Flat-coated Retriever Health Problems

Flat coated Retriever Health Problems

The Flat-Coated RetrieverOpens in a new tab. is an active, energetic, jack-of-all-trades breed. They were originally bred for hunting and retrieving and do quite an excellent job.

Because of their super powerful smelling ability, they are often used for drug-sniffing with police and at airports and also make stellar and devoted guide dogs with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in the United Kingdom.

Being an efficient and responsible worker at these jobs is due to the Flat-Coated retriever’s quick-to-learn smarts and eager to please attitude

You may be contemplating adding a Flat-Coat to your family or perhaps already own one. They make fun-loving family dogs with their exuberance for life and puppy-like playfulness that lasts far longer than many breeds.

You may, however, be wondering, with all of this energy, just how healthy the Flat-Coated retriever really is.

In the following post, I will provide information on Flat-Coated retriever health problemsOpens in a new tab. and common health problems in Flat-Coated retrievers. Also, in this reading will be Flat-Coated health problems,Opens in a new tab. causes, and symptoms.

To check your Flat-coated Retrievers’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vet Opens in a new tab.website for all the help you may need.

Flat coated Retriever Health Problems
Image from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Common Health Problems in Flat-Coated Retrievers

The Flat-Coated Retriever is prone to some Genetic health issuesOpens in a new tab., some of which are serious. This does not mean that your Flat coat Opens in a new tab.will develop any of the conditions or diseases found in this post, it just means there is a history of Flat-Coated retrievers showing hereditary signs of the issues below.

Prevention for any disease is the best way to sidestep illness. Using a responsible breeder that does not breed dogs who clearly either have conditions or carry them is the number one way.

The breeder you choose should have their breeding dogs genetically tested and keep good records which should be readily available to you and other future owners of this breed.

Being a responsible pet owner is the second way to ensure your pup stays as healthy as they can possibly throughout their entire lifespan of which the Flat-Coat’s is 10 to 12 years.

To remain healthy, your Flat-Coated retriever will need a high-quality diet, plenty of exercise, training, grooming, and wellness visits including vital vaccinations with their veterinarian.

Below are some common health problems in Flat-Coated retrieversOpens in a new tab..


Unfortunately, cancer is the most common cause of mortality in the Flat-Coated retriever and that is in 69% of the breed, some as young as 4 years of age.

There is no genetic testing for any type of cancer that can plague the Flat-Coated retriever. Ask your breeder if any other dogs in their bloodline have developed cancer. Be aware of any signs, such as lameness or any lumps that are new or don’t go away.

Don’t hesitate to check in with your veterinarian if you suspect something. Just as in humans, early diagnosis and treatment can save or extend your Flat-Coated retriever’s life and add more quality to it as well. A few types of cancer that the Flat-Coated retriever may be predisposed to are:

  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Melanoma
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Mastocytoma
  • Malignant Histiocytosis
  • Adenocarcinoma

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)/ Bloat

Bloat or GDV is common to large chested dogs, the Flat-Coated retriever being one. This can strike swiftly and is a medical emergency. The stomach twists causing torsion and cutting off the flow of blood. Symptoms are:

  • Drooling
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Licking Lips
  • Pale Gums
  • Pain
  • Heaving to throw up, but producing nothing

Immediate medical attention is needed because a dog can die in hours of the first symptoms and surgery will be necessary.

Unfortunately, if a dog has suffered from bloat once, there is a good chance it will occur again. Veterinarians are now performing “stomach tacking” during surgery to prevent future torsion of the stomach.

The cause of bloat is believed to be eating too fast and eating too close to exercising. Just as your mother may have told you not to go swimming for an hour after eating to avoid stomach cramps, wait one hour to feed your pup after exercise and also wait one hour after eating to take your pup for a walk or run.

Puzzle bowls are available at pet stores and online to make your pup eat slower by having to locate the food so they can’t wolf it down so fast.

Eye Diseases

One instance of increasing concern with the Flat-Coated retriever is that of hereditary cataracts.

I’m sure you are familiar with cataracts in seniors, both people, and dogs, but hereditary cataracts can appear in a young retrieverOpens in a new tab..

