In the late 18th century England driven game shooting became popular. This gave rise to the need for dogs specialized in retrieving with a soft grip. Until then various pointer and setter type dogs had been used in addition to various water spaniels. Driven game hunting placed different requirements on the dog: the dog had to remain relaxed with large amounts of shooting and dropping birds, and it must be absolutely quiet and calm so it wouldn’t scare the game or bother the shooter. The body type and size of the dogs used in breeding was influenced by use. To achieve a dog fulfilling the requirements breeding programs used sheep dogs, setters, spaniels, and water dogs. Sheep dogs were used to enhance trainability, spaniels for hunting ability, water dogs for water work, and setters for good scenting ability.
S.E Shirley (founder of The Kennel Club) had the greatest impact in the early breeding of the breed. He crossed these retrievers with large newfoundlands, large labradors, and St. Johns water dogs. The wavy-coated retrievers bred by Shirley were slightly heavier than modern flatcoats. All English retrievers have this common ancestry. From the varied group of early retrievers breeders started to create dogs suitable for their own uses and preferences. Wavy-coated retrievers were originally called long-haired retrievers in Finland. The name can still be found in old dog books. Later the name was changed to reflect the name in the country of origin.
Source: Finnish flatcoated retriever club, Kirsi Nieminen
Translation: Ramin Miraftabi