Breed Group: Sporting Group
Shoulder Height: 21-26 in.
Weight: 55-80 lb.
Life Span: 10 years
Colors: Brown, deadgrass, sedge, tan
- The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of the oldest American breeds, developed in the early 19th century for waterfowl retrieving.
- It is commonly mistaken for a chocolate Labrador Retriever due to its body shape and waterproof coat. The key difference is that the Chessie’s coat is wavy rather than straight and smooth.
- The first breeding pair was rescued from a sinking Canadian ship in the Chesapeake Bay and quickly expanded into the Appalachians.
Somewhat of an offshoot of the Newfoundland as well as the Labrador Retriever, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever remains an enduring member of the sporting pantheon. Though its popularity as a house pet is lacking due to the large number of other, more recognizable and in some cases more amiable breeds, it does have many qualities that make it a nice dog to have.
Because of its lineage, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the ideal dog for folk who spend a lot of time on or around the water. It is an excellent swimmer and the coat is quite easy to take care of. The breed also does not shed that badly.
However, there are issues with its personality that hinder its overall popularity. The Chessie is one of the most commonly abused dogs in the United States because of its stubborn disposition. It does not train very easily, causing many owners to resort to physical discipline that often rises to violence.
However, despite its stubbornness, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an amiable dog and seemingly perpetually happy. It is very protective of its owners and has a good sense of a person’s intentions. Proper social training will produce different individuals; a lack of it can result in willful or reserved dogs.
The Chessie is also known for its peculiar grin that shows off its front teeth rather than pulling the lips back. Some owners might interpret this as a threat. Do not be scared of the Chessie Smile. This reaction will only make it unhappy.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a hunting dog by breeding and lineage, so it is a naturally tough and sturdy breed that does not experience many health issues.
- Unlike many larger breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as arthritis, do not show up too often in Chessies, though the occurrence is frequent enough that it should be checked out.
- The eyes of a Chessie are particularly sensitive to a variety of ailments and so need to be taken care of. Progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts both pop up frequently in the breed.
- The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of the few non-herding breeds prone to Von Willebrand Disease.
- None to be found. Popular with waterfowl hunters.
- The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was the first retriever breed officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
- General George Custer took his Chesapeake Bay Retrievers into battle with him. It is said that Theodore Roosevelt's Chessie, Sailor Boy, was descended from Custer's dogs.
- The Chessie is the state dog of Maryland, and mascot for the University of Maryland.