Black Golden Retrievers (9 Facts You Need To Know)

If you google a Black Golden Retriever, you’ll see a lot of contradicting information. Some sources say that Black Goldens are real, while others say there is no such thing as a Black Golden Retriever. So, what’s the truth, are they real and, if not, what are those black golden retriever-looking dogs you see pictures of all over the internet?

There is no such thing as a purebred Black Golden Retriever but there are Flat-Coated Retrievers that look like Goldens, except they have black fur. They were bred in England in the 19th century. They are energetic, intelligent, and family-friendly sporting dogs who live to please their owners.

In this article, I’ll go over whether or not Black Golden Retrievers actually exist, including some facts about the Flat-Coated Retriever and why this breed may be mistakenly called the Black Golden Retriever. I’ll also cover some facts about a Flat-Coated Retriever’s temperament and personality, so you can determine if they are the right breed for you.

A "Black Golden Retriever" (aka Flat-coated retriever)

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Facts You Need To Know About Black Golden Retrievers

So, do Black Golden Retrievers even exist? And, if they don’t, what are the dogs that look like Golden Retrievers but with black coats? Read these facts to find out!

1. There’s No Such Thing as Purebred Black Golden Retrievers

While many people on the internet claim that having a purebred Black Golden Retriever is possible, science disagrees.

You see, dogs have a specific gene called the MC1R gene, which controls their skin and coat color.

There is a dominant and recessive form of this gene which results in different pigmentations.

The dominant “E allele” produces a black pigment called eumelanin. The recessive “e” allele turns eumelanin to pheomelanin, resulting in the color yellow or red.

All purebred golden retrievers have a recessive “e/e” genotype. This means that it’s impossible for them ever to be black. They will always be red or golden.

However, a purebred golden retriever can have some black spots in its fur. These are usually caused by somatic mutations, which are genetic changes that cannot be passed on to their offspring. These mutations are pretty rare and do not result in a totally black coat.

So, if you’ve ever seen an entirely Black Golden Retriever, it wasn’t actually a Golden Retriever. This likely leaves you to wonder…what was it then?

Related: The World of Golden Retriever Coat Colors (with Pictures!)

2. Black Goldens Are Actually Called Flat-Coated Retrievers

Black Golden Retrievers aren’t Golden Retrievers at all! They are actually an entirely separate breed called Flat-Coated Retrievers (AKA Flatties).

Flat-Coated Retrievers originated in 19-century England. They are thought to be a combination of many different breeds, including Newfoundland, Setter, Sheepdog, and Spaniel-like water dogs.

Britain’s landed gentry loved hunting and used these dogs to flush out game within range and retrieve downed fowl on water and on land.  They were bred for intelligence, obedience, keen noses, and swimming aptitude.

The American Kennel Club first recognized Flat-Coated Retrievers in 1915. After this, their popularity skyrocketed. Many people used them as hunting dogs during this time since they were so good at finding and retrieving game.

However, shortly after this, their popularity began to dwindle when the Golden Retriever became the more prevalent breed. By WW2, there were so few Flat-Coated Retrievers left many thought the breed would die out.

Fortunately, in the 1960s, the breed increased in popularity again, and their population grew. Today, Flat-Coated Retrievers are a semi-popular breed. They are often kept as show dogs or family pets.

However, despite their modest popularity, many people still confuse them with their more famous cousin, the Golden Retriever, hence their rebranding as a “Black Golden Retriever.”

3. Flatties Have Different Physical Characteristics

Other than their coat colors, Flat-Coated Retrievers and Golden Retrievers look very similar, which is probably why it’s so difficult for many people to tell the two breeds apart.

However, there are some physical differences that you can be on the lookout for.

For starters, Golden Retrievers have thick, wavy fur that is a shade of red, yellow, or golden. Their heads tend to be boxy with wide muzzles and strong jaws.

On the other hand, Flat-Coated Retrievers have shiny coats that lay flat against their backs (hence their name). While their coats are usually black, they can also be liver-colored.

Their heads tend to be narrower and more elegant than the Golden Retrievers, with a long muzzle and muscular jaw.

The two breeds are very similar in size and weight. The Flat-Coated Retriever tends to be slightly bigger, but only by a little. So, it’s mainly their fur texture and head shapes that set them apart.

4. Flat-Coated Retrievers Are Very Energetic

Like their cousin, the Golden Retriever, Flat-Coated Retrievers are very energetic. They are a sporting breed, so they require approximately 90 minutes of exercise every day to maintain good physical and mental well-being.

Unlike other breeds whose energy fades as they get older, Flatties often have puppy-like energy well into their more senior years. So, they’ll require a lot of exercise throughout their entire lives.

