Maryland's state dog is the most independent and toughest retriever. In fact, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers' ancestors were shipwrecked on the Chesapeake Bay coast. These dogs are strong, intense, and built for endurance.
As their name suggests, these dogs excel at water retrieving. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (or “Chessies,” as their fans call them) are tough, powerful, and muscular. They are reliable working dogs who have even been trained to sniff out explosives!
An American original, this large and high-energy breed can grow to between 55-80 pounds and lives an average of 10-13 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Water retriever
Breed Group: Sporting
Average Lifespan: 10-13 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 41
FAMILY gundog, retriever
AREA OF ORIGIN United States
DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION water retriever
TODAY'S FUNCTION water retriever, retriever field trials, companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 23-26 Weight: 65-80
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 21-24 Weight: 55-70
OTHER NAME none
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Moderately protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
These are smart, affectionate, sensitive, and hard-working dogs. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are playful and family-oriented, but play best with older kids. They can be shy with other dogs and strangers, but with socialization, many are friendly with other pets.
WHAT IS CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This active breed requires regular, vigorous exercise, but they'd prefer to play retrieving games or swim than go for walks. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers need space to spread out and run. Once they've worked and played enough, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are mellow housedogs.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER?
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are trainable, but you'll need to be patient and consistent with these pups. Reward them with retrieving games or treats. Structured obedience training with professionals is recommended. Want to keep your Chessie busy? Chessies have distinguished themselves in tracking and obedience events.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
This breed's short, waterproof double coat is soft and dense underneath, overlaid by a flat and oily top coat.
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are average seasonal shedders and fairly easy to groom. Plan for weekly brushing and occasional baths. (If they're swimming in cold weather, don't bathe them — you'll strip the protective oils from their coats!)
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVERS HAVE?
Like many larger breeds, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers can be prone to joint issues and bloat. They also tend toward pudginess, so be mindful of meals.
Feeding your puppy Chessie a growth food for large-breed puppies will slow their rate of growth but not diminish their adult stature, and may help prevent or reduce the impact of adult-onset hip dysplasia.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Chesapeake Bay Retrievers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Chesapeake Bay Retriever! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S A CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER'S BEST DAY?
Let's go swimming! Ok, now toss the ball in the water. Yay!
Ok, again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
SHOULD I ADOPT A CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER?
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers will flourish with experienced dog owners and outdoorsy, active families but this very busy breed is not a great candidate for apartment living. Chipper Chessies do well in cold weather and fine in the heat. Their weatherproof coats are fairly easy to maintain, and with enough exercise, these dogs make calm and very loving housemates. If you can match their energy and commit to training these intelligent and sensitive pups, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever might be the right dog for you.
Have you decided that a Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.