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. In silhouette the Flat-Coat has a long, strong, clean, "one piece" head, which is unique to the breed. Free from exaggeration of stop or cheek, the head is set well into a moderately long neck which flows smoothly into well laid back shoulders. A level topline combined with a deep, long rib cage tapering to a moderate tuck-up create the impression of a blunted triangle. The brisket is well developed and the forechest forms a prominent prow. This utilitarian retriever is well balanced, strong, but elegant; never cobby, short legged or rangy. 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.
The long, clean, well molded head is adequate in size and strength to retrieve a large pheasant, duck or hare with ease. Expression alert, intelligent and kind. Eyes are set widely apart. Medium sized, almond shaped, dark brown or hazel; not large, round or yellow. Eye rims are self-colored and tight. Ears relatively small, well set on, lying close to the side of the head and thickly feathered. Not low set (houndlike or setterish). Nose-Large open nostrils. Black on black dogs, brown on liver dogs. Lipsfairly tight, firm, clean and dry to minimize the retention of feathers. Jaws long and strong, capable of carrying a hare or a pheasant.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck strong and slightly arched for retrieving strength. Moderately long to allow for easy seeking of the trail. Free from throatiness. Coat on neck is untrimmed. Topline strong and level. Body-Chest (Brisket)-Deep, reaching to the elbow and only moderately broad. Forechest-Prow prominent and well developed. Rib cage deep, showing good length from forechest to last rib (to allow ample space for all body organs), and only moderately broad. The foreribs fairly flat showing a gradual spring, well arched in the center of the body but rather lighter towards the loin. Underline-Deep chest tapering to a moderate tuck-up. Loin strong, well muscled and long enough to allow for agility, freedom of movement and length of stride, but never weak or loosely coupled. Croup slopes very slightly; rump moderately broad and well muscled. Tail fairly straight, well set on, with bone reaching approximately to the hock joint. When the dog is in motion, the tail is carried happily but without curl as a smooth extension of the topline, never much above the level of the back.
Shoulders long, well laid back shoulder blade with upper armof approximately equal length to allow for efficient reach. Musculature wiry rather than bulky. Elbows clean, close to the body and set well back under the withers. Forelegs straight and strong with medium bone of good quality. Pasterns slightly sloping and strong. Dewclaws-Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet oval or round. Medium sized and tight with well arched toes and thick pads.
Powerful with angulation in balance with the front assembly. Upper thighs powerful and well muscled. Stifle-Good turn of stifle with sound, strong joint. Second thighs (Stifle to hock joint)-Second or lower thigh as long as or only slightly longer than upper thigh. Hock-Hock joint strong, well let down. Dewclaws-There are no hind dewclaws. Feetoval or round. Medium sized and tight with well arched toes and thick pads.
Coat is of moderate length density and fullness, with a high lustre. The ideal coat is straight and flat lying. A slight waviness is permissible but the coat is not curly, wooly, short, silky or fluffy. The Flat-Coat is a working retriever and the coat must provide protection from all types of weather, water and ground cover. This requires a coat of sufficient texture, length and fullness to allow for adequate insulation. When the dog is in full coat the ears, front, chest, back of forelegs, thighs and underside of tail are thickly feathered without being bushy, stringy or silky. Mane of longer heavier coat on the neck extending over the withers and shoulders is considered typical, especially in the male dog, and can cause the neck to appear thicker and the withers higher, sometimes causing the appearance of a dip behind the withers. Since the Flat-Coat is a hunting retriever, the feathering is not excessively long.