A Flat-coated Retriever running. People often mistake this breed for a black golden retriever.

Therefore, this breed needs a lot of outdoor time to run, jump, and play.

Black goldens are especially fond of exercising with their owners. They enjoy performing high energy-activities, such as jogging and fetching, and low-energy activities, like going for long walks.

Like other intelligent dogs, Flat-Coated Retrievers need to exercise their minds as well as their bodies. They also enjoy mentally stimulating exercises, such as obedience training, agility practice, and tracking.

Other than playing with humans, Flatties also love playing with other dogs. They are very friendly and typically get along well with other pets. Because of this, they really enjoy going to the dog park.

If you give Flat-Coated Retrievers enough exercise, they can be very well-behaved when they are indoors. However, if you keep them cooped up for too long, they can become bored and destructive.

5. Flat-Coated Retrievers Make Great Family Pets

If you can handle all of their energy, Black Golden Retrievers make great family pets.

They are incredibly loyal and loving towards their owners. Additionally, they are great with children since they are very patient.

However, due to their high energy levels, it’s possible for them to be a little too excited around young children and toddlers.

So, if you have any small children in the house, make sure you keep a close eye on your Flat-Coated Retriever to ensure they don’t accidentally knock your little one to the ground.

6. Flat-Coated Retrievers Love Everyone They Meet

While these dogs are incredibly affectionate towards their family members, they love people in general. They are very pleasant towards everyone they meet.

So, if you are looking for a guard dog that’ll protect your house from strangers, Flat-Coated Retrievers likely aren’t the breed for you since they are so friendly.

However, if you want a super sweet dog that’ll get along with your extended family, friends, and neighbors, then this breed is the perfect pick.

7. Flat-Coated Retrievers Are Really Easy To Train

Since Flat-Coated Retrievers are such people-pleasers, they are effortless to train.  They were bred from the beginning for obedience and intelligence, so they pick up on new skills very quickly.

When they are puppies, it is recommended that they attend puppy training and socialization classes to help them grow into well-adjusted pups. Although they are bright and love to obey their owners, if you don’t teach them how to control themselves early, their energy can get the best of them.

During training, this breed responds very well to positive reinforcement. They love being praised when they do something right.

They are also very sensitive, so they don’t like being punished with harsh correction methods. The best way to show them they did something wrong is to ignore them or not provide them with a reward (like a treat).

If you do this, they will quickly determine that you are displeased with the way they’re acting and adjust their behavior accordingly.

8. Flat-Coated Retrievers Tend To Be a Little Mouthy

Like most retrievers, Flat-Coats enjoy having things inside of their mouths. They were bred to retrieve game, after all!

Because of this, they enjoy chewing on their owner’s hands and feet.

They also like to chew on other items as well. Given the opportunity, they will pick up random objects around your house to munch on, such as shoes, socks, or even furniture.

To prevent your Flattie from chewing on unwanted items, you should provide them with a box of chew toys that they can chomp on instead. Typically, this will prevent them from chewing up your stuff.

9. Flat-Coats Are Prone to Developing Separation Anxiety

As you know, Flat-Coated Retrievers love being with their families. They enjoy spending time with their owners and develop a deep attachment to them.

Because they are so close to their owners, they are more likely to develop separation anxiety when they are apart from them.

Separation anxiety is the fear of being left alone. Typically, dogs with this problem become nervous whenever their family leaves the house.

Often, separation anxiety results in undesirable behaviors. Many dogs will bark or whine the entire time their owners are away because they are so distraught.

Others will become destructive. They will tear up anything they can get their teeth on, including curtains, carpets, and even wooden door frames.

Because they tend to develop separation anxiety, Flat-Coated Retrievers should not be left by themselves for extended periods.

So, if you and your family are away from your home most of the day, you should not get a Flattie. They require constant love and attention, meaning someone needs to be at home with them for most of the day.

If you leave them alone for hours on end, problem behaviors will likely occur.

Top ten facts about the Flat-coated Retriever.

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

Final Thoughts About Flatties (aka Black Golden Retriever)

Purebred Golden Retrievers always have red, cream, or golden fur. Therefore, there is no such thing as a Black Golden Retriever.

Many people may think that the Flat-Coated Retriever is a Black Golden Retriever since they look so similar. However, Flat-Coats are slightly larger than goldens. Additionally, they have different hair textures and head shapes.

Flat-Coated Retrievers are very loving dogs that are filled with energy. Because of this, they are very needy and require a lot of exercise and attention. Additionally, they are family-oriented and love kids, making them the perfect family pet.

Related: To learn more about Flat-coated Retrievers vs. Golden Retrievers be sure to visit our article here.

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Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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