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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

 Photo of Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Books

Group: Gundog - Breed Standard


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a breed of dog that was developed along the Chesapeake Bay to hunt waterfowl under adverse weather and water conditions, often having to break ice during the course of many strenuous multiple retrieves. The breed was used not only to retrieve the game, but also to sit in the boat and on the wagon when the game was taken to market, in order to protect the load from theft. Thus, the breed is very protective of its people and property. Many owners refer to this breed as "Chessies".


Height: dogs: 58-66 cms (23-26 ins); bitches: 53-61 cms (21-24 ins).

Distinctive features include eyes that are very clear, of yellowish or amber hue, hindquarters as high or a trifle higher than the shoulders, and a double coat that tends to wave on shoulders, neck, back and loins. This "waterproof" coat feels slightly oily compared to other members of the same family. Three basic colors are generally seen in the breed: brown, which includes all shades from a light cocoa (a silvered brown) to a deep bittersweet chocolate color; sedge, which varies from a reddish yellow through a bright red to chestnut shades; and deadgrass in all its shades, varying from a faded tan to a dull straw color. The breed standard states that white may also appear, but it must be limited to the breast, belly, toes, or back of the feet.


The Chesapeake is valued for its bright and happy disposition, intelligence (in fact, the breed is considered by most to be the smartest of all the retrievers), quiet good sense, and affectionate protective nature. The breed is very loving and makes a wonderful companion. Some Chessies become vocal while happy; while this can be mistaken for a growl it is only a sign of happiness and not intended to create alarm. In addition, some dogs will 'smile' when happy by baring their front teeth in a peculiar grin; again this is not a threat but a sign of joy. The Chesapeake is naturally dominant and, while usually won't start a fight over dominance, the breed will defend his position as the alpha dog. For the casual pet owner, it is usually not a good idea to have more than one Chesapeake because of dominance issues. The breed is very tolerant of pain, which makes it difficult to tell when they're injured. This trait also makes Chessies tolerant of roughhousing from young children; when they have had enough they typically move away rather than snap at or otherwise attempt to correct the child for their behavior.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a very intelligent breed and learns faster than most other breeds. Once a Chesapeake learns what is expected, he will act accordingly from that point on. A Chesapeake is not willing to break the rules and will attempt to enforce the same rules on subordinate dogs. During training, if a Chesapeake is asked to perform something that he believes is against the rules, he will flatly refuse. This has earned the breed the undeserved reputation of being very stubborn. There is a phrase that applies to Chesapeakes "You can order a lab; ask a golden; but you must negotiate with a Chesapeake." See our books on training

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Last link added: 12 Mar, 2008