Flat-Coated Retriever vs Golden Retriever: The Differences

If you’ve decided to adopt a golden retriever as a pet, you’ve likely discovered there are actually several different types of this lovable dog breed.

Whittling your choice down between the flat-coated retriever vs. golden retriever and knowing their differences will help you make a well-informed decision!

Both flat-coated retrievers and golden retrievers are excellent breeds when it comes to working and being great companions with their human owners.

Their gentle natures make them wonderful family pets, and they’re also highly intelligent, astute hunters.

With so many similarities between the two breeds, how do you make the right choice for yourself and your family?

Keep reading to discover the differences and commonalities shared between these two popular retriever breeds and decide for yourself which one is the better fit. 

Flat-Coated Retriever vs golden retriever

Golden Retriever vs. Flat-Coated Retriever: Characteristics

FeatureGolden RetrieverFlat-Coated Retriever
SizeMedium to largeMedium to large
Weight55 – 70 lbs.55 – 80 lbs.
Height21″- 24″22″ – 25″
Head shapeBoxy and roundLong and lean
ColorLight to dark goldenSolid black 
Life Expectancy8 – 12 years8 – 10 years
Diet3 – 4 cups premium dog food (depending on age and weight)3 – 5 cups premium dog food(depending on age and weight)
Exercise40 minutes to 1 hour daily2 hours daily

Flat-Coated Retriever vs. Golden Retriever: Size And Appearance

The main difference between a flat-coated retriever and golden retriever is their fur coat.

As their name suggests, flat-coated retrievers have fur that lies flat compared to the more full and wavy coat of a golden retriever.

Additionally, flat-coated and golden retrievers differ in size as well as their overall head and body shape.


Golden retrievers generally have golden or light golden coats, with some having dark golden or reddish coloring.

While flat-coated retrievers can come in reddish colors, their coats are normally dark liver or black in color. 

Golden retrievers shed a bit more compared to flat-coated retrievers who have slightly longer and shinier coats.

Goldens have more feathering features, while the flat-coat mainly displays this on their tail and legs.

Head Shape

One distinct difference between these two breeds is their head shape, with flat-coated retriever’s head being longer than that of the golden retriever.

This particular feature makes the flat-coat stand out from all the other retriever breeds. 

Golden retrievers have a boxier, rounder head shape, making them look more solid and bulky when compared to the elegant appearance of the flat-coat’s more streamlined face.

Height And Weight

Flat-Coated Retriever vs. Golden Retriever: Size And Appearance

Both retrievers are medium in size, with the average flat-coat being slightly bigger than the typical golden retriever. 

The golden retriever male reaches a height of 23″ to 24″ and usually weighs approximately 65 to 70 lbs. The female golden retriever’s height measures around 21″ to 22″,  and they typically weigh anything from 55 to 65 lbs. 

By comparison, the standard flat-coated retriever male adult reaches a height of approximately 23″ to 25″ and weighs between 60 to 80 lbs. Female adult flat-coats are normally 22″ to 24″ tall and weigh between 55 and 75 lbs. 

Golden Retriever vs. Flat-Coated Retriever Temperament And Trainability

Retrievers were originally bred as hunting dogs to find birds or other game and were taught to bring back prey undamaged to their owners.

Being highly intelligent dogs, golden retrievers and flat-coats learn quickly, always willing to obey and please their owners.  

Both golden and flat-coated retrievers have loving and loyal temperaments, making them wonderful pets for families.

Their friendly, sociable, easygoing personalities make them popular breeds for first-time dog parents and children. They get on well with other dogs and cats, too.

Their willingness to learn makes both flat-coated and golden retrievers highly trainable.

Quick to learn, golden retrievers are excellent service or guide dogs while often used for search and rescue work as well. 

The active, exuberant flat-coated retriever not only makes a great sporting dog but excels in agility, scent work, and tracking.

They love to be outdoors and being physical, so make sure you have space and energy to play with this rambunctious breed!

Flat-Coated Retriever vs. Golden Retriever Grooming, Diet, And Exercise

When comparing flat-coated retriever and golden retriever grooming, diet, and exercise requirements, you’ll notice there are some slight differences and similarities.

Although these two breeds are very similar at a glance, their respective care requirements can be better suited to different types of pet owners and lifestyles.


Flat-Coated Retriever vs. Golden Retriever Grooming, Diet, And Exercise

Golden retrievers shed throughout the year, with their heaviest shedding taking place at the start of spring and fall.

Using the Paws & Pals Best in Show Dogs & Cats Deshedding Tool once a week will help keep your golden free of loose fur. Bathing your golden once a month is sufficient.

To avoid tangles and mats, you should give your golden retriever a coat grooming 3 to 5 times a week using a Hertzko Self-Cleaning Dog & Cat Slicker Brush.

