Chesapeake Bay Retriever Dog Breed

Chocolate Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
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  • Other names:
  • Chessie Dog
  • Chessy Dog
Overview

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, or as it is affectionately called the "Chessie", is a breed that originated in America and is one of the first breeds recognized by the AKC. This gundog not only retrieves waterfowl hunted by its owner, but also does so in freezing, icy waters! The short, rough, wavy coat is extra oily; this makes the dog virtually waterproof. Every aspect of their appearance from the coat to webbed feet make them suitable to brave strong tides, winds, and ice. Besides swimming, being with their family is the Chessie's other favorite past time. They form firm and loyal bonds with the owner or family and will very seriously take on the responsibility of protecting the property, children, other pets, etc. Members of this breed are more suited to indoor living since they prefer to be in the presence of the owner; to other animals and strangers they are either reserved or totally uninterested. They require at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers shed very little and grooming consists of hardly more than brushing once per week. They are prone to typical large dog problems such as hip and joint issues but will likely live as long as 10-13 years.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Details

Breed Specs
TypeLifespanHeightWeight
Purebred10-13 yrs.21-26 in.55-80 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Below are the details and facts on the Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog breed.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Description

Chessies are considered large sized dogs. Females usually stand 21-24 inches tall and weigh around 55-70 pounds. Males will be larger reaching 23-26 inches and weighing in at 65-80 pounds.

This is a great breed for all ages and would make an equally wonderful companion as a hunting dog. Affectionate and lively, Chessies are very fond of the attention children can give them. They are not overly playful and often regard other pets as beings to either be protected or ignored completely. These dogs truly desire companionship and form a close protective bond with their owners and do best when indoors with them. They are the most loyal and protective of the retrievers and will protect the yard, family, and other pets with serious dedication.

This breed is relatively low maintenance for its size. Grooming will be limited mostly to a weekly brushing to rid the fur of mats and tangles. Bathing once every 3-4 months is recommended otherwise the oily water-resistant coat may be stripped of its natural protection. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are mostly active outdoors and shed very little; for these facts they will require little maintenance indoors. A daily long walk or hike is recommended (at least 20 minutes) with a swim being the Chessie's most preferred form of exercise. Although this breed is referred to as sagacious, training will require quite a bit of effort, consistency and patience. A dominant mentality is recommended; however too much negative reinforcement is not because they are sensitive to those they have bonded with.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed History

This breed was officially recognized by the AKC quite early, in 1878 and the first Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club was founded in 1918. The story tells that a ship headed home to England wrecked off the coast of Maryland. Among those rescued from the ship were two puppies, supposedly Newfoundlands, that were gifted to the American rescuers and were then bred with other retrievers locally. The breed developed into a fine gun dog that could brave the icy waters of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland to retrieve hundreds of waterfowl per day. Overtime appearance changed in the breed from solely a reddish-brown and long-haired dog to the shorter-haired various colors that are acceptable today.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Appearance

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are sturdy looking dogs and most aspects of their appearance are made for water. They have a double coat in which the under layer is soft, dense, wooly and oily. The oiliness of the skin and undercoat further protect them from freezing waters in cold climates by making them water resistant. The outer layer is short, wavy and rough. The jaws of the Chessie are long and strong which enable them to get a good hold on the game birds they retrieve and they have amber to yellow eyes that give them a lively and expressive look. Members of this breed have small, loosely hanging ears set at the top of the head. Their chest is wide and deep and they have medium length, well-muscled legs with webbed feet. They are somewhat longer than tall with slightly feathered tail held high. Every facet of this breed's physique lends to powerful swimming skills.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Coloring

The wavy, short outer coat of this breed usually occurs in three main colors: chocolate brown, reddish gold (sedge), and deadgrass (straw-colored). In addition, they can be tan or varying shades of the other colors, such as dark and light brown, or dark and light deadgrass. The eyes of this breed are uniquely amber or yellow colored. A white spot is not desirable but is permissible on the chest, belly, and feet as far as breed standards are concerned.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Size

Chessies are considered large sized dogs. Females usually stand 21-24 inches tall and weigh around 55-70 pounds. Males will be larger reaching 23-26 inches and weighing in at 65-80 pounds.

Average Adult Height

21-26 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

55-80 lbs

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Variations

This breed has no variations that are considered standard. This means there are no Miniature Chesapeake Bay Retrievers that will be recognized by any kennel club and you would no be able to show or compete with one.

