THE FLAT-COATED RETRIEVER: HISTORY, ORIGIN & UTILITY
“The Flat-Coat has a reliable temperament and is an excellent companion dog.”
The Flat-Coated Retriever became a favorite among gamekeep- ers in England during the turn of the [20th] century. The Flat- Coat was a devoted companion with a unique willingness to work for its master. After a day’s hunt, the Flat-Coat would be sent over the fields and streams to pick up game that had been left behind. Considered “a hearth dog,” the Flat-Coat will work tirelessly with quite a high level of exuberance, but settle quietly in the house. Ownership of this breed peaked in the 1920s and suffered a serious decline until the mid-1950s. Contributing factors to this were the increasing popularity of the “other” retriever breeds, Sporting dogs that were better suited for high intensity fieldwork, and the tale of many Flat-Coats being decimated during the World Wars. Another important figure in the breed’s sustainability was Mr. Stanley L. O’Neill whose genuine concern for the breed prompted him to institute a Flat-Coated Retriever revival breeding program following the war. He worked diligently to advance the breed and save it from demise. One of the first Flat-Coats to be brought to the United States was a liver-colored bitch named Pewcroft Perfect that was sent to a Mr. Homer Downing in Ohio by O’Neill in 1953. In a few short years, Downing imported another dog, a liver-colored Flat-Coated Retriever female named Atherbram Stella. In 1956, the total population of Flat-Coated Retrievers in the United States was nine. Two litters of puppies were produced and
the population of Flat-Coats was 22 by 1957. Mr. Downing and his wife introduced these two biddable bitches to the obedience ring. Pewcroft Perfect achieved a UDT and Atherbram Stella, a UD title. Mr. Downing, under the kennel name Bramcroft, would play a huge role in perpetuating the breed as we know it today—a com- plete utility dog. Over the next fifty years, Flat-Coats would regain popularity, with stabilizing pedigrees, and achieve success in the breed ring, the field, and in all areas of AKC competitions. The Flat-Coated Retriever remains today a biddable working companion, not divided into performance versus show lines. In 2012, there were a total of 1,116 titles earned in the breed across all AKC events. The breed saw 552 dogs registered in 2012, ranking 92 out of 177; 96 litters were registered. The Flat-Coat has a reliable temperament and is an excellent companion dog. The Flat-Coat has been coined the “Canine Peter Pan” in A Review Of The Flat-Coated Retriever by Dr. Nancy Laugh- ton. This is the reason my husband and I chose the Flat-Coated Retriever to raise our children, but can also serve as a reason to proceed with caution when considering this breed. Although always known for their exuberant personality, train- ability, and persistently wagging tail—the Flat-Coat may be too much for the novice dog owner.
194 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2020
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