Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Country of origin: USA
Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC
Occupation: Gun dog,
Size: 21 to 26 in tall; 55 to
80 lbs
Longevity: 10 to 12 years
Exercise: Moderate
Training: Easy; hard to keep
Grooming: Easy

Although this is a relatively recent breed, its origins are obscure. Legend has it that two Lesser Newfoundland puppies taken from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland in 1807 were given to George Law and later crossed with local retrievers, giving rise to the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. However, it is very similar to the Curlycoated Retriever in both appearance and behaviour, suggesting that English or Irish Water Spaniels or Otterhounds were also involved. It is a tireless gundog, happiest in the country, and makes a faithful companion, gentle with children and friendly to strangers.

Breed name synonyms: Chessie


The story of the Chesapeake Bay retriever began in 1807, when two Newfoundland dogs named Canton (female) and Sailor (male) were rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland. Even though Canton and Sailor went to opposite sides of the Chesapeake Bay and were never mutually bred, together they became the foundation stock of what eventually turned out to be the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Throughout the years people of the Chesapeake Bay area bred these dogs to local breeds such as the Otterhound and the Curly and Flat coated Retrievers.
The Chessie was originally bred to fetch 100-200 ducks daily from the icy chop and cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
To this day, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is known for its unerring ability to recover water fowl. Thanks to this attribute its popularity extends beyond the area of the Chesapeake Bay.


Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have intelligent and alert expression, that shows great strength and stamina. They are intensely affectionate, sensitive and perceptive. They are well noted for their ability to press on in harsh conditions.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are more territorial and aggressive than other members of the Retrievers family. His courageousness is best shown when needed to protect his family and properties.

Naturally, Chessies are not barkers unless they have nothing else to do, but they will “talk” by making various vocalizations. Chessies also ,,smile,,. Smiling or snickering is a specific grin that they use in different occasions.


Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are strong, well balanced and powerfully built dogs of moderate size. As a result of their webbed feet, they are extraordinary swimmers. They have powerful limbs and strong, but at the same time tender bite, which enables them to carry birds. The Chesapeake is highly valued for its bright and happy disposition.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have dense and oily double coat. The outer coat is harsh and the undercoat is wooly. The coat’s color matches the Chessie’s working surroundings – any shade of brown, sedge or dead grass is acceptable. A small white spot on the chest, belly, toes or back of the feet is allowed.
Males should measure 23-26’’ (58.5-66cm) and females should measure 21-24’’(53-61cm). Males should weigh 65-80Ib (29.5-36.5kg) and females should weigh 55-70Ib (25-32kg).


Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are exceptionally independent. They neither want nor readily accept human guidance. As a result of modern breeding, this independence is tempered to some degree, but still imposing leadership over Chessies is not an easy task.
Training sessions should be fun and repetition avoided, since Chessies get bored. Positive reinforcement in form of rewards for good behavior should be used. Throughout the years breeding programs changed the Chessie. He has gone from being a one-person dog to a one-family dog. However he still gives his entire heart and soul to one person.
Chessies learn best from people they know, love and respect. That means, if you want a well behaved Chesapeake Bay Retriever you should train him yourself.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is prone to several disease. Worth mentioning are the following: musculoskeletal conditions (cranial cruciate ligament rupture), neurological conditions (distal symmetrical polyneuropathy), haematological conditions (Von Willebrand’s disease), ocular conditions (entropion – usually of the lateral lower lid), distichiasis, refractory corneal ulceration, uveal cysts, cataract, multifocal retinal dysplasia, generalised progressive retinal atrophy) and reproductive conditions (vaginal hyperplasia).

The lifespan of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is estimated to be 10-12 years.



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