Golden Retriever Vs Flat Coated Retriever: Which One To Choose?

Golden retriever vs Flat-coated retriever

Are you confused between Flat Coated Retriever and Golden Retriever? Read on to know the similarities and differences between both breeds.

Golden retriever vs Flat-coated retriever

Golden Retriever and Flat-Coated Retriever both are fun-loving and affectionate dogs. Then what’s the difference between the two?

The main difference between these two retriever breeds is their coat. Golden Retrievers have a dense coat of golden, light golden, or dark golden color, while Flat-Coated Retrievers have a shiny coat of black or liver color.

The mistake people often make is they own dogs based on their popularity. Should you consider getting a Golden Retriever just because it is so popular?

NO! Just because the breed is so popular doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Before owning a dog, it’s imperative to consider factors such as the breed’s temperament, nutrition, shedding level, grooming needs, energy level, exercise needs, etc.

About Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever is the third most popular dog breed (out of 200 dog breeds registered). It was recognized by AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1925. That’s 10 years after Flat-Coated Retriever was recognized by AKC.

The breed originated in 1868 in Scotland. It was bred as a hunting dog to retrieve waterfowl and small animals undamaged. At present, Golden Retrievers are known for their loyalty, friendliness, beautiful appearance, and easy-to-get-along personality.

To keep this energetic dog happy and healthy, it’s imperative to provide adequate exercise daily. The lack of enough physical activities can lead to destructive behavior.

About Flat Coated Retrievers

Flat-Coated Retriever

Flat-coated Retriever originated in England during the mid-19th century. Currently, it is the least popular out of six retriever dog breeds, but there was a time when it gained so much popularity as a gun dog. In fact, it became a member of AKC (in 1915) before the Golden Retriever.

Like Goldie, this breed was also developed to retrieve waterfowl and small animals undamaged. The purpose was to obtain a dog with strength, intelligence, and looks.

It is known to have a resultant outcome of Collie-type dogs (intelligence), Newfoundland (strength), and Setter (scenting ability).

Golden Retriever Vs Flat-Coated Retriever: DETAILED COMPARISON

To help you select the right dog between these two, we have compared all the important aspects like physical appearance, intelligence, physical needs, health, etc.

A Quick Overview




Average height 23-24 inches (male), 21.5-22.5 inches (female) 23-24.5 inches (male), 22-23.5 inches (female)
Average weight 65-75 pounds (male), 55-65 pounds (female) 60-70 pounds
Family-friendly? Yes Yes
Good with other dogs? Yes Yes
Exercise needs Min. 1 hour a day Min. 1.5 hours a day
Brushing At least once a week At least once a week
Intelligence level High High
Life expectancy 10-12 years 10-12 years


Every year AKC releases dog breeds popularity rankings, based on registrations. In terms of popularity. Golden Retriever beats Flat-Coated Retriever.

Goldie has always been one of the most popular dog breeds. In the list of AKC’s most popular breeds, it has always been in the top five.

Though there are many similarities between both breeds, Flat-Coated Retrievers aren’t as popular as Golden Retrievers. In the latest list of most popular dog breeds, Golden Retriever ranks 3rd, and Flat-Coat ranks 93rd.

After Flat-Coat’s first introduction (in the mid-19th century) in the United States, it was a very popular breed. Over time, Golden Retriever started gaining so much popularity that it overtaken Flat-Coated Retriever.

Physical Appearance

Physical appearance is the main difference between both breeds. These include weight, coat color, coat texture, and head shape. Let’s talk about each point one by one.

  • Both are medium to large-sized dogs. Goldie’s weight ranges from 55 to 75 pounds, while Flat-Coat’s weight ranges between 60 and 70 pounds.
  • The Golden Retriever’s coat color ranges from cream & light golden to reddish & dark golden, while Flat-Coated Retriever’s coat colors are solid-black and liver.
  • Flat-Coats have a shiny coat that lays flat. They have feathering across the legs, ears, chest, and tail. Goldies have more feathering across their body. Due to long, wavy fur, both these retriever breeds require regular brushing.
  • Based on head shape, Golden retrievers can be divided into two: block head & slender head. Block head Goldens have large heads with better fur, while slender head Goldens have narrow heads. Flat-Coated retrievers have pointed head shapes (kind of like slender head goldie), providing them an adorable look.

Also Read: 3 Coat Stages of Golden Retrievers

Intelligence level

Training and teaching new commands to a low-intelligence dog can be very difficult. Fortunately, Flat-Coated and Golden Retrievers both are smart. Hence, teaching new commands won’t be a stress. As per Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs” book, Golden Retrievers are smarter than Flat-Coated Retrievers.

The book was focused on instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working & obedience intelligence. In that survey of 130 dog breeds, Golden Retriever ranked number 4th, while Flat-Coated Retriever ranked number 18th.


The exact temperament differs from individual dog to another. But in general, Flat-Coats and Goldens both are gentle and affectionate dog breeds. Both breeds are energetic, but the Flat-Coated retriever has a comparatively higher energy level. As a result, it demands more exercise.

