This bitch shows smooth, efficient movement and balanced reach and drive. (Photo by Chris Butler)
The breed is named the “Flat-Coated Retriever”. The coat is therefore very important to the breed. It is first a functional jacket, it must be sufficient to protect the dog in all sorts of weather and cover conditions. It is moder- ately thick, straight and flat-lying with sufficient fullness, length and texture to protect the dog. It is not fluffy, silly or curly; it may be slightly wavy. This breed was once called the Wavy-Coated Retriever and this type of coat still appears in the breed. As long as it is flat-lying, it is not penalized. When in full coat, the ears, front, chest, back of forelegs, hind legs, thighs and bottom of the tail are feathered. The coat should not be excessive. Exces- sive coat will pick up more burrs and weeds, and impede the dog’s ability to work in heavy cover. The dog may have a mane of thicker, longer coat over the neck, shoul- ders and withers. Sometimes this ends in the middle of the back, giving the impression of a dip in the topline, which is not real. Please use your hands to evaluate the topline if necessary. The standard requires that the dog be shown in as natural coat as possible. He should not be penalized for lack of trimming as long as they are clean and well brushed. Tidying of the ears, feet, underline and tip of the tail is acceptable. It has become fashionable in some countries to strip or shave the necks of FCs to just above the sternum; they think this helps to show the neck and emphasize the forechest. I’m hopeful that our North American judges can tell the difference between a puff of hair and the actual forechest on a dog. We want our Flat-Coats to be able to go hunting tomor- row. Stripping his neck of all of its hair removes pro- tection from brush, bramble and leaves the dog more open to cold water or injury. The standard states that, “Shaving or barbering of the head, neck or body coat must be severely penalized.” Dogs that are severely bar- bered should not be awarded first place ribbons, nor should they be given group placements. Dogs with a proper coat should not need to be barbered. Our dog is a Working Retriever, he needs the protection his natu- ral coat provides. For the same reasons whiskers should not be cut off our dogs, they are sensory organs and help to protect the dog’s face and eyes from injury. Several words have been used repeatedly in this arti- cle: strong, elegant, moderate, happy and workman- like. It is important that a winning Flat-Coat be all of those things.
A very nice male head.
Standing dog. (Photo by Wendy Tisdall)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Helen Szostak, DVM, has been a breeder and exhibitor of Flat-Coated Retrievers for 43 years. Her Grousemoor Flat-Coats have produced many champions, National Specialty BOB and BOS winners, Group winners and placers, OTCH, Mach, MH and TDX dogs as well as other title holders. She was awarded the AKC’s Sporting Dog Breeder of the year award in 2003. She has been an AKC delegate, National Specialty Chairperson and has held many offices in Breed and All Breed Clubs. She currently belongs to the Flat-Coated Retriever Society’s of the US, Canada and the UK and the Marshbanks Golden Retriever Club.
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