Meet the breed: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Jul 16, 2014 at 6:00 a.m. ET
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Choosing to add a furry friend to your growing household is a long-term commitment, and picking a breed that fits your lifestyle is the key to a happy home. With over 160 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds, that decision can seem overwhelming. We're here to help you meet the breed that's right for you. If you're looking for an active breed that loves to be outdoors, learn all you need to know about the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Breed at a glance

  • Intelligent
  • Affectionate
  • Active
  • Brave
  • Water dogs

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Lovingly referred to as the Chessie, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was bred from the Newfoundland, English Otter Hound, Flat-Coated Retriever and Curly-Coated Retriever to make the loving breed that is popular today. Used to hunt waterfowl in the cold and icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Chessie still loves cooler climates, retrieving and swimming. An affectionate breed and lover of people and children, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever makes a great addition for any active, outdoorsy family.

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Breed standards

  • AKC group: Sporting Group
  • UKC group: Gun dog
  • Average lifespan: 11 - 13 years
  • Average size: 55 - 80 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Thick, harsh and oily. Water runs off the coat similar to a duck.
  • Coloration: Red, brown and tan
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Other identifiers: Muscular body, webbed toes, high-set hanging ears, medium-length tail, yellow or amber eyes, thin lips and brown nose
  • Possible alterations: White markings on body

Is this breed right for you?

Although a wonderful breed for the family life, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever requires an outdoor environment with a lot of activity to truly be happy. A natural retriever, it needs proper training and a confident owner to understand its own boundaries. While relatively inactive indoors, the Chessie is not at all recommended for apartment life and should have a very large yard, preferably with a swimming area for regular exercise. It will get along with cats if raised with them, but it may have an issue when introduced later in life and will most likely not get along with other dogs. Simple to groom, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever does require regular bathing to avoid smelling fowl.

Breed Characteristics

A dream day-in-the-life

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever will be happy waking inside or outside, so long as it's cool enough. Going for a quick dip, it'll easily shake off the water to enjoy some downtime in the house with its family members. After a nice long hunt or walk, the Chessie would love to practice some obedience training and engage in a bit of play before heading in for the night. Regardless of where it is, this breed will always be on the lookout to ensure the home is safe and sound from human and furry intruders.

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