There was a time when the Flat Coated Retriever was the predominant favorite among sporting dogs, especially in England where this breed of dog proved to be the greatest asset in the hunting field. Unfortunately, its popularity declined steeply during the two World Wars and the Flat Coated Retriever came very close to extinction. One of the earliest patrons of the Flat Coated Retriever was H. Reginald Cooke who helped preserve the dog's bloodline by putting up his Riverside Kennel. The kennel helped in the promotion of the Flat Coated Retriever welfare and the dog's eventual return to the spotlight.
Unlike other dog breeds that seem to have made it "big" in the movies or in TV, very few Flat Coated Retriever dogs are known for their show business popularity. These energetic dogs just don't seem to have the "star" quality of the Golden Retrievers and the Labrador Retrievers, both breeds having appeared numerous times on the silver screen and on TV. Most of the so-called famous Flat Coated Retrievers are therefore champion canines that have garnered multiple awards in various dog show competitions and hunting/field tests.
Perhaps one of the most famous Flat Coated Retriever was "Blarney" and it was owned by H. Reginald Cooke. Four-year-old and black-coated Blarney was titled multiple times as champion in the hunting/field tests, a favorite among conformation competitions, and was also a sought after stud during his time.
Recently, Flat Coated Retriever owners were happy to find out that Champion Simon a.k.a. Almanza Far and Flyg (from Oslo, Norway) won the 2007 Gundog Group in Crufts. The last time any Flat Coated Retriever won the Crufts was back in 2004. Incidentally, Crufts is an annual international dog show organized by UK's Kennel Club. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is also the largest dog conformation competition and it usually lasts for four days. Another Crufts Champion is Shargleam Blackcap who won in the 1980 competition.
According to the Flat Coated Retriever Society of America or FCRSA, aside from Crufts in the UK, there are also US based dog show competitions in which Flat Coated Retriever enthusiasts and their pets can join. Promoting these competitions help foster the historical concept of the Flat Coated Retriever breed as dual purpose dogs. These competitions include Bramcroft Obedience Trophy, Field Trophy, Singles Championship, Specialty Best of Breed and Specialty Best of Opposite Sex.
Other famous Flat Coated Retriever include Champions: Folly's Jokes (2006,) Windfall's Energy of Dagobah (2006,) Woodflat's Drivin' Miss Daisy (2006,) Light-Foot's Magic Mushroom (2005,) Shannara's Chamber of Secrets (2005,) Beachcliff Alec "the Shadow" Baldwin (2004,) Hadscrabble Paradise Aruba (2004,) Blazin' Back O' the Moon (2003,) and Blazin' Capre Diem (2002,) to name a few.
Winning dog show competitions like these contribute to the Flat Coated Retriever's popularity, especially in Europe and in the United Kingdom. Such renewed interest in the breed helps preserve the blood line of the Flat Coated Retriever.