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 :

Access the rest of the content after the ad

Loading advertisement ...

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

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    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


    • 100%


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

    • 100%


      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. 

    • 66%


      The Chessie is quite calm and level-headed.

    • 100%


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

    • 100%


      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. 

    • 66%

      Fearful / wary of strangers

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

    • 66%


      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

      • 66%

        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. 

      • 100%

        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. 

      • 66%

        Tendency to run away

        The Chesapeake Bay is a hunting dog, and because of this, if he’s allowed to run off the lead, he will often give chase to wildlife. 

      • 66%


        It’s important to make sure that the Chessie receives plenty of outdoor exercise, otherwise this breed can develop unwanted behaviours. 

      • 100%

        Greedy / Gluttony

        Not generally a greedy breed of dog.

      • 66%

        Guard dog

        A very protective dog breed, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever will quickly alert his owner to anything amiss. He won’t be aggressive though, only a watchdog. 

      • 66%

        First dog

        Not the ideal choice for someone looking for a first time dog. As a high energy, intelligent breed, they need an owner who can socialise, train and handle him well. 

        Access the rest of the content after the ad

        Loading advertisement ...

        Is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever right for you?

        take the test


        • 66%

          Chesapeake Bay Retriever in a flat

          This is a large dog, with lots of high energy so probably not best suited to apartment living. He is much better suited to a family who has a large garden and outside space where he can roam freely. 

        • 100%

          Need for exercise / Sporty

          This dog needs plenty of long walks and if possible, the chance to swim. 

        • 66%

          Travelling / easy to transport

          The Chessie will certainly travel happily in the rear of a large car, but not on public transport, mainly because of his large size. 


          • 100%

            Chesapeake Bay Retriever and cats

            If a Chesapeake Bay Retriever has grown up with cats from a young age, he will get along fine with cats in the home. 

          • 100%

            Chesapeake Bay Retriever and dogs

            If they are raised together, a Chessie will get along with other dogs in the home. However, the same cannot be said for ‘outsider’ dogs, with whom he may be quite aggressive.

          • 100%

            Chesapeake Bay Retriever and children

            This breed absolutely adores being around children and in fact often appears to have a special affinity with kids. 

          • 66%

            Chesapeake Bay Retriever and the elderly

            As a large, powerful and energetic dog, he isn’t the best choice as a companion pet for an elderly person. 



            You can expect to pay around £670 for KC Registered dogs and £570 for Non KC Registered Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. In addition, your monthly costs will amount to between £100 to £120 monthly, to account for food, veterinary bills, and pet insurance.


            Regular brushing will keep the coat of the Chessie looking good. This also has the advantage of keeping loose hair from your furniture and clothes. The dog will also enjoy one or two baths during the year. 


            This breed sheds profusely and continually through the year, but perhaps more often during the spring and autumn. 

            Nutrition of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

            This dog needs to be fed a high quality, nutrient rich feed especially formulated for large, working dogs. Two meals daily should suffice. 

            Health of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

            Life expectancy

            The Chessie is generally a healthy breed, however as with many large working dogs, hip dysplasia and eye problems can appear. Their average life expectancy is 11 years.

            Strong / robust

            This dog just loves to swim and can continue retrieving all day long if need be. He is an endurant, high energy hunting dog. 

            Withstand heat

            This breed much prefers a cooler climate, however providing he has opportunities to swim in warm weather, he will be fine.

            Withstand cold

            The Chesapeake Bay Retriever loves being outdoors and around water. This dog was born to survive in the icy cold and choppy, rough waters of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. 

            Tendency to put on weight

            As with many other large dog breeds, when he retires from hunting duties, or has been neutered or spayed, he has a tendency to gain weight. 

            Common illnesses

            Leave a comment on this breed
            Connect to comment