The Flat-Coated Retriever is a versatile family companion hunting retriever with a happy and active demeanor, intelligent expression, and clean lines. The Flat-Coat has been traditionally described as showing ''power without lumber and raciness without weediness.'' The distinctive and most important features of the Flat-Coat are the silhouette (both moving and standing), smooth effortless movement, head type, coat and character. The coat is thick and flat lying, and the legs and tail are well feathered. A proud carriage, responsive attitude, waving tail and overall look of functional strength, quality, style and symmetry complete the picture of the typical Flat-Coat.
As a pet, the Flat-Coated Retriever adapts easily to city life, but requires considerable amounts of exercise and activity. Since the Flat-Coat is a working hunting retriever, he should be kept in good physical condition. The Flat-Coated Retriever loves to play. Because he is a strong dog, supervision is needed around small children.
Character is a primary and outstanding asset of the Flat-Coat. He is a responsive, loving member of the family, a versatile working dog, multi-talented, sensible, bright and tractable. In competition the Flat-Coat demonstrates stability and a desire to please with a confident, happy and outgoing attitude characterized by a wagging tail. Nervous, hyperactive, apathetic, shy or obstinate behavior is undesirable.
The Flat-Coated Retriever was admitted to AKC registration in 1915. By 1918, the breed's popularity was overtaken by the modern Labrador Retriever, and by the end of the 1920s by the Golden Retriever. At times, particularly during the two World Wars, registrations dwindled to dangerous levels. The breed's most famous patron was H. R. Cooke, who for over 70 years kept the breed in his fabulous ''Riverside'' kennel - a kennel perhaps unique among those for any breed of dogs in numbers, quality and awards won in the field and on the show bench.