Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
any colour of brown, sedge or deadgrass
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • intelligent and lively

  • great dog for an avid hunter

  • playful

  • great family companion

  • ill-suited for an apartment dweller

  • heavy seasonal shedder

  • difficult to train

  • needs lots physical and mental stimulation


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was developed as a sporting dog to quarry ducks and other fowl in the icy waters of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Its stout physique, thick coat, exceptional endurance and power made it one of the most effective breeds for this kind of task. Presently most of its members still fulfil their primary function of the hunter’s assistant although some of them also enjoy the life of a much beloved family dog.


The USA is the homeland of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever that is considered to be one of few canine varieties created on its territory. It’s said to have originated from two Newfoundland dogs called Canton and Sailor who were voyaging to England in 1807. The ship that carried them suffered a wreck but the crew and four-legged passengers were fortunately saved by the Americans. Sailor was subsequently sheltered by John Mercer of West River and Canton became the pet of Dr. James Stewart of Sparrows Point.

Both dogs won repute as first-class waterdogs, particularly when it concerned duck hunting, and their descendants derived from them their excellent retrieving talents and beautiful amber-coloured eyes. Local hunters outcrossed Sailor and Canton to other breeds, including the Otter Hound, Flat-Coated and Curly-Coated Retrievers, Irish Water Spaniel, a few varieties of Setters and the Coonhound. There was no actual evidence that these two original dogs were ever mated but when bloodlines from the western and eastern parts of Maryland came together at the Poultry & Fanciers Association show in Baltimore in 1877, their strong resemblance was evident enough to combine them in one breed - «The Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dog». In the following years the dogs from these two strains were actively mated with each other at the Caroll Island Kennels and spread from there to other areas of this country.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever enjoyed tremendous popularity with sportsmen who valued its ability of retrieving 100 to 200 ducks a day from chilly chop of the Chesapeake Bay. Its early specimens existed only in dark brown, but today any tint of brown is possible. The dog received recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1878.

From 1930 to the 1950s the breeds’ number peaked as lots of kennels and hunt clubs offered grown-up dogs and puppies for sale and usage. But gradually the Chesapeake Bay Retriever fell out of fashion and was replaced by the Labrador Retriever in its main role. The hunting grounds weren’t teemed with game as previously so hunters began to prefer less hardy but more compact hunting breeds.

Today the Chesapeake Bay Retriever remains a highly effective yet rather moderately popular hunting dog while more and more of its specimens are being acquired solely for a companionship.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is well-known for its steadfast temperament and tendency to become extremely devoted to its human masters. Thanks to these qualities this dog does fine as a companion animal. It commonly behaves itself very gently with family kids although it’s imperative to exhibit the dog to their presence as early as possible. In turn the child must treat the pet respectfully meaning he/she must avoid tugging its hair too hard or teasing it too much.

Sufficient socialisation will guarantee friendly attitude of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever towards strangers. Actually this canine is much more predisposed to express extreme shyness and nervousness in the company of unfamiliar people than to any hostile actions. It is notable for territorial instinct of average strength and commonly makes a reasonably good watcher. Despite its willingness to protect the masters from any possible threat this breed can’t be attributed to guard breeds because of its too mild and kind character.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a sociable dog that usually welcomes any opportunity to spend time with its counterparts. Of course in case of provocation this breed is strong and confident enough to take a dare from any other dog. So it’s strongly recommended to always keep it securely leashed in public parks and other places. It’s no surprise that this skilful hunting dog poses lethal danger for stray cats and other small animals. Nonetheless it can be successfully kept with those separate pets with which it has been reared since its puppyhood.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· cancer;

· hypothyroidism;

· diabetes;

· cushings disease;

· hyperestrogenis;

· addisons disease;

· hip dysplasia;

· eye problems;

· von Willebrand disease;

· alopecia.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an average-maintenance dog. In the areas with clearly defined seasons it tends to blow its entire coat twice a year. This means that the dog’s owner will have to vacuum clean its dwelling almost daily as well as to frequently and thoroughly brush the hair of its pet (usually also on a daily basis) during these periods. During non-shedding times it’s typically sufficient to switch over to brushing once a week.

However the breed specimen who lives in a milder climate will commonly shed the moderate amount of hair all the year around. In this case the master can avert the accumulation of the dog’s hair in the house if he will brush it daily with a slicker or bristle brush. It’s also highly important to trim the dog’s nails every other month and clean its ears as necessary.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a proficient and independent hunting dog whose training can become a real challenge. This dog is prone to depend on its own quick-wittedness in the field and usually demonstrates wilfulness and stubbornness when someone tries to command it. Consistency, professional approach and lots of patience are essential if you want to properly train its specimen.

Remember though that this breed will never be an obedience champion and will occasionally choose to do its own things than to follow your orders. Any form of negative reinforcement is absolutely unproductive in the work with Chesapeake Bay Retriever and will only make it more defiant and even aggressive.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a very spirited and tough breed with rather big exercise requirements. Daily long walks and opportunity to run off-leash in a properly fenced area are obligatory if you want your pet to always stay in a good shape and jovial mood. This breed is fond of water and will use every chance to frisk in a near-by pond.

Because of its great activity level theChesapeake Bay Retriever is a rather poor choice for keeping in an apartment. Bearin mind that there is great likelihood that the dog will get into habits of immoderatebarking and chewing everything if its need for physical outlet is ignored byits masters.