The flat-coated retriever has an easy-care coat. The breed originated as a bird dog. Flushing birds out and retrieving them could be a dirty business, so his coat is designed for wash-and-wear. This active, friendly dog loves the outdoors and excels at athletic activities, but when he finds a mud puddle, clean-up is simple.
The Flattie Coat
Flat-coats sport medium-length hair with feathering on their chest, ears, the back of their forelegs and the underside of the tail. Their medium-length black or liver-colored coat should lie flat against the body, with thick and full feathering. Adult flat-coats have a full mane around the neck and withers that serves as insulation from the elements. The mane is usually thicker in males.
Your flat-coated retriever doesn't require many grooming tools. Assemble a bristle brush, slicker and metal comb. Plan a weekly grooming session to keep your dog's coat tangle-free and clean, but check regularly for mats behind the ears and in the feathered areas. Expect your retriever to shed his coat each spring. Daily brushing during shedding season will keep loose hair to a minimum.
Start by brushing your dog with a slicker brush to loosen any dirt or particles near the skin. Use the slicker brush carefully to avoid irritating the dog's skin with the metal tines by monitoring your pressure. Once you've gone over the coat with the slicker, use a bristle brush to remove dirt and distribute the dog's natural oils. This maintains the coat's healthy shine. Comb through the feathering and gently remove any mats or tangles.
When to Bathe
Your flat-coated retriever won't need to be bathed frequently. After a thorough brushing to remove loose debris, use a gentle shampoo designed for dogs if he gets dirty, or give him a bath about every three months to bring out his coat's natural sheen. Lather his coat starting with the back of his head working down his body to his tail, and rinse thoroughly. Don't get water in your retriever's ears. Clean them with a canine ear cleaning solution and a cotton pad, but do not insert the cotton into the ear canal. Dry him with absorbent towels and finish grooming with a chamois cloth to add extra luster to his coat.