Chesapeake Bay Retrieve

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was bred to withstand the icy cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay so they could retrieve duck for hunters.
By: PawCulture Editors
Chesapeake Bay Retriever shaking off water after swimming in the lake

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, affectionately known as the Chessie, originated in the early 19th century in Maryland. This breed is thought to have been bred from Newfoundland and duck retriever dogs. The Chessie was bred to be able to withstand the icy cold waters of the Chesapeake so that they could retrieve hundreds of ducks per day for the hunters.

Physical Characteristics

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a medium-sized dog with large blocky head, drop ears, and gold or yellow eyes.

COLOR(S)

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is most commonly seen in dark brown or tan.

COAT

The coat of the Chessie is short and rough, with natural oils that repel water, making it virtually waterproof. The most defining feature of the Chessie’s coat is the distinctive curls that appear down the back.

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Moderate to High

POSITIVES

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever loves to work and play. The Chessie is loving and loyal with its families, especially with children, if raised with them.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever can be aggressive toward strangers and other dogs.

Care

IDEAL LIVING CONDITIONS

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever would do well in the country; this is not a breed for apartment or city life.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever does best if obedience trained.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in Chesapeake Bay Retrievers:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hip dysplasia

History and Background

Although the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was developed in the United States, it came from stock destined for England. In 1807, an American ship, the Canton, rescued the crew and cargo of an English ship wrecked off the coast of Maryland. Also rescued were two Newfoundland pups, a black female dubbed Canton and a dusky-red male they named Sailor.  

The dogs were discovered to be excellent swimmers and were later crossbred with the Bloodhound, Irish Water Spaniel, local hounds, and Newfoundlands, to create a breed that could swim in the harsh, ice-cold waters of Chesapeake Bay. This breed came to be known as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and was used by local hunters for retrieving ducks. 

It received recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1885 and is one of the oldest breeds on record. Its name is undoubtedly derived from the Chesapeake Bay, the ice-cold body of water it frequently swam in. Its talents go beyond retrieving, of course. The Chessie is also excellent at pointing birds.