Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog breed originated as a water dog used to hunt and retrieve ducks in the chilly chop of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. This dog breed is smart, outgoing, affectionate, and loyal, his friendliness and good behavior make him a good and trustworthy companion animal.

Other Names Chesapeake, Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dog, Chessie
Color Brown, Dark Brown, Dark Deadgrass, Deadgrass, Light Brown, Light Deadgrass, Sedge, Tan
Height Males: 23-26 inches. Females: 21-24 inches.
Weight Males: 65-80 pounds. Females: 55-70 pounds.
Life Span 10-13 years
Personality Affectionate, Bright, Sensitive
Exercise Energetic
Popularity #46
Groom Needs 2-3 Times a Week
Kids Friendly Yes with supervision
Dog Friendly Yes with supervision
Watch Dog
Family Dog
Litter Size 7-10

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Pictures

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Video


Chesapeake Bay Retrievers come in a natural camouflage of a coat that takes on the color of the landscape of the bay where they developed. The double-coat is a wavy and waterproof affair that usually comes in brown, see or dead grass color with little markings of white. They are strong and powerful dogs with a natural tendency to outdo themselves in a bid to please. 

Chessies, as they are fondly called are friendly and cheerful dogs, similar to the Labrador retriever. They are medium-sized dogs, a mature male stands to a shoulder height of between 24 and 26 inches, and weighs roughly 70-80 pounds on the scale. The females run quite smaller, bearing a weight of around 55-70 pounds on a frame 21-23 inches tall from shoulder to paw.

They are popular duck dogs that can double as keen watchdogs. Loyal companions, at home but can develop a mind of their own and begin to act up on very rare occasions. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are trainable with the right amount of effort and they live up to about 12 years on the average.

Living with Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a soft undercoat and a harsh outer coat. They do shed, and a good brushing once a week with a rubber curry brush to remove dead hair and distribute the skin oils throughout the coat. Usually, these dogs don’t need much grooming or bathing. Over-bathing can strip the coat of the oils. 

And check your dog’s ears every week redness or odor that may indicate an infection, and wipe with a gentle cleanser. Also, brush his teeth several times a week to reduce tartar buildup, and daily brushing is better to keep fresh breathe and prevent gum disease. Additionally, trim the dog’s nails once or twice a month if he doesn’t wear them down naturally.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an intelligent, high-energy breed that requires a job and plenty of exercise. They enjoy exercise and activities such as hiking, running, hunting, and swimming. Besides, these dogs like a cool climate, if they have frequent opportunities to swim, they can do best in a warm climate. Give your dog at least 20 minutes of intensive work, training, water retrieves, play games, or up to an hour of a calm walk every day. Also, they need mental exercise in the form of training or games. 

The puppies shouldn’t be given too much exercise as their joints and bone are still growing and too much pressure on them may cause them a few problems in their future life.

For especially active or high-energy dogs, a formula with at least a 20-percent protein can be beneficial. Generally, it is recommended to feed a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with two to two and a half cups of high-quality dry dog food every day, divided into two meals. More importantly, the food amount should depend on the dog’s weight, size, age, and activity level. There should be fresh and clean water at all times. 

Some dogs are easy to get overweight, so you need to watch their calorie consumption and weight level all the time. Treats may be an important aid in training, but excessive intake can lead to obesity. Also, owners need to distinguish which human food is safe for dogs and which are not. If you have any problems with your dog’s weight or diet, just consult from your veterinarian.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever are prone to the following health conditions: progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), CHD, Von Willebrand’s disease, gastric dilatation-volvulus, epilepsy, chondrodysplasia…

Major concerns: gastric torsion, CHD

Minor concerns: hypothyroidism, PRA

Occasionally seen: OCD, entropion, cerebellar abiotrophy, elbow dysplasia

Suggested tests:


Hip Evaluation

Elbow Evaluation

PRA Optigen DNA Test

Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test

Total Annual Cost: $3239

Cost is estimated for the first year and may vary depending on many factors, such as dog food, health care, leash, collar, licensing, possible fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, dog-walking, grooming, treats, toys, flea, tick, and heart-worm meds, microchips, etc.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is known for being difficult to train although this dog breed is intelligent. So patience is needed as they are not eager to change their behaviors. Importantly, puppies should be properly socialized to develop the amiable outgoing personality that is characteristic of the breed. And they can excel in the activity and sports such as barn hunt, obedience, earthdog, and agility. 

They may be tired of the repetitive nature of obedience competition, so it is suggested to do it with creative training. They are good at rally, flyball, and kinds of water sports.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was developed in the Chesapeake Bay area around the mid-19th century. The record shows that the history of this dog breed can be traced to two dogs named ‘Sailor’ and ‘Canton’ which were rescued from a shipwreck in Maryland in 1807. Both dogs were identified as Newfoundland dogs; Sailor was male, while Canton was female, although they had both come from different parts of Newfoundland and there was no record of a litter they both had. 

These ancestors of the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were later bred in the Chesapeake Bay area with local dogs of the region to improve their features with emphasis for breed selection placed on performance and strength, rather than on a particular breed. Although it is not clear the totality of the breeds that contributed to the breeding of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, some authorities claim that spaniels and hounds formed the core of it.

The dog breed so formed was had a remarkable combination of strength and agility, adapting it to its role as a water dog, as well as a land retriever. It was declared one of the three types of Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dogs in the 1870s. Later in 1918, the American Kennel Club recognized the Chesapeake Bay Retriever as a dog breed of the United States. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was made the official dog of Maryland in 1964.

Helpful Information


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