Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Highly Active Pet , Need Daily Physical Challenge

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This Highly Active Pet Will Need Daily Physical Challenge and a Dominating Owner Who Commands Its Respect

An intelligent, affectionate, and brave dog, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a good choice for active families who are looking for a hunting or camping "buddy" to share an active lifestyle. Chessies love retrieving waterfowl, swimming, or playing a game of “fetch” with the kids. Although without proper training this breed can be dominating with strong "leadership" tendencies, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever gets along well with children as well as any other pets in your family. Those dedicated to proper obedience training and firm management will find this breed a joy to own, as well as a wonderful friend for life.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, also frequently referred to as the "Chessie," originated in the United States but from stock destined to sail from England. History has it that two pups, described as Newfoundland dogs, were rescued in 1807 in Maryland from a foundering ship. The male dog's name was Sailor, the female Canton, named after the wrecked ship. The pups were actually St. John's water dogs who were presented to the men who helped those involved in the shipwreck. Although Sailor and Canton lived in different areas in the bay, the two were bred to other "nondescript' dogs in the area which were talented at retrieving. The dogs were also bred to other outcrosses including the Curly-Coated Retriever and English Otter Hound.

The two men who were given Sailor and Canton were Dr. James Stuart and John Mercer, both passionate hunters who soon found out the pups were excellent retrievers. It didn't take long before local duck hunters became aware of the retrieving ability of Canton and Sailor's offspring. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever became a clearly distinguishable breed by the mid-1800s, its stamina and skill for retrieving waterfowl from icy waters making the dogs legendary.

Early on the breed went by many names not only because of its duck-hunting ability, but also because of its color. Some of the earlier names included the Otter Dog, Red Chester Ducking Dog, Brown Winchester, and the Newfoundland Duck Dog. In 1890, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever finally became the official name of the breed. In 1918, the American Chesapeake Club was founded. Today, known as the state dog of Maryland, it is classified in the Sporting Group by the AKC.


In terms of size, the male Chessie will usually grow to a height of 23 to 26 inches as an adult, weighing 65 to 80 pounds. Female Chessies generally grow to 21 to 24 inches in height, weighing between 55 and 70 pounds as an adult.

Features that stand out in the breed include its amber or yellow-hued eyes which are extremely clear. Many Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have hindquarters which are as high or in some cases even higher than the shoulders. Chessies are double-coated, and often have waves in a coat that may feel a bit oily because of its waterproof properties. Standard colors of the breed include brown, dark brown, light brown, sedge, tan, and light, medium, and dark deadgrass. Sedge are shades that vary from red-yellow to chestnut shades, while deadgrass colors include those that vary from faded tan to a dull straw color. Chessies have a large, powerful chest which enables the breed to break through ice when retrieving ducks in cold water.


Independent and not as easily trainable as some other dog breeds, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is happiest and best behaved when accompanying its owner on an exciting excursion, like a hike, a jog, a bicycle ride, or, of course, on a hunting, fishing or camping trip. If you're not an outdoor person, your new pet may not be satisfied being indoors much of the time. Chessies are sensible and protective, a bit of a "workaholic" in the canine world. This breed is one that needs something to do, whether it's fetching a Frisbee, retrieving waterfowl, or learning to obey. Keeping your pet busy is important, otherwise you may not be pleased with what it finds on its own to stay occupied.

Other than requiring plenty of outdoor time and activity, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is intensely loyal to its family, and protective as well. While your dog won't likely be aggressive with strangers or visitors, it can be somewhat reserved. It's also important to note the importance of obedience training. If you don't teach your Chessie that you are in control and help it develop respect for your leadership, this dog will assume top position in the pecking order!

Living Environment

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are ideal for owners who live in the country, or who have plenty of outdoor space if in the city. This is a breed that requires plenty of room to exhaust its high activity and energy level, so apartment living is not recommended. However, if you do live in a smaller space be sure to give your dog more than just a daily walk. Chessies are the perfect companion for those with an active lifestyle including a full range of outdoor sports, camping, hunting waterfowl, and generally being on the move. This breed prefers cooler climates, and may enjoy sleeping outdoors.


A breed with very few health issues, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is, like many other breeds, prone to hip dysplasia. Other health concerns include PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), epilepsy, entropion (an eyelid disorder), and dwarfism. On average, the Chessie's life expectancy is about 10 to 12 years.


Grooming your pet is fairly easy, as Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have short hair which is dense and a bit oily, a natural waterproofing quality. An average shedder, your pet will need its coat firmly bristlebrushed frequently to remove loose hair and debris. As with most breeds, bathe only when necessary to avoid stripping your dog's coat of its natural oils, as this can lead to dry skin. It is important to maintain your pet's waterproof coat, as it protects this dog when retrieving ducks or other waterfowl in extremely cold or icy waters.


Chesapeake Bay Retriever History.

Retrieved December 22, 2013.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Retrieved December 22, 2013.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Temperament What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em.

Retrieved December 22, 2013.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Retrieved December 22, 2013.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Colors and Markings. color_markings.cfm

Retrieved December 22, 2013.

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