AKC standard, the Flat-Coat has been traditionally described as showing "power without lumber and raciness without weedines.”
Size and Weight
The ideal height for male Flat-Coated Retrievers is 23-24.5 inches at the withers and for females, 22 to 23.5 inches. They range in weight from 55 to 70 pounds, with females weighing in on the lighter side of the scale. Show dogs should be lean and fit, as they are a member of the sporting group.
Coat and Color
The Flat-Coated Retriever sports a long, straight coat that protects the dog from both the weather and ground cover he may encounter in the field. The coat is heavier around the neck, more so in males than females. There is feathering on the ears, chest, tail, thighs and the back of the forelegs, which is part of the protective function of the coat and should never be too long. Flat-Coated Retrievers come in solid black, liver or reddish-brown.
Weekly brushing will keep the Flat-Coated Retriever's coat shiny and healthy. They shed lightly through the year, and heavily twice per year. When the dog is shedding, brushing may need to occur two to three times per week. This breed only requires bathing as needed, when the dog has gotten into the muck, or when he starts to emit a doggie odor. Some owners prefer to clip the hair on the ears, feet, belly and tail for neatness sake.
Check the ears weekly for signs of wax buildup, irritation, or infection. Cleanse the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved solution - never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Brush the teeth once or twice per week to keep bad breath in check and prevent tartar buildup. Active dogs will wear down their nails naturally, but if the make a clicking sound on hard surfaces, it's time for a trim.