Chesapeake Bay Retriever Dog History, Health And Care

Introduction Of Chesapeake Bay Retriever Dog

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, also known as the CBR, the Chesapeake, and the Chessie, is a breed of dog in the Sporting Group. The athletic Chesapeake breed is most well known for its love of water and its ability to navigate through freezing and rough waters. The Chesapeake was recognized by the AKC in the year 1878 and approved by the AKC in the year 1993.

The average Chesapeake Bay Retriever stands about 2 feet high and weighs between 55 – 80 pounds. They have a thick curly coat that should be brushed every few days to help distribute their natural weather proofing oils throughout the coat.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Dog Breed Quick Facts

Affection Level4/5
Apartment Friendly1/5
Barking Tendencies3/5
Cat Friendly3/5
Child Friendly3/5
Dog Friendly3/5
Exercise Need2/5
Grooming Needs2/5
Health Issues2/5

Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Appearance & Grooming


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a classic retriever appearance, with a muscular body, short (slightly wavy) hair, and hanging ears. Their weather resistant coat comes in shades of red, tan or brown. They have rounded heads with a distinct but medium stop and muzzle. Chessies have wide, strong chests and medium length bodies whose rears stand even or slightly higher than the withers. Their legs are long and lean, and their hindquarters are strong. Their webbed toes make them excellent swimmers, and dogs who will be working in the field should have their dewclaws removed.

Size and Weight

Male Chesapeake Bay Retrievers stand 23 to 26 inches and weigh between 65 and 80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing between 21 and 24 inches and weighing between 55 and 70 pounds.

Coat and Color

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is, of course, a water retriever and the coat is designed to be water resistant – much like the feathers of a duck. Their top coat is thick, oily and short whereas the undercoat is fine, but dense. This combination provides insulation that allows the dog to hunt in any weather condition, even snow. When a Chessie hops out of the water and shakes off, he is left only feeling slightly damp, because the coat does not hold water.

Not only is the Chessie’s coat designed to be weather resistant, but it also acts as camouflage. This breed comes in shades of brown, sedge (strawberry blonde) or deadgrass, which varies from tan to yellow. Some Chesapeake Bay Retrievers sport a white spot on the chest, belly, toes or feet.

Grooming Needs

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, like all retriever breeds, sheds heavily all year long. The coat should be brushed at least once per week to remove dead and loose hair as well as to distribute the oils of the skin. Picky housekeepers may wish to brush a Chessie more often. Over-bathing this breed can cause the natural, water-resistant oils of the skin to break down, so only bathe a Chesapeake Bay Retriever as needed.

The Chessie’s ears should be checked on a weekly basis for signs of infection, especially if the dog spends a lot of time in the water. Using a veterinarian-approved cleanser can help prevent painful ear infections. Weekly tooth brushing helps promote healthy gums and teeth and will keep dog breath at bay. Nail clipping may be required if the Chessie does not wear down his nails naturally. If he makes a clicking sound on hard floors, a trim is in order.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever – History and Health


The Chesapeake was created in the U.S. in the early 1800’s from two Newfoundland dogs that were rescued from a shipwreck in Maryland. These Newfoundlands enjoyed the water and had good retrieving skills, and they were crossed with various other retrieving breeds such as the Curly-Coated Retriever and the English Otter Hound, to create today’s Chesapeake. They were bred specifically for hunting and retrieving, and they gained their name from the Chesapeake Bay where they would swim through icy cold and choppy waters to retrieve ducks.


The average life expectancy for this breed is between 10 – 12 years, and the breed is associated with some genetically inherited conditions which pet owners should be aware of, including eye problems and hip dysplasia.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever – Temperament & Personality


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has the strongest personality of all retrievers. They are not as easy-going as the other breeds, are more independent and are probably the hardest to train. Despite that, they are some of the most durable hunting dogs around. They love to swim and can handle an entire day of retrieving ducks or sticks from frigid waters. They are a true outdoorsperson’s dog and will happily accompany people on hikes, bike trips, jogs or camping excursions.

Activity Requirements

Chesapeakes need a lot of exercise and a couple of walks around the block won’t cut it. They are a hunting dog who loves to be outdoors – they can retrieve in cold water all day long (up to 200 ducks a day) and never tire of working alongside hunters. They also enjoy jogging, hiking, chasing sticks and catching frisbees. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is by no means an apartment dog. They are rowdy and rambunctious well into adulthood, need a lot of exercise, and if they don’t get it they can be quite destructive.


Chesapeakes are a strong-willed breed and should not be confused with Golden Retrievers, who love to please. This breed requires consistency above all else. If you give them a little leeway, they will consider it an open door to make their own rules. Though they require a strong leader, Chesapeakes should never be treated harshly and they don’t respond well to discipline. Positive reinforcement and a lot of patience is the best recipe for a well trained dog.

Behavioral Traits

A bored Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a destructive Chesapeake Bay Retriever. If they do not have a lot of regular, vigorous exercise, this breed can get out of control quickly. They naturally experience a long puppyhood and bounce around well into adulthood – if they don’t get enough time to run, this bouncing can be constant. When left alone, they can make quick work of couches, chairs or flower beds.

They aren’t the best watchdogs, but Chesapeakes are naturally distrustful of strangers. It is important that socialization take place early and often, so that the dog learns the difference between a welcome visitor and and unwelcome visitor. If left unchecked, this distrustfulness can possibly turn into aggression.

They are notorious for putting things in their mouths. Sticks, rocks, toys, shoes, books, and hands are common targets of the Chesapeake and his mouth. He must be trained to chew his toys, bones or sticks only, otherwise there may be no shoes left in the house for anyone to wear and everyone’s hands will be bruised from dog nips.

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