Chesapeake Bay Retriever

55-70 lbs
United States
Chessie, Chesapeake

The regal Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not like other Retriever breeds. Thought to hail from two Lesser Newfoundland puppies (or St. John’s Water Dogs) that were rescued by an American ship off the coast of Maryland from a shipwrecked English brig in 1807, these dogs were bred rather haphazardly with local dogs, including Water Spaniels, Setters, and Hounds. They may do the same things that other Retrievers do, but they do not share a genetic makeup. They have quite a distinctive appearance, including their slightly oily, musky, waterproof wavy brown coat, amber eyes, and sturdy, powerful body. While they are primarily used now as family pets and hunting dogs, they were bred for the very specific purpose of retrieving waterfowl. They are known to be happy, bright, intelligent, and obliging dogs who love to work, especially in the water. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever doesn’t need much grooming, other than a quick brushing once a week and a bath 3 to 4 times a year. As they are strong dogs who were bred to be active, they need regular vigorous exercise, be it walking, running, or hunting geese. They should be trained, and require firm loving discipline.

purpose Purpose
Water retriever
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry
Newfoundland dog

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Health

Average Size
Male Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats
Height: 23-26 inches Weight: 65-80 lbs
Female Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats
Height: 21-24 inches Weight: 55-70 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Cataracts
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
  • Alopecia
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Blood
  • Dna For Vwd
  • Physical Examination

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed History

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s name has quite a literal origin. Dogs from both shores of the Chesapeake Bay were recognized in 1877 as one of three versions of the Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dog, consolidated in 1918 as the single Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The breed’s genetic line traces back to 1807, when two puppies were rescued from a sinking ship in Maryland. The agile dogs were apparently given to the rescuers as a thank you. The puppies turned into skilled water retrievers, and it is said that local dogs, such as Hounds and Water Spaniels, were bred with the two saved dogs. As well,  sources claim the breed descended from crosses with the English Otterhound, the flat-coated, and the curly-coated Retriever. Over time, the distinct breed known as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever emerged, and it became known for repeatedly swimming through the rough icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay to retrieve ducks. Many report that one dog was able to retrieve 100 to 200 ducks in one day. To this day, this breed is known for its unerring ability to recover water fowl, and its popularity extends beyond the area of the Chesapeake Bay. This dog was recognized by the AKC in 1918. It is also one of the few breeds truly "made in America." Some claim that the Chessie of today is different from its ancestors who were only found with dark brown coats and heads shaped more like a wedge. Additionally, the coats of the ancestral dogs were longer and thicker. Since 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever has been the official dog of Maryland, and is the mascot of the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. Such famous folks as General Custer and Teddy Roosevelt have made companions of the unique Chesapeake Bay Retriever. It is the 43rd most popular dog breed in the American Kennel Club; it is rather a rare and special thing to own the smart, sweet, and sensitive Chessie.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Appearance

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a unique coat that seems to be barely wet when the dog emerges from the water. Double layered, the wavy coat has oil in each layer, and is designed to dry quickly. The dense, wooly undercoat is thick and short, as is the fur on the legs. A strong, muscular dog, this breed is slightly longer than it is tall with hindquarters that are as high, or even higher, than its forequarters. The legs are quite powerful, and the webbed feet of this Retriever feature well-rounded toes. The head has wide-set, medium to large eyes that offer an inquisitive expression. The muzzle is tapered and the teeth meet in either a scissors or level bite. The tail is of medium length, and it is usually slightly curved or straight. 

Appearance of Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever eyes
amber Chesapeake Bay Retriever eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever nose
Coat Color Possibilities
brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever coat
red Chesapeake Bay Retriever coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Chesapeake Bay Retriever wavy coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Maintenance

A weekly brisk brushing is needed to maintain a healthy coat on this breed. His coat is naturally slightly oily, with a mild musky smell. This is normal, and should not (and cannot) be washed away. Bathing could be done at most 3 to 4 times a year, as the oil in the coat should be maintained. Washing the coat too often can destroy the water resistance. Use a firm bristle brush to remove the dead hairs on a regular basis. This breed is considered to be a medium to high shedder. The ears and eyes naturally tend to stay clean, though they should be regularly checked. Like any dog, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever should have his teeth professionally cleaned once a year. Daily exercise is important. A good walk or swim every day is highly recommended; after all, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is bred to be a water athlete.  While it enjoys being inside with its family, this breed can live outside in temperate to cool climates. Bred to be a sporting water dog, the Chessie prefers a cool climate, but can tolerate a warm climate if there are frequent swimming opportunities. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is generally inactive when inside, but does best in a house with a fenced yard in which to play. It is not recommended for apartment dwelling. This breed tends to become bored if not provided with enough exercise. He should be given an average of 1 to 1.5 cups of quality dog food twice a day, depending on his activity level and age; puppies can eat up to 4 cups of food a day, as they are rapidly growing. 

