Showsight May 2017



T he Flat-Coated Retriever orig- inated in England in the mid 1800s. Man’s improved abili- ty to shoot game at a distance necessitated a dog capable of retrieving it and Flat-Coats came to be for exactly that purpose. Early Flat-Coats were kept as personal shooting dogs and were favorites of gamekeepers. The breed was brought to type by Mr. Shirley, who was also the founder of the Kennel Club in England. As dog shows became popular, the handsome and elegant Flat- Coat became popular at shows. Game- keepers and other owners brought their prized shooting dogs to show to compete based on their conformation. Flat-Coats were popular competitors in early field trials as well, for many years they were the most popular field trial dog in England. When working in the field, Flat-Coats have excellent noses, soft mouths and great heart. Watching them you can’t help but see the incredible joy they have in doing their job. They are good markers and steady workers, they are also very smart and somewhat indepen- dent. They work with moderate speed and style. They love to work and work with people and are always happy. This quality has made them a very multipur- pose breed. Many Flat-Coats that win in the conformation ring also have initials after their names. The breed excels in any activity requiring a working rela- tionship between dog and human. When judging the Flat-Coat it is of paramount importance to remember the purpose for which the breed was created. The modern Flat-Coat is one of the few sporting breeds that have not diverged into a working and a show type. The same dog that wins in the show ring today should be able to run in a hunt test or trial tomorrow, and then go and run agility or do obedience. Many Flat-Coat owners are involved in multiple aspects of the dog game and Flat-Coats easily transition between them. As owners, we prize and take

Silhouette of the Flat-Coated Retriever, both moving (above) and standing (below). (Illustrations by Marcia Schlehr from The Illustrated Breed Standard of the Flat-Coated Retriever )

pride in this ability of Flat-Coats to be beautiful and workmanlike and we try very hard to preserve it. Flat-Coats are one of the few Sporting breeds that do not have a division in type between the working and show dogs. We as Flat-Coat breeders are trying hard to keep it that way. We want our dogs to be able to do it all. The breed standard of the Flat-Coat- ed Retriever was written as a blueprint to describe the visual appearance and temperament of the dog, i.e. those things that make him a Flat-Coat rather than, for example, a Labrador. In doing so, it also describes the attributes that the dog needed to have to be a good

and efficient working Retriever. I am going to discuss parts of the standard in relation to what is required from Working dogs. The Flat-Coat is famously described as a dog having, “Power without lumber and raciness without weediness.” Your first impression of a Flat-Coat should be that of a moderately sized, happy dog, with a constantly wagging tail. He should appear strong, workmanlike and with moderate bone and good sub- stance. He should not be course or short on leg. He should be elegant, with gen- tle lines, all running smoothly together. He should not be refined, weak, leggy or rangy. He should always be shown in

274 • S how S ight M agazine , M ay 2017

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