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The classic description of the Flat-Coat is “power without lumber, raciness without weediness”. It emphasizes the basic principle that no characteristic is extreme, but rather, that the Flat-Coat is first and foremost, a moderate retriever in every way.

The Flat-Coat is a medium to larger sized dog. Ideally, males are 23” to 24” at the shoulder and weigh approximately 65 to 70 lbs, while females are 22” to 23” and weigh 55 lbs to 60 lbs. They have moderate bone and substance, which should give the impression of having enough strength to do a hard day’s work without tiring due to bulk. They should also have moderate coat length and thickness; enough to protect them from briars and the elements, but not so much that it impedes their progress or takes hours to dry.

Flat-Coats have a head type that is unique among retrievers. It is described as being cast as one piece, with little to no stop and well filled to remove the impression of cheekiness. Eye colour is brown or hazel with tight lids. Their muzzle is moderately long and strong with tight lips.

There are two acceptable colours in Flat-Coats. Solid black is the dominant colour and the most common. Less common but equally acceptable is the recessive liver colour (brown). Any other colour is a disqualifying fault for conformation competition. Occasionally a yellow Flat-Coat will be born and although this does not have accompanying health concerns, responsible and ethical breeders do not deliberately promote or try to produce the yellow colour.