Note that there is no single coat color considered standard for the breed. The AKC specifies the coat should match their surroundings and, therefore, the dense, short and straight coat can be various colors like brown or deadgrass.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Temperament

Experts contend this breed of retrievers is the most protective and loyal of all the retrievers. Members of this breed are intuitive, lively, loyal and affectionate. These traits allow them to be excellent partners for hunters as well as loving and protective members of the family. This breed is intuitive enough to bring back the hunter's bird with a gentle bite that does no further damage. This breed will be take upon the task of protecting your yard, family, pets, etc. with tremendous seriousness. Although they will most likely be found in the same room just keeping you company, they are not the extremely playful, clownish retriever type. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are not dull dogs but training them will come with challenges. They are independent in mind and even stubborn at times so the trainer must be equipped with much patience and consistency. This breed is intuitive and sensitive, however, so a quick reprimand will do in instances of bad behavior. A plus side to those considering adopting a Chessie is that they can make a new bond with an owner at any age due to their natural desire for human companionship and attention.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Children

Most agree Chessies are very good with children; they thrive on attention and affection. They are not overly playful like other retrievers but will enjoy being in the company of the family almost all of the time. They are loyal and affectionate so they will be protective over children in their family. The large size and high energy of this breed may make them a considerable hazard to very small children.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Other Pets

Members of this breed are not pack hunting dogs and so do not need to be part of a group to be fulfilled. They are friendly towards other pets including other dogs in the same household. These dogs are protective over any being they consider in their family and may be shy to slightly aggressive towards strange dogs. Chesapeakes much prefer their owner's company to any other pet, so they will likely be not care whether those pets are there or not.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Strangers

These dogs will be well behaved around strangers but will not be overly friendly. Although they are not aggressive, they are dedicated and protective of their owners and families. They make good watchdogs but are unlikely to ever attack anyone. Out of the many retriever breeds, Chessies are the most protective.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Chocolate Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chocolate Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chocolate Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppy
Chocolate Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Reddish Gold Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever Jumping in Water
Deadgrass Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppy

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Maintenance

This breed is relatively low maintenance for its size. Grooming will be limited mostly to a weekly brushing to rid the fur of mats and tangles. Bathing once every 3-4 months is recommended otherwise the oily water-resistant coat may be stripped of its natural protection. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are mostly active outdoors and shed very little; for these facts they will require little maintenance indoors. A daily long walk or hike is recommended (at least 20 minutes) with a swim being the Chessie's most preferred form of exercise. Training will require quite a bit of effort, consistency and patience. A dominant mentality is recommended; however too much negative reinforcement is not.

Grooming Requirements

A weekly brushing should keep this breed's short, wavy coat free of mats. They are low shedding dogs and shouldn't need much more maintenance than this. Bathing should not be done on a regular basis due to the fact the Chessie's coat is water resistant. Bathing too frequently removes essential oils from the skin and coat. Alopecia is uncommon but has been recorded in these dogs so skin sensitivity should be monitored.

Exercise Requirements

Chessies are large sized dogs and have moderate exercise needs. A daily long walk, hike or run and some outdoor playtime should do just fine. Needless to say, this breed adores swimming and will be very grateful for this type of exercise even in cold water. Indoors these dogs will not be nearly as active, so they make fine indoor pets.

Living Requirements

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers can be either completely indoor or partial outdoor dogs. A fenced yard is recommended for most outdoor breeds. Although outdoors the high energy nature of the breed is evident, indoors is a different story. These dogs can be calm home-dwelling companions. They are affectionate and do not enjoy being without their owners for long periods of time. Due to their large size, they are not as suitable for small apartments.

Temperature Range

Chessies originated near the icy water of Chesapeake Bay and are therefore accustomed to moderate seasonal changes. They thrive in cool weather to cold weather but should easily adapt to most temperatures. This breed truly enjoys swimming even in icy water.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Health

Like most other large breeds, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers may suffer from hip dysplasia and gastric torsion. Retinal atrophy and joint issues are also minor concerns that may affect members of this breed in later life. Cerebellar abiotrophy is also a possibility; this disease affects motility in dogs. Good health permitting, it is likely these dogs will live 10-13 years.

  • Bloat
  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • View all 4...

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Chesapeake Bay Retriever as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • View all 14...
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