The Time My Mutt Became a Breed
October 9, 2008, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Dogs | Tags: , ,

Katie is almost a year old. We got her from the animal rescue league when she was about 8 months old. She had originally come in as a stray found on the side of the road at only a few weeks old, and then was subsequently adopted and returned twice before we got her. The rescue said that she was maybe part lab, part collie, and we heard whisperings of Newfoundland.

Everybody who meets her has a different idea. Border collie, lab, irish setter, we heard it all. I just threw my hands up at every suggestion and laughed, “your guess is as good as mine!”

Does she look like any of those to you?

The only thing that kept me from just assuming “oh, she’s a total mutt: every breed is mixed in her somehow” is that she seemed SO much like a breed. She was just too well put-together, too much of a water/hunting dog in her behavior, too smart, and too pretty to be a Heinz 57 varieties breed.

Last week, we took her to the dog run, where she scampers about rough and tumbling with the other dogs there. I was talking to the owner of the two beautiful, pure Springer Spaniels, and she suggested that she might be a Flat Coated Retriever. “She must be. She looks just like them, but a little small. She’s not pure, but probably mostly Flat Coat.”

Oh, ok. I had never heard of this breed before. I forgot about the exchange until yesterday, and I decided to ask the Internet about it.

Lo, and behold! It is my dog, on the Internet!

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Suddenly, my dog makes sense. She’s super friendly, bouncy and exuberant, with lots of playful energy. Just like this breed. She has the same stubborn willfulness. She has the same fur, same eyes, and same weird brown colored fur puffing out from between her toes. She has a similar facial expression. She loves water, and tends to point at small rodents and birds that she sees. She loves to run and be outdoors and play in the mud. She loves playing with other dogs and with people. She is smart as a whip. She has a weird habit of greeting other dogs by licking them on the lips.


There are differences. She’s 20 lbs lighter than the lightest FCR female. She has a shorter, squarer head. These are probably from whatever she is mixed with, but the FCR is totally dominant. This is probably a good thing, because FCR’s are prone to cancers at an early age. Hopefully that will be weeded out in the mix.

If she stays true to the breed, she will remain happy, playful and puppy-like well into old age. She s trainable as long as she’s not trained harshly or repetitively. She is a much better dog if she is exercised appropriately.

I am excited about all of this. Of course, I keep saying that she’s a “flat footed retriever” by accident.

Hell, that will keep her out of the draft!


4 Comments so far
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Well from the size of her and the frontal photo I’d rule out A pure FlatCoat.

It actually looks like some kind of border collie and possibly a Flat Coat or Labrador thrown in the mix.

I’ve also seen this look come from a cross of Belgium Shephard and a Border Collie. Both dogs also have the same temperament as a Flat Coated retriever.

But for the record. Aside from Labradors, The Flat Coated Retriever is the most common description to be tagged on any black dog with wavy or curly hair and flopped ears. Which is rather odd when you consider how controlled the breeding stock is. Breeders are almost fanatical about their progeny and if there is a Flat Coat out there then the tight and small community of breeder know about it. Which would lead me to believe that this gal of yours is not an FCR at all.

Comment by Sengimage

I agree: I highly doubt she’s anywhere close to being pure bred. If you read the last few paragraphs of the blogpost, you’ll see my list of all of her traits that are proof of it, most notably her smaller size.

Furthermore, since we got her from an animal rescue league, where she was taken as a puppy by someone who found her on the side of the road, we have no idea what she is. We’ll never know, and frankly don’t care to know. She’s a wonderful dog and we love her as she is, even if she is of unknown parentage.

Comment by potpie

Well, don’t worry too much. Unlike most fanatical dog fanciers I know enough to understand that every dog deemed a purebred was at some point in history were all considered mongrels. It was a habit of the wealthy aristocrats (snobs) to call dogs pure by the standards they proclaimed. A registry is just a list to record your dog and no guarantee you get anything better than a mongrel….in fact most mongrels today are much healthier specimens than pure breed dogs

Comment by Sengimage

I saved a 9 month old pup last year from a rescue that looks and personality wise seems EXACTLY like yours. (ei; energy, playfulness, swimming and catching small critters) The shelter told me they thought she was a border collie-lab mix. Everywhere I go I’m asked if my dog is a flat coat retriever. As much as I would like her to be a pure, I hope she isn’t because I know FCR have short life spans and are prone to cancer. Either way my family and I feel like we won the lottery because we love our dog! She is the best mix whatever she is.

Comment by Judy

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