The Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Weight: 55 — 70 lbs
Height: 23” — 26”
AKC Rank 2008 #46
Lifespan: 10—13 yrs
Group Sporting
Origin USA

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    Dog Breed Info - Chesapeake Bay Retriever

    Great Water Dog!
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    Breed Overview

    Origin 1800’s. Original function: Water retriever. Today, Water retriever, Companion.

    It was 1807 when an American ship rescued the crew and cargo of a shipwrecked English brig off the coast of Maryland. Among the rescued were two presumably Newfoundland pups that were given to the rescuers. These pups, one black, one red, turned out to be skilled water retrievers with webbed feet, providing them with an unusual ability to swim.. Other breeds were said to have been bred to them. Gradually a distinct breed emerged. This resulted in a dog that could repeatedly swim though the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay and retrieve duck after duck. The reputation spread well beyond the Chesapeake Bay area. By 1885 the breed was thoroughly established and registered by the AKC.


    Fairly easy to train. They have a stubborn side to them but still are trainable, especially for the hunter and for search and rescue work. We suggest using a CLICKER and positive reinforcement training. clicker training works better than anything I know of.

    Crate Training

    Want to crate train your Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

    Potty Training

    Some Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppies can be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

    If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

    Chessie puppy with a duck
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    The Chesapeake Bay Retriever loves to swim and retrieve, even in icy water. It can live an active life outdoors but is a calm dog indoors. The Chessie tends to be independent, but is anxious to learn new things. He's reserved with strangers and can be protective: it also can be aggressive toward strange dogs if challenged. This is the hardiest, most strong-willed and protective of the retriever breeds.

    If you happen to get a Retriever with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

    Friendly Toward Other Dogs

    A Chessie can be picky. He will choose his dog friends. They don’t like all dogs.

    Friendly Toward Other Pets

    Yes, especially if raised with them.

    Friendly Toward Strangers

    Maybe. Chessies can be wary of strangers. They are very protective of family and strangers can pose a threat.


    Yes, somewhat. This is a happy, good matured dog that enjoys family activities.


    Yes, very affectionate. The Chessie loves his family and can show affection. They're social dogs.

    Good with children?

    Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are family dogs. He should be raised with the kids but, either way, is pretty good with the kids and somewhat protective of them.

    Good with Seniors over 65?

    No. Needs too much exercise.

    Living environment

    House with a big back yard to run around and play fetch with a ball in. The Chessie needs more than anything to spend time with his family.

    Energy level

    Moderate to fairly high.

    Exercise needs, daily

    Moderate. Get a Chessie is you want a jogging or swimming partner! The Chessie needs to keep busy with walks, jogging and especially swimming. This is a very active dog.



    Guard dog

    Fairly good, especially for protecting family, children, and property.




    The oily, wavy coat of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever needs regular brushing with a stiff bristle brush to remove dead hair. It rarely ever needs washing. Washing destroys the oils and ruins the water resistance of the coat so don’t do it.


    Suggested Reading For The Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

    The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners and should be kept handy. You get Vol 2, 2008 and includes a DVD.


    Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breeders

    In the event you decide to go looking for Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Chessie puppies turn up in dog pounds and shelters but you might check anyway.
    Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breeders with puppies for sale.

    Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue

    In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
    Petfinder - Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue You may have some trouble finding this dog. At this writing, Petfinder lists only 221 Chessies available in the USA for adoption. Go online and look for Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue groups, foster homes, or kennels. If you do find one to adopt, try to locate any dog health records and save for possible fututr reference.
    Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but as noted above, you will probably have to check out Chesapeake Bay Retriever Rescue groups, your newspaper ads and local kennels, etc.

    DogHealth Issues For Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
    Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Chessie by various vets.

    This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

    The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

    • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness and difficulty walking for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

    • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
      Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

    • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will cause total blindness.

    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

    • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

    • Cerebellar abiotrophy—Brain disorder with no known treatment. It’s a degenerative condition that indicates loss of necessary nutritional substances. Cerebellar nerve cells form normally and then degenerate and die off causing inability to control distance and speed. Loss of muscular control is not seen at the birth of the dog but gradually appears over time until finally disabling completely. Cause, unknown. The diagnosis is made when there is increasing neurological dysfunction seen day to day in the dog.

    • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy—Orthopedic bone disease in large dogs, 2 to 6 months old. Very painful and possibly caused by poor nutrition. There will be pain and swelling in the affected legs. Look for lameness or a desire not to move at all, and loss of appetite plus a high fever may also occur. Medication, bed rest and a special diet are usually given. The disease can be fatal. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of a number of large dogs that are prone to this disease.

    • Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament - The tearing of the Cruciate ligament in the knee of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and NO weight can be applied to the affected leg with the torn ligament. Even sitting can be a painful problem. This will cause lameness that may be severe. Knee surgery with total restriction of activity is the only answer.

    • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

    • Entropion—Eye problem - Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

    • von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

    • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint and cause lameness. Flaps of cartilage rub against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease and arthritis. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints. Treatments include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases in Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.

    • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

    • Degenerative myelopathy—Is common to German Shepherds and Welsh Corgis. There is no cure for this chronic disease that destroys the sheathing around the dog’s lower spinal column. This forces a loss of sensation and the use of the hind legs. There are some treatments for this crippling problem, but no cure.

    • Cerebellar abiotrophy—Brain disorder with no known treatment. It’s a degenerative condition that indicates loss of necessary nutritional substances. Cerebellar nerve cells form normally and then degenerate and die off causing inability to control distance and speed. Loss of muscular control is not seen at birth of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, but gradually appears over time until finally disabling completely. Cause, unknown. The diagnosis is made when there is increasing neurological dysfunction seen day to day in the dog.

    Other health problems could occur with your Chesapeake Bay Retriever. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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