Flat Coated vs Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever vs Flat Coated Retriever

In this article we explain the difference between a Flat Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers and Flat Coated Retrievers have similar characteristics, so it is easy to think they are the same breed but different colors. In fact they do have a few differences. We compare appearance, temperament, health and popularity, so you can choose the right breed for your family.

Golden Retriever vs Flat Coated Retriever

Flat Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever: Appearance

Color– The first difference you will see is the color in the coats. The Golden Retriever will have a cream, yellow or red coat while the Flat-Coated Retriever will have a black or liver color coat. The liver color is described as brown mixed with red.

Texture– The textures of their coats are different as well. The Golden Retriever has more wave and feathering while the Flat-Coated is flatter with some feathering around the legs, ears, chest, and tail.

They both shed, but the Golden Retriever tends to a little more in the spring and fall as they have a double coat. 

Face Shape– The face shape of these two breeds is distinctively different. The Flat-Coated Retriever has a more sophisticated look with a slender face. The Golden Retriever’s face is more box-like and wider. Even though the Golden Retriever has a wider face, it is still the most popular of the two breeds.

Flat Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever: Temperament

Both the Golden Retriever and Flat-Coated Retriever have easy going temperaments. However, the Flat-Coated Retriever has a higher energy level. It is often called the “forever puppy” because it does not seem to lose that puppy energy as much as the Golden Retriever. They require more daily exercise (about 90 minutes) and are more apt to jump on people. 

The Flat-Coated Retriever is an independent dog that does not require as much attention as the Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. Some Golden Retrievers become very anxious, whereas the Flat-Coated handles being alone better. 

The Golden Retriever can be a high energy dog, but can be calmer than the Flat-Coated Retriever when in a calm environment.

Flat Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever: Health

Both the Flat-Coated Retriever and the Golden Retriever have health issues related to being a large breed. Hip and joint problems are quite common to both breeds. Overall, the Golden Retriever has a few more health issues than the Flat-Coated Retriever.

Health Issues: Flat-Coated Retriever

 Below is a list of health issues commonly found in Flat-Coated Retrievers:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Knee Dysplasia
  • Eye Problems
  • Ear Infections
  • Tooth Decay
  • Cancer

Flat-Coated Retrievers have a higher rate of cancer than Golden Retrievers. The most common is malignant histiocytosis. Other cancers that have been found in Flat-Coats are lymphosarcoma, Hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. 

Health Issues: Golden Retriever

Below is a list of health issues commonly found in Golden Retrievers:

  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Pigmentary Cystic Glaucoma – an inherited eye disease in Golden Retriever breed
  • Retinal Atrophy
  • Epileptic Seizures
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease- A disease in which blood does not clot properly.

Golden Retrievers can be quite prone to many health issues or diseases. To find out more information about these health issues, check out our article Golden Retriever Health Issues: Common Problems.

Flat Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever: Popularity

According to the American Kennel Club, both the Golden Retriever and the Flat-Coated Retriever are two of the most popular breeds of retrievers. They both make great family pets and hunting companions. They both have similar qualities, but the Golden Retriever is the most popular among retriever owners.

The Golden Retriever is ranked the 3rd most popular dog in the United States, whereas the Flat-Coated Retriever is ranked 91st

Comparison Chart for Flat Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever

Flat-Coated RetrieverGolden Retriever
Life Expectancy: 8-10 yearsLife Expectancy: 10-12 years
High Energy: requires 90 minutes of daily exerciseCalm: requires 30 minutes of daily exercise
Color: Black or Liver Color: Cream, Light Golden, Gold, Dark Golden, Red  
Sheds longer hairSheds medium length hair

Although you may not care how popular your dog breed is, this does make a finding a Flat-coated retriever a bit harder than a Golden Retriever.


For more detail on the exact characteristics expected for each breed check the official AKC standards. Here is the breed standard for Golden Retrievers. Here is the breed standard for Flat-Coated Retrievers. Both are great dogs but of course we favor the Golden Retriever.

Dr. Anne Traas

Anne Traas, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACT is a veterinarian and the new President of Golden Retriever Society. She is board certified (a specialist) in canine reproduction. In her day job, she is a leader in a small biotech where she and a team of veterinarians and scientists work to develop new medications for pets. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of this wonderful breed of dogs. She and her husband have 2 children, 3 dogs and one cat. They love camping and hiking and she can often be found with her head in a good book.

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