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Chesapeake Bay Retriever… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is first and foremost a “water dog”.  Which means that if you’re looking for a dog that is going to be content lounging around the house or just hanging out in the backyard, this is not going to be the “right” dog for you.

Bred to…

Hunt amid the rapids alongside his nature-loving owners, this “American made” dog is built tough!  Able to tolerate and thrive in the cold rough waters along the Eastern Seaboard, the “Chessie” (as he is sometimes called) proved himself a worthy companion for even the most adventurous outdoorsman!

But that’s not all…

Like most “Retrievers” the Chessie has also proven himself to be a great family pet provided that you the owner are going to be willing to go the extra mile and make sure that he gets the exercise and experience the “adventures” that he was built for!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Fast Facts

Origin:  United States of America

Original Purpose:  Water Retrieval and Hunting Dog

Height:  21 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: 50 to 80 pounds

Life span: 10-12 years

Dog Breed Group:  Sporting

Now will a Chesapeake Bay Retriever be right for you?

That we just don’t know, but in an effort to help you determine whether a “Chessie” will be right for you, we did want to take a moment and go over some of the pros and cons of this breed, as well as discuss in further detail where they originated from, as well as why they were created, so that you would have a better idea if this dog might be right for you and your family!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Origins

While it is true that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was “Made in America”, it almost didn’t happy that way.  You see, back in 1807, the origins of the “Chessie” found themselves on a ship destined to sail from American to England.


Or fortunately depending on your perspective on the matter, this ship sank leaving two Newfoundland puppies without a home.  What happened next, ultimately led to the creation of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever because these two Newfoundlands actually turned out to be a couple of great retrievers.

So great…

That their adopted owner chose to “mix” these two survivors with several other mixed dog breeds which are believed to include:

A written account of that fateful incident in 1807 can be found by visiting the American Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Club’s website.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was…

Officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888, making it one of the oldest “officially” recognized breeds out there. The Breed Standard puts this dog’s height at no more than 26 inches and his weight at no more than 90 pounds. He is designated a water dog breed by the Federation Cynologique Internationale.

And what will a Chesapeake Bay Retriever look like?

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever Dog is similar in size and stature to a Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever, however, the Chessie is a curly-coated Retrievers as opposed to silky smooth, like the flat-coated Labrador retriever. The Chessie’s coat will also have a greasy feeling outer layer that will help protect him while he is in icy waters, but also a softer undercoat designed to keep him warm.  The Chesapeake also…

Comes in varying shades of brown, reminiscent of the fields he was born to patrol.  And have clear or amber eyes – but other than that and his coat his features don’t stray too far from the average Golden Labrador.  Which means that you should count on your Chessie shedding a lot!

Also we can’t state this enough…

That at its core, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a working dog, and he will never, ever settle for companionship alone.

So if just looking for a great companion dog, you’re probably better off just getting a “traditional” Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever because these “types” of dogs simply won’t require as much exercise as a typical Chessie will.

But will he chew up my Sofa?

Yes – unless you keep him exercised. Without burning off all his excess energy this dog will become an unnaturally destructive force able to chew its way through walls, if it so desires.

The “typical” Chesapeake Bay Retriever…

Needs to be out hunting, retrieving and swimming, or he is going to get bored.

And guess what? 

The last thing in the world you will want to “unleash” in your home is a bored Chesapeake Bay Retriever, because all of that “pent up” energy will find a way to get spent.  Whether that be running around in the wilderness or tearing apart your closet.

Either way…

These are hunting dogs with a work focused temperament and limited interest in what humans are up to if it isn’t shooting things for him to catch… you have been warned.

But don’t get us wrong…

Outside of “work” once your Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog has had an opportunity to do what he was built for, he will also love and protect their family to the end.


Chessies also make a decent pack dogs as long as they have been socialized well and early.

Which means that you should be able to trust this upper-medium to large sized dog with your children, and he would have a happy and delightful disposition that would mean endless hours of play between the two.

Now he might…

Struggle with obedience, so obedience classes might be a good idea when you first purchase your Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy or better yet choose to adopt a Chesapeake Bay Retriever rescue dog.

Is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever a healthy breed?

This Retriever is a working dog bred for strength and endurance, and has enough “wild” in him that he makes a reasonably healthy breed. That said, it should be noted that just about all large and even medium to large dogs have a tendency towards:

Other concerns to watch out for include:

  • Entropion and Cataracts,
    • Both degenerative eye conditions.
  • Bloat, or stomach turning.
    • Which can be fatal if not caught early.

They are also prone to muscular or ligament injuries and can be subject to degenerative Myleopathy, a common problem in older large dogs where they lose muscular function in their hindquarters.


Keep in mind that, if you are using your Chesapeake Retriever as a working dog, he will be subject to picking up things like ear and eye infections – particularly if he is in and out of the water often.

Now if after reading this article…

You do feel that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever might just be the “perfect’ dog for you, we would encourage you to check out the American Kennel Club (AKC) website to get a list of reputable breeders for this dog in your area so that you can improve your chances of getting a health “pup” for your family.

Because remember…

That Puppy Farming is big business in the US, this is why we here at IndulgeYourPet always advice folks to avoid:

  • Buy from a store or breeder that offers multiple types of dog from the same location.
  • Do not buy from a breeder that cannot introduce you to the dogs parents, produce paperwork or that presents puppies that seem dirty or malnourished.
  • And to be sure to report any “suspicious” breeders that you may encounter in your searches.

Which brings us…

To the last thing that we wanted to discuss which is the possibility of purchasing a pet insurance policy.  It always amazes us here at IndulgeYourPet just how much time folks will spend researching a “type” of dog without doing any research on a pet insurance policy which would be able to protect their loved one in the event of an illness or injury.

Now will a pet insurance policy…

Be right for everyone?  No probably not, but until you know what it “will” and “won’t” cover and what it will COST, how can you possibly know if purchasing a pet insurance policy is a good “fit” for you?

“You can’t really!”

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet have also taken the time to write our Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that you can get an idea if a pet insurance policy might be right for you!

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