Michael Cullum (kennel Porlegde), https://www.champdogs.co.uk/breeder/31502

I would be delighted to support " The International Working Flatcoated Retriever" and so I will happily answer your questions.

1.  What is your relationship with the breed? When did you get your first Flatcoat?


Having trialled Cockers for a number of years, making up 2 X FTCh, I had the pleasure to watch a Flatty working on a Grouse moor and I was completely entranced. I knew I had to have one !

That was some 15 years ago and I chose very, very carefully, from working lines only. The bitch I bought was undoubtedly the best dog I have ever owned, even if she had all the Flatcoat faults of independent thinking, stubbornness, sulking and many others. She won a charity working test at 9 months old and regularly picked up for over 60 shooting days per season. I have lost count of the amount of times she, and all my other Flatties have made Labradors look very silly as they wiped their eye !!!

2.  What do you like the most in a working Flatcoated Retriever?

What I like most is many fold. Firstly their nose, certainly in my lines it is superb and rarely fails. Secondly is their determination to find and retrieve. Mostly it's their happiness and genuine delight to be with me AND working.

3.  What abilities do you look for when you are breeding a working Flatcoated Retriever

As one of the very, very few breeders of Working Flatties in the UK under the Portledge kennel name, I look for characteristics in the potential parents as I would with any other gundog. That is drive, speed, ability nose and health. 

Marking ability also

4.  What could be done to promote the Flatcoat as a field trial/working test dog?

I am a professional gundog trainer but I specialise in Flatcoats and see a great many, where they're good enough I try to encourage them to compete. I do hear a lot of talk about "not being able to beat Labs", and frankly that's rubbish. I also point out that not that many years ago Goldens were in a similar position. I also believe that certainly in the UK, there are a huge amount of owners who want to show their dogs and not trial. They're happy to come toa working test because "it's just a bit of fun" but will go no further.

The reality is that success breeds success,if the few that we are can start to win a few tests and trials then others will be encouraged to have a go as well. We as owners also need to stop just competing amongst ourselves and get out there and take on the labs etc.

Never too young to start them

5.  What’s important to emphasize when training a Flatcoated Retriever?

I have found that the biggest point I have to work on with Flatties is steadiness. A Flatties natural exuberance and a huge desire to please can very often lead to an unsteady dog. I have seen far too many Flatties that have great ability but are completely spoiled by being unsteady. It's a massive problem, certainly in the uk. 

I have travelled extensively and judged occasionally and I have to say that in Eastern Europe you are more likely to see a Flattie working than a Lab in a number of countries. 
I am also the guy who started The Facebook pageFlatcoat tests trials and training and my book " The Flatcoated Retriever- Training for the Field" will be out in the new year.

Mike Cullum


       © Alex Faarkrog 2017