Some may cause interference with vision while others can cause total blindness. Cloudy eyes are a sign of cataracts.

Other eye conditions are distichiasis and trichiasis which cause eyelashes to grow inward and irritate and even scratch the eye.

Ectropion and entropion occur when the eyelids turn out or in. To correct these maladies surgery may be required.

Your veterinarian will always check your pup’s eyes during visits and if they see anything out of the ordinary, they may refer your pup to a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Skin Conditions

Three skin conditions your Flat-Coat may suffer from are pyoderma, lipomas, and sebaceous cysts.


Pyoderma is a skin infection and presents with red pimples or bumps. This usually develops from scratching caused by ticks, fleas, fungal or yeast infections, atopic dermatitis, allergies, medications, or an underlying disorder of the immune system such as hypothyroidism.

It is treated with either oral antibiotics or antibacterial shampoo. Puppies are more susceptible to pyoderma because they don’t have as much fur.


Lipomas are tumors made up of fat. These tumors are generally found in older dogs and are benign. Usually, no treatment is necessary unless the tumor is in an area that makes it uncomfortable for your retriever. Always have your veterinarian check out any lump you may find. Don’t assume they are all harmless.

Sebaceous Cyst

A sebaceous cyst is a raised round area that is filled with sebum or keratin oil and is usually caused when the oil gland becomes blocked.

They can be found in the elbow, hip, ear, neck, or head areas. Causes can simply be a blocked oil gland from dirt, injury, age (common in older dogs), or genetics.

Symptoms are inflamed lump, pain, redness and swelling, oily secretion, hair loss around the area, bleeding, and cysts that can lead to infection. Your veterinarian may perform a fine needle aspiration to drain the cyst and even a tissue biopsy if he suspects an underlying tumor.


Hypothyroidism is hereditary and develops when your Flat-Coated retriever’s thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to support its metabolism. Symptoms are:

  • Lethargy
  • Weight Gain
  • Dry Skin
  • Itchy Skin
  • Loss of Fur

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed through blood testing and treated with levothyroxine which replaces the thyroid hormone, giving your pup an excellent prognosis. This pill does need to be taken for their entire lifespan.

Flat coated Health Problems, Causes, and Symptoms

Flat coated Health Problems, Causes, and Symptoms
Image from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Below are a few other conditions that aren’t as prevalent in the Flat-Coated retriever, their causes, and symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia

This is caused by a malformed femur ball that doesn’t fit correctly into the hip socket. Its cause is hereditary in nature but can also occur in puppies from too much weight-bearing exercise when bones are still developing. Symptoms are:

  • Limping
  • Hopping
  • Pain
  • Difficulty sitting, standing, or climbing stairs

Treatments are physical therapy, water therapy, NSAIDs, cortisone injections or oral meds, and in severe cases, surgery.

Patellar Luxation

This is more common in smaller dogs but can develop in the Flat-Coated retriever. It is a dislocation of the kneecap but is passed down or hereditary. Symptoms are:

  • Both legs affected
  • Lameness
  • Pain
  • Cannot walk normally
  • Can occur from 1months to 4 months of age

This disease is graded from grade I to grade IV, which is the most severe. Grades I and II may return to normal on their own but Grades III and IV will require surgery.


Your Flat-Coated retriever can suffer from allergies, either from food or environmental allergens such as pollen, grasses, or dust. Symptoms are:

  • Sneezing (Environmental)
  • Runny Nose (Environmental)
  • Watery Eyes (Environmental)
  • Hot spots (Environmental)
  • Skin Rashes (food)
  • Itching (food)
  • Loss of Fur (food)
  • Dry Skin (food)
  • Gastrointestinal issues; Diarrhea and/or Vomiting (food)

Your Flat-Coated retriever may never suffer from the conditions or diseases in this post. To ensure a good and healthy beginning, use a reputable breeder.

When breeding is done indiscriminately, this is when breeds begin to develop more genetic diseases.

Give your pup a good start with a great diet, plenty of exercise, grooming, training, and veterinary care. Just as in humans, your Flat-Coated retriever needs a healthy lifestyle and you are the one to responsibly provide it.

Recent Posts