Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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The lucky history of the Chesapeake Bay retriever is fascinating and intriguing. It is said that this breed hails from two Newfoundland puppies that were rescued, along with the crew and cargo, by an American ship off the coast of Maryland from a shipwrecked English brig in 1807.
water retriever
Date of Origin
gundog, retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed History

The young dogs were apparently given to the rescuers as a gift. As the story goes, there was a dingy red male dog named Sailor and a black female dog named Canton. The puppies turned into skilled water retrievers, and it is believed that many local retrievers (their particular backgrounds are uncertain) were bred with the two saved dogs. Some believe that the Chesapeake Bay retriever, (affectionately referred to as the "Chessie") was derived from other breeds such as the Irish water spaniel, the bloodhound, and other local hounds. Other sources claim the breed descended from crosses with the English Otter hound, 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, and 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 1885, making it one of the oldest recognized breeds in the organization. It is also one of the few breeds truly "made in America." Some claim that the Chessie of today is different from its ancestors: the older dogs were only found with dark brown coats, their heads were shaped more like a wedge, and the coats of the ancestral dogs were longer and thicker. Despite its abilities, the Chesapeake Bay retriever hasn't enjoyed the popularity of other retrievers.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Appearance

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is a strong, muscular dog that is slightly longer than it is tall, and its hindquarters are as high, or even higher, than its forequarters. The straight front legs are of medium length and consist of good bone and muscle. The hind legs are quite powerful, and the webbed hare feet feature well-rounded toes. The head is proportionate to the body, and the medium to large eyes offer an intelligent expression. The small ears hang loosely on the head, and the muzzle is tapered. The teeth meet in either a scissors or level bite. The medium-length neck is muscular, and it tapers smoothly into the shoulders. The tail is of medium length, and it is usually slightly curved or straight. The gait is best described as smooth and effortless, exuding a great deal of strength and power. The coat of this breed is generally short and thick, and it features a dense, yet fine, wooly undercoat. Short, straight hair is found on the face and legs, while the hair on the shoulders, neck, back, and loins tends to be wavy. The unique texture of the coat provides this dog with protection in adverse weather. The oil found in both layers of the double coat helps to protect the dog from the icy water, and helps in quick drying. The Chessie will shake upon leaving the water, and the coat will not be wet - only damp. This breed comes in a variety of colors, including browns and sedge.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Maintenance

Weekly brushing is basically the only thing needed to maintain a healthy looking coat on this breed. Bathing is seldom necessary, and 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 an average shedder. Daily exercise is important for this large, active dog. A good walk or swim everyday is highly recommended. While it enjoys being with its family, this breed can live outside in temperate climates. The Chesapeake Bay retriever is generally inactive when inside, but it does best in a house with a fenced yard. It is not recommended for apartment dwelling. This breed tends to become bored if not provided with enough exercise.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Activity Requirements

Eager to learn, yet independent, the Chesapeake Bay retriever is known for its love of swimming and retrieving. It is generally good with children, but reserved with strangers. It can be quite protective and at times has shown a tendency to be aggressive towards strange dogs. It may chase cats with which it is not raised. Kind, consistent handling is suggested for effective training, and the owner of this breed should be experienced and confident. 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.