by HELEN SZOSTAK
The Flat-Coated Retriever Form & Function
T he Flat-Coated Retriever originat- ed in England in the mid 1800s. Man’s improved ability 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. Gamekeepers and other owners brought their prized shooting dogs to show to compete based on their conformation. Flat-Coats were popu- lar 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 inde- pendent. 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 multipurpose 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 relationship between dog and human. When judging the Flat-Coat it is of para- mount 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 pride in this abil- ity of Flat-Coats to be beautiful and work- manlike 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.
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)
“Watching them you can’t help but see the incredible joy they have in doing their job.”
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2019 • 295
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