The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a powerful retrieving dog developed in Maryland. They are a great sporting breed, but they make for an excellent family dog as well. Said to be the descendants of two Newfoundlands named Sailor and Canton, found in a shipwreck in the area in 1807, today the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is ranked 45th out of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club.
Duck hunters of the 1800s wanted a dog breed to help them retrieve ducks from the notoriously frigid Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. So they set to breeding the perfect dog for the region, and the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, often affectionately referred to as a Chessie, was created. They were bred to tough, powerfully built retriever that could withstand ice-cold temperatures. Nowadays, they make excellent companions and unparalleled hunting partners.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a true American classic. Here is some additional information about their appearance and temperament.
Chessies generally are 21 to 26 inches tall, and males can weigh up to 80 lbs. They have a strong, well-balanced body with a broad skull and powerful jaws, capable of carrying large fowl with ease and tenderness.
Chessies have a double coat – the outer coat is short and wavy, while the inner coat is dense and wooly. The fine inner coat has a distinctive natural oiliness to it, giving Chessies their signature waterproof fur. The oils also help them dry off quicker. Their coats are solid-colored, coming in a chocolate, tan, red, sedge, or dead grass color. Their eyes are amber. Since they are bred to spend so much time in the water, they have adapted their straight or slightly curved tails to be used as a rudder when they swim.
Chessies are short-haired, but they do shed, so brushing them once a week with a firm brush will help keep your floors and furniture fur-free. Bathing should be on an as-needed basis, as you don’t want to remove their natural oils.
Chessies are tireless workers. Bred for nonstop swimming and retrieving in extreme cold, they are notoriously upbeat with immense endurance. They are very loyal and are happiest when they’re with their family, although they don’t need constant attention. Their loyal nature makes them good with children. They can also be protective, and they are generally wary of strangers. For that reason, they make excellent watchdogs.
Chessies tend to have a mind of their own. They are very trainable, but they like to do things their own way and can be stubborn. They are confident and assertive, but beneath that tough exterior, they’re softies at heart. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years, so treat your Chessie with love and affection and it will treat you that way forever.
Outdoors, Chessies are tenacious workers. They have excellent vision and memory, owing to their background locating and memorizing the landing spots for felled birds. This is a sporting breed, most at home when it’s swimming and retrieving.
Chessies are friendly with other cats in the home, but if encountered outside, your Chessie may give chase. They tend to be more dominant than other retrievers, and if they sense that their owners are weak, timid leaders, they can develop dominance problems. A lack of constructive leadership can lead to aggression issues and issues with other dogs, so be sure to lead firmly, confidently, but also kindly. Because of these behavioral issues, they are usually not recommended for first-time dog owners; however, with a bit of effort, they still make for wonderful family companions.
CARING FOR A CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER
The more you know about your Chessie, the better you will be able to take good care of them to ensure they have a fun, healthy life. Here is some additional information regarding their nutrition, exercise, training, and health needs.
Chessies are a distinctly high-energy breed; as such, a high-quality dog food with at least 20 percent protein is generally recommended. Treats are a useful part of any training regimen, but be careful not to overfeed so as to prevent obesity issues. Table scraps and human food should be avoided, particularly foods that are very high in fat. As they age, transitioning to a senior dog food is generally recommended. Consult with your vet to figure out which food is best for your Chessie.
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are very smart and very high-energy. As such, they require a lot of exercise. Long walks on-leash are a necessity; jobs and activities are even better. Taking them hiking, running, hunting, and swimming will go a long way in ensuring they stay both physically and mentally healthy. They are also excellent at dog sports such as tracking, agility, and obedience. If not properly stimulated and exercised, Chessies can become frustrated and destructive, so be sure to exercise them accordingly.
Obedience training is a necessity for your Chessie. Start them at a young age with puppy training classes. Also, early socialization is key – expose them to many different types of places and people early on. They can be emotionally complex, single-minded dogs, but with adequate training and firm leadership, they will develop into wonderful, polite members of the family. Train them with kindness and consistency; they respond best, as with most dogs, to positive reinforcement. Chessies also learn best from the people they know and love, so strive to do the training yourself, rather than passing them off to a training professional.
Hip dysplasia is a common concern with Chessies, as with most breeds. Be sure to work with a breeder who screens for all the major hereditary diseases, such as epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and other eye diseases. They can also be affected by bloat, so learn and understand the causes and signs of bloat. Check their ears regularly, and weekly tooth brushing with a toothpaste designed for dogs is beneficial. Stay on top of their health, and your Chessie should live a long, happy life.