Breed Type: Retriever
Country of Origin: United States
Popular Names: Chesapeake, Chessie, CBR
Size: Large
Height: (At the withers) Males 58 – 66 cm, Females 53 – 61 cm
Weight: Males 34 to 45 kg, Females 32 – 41 kg
Best suited as: Pet or show dog with an active owner or family. May be used as a hunting companion.
Lifespan: 10 – 13 years

One of the most defining characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the texture of its double coat – it waves in some places and is straight in others. Its name reflects its excellent retrieving ability.

They have round, broad heads with medium-length muzzles, thin lips, and small hanging ears. Their eyes are amber to yellow and this is very striking on darker-coloured dogs. They have particularly strong hind legs and webbed toes on all feet. They have a powerful chest they use to break ice apart when duck hunting in cold weather. They have medium-length bodies where the rear end stands even or slightly higher than the withers. They are a generally muscular and powerful dog.

Being water retrievers, their weather-resistant coat is always slightly oily to the touch, and this helps them repel water. The top coat is short, very dense, and may be straight all over, or have areas on the chest, back, and neck that is wavy. The undercoat is fine and dense. Their coats do not hold water and dry very quickly. They are comfortable hunting in most weather conditions. CBRs come in all shades of brown, deadgrass, and sedge. Some dogs may have agouti colouring and tan points, masking on top of the head, saddle markings, or a white spot on the belly, breast, back of the feet, or toes.
They often have a musky odour.

In 1807, two dogs were rescued from a foundering ship off the coast of Maryland. The dogs, “Sailor” and “Canton” were St. John’s Water Dogs, and were eventually bred with area dogs to create the breed as it is known today. Spaniels, Curly Coated Retrivers, and hounds may have been mixed in – there are few written records of the specific breeds used. In 1918, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was recognized by the AKC.

In 1964, the CBR was named the official dog of Maryland, and it is the mascot for the University of Marylands, Baltimore County.

They are happy, affectionate, protective, and bright. Some bark when happy, and some will “smile” when particularly joyful. They do well with respectful children and can get along with other pets. They tend to be dog-aggressive, particularly the males – neutering and regular exposure to new dogs helps reduce this problem.

These are very strong-willed and are not as easy-going as other retriever breeds and tend to be harder to train. They have a tendency to ignore commands and all members of the family must be involved in training. They need a lot of exercise or their behaviour will quickly deteriorate and can become destructive to flowerbeds and furniture. They do not do well in apartments or small homes because they are bouncy and boisterous, even as adults. They do best in a country setting.

They are very distrustful of strange humans, and must be socialized early and often to ensure they do not become aggressive or overly-protective of property. They need to be taught the difference between an unwelcome stranger and a welcome guest. They are well-known for putting pretty much anything into their mouths. Books, sticks, clothing, rocks, shoes, toys, and hands often end up in a Chessie’s mouth. It is important they receive proper training so they know what things they can chew and what things are off-limits.

They require a handler who is experienced and do best with firm, consistent, and constant training. They are very intelligent, though, and can learn very quickly. They are great hunting dogs because of their love for swimming and their endurance. They have a strong chasing instinct and so should be kept in a fenced-in yard to prevent them from taking off after a neighbour’s cat.

Care and Grooming
They are very easy to maintain; their short coat needs only a brush with a wire brush once a week. They should be bathed only when absolutely necessary so as not to dry out the skin and hair. Like other dogs, they require weekly ear cleanings and tooth brushings. Their eyes are prone to entropion so their eyes need regular inspection for signs of irritation or tearing. They need their nails clipped once a month unless they wear them down naturally.

They are a highly active breed and need a lot of exercise on a daily basis – up to two hours a day. They love to swim and a CBR with access to water for regular swims will be happiest. They are in their elements outdoors and enjoy hiking, games of fetch or Frisbee, camping, and other activities like obedience, agility, and flyball. They make excellent jogging and cycling companions. They are capable of day-long hunting trips and can retrieve in cold water all day with no complaints. Some can retrieve up to 200 ducks a day. They also make great search and rescue dogs.

They live an average of 10 to 12 years and the breed may suffer from a few health problems. Issues to which they are prone include bloat, hip dysplasia, entropion, von Willebrand disease, cataracts, regional alopecia, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

Suitability As A Pet
People who wish to add a Chesapeake Bay Retriever to the family should choose one from a pet or show line, not one from a working line. Dogs from working lines tend to require more exercise and should be used as hunting companions. They do best with experienced dog owners, or novice owners who have taken the time to learn how to best train a stubborn, intelligent, and independent breed. They require obedience training from a very early age and prospective owners need to be aware of potential issues that may arise. They are not suitable for people who live in small living spaces in the city.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Organisations in Australia
 No club information listed

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Organisations in the UK
American Chesapeake Club

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Organisations in the US
American Kennel Club – Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club

Did we miss your organisation? Let us know. Contact Us