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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a large, powerful and muscular dog. Slightly larger and longer in the leg than the Labrador, the Chesapeake has a very dense, thick coat. This should be short and hard, with an oily feel to it, smooth on the face and legs but wavy over the shoulders. Along with the water-resistant coat which protects the Chesapeake from the harshest of weather conditions, they have strong webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers.

10 – 12 years
25 – 36.4kg
53 – 66cm
The coat is described as ‘dead grass’ in colour, which ranges from straw to bracken, other colours are ‘sedge’ which is a red gold shade, and any shade of brown or ash is also accepted. They may have small spots of white on the chest and feet
UK Kennel Club Groups
The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever can suffer from:
- Hip dysplasia 
- Elbow dysplasia 
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.  
- Hereditary cataracts which is a condition where the lens in the eye becomes cloudy and this can result in blindness.
- Degenerative myelopathy¹, a condition which causes progressive paralysis in a dog's hindlimbs.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme
- Eye screening scheme

¹J. R. Coates, 'Canine degenerative myelopathy', 2010, Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice 


Bright and cheerful, playful and independent, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a big and powerful dog, and not ideally suited to the novice owner. With the right approach, and an owner who understands what makes these dogs tick and has the ability to provide for that, they can make an excellent companion, but this is a hard-working breed who really wants to work. They won’t be happy lazing around and need kind, consistent training to behave as respectable members of canine society.

Did You Know?

  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have been the official State Dog of Maryland since 1967.
  • The American actor Paul Walker, famous for the Fast & Furious films, owned a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Boone, who appeared alongside him in the film Into The Blue (2005).
  • It is claimed that a Chesapeake once retrieved over 300 ducks in one day from the near freezing waters, and that “even heavy seas did not deter them from their work”!
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have webbed feet which is one of the many reasons they make such great swimmers.
  • These dogs are known to be extremely playful with a very goofy sense of humour.
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