When standing approximately 65% of the weight is on the front assembly and in action over 90% of the concussion of striking the ground is absorbed up front. The proper front also allowing for a smooth ground covering action; the efficiency of fewer steps also minimizes shock to the system, and encourages both endurance and durability. The flatcoat topline should be generally level, never sloping or swayed.. If the neck is properly set and shoulders set well into the back there will always be a very slight but perceivable dip just behind the withers. Any softness of back or longer than square loin region is seriously faulty and tends to render a hard worked dog unsound at a relatively early age. In this respect, upright shoulders, weak or upright pasterns, a soft back and loose loin region (open couplings) are as crippling to a worker as moderate hip disease.
The rear of a flatcoat should be well muscled with angulation in balance with the shoulders. The second thigh or gaskins ( knee to the hock) should be of a good length (equal to the thigh (hip to knee), with hocks well let down (short). The optimum function for a retriever is to propel itself forward using the rear as an efficient lever not as a pushing instrument. Dogs that are over angulated must push in a constant uphill position, squandering needed energy for endurance and placing greater stress on the hips and spine.
In summary the flatcoat is a strong but elegant medium size dog with substance and bone. Deep rather than rounded in ribcage with a very distinct blunted triangle shape formed by the level back, deep brisket with prominent prow, tapering up to the last rib to form a tuckup. A flatcoat is never compact or cobby, nor is it overly rangy (length of body). The general appearance of the breed; “showing power without lumber(excess flesh)and raciness (higher stationed on legs) without weediness (slightness in bone or general build). Any attempt to stylize or change the shape of the dog by shaving, barbering, fluffing, etc is reprehensible and more often than not is a red flag calling attention to the very faults it seeks to hide. A bit of tidying of the ear fringes, throat and feathers should be the only grooming needed.
Edward J. Atkins