Home   »   Breeds   »   Flat-Coated Retriever   »   History

Flat-Coated Retriever
Looking for a Flat-Coated Retriever?

The Flat-Coat arrived out of the desire to create a selectively-bred bird dog. The breed cites in its ancestry the Retriever Proper, a cross-breed emerging from the Large Newfoundland, setter, sheepdog, and spaniel-like water dogs, in addition to various other breeds that have contributed the Flat-Coat's unique stature and appearance. Retrievers were invaluable to fishermen and were the subjects of trade between Britain and North America, particularly with the cod fishery off Newfoundland during the 19th century, when the term "Labrador" dog came into use and was indiscriminately applied to a number of small dogs in the area. Eventually, a breed known as the Wavy-Coated (subsequently Flat-Coated) Retriever - not to be confused with today's Labrador Retriever - came onto the scene in America.

The first British dog show was held in 1859, but classification for Retrievers, comprising both Curly-and Wavy- or Smooth-Coated, was not available until the following year. Accurate records do not appear until 1874, but it is known that from 1864 on, two bitches of a working strain of retrievers belonging to J. Hull, a gamekeeper, figured in the awards of the British shows of that time. It was this stock that produced an important nucleus to the development of the breed, though the greatest credit for integration of these retrievers into a stable type goes to S.E. Shirley, founder of the Kennel Club in 1873.

Subsequently, the breed gained enormously in popularity and numerous important breeders made their contribution to the quality and elegance of the Flat-Coated Retriever as ell as to his excellent working abilities. The breed's most famous patron was H.R. Cooke, who for over 70 years kept the breed in his unparalleled "Riverside" kennel. Though considerably popular when admitted to the AKC in 1915, the Flat-Coat began to steadily drop in popularity until its levels reached a new low following the World Wars. Thankfully, Stanley O'Neill, one of the greatest authorities on the breed, took it upon himself to revive the breed. Finally, the mid-1960's showed a new interest in the Flat-Coat and a flourishing on both sides of the Atlantic.

More Info