All colors of brown from tawny or sand through to dark brown with red or mahogany highlights. A small amounts of white on the chest and feet is acceptable.
23-26 inches (58-66 cm)
65-80 pounds (29-36 kg)
21-24 inches (53-61 cm)
55-70 pounds (25-32 kg)
Outdoors or indoors, medium to large yard.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a large, muscular dog that is sturdy and very solid looking even as a puppy. They come in various shades of brown ranging from a lighter tan or straw color through to a deep brown or mahogany color. The coat is rather short and may be somewhat wavy, especially down the back and around the neck and shoulder area. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a unique double coat that is slightly oily to the touch on both the inner and outer layers. This ensures that the dog can easily go in and out of the water even in very cold weather while only having minimum amounts of water stay in their coat. The tail is thick at the base and tapers to the end, usually carried slightly curled or flat.
The head of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is broad and wide with a powerful and yet gentle looking slightly tapered muzzle. The shape of the skull is very round and the stop is not as pronounced giving a softer profile to the head than some breeds of retrievers. The hair on the head and face is much shorter than the hair on the rest of the body and the large round eyes are very visible. The eyes are yellow to amber in color and are particularly striking on the darker colored dogs. The ears are small in comparison to many of the hunting breeds and hang down just to the level of the mouth or lower jaw. They fold over completely and are not held erect.
The neck is strong and muscular and blends nicely into the powerful front shoulders of the breed. The front legs and straight and well boned and muscled. The body is slightly longer than it is high at the withers, with a well-developed chest and ribcage. The hind legs are very strong and powerful, easily able to propel the dog through water to allow them to run for long periods of time. The feet are webbed to enhance swimming ability.
The coat is very dense, short and somewhat oily to the touch. Although the breed is double coated they are average shedders year round. The oils in the coat usually do not cause either an odor or management problem and the dogs should only be bathed occasional when necessary. The coat may be straight all over the body although wavy but not curly hair on the neck, chest and back is acceptable and very common.
It is believed that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever breed originated when a shipwreck occurred off the coast of Maryland in 1807. The story is that there were two Newfoundland dogs onboard that survived the shipwreck and these were given to a local family that was known as animal lovers. The family then crossed the Newfoundland's with local retrievers and possibly native dogs which eventually led to the development of a very hardy breed that was able to swim in the cold waters in the Chesapeake Bay. Some breeders indicate that the Irish Water Spaniel, bloodhound and other local mixed hound breeds may also form a part of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever's heritage.
The Chesapeake Bay Retrievers continued to be a popular dog in the area, and their amazing endurance and ability to tolerate even the coldest water temperatures with little concern earned them a place in duck and goose hunter's hearts. There are several claims by owners of the breed that they are capable of retrieving over a hundred ducks per day with some records of dogs bringing in up to 200 per day.
Currently the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is used as a watchdog, hunting dog, retriever, trial dog, obedience dog as well as a faithful family pet and companion dog. The watchdog abilities are more pronounced in some lines than others and knowing the personality of the parents will really help in choosing a more or less protective puppy. Their natural hunting and retrieving ability has also made them popular as a schutzhund breed. This demanding competition involves intelligence, agility and obedience as well as excellent communication between the handler and the dog.
A Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an excellent family dog that is generally very good with children and other pets. It is important to properly socialize this breed as they are more dog-aggressive than other retrievers and can become territorial. They are good watchdogs and have a natural wariness with strangers however regular socialization and exposure to new people and new environments will help prevent this from becoming a problem.
Unlike many of the hunting dog breeds the Chesapeake Bay Retriever tends to be much more independent and stubborn than the norm. They can be dominant and are known for their selective hearing of commands they simply wish to ignore. Not a mean spirited dog they just need consistent training and lots of positive praise for a job well done. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an excellent dog for obedience training at a young age to establish good behaviours and decrease the tendency for willfulness or independence.
