THE FLAT-COATED RETRIEVER: HISTORY, ORIGIN & UTILITY
B eing raised with working and herding dogs that we worked in obedience, herding, and guard work, I always felt committed to the purebred dog and its utility. In the late 1980s, after having my first son, I was in search of a “kid-friendly” breed to mix with my new, young family. I had my curiosity piqued while at a local gun club. In the distance, I saw a beautiful, athletic, black dog. The moderately feathered coat with its incandes- cence caught my eye. As it trained diligently with the trainer, I could see the willingness to work in the dog’s eye. When I asked, the trainer told me it was a Flat-Coated Retriever. I was hooked. My initial research into this fascinating breed has left me more dedicated to the betterment of this breed than I ever thought I would be. Developed as a water and land retriever in the mid-to- late 1800s, this retriever breed was originally known as the Wavy-Coated Retriever. This was likely the product of cross breeding with a variety of breeds, including Setters, Collies, and Poodles, among others. Most certainly in the proprietary mix was the St. John’s Newfoundland, otherwise known as the Lesser Newfoundland, an extinct breed today. Mr. Sewallis Evelyn Shirley (1844-1904), founder of the Kennel Club of Britain and an accomplished dog fancier and judge, took a keen interest in the breed and sought to distin- guish it from the Curly-Coated Retriever.
BY MARLA J. DOHENY
192 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2020
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