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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Other names: Chessie, Bay, Chessy Dog

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog has a unique smile – when he is happy he will bare his teeth in a comical grin. This breed first originated as a water dog, used to hunt and retrieve ducks in the waters of Chesapeake Bay. He was ideal for this purpose because of his stamina, sturdy build and dense coat. Even today, he is still used for hunting purposes but is also a fine companion dog. Chesapeake Bays have webbed paws, making them fantastic swimming dogs.

Key facts about the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Intelligent Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

The first Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were documented when 2 puppies were taken from a shipwreck some 200 years ago, off the Maryland coast. These pups loved being in water and looked similar to a Newfoundland breed. One of the rescued pups, a red dog, was named Sailor, while the other, a black bitch, was named Canton. Both dogs were bred with other breeds, producing the Chesapeake Bay we know today. 

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs


Section 1 : Retrievers

Physical characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

    Adult size

    Female : Between 21 and 24 in

    Male : Between 23 and 26 in


    Female : Between 55 and 71 lb

    Male : Between 64 and 79 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    With a classic retriever appearance, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a muscular body with a rounded head. It has a strong, wide chest and lean, long legs. The Chessie has webbed paws which allow him to swim really well. 

    Good to know

    Some Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are prone to suffer from ear infections and allergies. Ear infections can arise after a dog has been swimming in water for a lengthy period, so always ensure that the dog’s ears are dried thoroughly after swimming. The Chessie can also suffer from various allergies:

    • Certain dog foodstuff that contains cereals or grains
    • Airborne pollen
    • Dust mites
    • Chemicals in household cleaning products
    • Tick and flea bites


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      Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are known to be loyal and affectionate by nature.

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      The Chessie does enjoy playtime, however he can be quite boisterous. This dog loves to entertain and be entertained by others, especially if this playtime includes agility and obedience activities. 

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      The Chessie is quite calm and level-headed.

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      This breed excels at obedience training, agility and working trials. Some of these dogs are used in the detection of bombs. 

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      This dog has a high prey drive that is deeply embedded into its psyche. The Chesapeake will run after and chase wildlife if he is allowed to run off the lead. 

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      Often more reserved, wilful and aggressive around strangers than other retriever breeds.

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      The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is quite an independent thinker but can also be stubborn. He needs to understand who is in charge.

      Behaviour of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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        Tolerates solitude

        This breed won’t enjoy spending too much time on its own. Chesapeakes don’t like being left to their own devices in the home. 

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        Easy to train / obedience

        So that any unwanted behaviours are held at bay, it’s important to begin training routines from a very young age. Chessies need to understand what their trainer is asking of them, otherwise they come across as quite stubborn. 

      • 66%


        Generally not known to bark much. 

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