Flatcoat Revival


- by Peter Moxon from Gundogs, Shooting Times and Country Magazine in May 9 – 15, 1985

from Gundogs, Shooting Times & Country Magazine in May 9 – 15, 1985

Nobody could be more pleased than I am to learn that there is a movement afoot to resuscitate that grand old breed, the Flatcoated Retriever, as a genuine shooting and field trial dog.  At the turn of the last century Flatcoats were pre-eminent in the field and seemed to be carrying all before them, but the subsequent emergence of the Labrador and the Golden Retriever ousted them in popularity, so much so that, nowadays, retriever trials are often referred to as “Labrador” trials.  With this decline in fortune, usually attributed to the outstanding pace and style of the Labrador plus its “trainability” and  docility, shooting men and trialers (apart from a dedicated few) lost interest. The Flatcoat become prey to the show fraternity which, as always when it gets its claws into working breeds, wreaked outstanding characteristics which, originally, the breed undoubtedly possessed. Qualities such as nose, courage, perseverance and stamina, are still in evidence in dogs bred and owned by the handful of enthusiasts who have now got together and are determined to put the Flatcoat back on the map as a practical shooting dog – where it rightfully belongs.

Register of working flatcoats.

In view of my high regard for the Flatcoated retriever, and indeed, of the cause of all the “Cinderella” breeds of gundogs which performed a very useful job of work for the shooting fraternity, I offer no apologies for reproducing below an appeal from the faithful band of Flatcoat admirers in the hope that interested readers will respond and assist in reviving the fortunes of a very worthwhile gundog: ”There has been a steady increase in the popularity of the Flatcoat since the war, but with the success of a Flatcoat winning Cruft, the explosion of Flatcoats on the open market has brought an imbalance.  Whilst the breed is flourishing in the show ring, the natural gundog ability with which the breed was once so generously endowed is being diluted almost to a point of no return by the great increase in numbers.

“A group of like-minded people agree that action must be taken to protect the working characteristic of the dog.  This group will aim toward the elimination, of penal faults, such as whining and hard mouth, and to improve working ability and trainability be selective breeding to these ends.  Attention will be paid to good temperament, general soundness and stamina.”

“The resulting progeny will be placed in the hands of dedicated trainers as far as possible, and only the best will be bred from. Hopefully, this process will continue until we have a large pool of dogs working satisfactorily in the field an even in field trials.”

 “It is vital that the group is recognised by the shooting man and the working gundog world in general, and to this end a declaration of our aims was made at the 1985 Annual General Meeting of the Flatcoated Retriever Society. In the main our group consists of people who have striven for this endeavour on their own in the past – gamekeepers, shooting men, and very important to us, keen field trialers.”

“The group intends to compile a register of working Flatcoats and we ask your help if you know of any Flatcoats in your area, and you know their dogs to be free from penal faults, we would be grateful for this information and the name of the owners, if they may wish to become involved in this group. We do know that not all Flatcoat owners are members of the Society, and naturally we do not seek to impose our aims on others, but any help offered would be greatly accepted.

Peter Moxon.

    © Alex Faarkrog 2017


       © Alex Faarkrog 2017