Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Breed Group: Sporting Group

Temperament and Behavior

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, or Chessies as they are frequently called, are well known for their even-tempered disposition, intelligence, good sense, and a tremendous love for water. But they do not have the happy-go-lucky personality of a Golden or Labrador Retriever. They are a more serious worker and leerier of strangers. The most rugged and powerful of the six retrievers, they are an outdoor dynamo capable of jumping in and out of frigid water for hours or retrieving birds from the field all day. Chessies need plenty of daily exercise; a walk around the block simply won’t do. They need to go jogging, play frisbee, or engage in obedience training. Otherwise, he is apt to become a nuisance. But when his exercise needs are met, he is calm and peaceful inside. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers bond closely to their family but he needs them to understand how to react when he tests for dominance. Though care should always be taken, they easily withstand the advances of younger children. Most do fine with pets belonging to the family but Chessies will likely chase a strange dog or cat. Though he does not bark much, he is an excellent watch dog. Being the most protective of the retrievers, he is a very good guardian too. Chessies will often vocalize their happiness, making sounds that can be mistaken as a growl. They are also known to ‘smile’ when happy by baring their front teeth. Control his attempts to mouth you hands by keeping a box full of toys always available.
Physical Characteristics
The breed is larger than the average dog. Typical height for males is 23-26 inches tall, with a weight of 65-80 pounds. Females average 21-24 inches tall and are between 55-70 pounds. Their coat is brown with tones ranging from chocolate to wheaten or reddish gold. Any tone can have white trim. Their coat is oily making them water-repellent. An average shedder, they need to be brushed to remove dead hair from its dense, short coat, plus an occasional bath. However, do not bathe too often; it strips the oil from its coat and can lead to dry skin. Chesapeakes prefer cool climates unless there is water close by to cool off in.
Trainer's Notes
Extensive socialization and training is an absolute must with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever so the dog develops confidence in and respect for his master. If leadership is not established early, the dog will attempt to fill the vacuum which can lead to terrorizing the family. Consistency and patience are required as Chessies mature slowly. The breed is best for a confident owner who exudes authority. He should not be considered for a novice dog owner.
Photo © by ToB available under the GNUFDL
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The most frequent health problem involving Chesapeake Bay Retrievers is Hip Dysplasia which affects about 1 in 5 dogs. Bloat is likely the most frequent killer of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Finally, PRA, and Distichiasis, both conditions that affect the eye, are seen in the breed. Chessies have a lifespan of about 10-12 years.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is ranked 50th on the American Kennel Club’s list of popular dogs. About 3,000 dogs are registered in a year.
Breed History
In 1807, an English ship with two Newfoundland dogs on board wrecked off the coast of the state of Maryland. All of those on board were saved, including the dogs who were given to a local family. The Newfoundlands were later mated with local retrievers, creating a new breed, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The breed proved to be excellent at hunting waterfowl in adverse weather and water conditions. Breaking ice with its powerful chest is just one of the characteristics that allowed him to excel. In 1878, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was the first retriever breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Additional Information
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the official dog of the State of Maryland. Famous Chesapeake Bay Retriever owners include US president Theodore Roosevelt and Pee-Wee Herman. The National (US) Breed Club is the American Chesapeake Club.

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