AKC Dog Breeds: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Sporting Group
Height: 21-26 inches   Weight: 55-80 pounds  Color: All colors of brown, sedge, or deadgrass

Originating in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is often referred to as the Chessie. Developed along the Chesapeake Bay and named the state dog of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a truly American sporting breed and the toughest water retriever. He is a strong, powerfully built medium-sized breed with yellowish or amber eyes and a distinctive coat. It is believed that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever breed originated when a shipwreck occurred off the coast of Maryland in 1807. The story is that there were two Newfoundland dogs onboard that survived the shipwreck and these were given to a local family that was known as animal lovers. The family then crossed the Newfoundland's with local retrievers and possibly native dogs which eventually led to the development of a very hardy breed that was able to swim in the cold waters in the Chesapeake Bay. Some breeders indicate that the Irish Water Spaniel, Bloodhound and other local mixed hound breeds may also form a part of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever's heritage.

General Appearance
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a large, muscular dog that is sturdy and very solid looking even as a puppy. They come in various shades of brown ranging from a lighter tan or straw color through to a deep brown or mahogany color. The coat is rather short and may be somewhat wavy, especially down the back and around the neck and shoulder area. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a unique double coat that is slightly oily to the touch on both the inner and outer layers. The head of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is broad and wide with a powerful and yet gentle looking slightly tapered muzzle. The shape of the skull is very round and the stop is not as pronounced giving a softer profile to the head than some breeds of retrievers. The hair on the head and face is much shorter than the hair on the rest of the body and the large round eyes are very visible. The eyes are yellow to amber in color and are particularly striking on the darker colored dogs. The ears are small in comparison to many of the hunting breeds and hang down just to the level of the mouth or lower jaw. They fold over completely and are not held erect. The feet are webbed to enhance swimming ability.


The Chesapeake is a happy and intelligent breed whose courage, working ability and love of water mesh best with active, outdoor-loving families. Equally proficient on land and in the water, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was developed along the Chesapeake Bay to hunt waterfowl under the most adverse weather and water conditions, often having to break ice during the course of many strenuous multiple retrieves. The Chesapeake is valued for its bright and happy disposition, intelligence, quiet good sense, and affectionate protective nature. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the most rugged and powerful of the six retriever breeds. This breed is a true nature lover. They are alert, intelligent, courageous, and extremely versatile. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is independent, tough, and possesses stoic determination. They are tenacious workers; bold and athletic. They do best in a home with older considerate children. They will generally get along with other dogs they have been raised with but have a tendency to be combative and aggressive with dogs they do not know. They do not do well with cats or other small household pets. This breed thrives on family interaction and will become destructive if ignored, lonely, or bored. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not recommended for the novice, apathetic, or sedentary owner.


When grooming the Chesapeake Bay Retriever you should be careful of over-brushing as you can otherwise affect the texture of the dog's coat. You can brush his coat on a weekly basis with a natural bristle brush, and only more often if he shedding heavily. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary to preserve the integrity of the water repellant coat.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is around 10-12 years, and there are a number of health problems that are associated with this breed, including OCD, PRA, HD, elbow dysplasia, and cataracts.

Activity Level
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever requires daily vigorous exercise. They enjoy swimming and make excellent walking, jogging, and bicycling companions. This breed must have physical and mental stimulation. They are not suited for apartment or city dwelling. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers do best in a home where they can run and romp freely in a safely fenced area.


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