What is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are bright and strong for a dog breed.

They are the toughest water retrievers around, powerfully built and look quite similar to Labrador Retrievers except Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have curlier coats. They are brave and obedient and very willing to work to please their master while being affectionate and loving around children, making them good for families with little ones.
Bred to work on both land and water, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever is best for hunting waterfowl in rough, icy waters, capable of retrieving even hundreds of birds every day.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) categorizes dogs into 7 groups:

  • Herding
  • Hound
  • Non-sporting
  • Sporting
  • Terrier
  • Toy
  • Working

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever is considered to be a sporting dog by the American Kennel Club.

Aside from making their mark as top-notch retrievers, owners also describe Chesapeake Bay Retrievers to be:

  • Alert
  • Intelligent
  • Water-lovers
  • Happy
  • Courageous
  • Obedient
  • Trainable
  • Friendly
  • Active

Chesapeake Bay Retriever history
It was in 1807 when an English ship was stranded off the Maryland Coast. The ship had two Newfoundland dogs and when they were rescued they found new homes in Chesapeake Bay. When the dogs were bred with local retrievers like the Curly-Coated and Flat-Coat Retrievers and the English Otter Hound, the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were born. Breeding choice focused more on the resulting ability instead so this gave rise to a number of combinations for the breed. There were no reports though that the two Newfoundlands were ever bred together. In 1877, there were three types of the Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dog but they were eventually narrowed down to just one type, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The dog breed was recognized in 1918 by the American Kennel Club, and in 1964 was declared the official dog for Maryland.

Reliable, water-loving dog
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was described by the American Kennel Club as a truly American sporting dog and probably the toughest water retriever there is. This is probably because the dog breed is particularly built for swimming or splashing around in water, with their webbed feet and oily, short coats that repel water and dry quickly. The colors of their coats (brown, sedge, and deadgrass) also help in helping Chesapeake Bay Retrievers blend in with their environment which aids in their hunting activities.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are active dogs so they’re going to need a lot of physical activity, including swimming whenever possible. While they can be relatively inactive when indoors, they are not ideal for apartment life and will need at least an average yard to run around in. They like cool climates too so it’s not surprising to see them sleeping outdoors when the colder months roll in. Whenever possible, obedience classes are recommended for this dog breed to help curtail tendency to dominate. Consequently, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever must never be allowed to lead when out on walks because it develops the idea that leaders lead the way. Its master should be the leader and so its master should be in the lead. To help keep the dog from leading, it must be made to heel whenever needed.

Living up to around 10 to 12 years, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers grow up to 23 to 26 inches in height in dogs while the bitches grow up to heights of 21 to 24 inches. As for their weight, dogs can weigh up to 80 lbs (36kg) and the bitches up to 70 lbs (32kg). Gait should be effortless, smooth, and free so as to give off the impression of great strength and power. There should also be no movement restrictions when viewed from all angles. Still, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever must not lose its affectionately protective nature and happy disposition. Extreme aggressiveness or shyness is not desirable in the breed.

As for health problems, this dog breed is prone to hip dysplasia and eye concerns. Grooming is also relatively simple for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever because it only needs to be brushed for the most part. Baths are only required in order to keep any noticeable odors at bay. Frequent bathing is not recommended because this will strip the oil from the dogs coat which it needs for protection from water and the cold when it is out on hunting activities. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is also an average shedder so take note. Average shedding is quite manageable but it may still pose a problem for those with allergies.

Disqualifications from the breed standard include: specimens lacking breed characteristics, undershot or overshot teeth, dewclaws on hind legs, curly coats, more than 1 inches of feathering on the legs or tail, black-colored coat, and white parts on the body except on the backs of the feet, toes, belly, and breast. These terms for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were set in 1993 and have been in effect since.