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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an American original who embodies the classic traits of a good retriever: loyal, upbeat, affectionate, and tireless.

Overall Status

Height 21 to 26 inches
Temperament Affectionate, Bright, Sensitive
Weight 55 to 80 pounds
Life Expectancy 10 to 13 years
Coat Color Brown, Dark Brown, Dark Deadgrass
Barking Level Medium

Quick Factors

Dog Friendly
Exercise Need
Grooming Needs
Strangers Friendly
Family Affectionate
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Daily Care

Grooming Tips

The Chessie has an oily, harsh outer coat atop a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. Dirt and debris brush out easily with a rubber curry brush. The undercoat sheds heavily in the spring, so be prepared to brush the dog more frequently during this time to keep loose hair from collecting on clothing and furniture.

Give the Chessie a thorough freshwater rinse after he’s been in saltwater or swum through the slime in a pond or lake, but to maintain the coat’s water resistance, avoid bathing him unless absolutely necessary. That can be as little as twice a year.

Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear down the toenails naturally.

Exercise Tips

This is an intelligent, high-energy breed. They really need a job and plenty ofexercise. Hiking, running, hunting, and swimming are what they love to do. They excel in all the dog sports, such asobedience,tracking, andagility, although of course hunting andfield workare what they were bred for.

With this said, Chessie puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs.

Feeding Tips

Considered a mid-to-large sized dog, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever might go through more food than you expect. Protein is important, including lean meats and good poultry. Using chicken stock for flavoring can be a great way to enhance the nutrition and flavor of many of its meals.

If you get a Samoyed puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Like many large breeds, Saint Bernard can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach distends and twists. The causes of bloat aren’t fully understood, but experts agree that multiple, small meals per day and preventing vigorous exercise around mealtimes may help reduce the chances of it happening.

Health Tips

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

The average life expectancy for this breed is between 10 – 12 years, and the breed is associated with some genetically inherited conditions which pet owners should be aware of, including eye problems andhip dysplasia.


Though the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is intelligent, it is known for being difficult to train. Patience is required as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not eager to change its behaviors. A popular expression is ‘You can order aLabrador Retrieverand ask aGolden Retriever, but you must negotiate with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever'.

Puppies should be properly socialized to develop the amiable, outgoing personality that is characteristic of the breed. They’re successful in performance and companion events such as earthdog, barn hunt, obedience, and agility.


Wealthy owners of duck clubs that lined both shores of the Chesapeake Bay during the 19th century set the basic breed type of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Newfoundlands, Irish Water Spaniels, and hounds of undetermined origin were among the dogs thought to be in the genetic mix. By the time the AKC was founded in 1884, a definite Chessie type had been established. (Colorful regional breed names for the era’s Chessie included the Red Chester and the Brown Winchester.)

By the end of the 19th Century, these dogs were known as Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. The breed soon became popular with Midwestern duck hunters as well. Today the Chesapeake has a small but devoted following as a duck hunter and family companion. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was recognized by the AKC in 1878.

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