Rarely, a yellow Flat-Coated Retriever may be born, but the color is not accepted in the breed standard and yellow Flatties are disqualified from the show ring. A yellow Flattie is the result of two Flat-Coats with yellow recessive genes producing a litter. While yellow Flat-Coated Retrievers may be registered with the AKC, in order to prevent undesirable health risks they may not reproduce—if they do, their offspring will not be eligible for AKC registration. DNA tests are available to determine the genetic makeup of dogs, including whether a Flattie carries the recessive yellow gene.
Though disqualified by the AKC, a yellow Flat-Coat can be a loving companion for a family who does not intend to show or breed their dog.
Unfortunately, Flat-Coated Retrievers have a higher instance of cancer at an early age—especially the rare malignant histiocytosis, which affects the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, spleen, and nervous system. Though treatment with chemotherapy may offer some hope for survival, the prognosis is generally poor due to the aggressive nature of malignant histiocytosis. Selective breeding for traits such as head shape and coat length also comes with other risks—a small gene pool and little genetic diversity mean undesirable qualities like the risk for cancer are harder to breed out. As Flat-Coats appear to have a genetic predisposition to cancer, studies are underway to determine the cause—and a potential fix—for the problem.