This will keep your dog’s coat’s natural shine while keeping it smooth and healthy at the same time. 

Flat-coated retrievers also benefit from regular coat grooming two to three times a week plus de-shedding once a week.

If your dog is an active sporting retriever, you’ll need to bathe them twice a month with a soap-free product, such as Buddy Wash Dog Shampoo & Conditioner. 

Cleaning your flat-coated retriever’s ears once a month will prevent them from suffering from ear infections or canine otitis.

Using ear cleaning solutions such as Zymox Plus Advanced Otic Dog & Cat Ear Infection Solution will protect your dog from secondary infections.  

Grooming your dog regularly at home and getting professional grooming treatments every eight weeks will keep your golden retriever or flat-coat in show dog style!

Being consistent with the grooming schedule is important for your dog’s overall wellbeing. 


Being energetic and larger dogs, both golden and flat-coated retrievers need to eat a nutritious diet to keep them healthy and active.

Goldies and flat-coats are known for their ravenous appetite, so be careful not to overfeed them!

Pet food brands include a feeding guide on their packaging to ensure you give your dog the right daily quantities.

Using a golden retriever feeding chart is useful for managing your dog’s diet.

In general, you can estimate your active and healthy adult goldie to need between 1,300 and 1,500 calories per day or three to four cups of premium dog food.

However, this can vary and does depend on your dog’s overall lifestyle, level of activity, age, and weight. 

Adult flat-coats should be fed twice a day, getting three to five cups of premium dog food to meet all their nutritional needs.

Again, their diet is influenced by their health, age, weight, and energy levels. 

Both retriever types are prone to infected ears often caused by yeast infections. Including dog foods for yeast infections in their diet will help to keep ear problems at bay. 


Pet owners often wonder which dog breed is more energetic of these two retriever types.

Whether you’re looking at getting a flat-coated Retriever or a golden retriever, be forewarned, as they’re both boisterous dogs needing lots of regular exercise. 

However, flat-coated retrievers are comparatively more energetic than golden retrievers, needing lots of space to run and play.

They should be involved in sporting activities to keep them stimulated both mentally and physically.

Golden retrievers enjoy living in a busy household and getting plenty of attention from their owners or children in the family.

Giving your goldie between 20 to 30 minutes of hard, consistent exercise twice daily should keep them happy and content. 

On the other hand, flat-coated retrievers will benefit from two hours of daily exercising to keep them from becoming mischievous and out of control!

They thrive on long walks, swimming in dams, or following scents. 

Flat-Coated Retriever vs. Golden Retriever: Which One Is Better For You?

Overall, golden retrievers are the more popular breed for owners who want a closer bond and more interaction with their pets.

Your goldie is always happy to hang close to you and will sleep at your feet whenever the opportunity arises.

On the other hand, flat-coated retrievers are more independent dogs.

However, they also need more attention when it comes to keeping up with their physical demands for more activity. 

Golden retrievers make excellent family dogs, being kid- and pet-friendly too, while flat-coats are better suited to more active individuals.

However, flat-coated retrievers thrive in environments that include other dogs to keep them busy. 

It’s also worth noting that flat-coats don’t live as long as goldies on average.

Finally, golden retrievers have more even temperaments, making them easier dogs to manage in a family environment.

But if you can keep your flat-coat busy and properly stimulated, they make great companions for both individuals and families. 

FAQs: Flat-Coated vs. Golden Retrievers

Is the flat-coated retriever the same as the Labrador? 

Flat-coats are closely related to Labradors but are bigger, leaner, and more elegant in appearance.

Additionally, the Lab has shorter, denser, and wavier fur compared to the flat-coated retriever, which has a lustrous and flat-lying coat. 

What two breeds make a golden retriever?

The golden retriever originally came from the Scottish Highlands and was crossbred between the wavy-coated retriever and water spaniel.

The result was a golden pup with excellent physical abilities as a working dog with a lovable personality. 

The Verdict

When comparing the six breeds of retrievers as pets or hunting dogs, it’s worth checking out the differences between the flat-coated retriever vs the golden retriever.

Flat-coats are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a dog to take on sporting activities with you. Golden retrievers make wonderful additions to a family home. 

Other distinctive differences between the flat-coated retriever and golden retriever include:

  • Golden retrievers have lighter, golden-colored coats compared to flat-coats, which have black or liver-colored fur.
  • Golden retrievers have a more boxy and rounded head shape, while the flat-coated retriever has a longer head.
  • Goldens love human contact and interaction, while flat-coats tend to be more independent.
  • Flat-coated retrievers have a slightly shorter lifespan compared to goldens. 
Written By

Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two, life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves - writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.