The breed maybe somewhat dog-aggressive and should be socialized regularity and throughout their lives. Usually male Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are more dog-aggressive than females and neutering can assist in preventing this issue from developing. They can be excellent companion dogs with socialization and will even get along with non-canine pets in the house. They are prone to chase however and often will really enjoy running the neighbor's cat out of the yard.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an intelligent dog that learns best with repetition. They should always be trained using positive rewards and methods as their natural independence will only increase if negative training techniques are used. They are naturals at fetching and swimming and love exercise of all types in almost any kind of weather. They are not a hyperactive dog but do need regular, longer periods of exercise. In the house they are typically very relaxed and calm and will simply find a comfortable place to stay out of the way. They are not demanding of attention but love to be able to keep the family in sight.
Since the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a more independent breed they are able to tolerate moderate amounts of time alone. They are a great dog for a family that has evenings and weekends at home but someone may not be there at all times. Generally not a destructive dog with proper training and exercise they do need to be kept in a yard because of their chasing and dog aggressive tendencies.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not recommended as a first dog for families or individuals that have not trained dogs unless they are planning to take the puppy to a socialization and obedience class. Since they are a large dog when fully grown it is important to have them well trained before they reach their mature size.
The short, dense coat of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is very easy to maintain. Brushing with a short wire brush or pin brush is all that is required to remove any dead hair and debris. Since the breed has a natural water repelling coat they should only be bathed when necessary to prevent drying the coat and skin. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever does not need to be clipped or trimmed.
The ears and eyes of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever should be checked for any signs of irritation. The eyes are prone to entropion, which is cause when the eyelids invert and the eyelashes irritate the eyes. Watch for any sign of tearing or irritation as this problem can be corrected surgically before any persistent eye problems occur. Clean any waxy build-up out of the ears or if the wax build up is heavy take the dog to the vet and have the ears flushed to remove the debris and wax. Never stick human Q-tips or other ear cleaning devices in a dog's ear.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever requires long, regular exercise to keep focused and avoid getting involved in destructive behaviors. They love to swim and should be allowed to do so as often as possible. One of the amazing features of the oily coat is that once they come out of the water and shake they are damp, but not wet like other dogs. The breed is a natural retriever and will quickly learn games of fetch. Because they are a heavier breed and have some hip and elbow problems Frisbee is not recommended as the jumping and landing action of the game can make joint problems significantly more problematic.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a good companion dog for hiking, jogging and traveling. When properly socialized they love to go new places and are considered good in vehicles, although they will take up a lot of space. They should be walked on a lead when other dogs are present but really do need a large yard or area where they are free to run and exercise.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an intelligent dog that is methodical and devoted to the family provided they are trained and socialized. The breed is not as fast to learn as some of the other dog breeds and they do require a patient trainer that will provide ample repetition to gain master of the tricks and commands. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever should only be trained by one person until they have mastered the command to prevent them from being confused and possibly detracting from the training experience.
They need to be worked using a positive training method and will do very poorly when treated harshly or punished. Typically they are very sensitive to owner's moods and tone of voice and a slight reprimand is all that is necessary to get them to stop a behavior. Socialization at an early age is extremely important with this breed as they will become more dog-aggressive as they age without socialization. Dog aggression is most noted in unaltered males so neutering is highly recommended for dogs. Females that are spayed are also less aggressive and tend to be more focused on people rather than distracted by other dogs.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a great dog for children and once trained will follow directions even from young kids. They love to swim and retrieve and will require little training in these areas. It is always important to completely exercise this breed before training sessions as they can be somewhat independent and stubborn or distracted when not properly exercised.
If you wish to house this breed with other pets including cats it is very important to work with the dog at the earliest possible stages in acceptance of other pets. They can be very good in a house with cats but are less recommended for houses with other small animals. Training should begin when the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a puppy, ensuring that the cat and the puppy get along well.
The natural independence and dominance of the breed makes it more difficult to train than other retrievers. Owners must positively and gently assert that they are the boss or this large dog will try to dominant the family. They also have an aloof presentation around strangers and should be introduced to lots of new people throughout their life to prevent them from becoming overly protective or possessive of their territory.
Although not recommended for first time dog owners the breed can easily be trained through use of a professional trainer or obedience class provided the owners are willing to practice and follow through with the lessons.