Golden Retrievers are happy when they get love and attention from their favorite people. Never leave a Goldie alone for long periods as it may lead to destructive behavior.

Like Goldens, Flat-Coated Retrievers are also outgoing and social, however, they are an independent type of dogs; they might not require as much as attention as Goldies. In the end, it comes down to the individual dog’s temperaments.

Nutritional needs

Your pup’s health and happiness have a lot to do with the food you feed. The food requirements of both breeds are similar. However, Flat-Coated retrievers need more food as they have higher energy levels than Golden Retrievers.

How much you should be feeding is obviously based on your canine’s size and age. Always feed a diet containing high-quality ingredients. High-quality dog food may cost more, but it’s worth it.

Some important nutrients to look for in the dog food label are protein, fat, water, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Also make sure these nutrients are coming from quality sources and not from by-products, fillers, or artificial ingredients.

Exercise needs

Goldens and Flat-Coats aren’t couch potatoes; both are highly active and energetic canines. These retriever breeds were developed to complete various tasks and purposes. Thus, they need physical activities on a daily basis.

As Flat-Coated retrievers are more energetic than Golden Retrievers, they require more exercise.

Flat-Coats need at least 1.5 hours of exercise daily. For Goldens, 1 hour of daily exercise would be enough. However, some have more energy; in that case, 1 hour of active play/exercise may not be sufficient.

These are some ways you can fulfill your dog’s exercise requirements: walking/running, obedience training, agility training, fetch play, tug of war, and hiking.

Maintain a daily exercise schedule to prevent issues like excessive chewing, barking, destructive behavior, and obesity.


Due to the large size, hip dysplasia is common in both. A responsible breeder will provide the medical history of the dog.

Before taking the pup to your home, it’s good to have it examined for common health issues. Goldens have more health conditions than Flat-Coats. Here are the common health problems in Golden Retrievers:

  • Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pigmentary Uveitis
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Subaorrtic Valvular Stenosis (SAS)
  • Allergies
  • Nutritional Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Nutritional DCM)
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease

Flat-Coated Retrievers are prone to the following health problems:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Cancer

In general, Flat-Coat is a healthy breed. As compared to Golden Retriever, it is less prone to conditions like hip dysplasia and luxating patellas.

Unfortunately, Flat-Coats have higher chances of getting affected by cancer. Malignant histiocytosis, hemangiosarcoma (HSA), lymphosarcoma, and osteosarcoma are some cancer types found in Flat-Coated retrievers.

If it’s a Golden Retriever, make sure your dog goes through health tests, such as Hip & Elbow Evaluation, Cardiac Exam, Ophthalmologist Evaluation, and NCL10 (Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 10).

And, if it’s a Flat–Coated retriever, make sure your dog goes through health tests, such as Hip Evaluation, Patella Evaluation, and Ophthalmologist Evaluation.


The average life expectancy of Flat-Coated Retrievers and Golden retrievers is the same, i.e., about 10 to 12 years.

In comparison to Golden Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers are less prone to health conditions. As mentioned above, the main health problem observed in Flat-Coats is cancer. However, Golden Retrievers are prone to many health issues throughout their lifespan.

Related Questions

What is the difference between a Flat Coated Retriever and a Golden retriever?

There are very few differences. Physical appearance (coat color, texture, head shape, etc.) is the main difference. Besides that, both breeds differ in terms of energy level, exercise needs, average lifespan, and health conditions.

What are the similarities between a Flat Coated Retriever and a Golden Retriever?

First of all, both are affectionate dogs that get along with almost anyone. These retriever breeds were originally bred as hunting dogs. As a result, both are outgoing and active. Another similarity, both are intelligent and easy to train dogs.

Do Flat-Coated Retrievers have a double coat?

Yes, they have. A double coat protects them from different weather. Flat-Coated Retrievers shed excessively two times a year: spring and fall.

Is a Flat-Coated Retriever rare?

Yes, it is a rare dog breed. According to the latest AKC Breed Popularity Ranking, it ranks 93rd. If you are planning to get a Flat-Coat pup, a reputable breeder might help. Because it is so rare, you will probably be put on a long waiting list.

Are Flat-Coated retrievers aggressive?

No. Flat-coated Retrievers aren’t aggressive. In fact, they are known as “Peter Pan of Retrievers.” They get along well with kids, other dogs, and strangers.

Final Thoughts

Overall, both are amazing companions and get along well with humans, other dogs, and other animals. This makes both Flat-Coated Retrievers and Golden Retrievers ideal for families.

The decision regarding which breed dog to own should be made based on your lifestyle. There’s nothing called “perfect dog breed.” Get one that’s right for your lifestyle.


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Brandon Dickinson

Brandon Dickinson

I love playing and spending time with pups. On RetrieverPaws, I share tips, guides, and my experiences with retriever dogs (Labrador and Golden Retrievers mainly).

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