Country of Origin
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever (affectionately called ‘Chessie’) has a fascinating history. When a wrecked English ship was discovered off the coast of Maryland in 1807, two Newfoundland puppies were found among the survivors. These puppies, one red and one black, developed a reputation for superior retrieving abilities. Many dogs from the area, probably including Bloodhounds and Irish Water Spaniels, were bred with them. Gradually the descendants of these dogs became identifiable as a distinct breed which could brave the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay to retrieve water fowl. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, but to this day has attracted only modest interest and hunter. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the state dog of Maryland and is the mascot of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC). Theodore Roosevelt had a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named ‘Sailor Boy’.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a shoulder height of 53-66 cm (21-26 in) and weighs 25-36 kg (55-80 lbs). It has a broad skull, visible stop (depression where the muzzle meets the forehead), thin lips, small, hanging ears and amber eyes. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have a deep, strong chest, webbed feet for improved swimming ability, and muscular hindquarters which are slightly higher than the front shoulders.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a thick, short, waterproof outer coat with a wooly undercoat. The outer coat has a slight oily texture and is wavy on the shoulders and back. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever can be brown (light to dark), sedge (yellow red to bright red), and deadgrass (tan to straw), with possible white markings on the chest, stomach, and feet.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is friendly, intelligent and obedient. It is energetic outdoors but calm indoors if sufficiently exercised. Some Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are quite vocal when happy or tend to bare their front teeth in a grin; both are sometimes mistaken as a sign of aggressiveness.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a tendency to chase cats, but can learn to live with them if socialized when young. It can get along with other dogs but may try to dominate other males. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are suspicious of strangers and become aggressive quickly when they feel their owner is threatened.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever should be brushed when shedding to remove dead hairs, but care must be taken not to harm the texture of the coat. It should be bathed only as necessary. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a lifespan of 10-13 years. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are susceptible to hip dysplasia (malformed hip joint which can cause lameness or arthritis), hypothyroidism, and eye problems such as PRA and cataracts. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are at risk of bloat, a potentially serious digestive issue which can be prevented by feeding from a raised dish, spacing meals throughout the day, and avoiding exercise immediately after meals.
Though the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is intelligent, it is known for being difficult to train. Patience is required as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not eager to change its behaviors. A popular expression is ‘You can order a Labrador Retriever and ask a Golden Retriever, but you must negotiate with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever’. Once the Chesapeake Bay Retriever recognizes its handler's authority and understands what is expected of it, it will behave properly going forward. Obedience training is strongly recommended.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an active dog which needs substantial daily exercise. It enjoys playing field sports and swimming, especially in cold water. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever can be satisfied with life in an apartment if sufficiently exercised.