Brushes for Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Slicker Brush
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Chesapeake Bay Retriever requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Temperament

Eager to learn yet independent, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is known for his love of swimming and retrieving. He was bred to be a water dog, after all. He is generally good with children, but reserved with strangers. He can be quite protective, can be aggressive towards strange dogs, and may chase cats that are not part of his own family. Kind, consistent handling is suggested for effective training, and the owner of this breed should be experienced and confident. As the Chessie is a clever dog, he needs to be trained, as his mind should be kept busy. Socialization and training should take place at any early age to prevent dominance problems. While active when outdoors, this breed is generally calm inside. The Chessie can make a good family companion, though he must get a lot of exercise. If he gets 20 minutes of daily intensive exercise or an hour long daily walk, your beautiful, strong, regal Chesapeake Bay Retriever will happily be your couch potato companion for the rest of the time.

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
90 minutes
activity minutes

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.8 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.50 - $1.90
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$39.00 - $52.00
food bag monthly cost

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats at six months
Height: 16.5 inches Weight: 37.5 lbs
Female Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats at six months
Height: 15.5 inches Weight: 30.0 lbs
12 Months
Male Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats at 12 months
Height: 20.5 inches Weight: 55.0 lbs
Female Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats at 12 months
Height: 19.0 inches Weight: 45.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats at 18 months
Height: 24.5 inches Weight: 70.0 lbs
Female Chesapeake Bay Retriever size stats at 18 months
Height: 22.5 inches Weight: 60.0 lbs

Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeders of 2024.
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Northern Edge
Northern Edge
Sheridan, Arkansas
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Del Brave
Del Brave
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder LongMeadow Kennels
LongMeadow Kennels
Dover, Pennsylvania
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Flying "B" Kennels
Flying "B" Kennels
San Antonio, Texas
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Camptown Chesapeakes
Camptown Chesapeakes
Middletown, New York
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Pond Hollow
Pond Hollow
Newport, Pennsylvania
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Misty Shores Chesapeakes
Misty Shores Chesapeakes
Durand, Michigan
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Driftwood Lily of the Lake
Driftwood Lily of the Lake
Hudson, Michigan
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Whistling Winds Retrievers
Whistling Winds Retrievers
Mauston, Wisconsin
Top Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder Spinnaker Ridge Chesapeakes
Spinnaker Ridge Chesapeakes
Marysville, Kansas

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Owner Experiences

10 Years
3 People
Loyal. Stays close to owner. Sensitive. Prefers people to other dogs. Loves to swim, jump off docks, unleashed hiking, running in fields. Coexists with cat.
6 years, 5 months ago
5 Years
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever I walk is high energy. Sometimes, I need both hands on the leash to control him. He is very affectionate -- and very inquisitive... he likes to go for long walks on the trail.
6 years, 3 months ago
6 Months
As all retrievers, they are extremely smart, energetic and sweet. And as long as they are trained correctly, they are great dogs. The pup I walked was only a few months old so she was still getting into things, like eating acorns and goose poop off the sidewalk, but she was also really smart. She was very well behaved on a leash, no pulling or lunging. And she responded well to people and dogs, being her friendly puppy self.
6 years, 3 months ago
6 Years
I walked a Chesapeake Bay Retriever once and her name was Emma. There were a couple things I noticed right off the bat. She had this beautiful reddish-brown, wavy coat and amber eyes. She was also confident, brimming with energy, and walked with purpose. I could tell the owner was very proud of her and shared with me that she was his prized hunting dog as well as family companion. On our walk, she was powerful. She had the build similar to a Golden Retriever but the strength of a Rottweiler and speed of a Greyhound if that makes any sense. This has never happened to me before with any other breed but when we were running together at a pretty good pace, she locked her eyes on something (perhaps a duck) and within a split second was able to rev up her jogging pace to sprinting speed and literally hauled me, even though I was already running, behind her down the sidewalk. If I didn’t have my sneakers on, she probably could have dragged my 120-pound body down the sidewalk with her to retrieve the bird. They are remarkably fast. After that, I knew her primary objective was waterfowl and I was on the lookout for other potential “hunting” scenarios to better prepare myself during the walk. Emma was an absolute sweetheart though! She had lots of energy and stamina and could probably run and sprint for hours at a time but she was also affectionate and wanted to be pet too. After our run, she ran to the backyard of her home and jumped into the pool to cool off. These dogs appear to be easily trainable, loyal, and focused. I think they would make great dogs for those who appreciate a happy disposition, love the outdoors, including hunting and water activities. Awesome dogs for sure!
6 years, 3 months ago
3 Years
3 People
House & Yard
Great best dog ever loves to smile
2 years, 9 months ago
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - Other

Hi I am worried about my dog. His name is bone he is a chessapek bay I sent him to my daughters for a couple months last winter due to my wife and I went south. After getting him home he seems to lost strength coordination along with no energy. He also upon coming g home could hardly walk at first he has gotten a wee bit better but not much. He just seems to be a whole different dog. Bone is just about 10 years old and was in perfect shape before leaving. As a matter fact he was a handful. He was a very dominant dog but well trained. What could be some of the reasons for t

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