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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Country/Date of Origin: USA/1800s

This is a made in the USA breed that was begun in 1807 from a pair of Newfoundland puppies that were rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland. No one knows which dogs were crossed with the original two but the result was a water fowling dog, capable of heavy duty work in cold water. Considered the best duck retriever of all time, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever ruled the blinds for a hundred and fifty years, fetching as many as three hundred ducks a day from the icy water. The days of plentiful game are gone but the Chessie's companionable qualities have kept the breed alive.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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AKC Group: Sporting

Breed Club: American Chesapeake Club

Rescue Club: Eastern US, Jane Peabody, Maine, [email protected]; Central US, Gina Stevens, [email protected]; Western US, Camille Druge, California, [email protected]

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Body Type:

  • A big powerful water retriever with the general size and shape of the
  • Labrador and Golden Retrievers
  • Height: 21-26 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 55-75 pounds
  • Thick tapered tail in not altered
  • Hanging ears are not altered


  • Craves personal attention. A loyal and devoted companion
  • Tolerates roughhousing from children, especially those who are willing to throw sticks into the water for it to retrieve
  • Tends to be sharper than sister breeds, Labrador and Golden Retrievers


  • A wavy double coat: harsh and oily on the surface with a woolly, insulating undercoat prevents water from reaching the skin
  • The water resisting oil gives the Chessie a strong, distinctive odor
  • Coat colors range from a deep brown to a light tan called "dead grass."
  • These were chosen for camouflaging qualities

Health Concerns:

  • Hip dysplasia as is common to all heavyset breeds
  • Bleeding disorder known as von Willebrand's disease
  • Cataracts and other hereditary eye diseases
  • Eczema and related skin disorders
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Feet are webbed on this water retriever
  • High intelligence, willingness to work and great stamina have made Chessies useful as Guide
  • Dogs for the Blind. Only negative aspect was a streak of stubbornness
  • Not suitable for apartment living
  • This is an outdoor dog

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