Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Group: Sporting Group

Origin: United States


    – Males: 23 to 26 inches (58-66cm)
    – Females: 21 to 24 inches (53-61cm).


    – Males: 65 to 75lbs (29.5 to 43kg);
    – Females: 55 to 65lbs. (25 to 29.5kg)
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Pond Hollow Oregon Trail “Paige”
Photo: Mallardsway Reg’d

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Breed Profile

In 1807, among the survivors of a British ship wreck off the coast of Maryland, were two Newfoundland pups, one male and one female. Both were excellent water retrievers and were mated to local sporting dogs, including the Curly Coated and Flat Coated Retrievers. The breed that transpired became known as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever and proved to be without equal in cold and rough water, was a powerful swimmer and an excellent duck retriever.

The Chessie is brave, alert, willing to work, intelligent, and always has a happy disposition. He is strong and powerfully built, loves water and has a great deal of stamina and agility.

The Chessie is also well known for his fondness of children and several have been honoured for saving toddlers from drowning.

The most distinctive feature of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is his coat. He has a harsh, thick and short outer coat that is slightly oily and has a tendency to wave. The Chessie’s coat resists water much like a duck’s feathers. The colours of his coat can vary from dark brown to a faded tan. Another distinctive feature are his eyes which are very clear and of a yellowish or amber hue.

Health Issues

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, as with other breeds, are susceptible to some health problems, some of a genetic nature, others viral. Some of the known health concerns include:

  • Hip Dysplasia and other Joint Problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy — The form of PRA found in Chesapeake Bay Retrievers is known as “progressive rod-cone degeneration”. This form of PRA has a late onset with dogs being an average age of between four and seven. The first symptom is night blindness and, eventually, complete blindness will occur. It is imperative that breeding stock be checked annually by an eye specialist until the age of 8 or 9. However, because the type of PRA in Chesapeakes is of late onset, an eye clearance at an early age does not guarantee that the dog is free of this disease.
  • Gastric Torsion (Bloat) — As with many large and giant breed dogs, the occurrence of Bloat or Gastric Torsion is a real possibility in the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. If you are not familiar with this condition, it is absolutely necessary to learn about it and know the symptoms — This is a real emergency and a life threatening condition that requires immediate Veterinary attention. See Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) — Bloat in the Health and Nutrition section of Canada’s Guide to Dogs for more information and First Aid for Bloat for an article describing some of the things you can do if you are faced with this situation.

If you are considering the adoption of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screenings for:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist after the age of 12 months
  • Also listed as “optional”: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test; Autoimmune Thyroiditis; and Congenital Cardiac Database

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.

*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

Breed Listing

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