Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Photography courtesy Dyane Baldwin. American Chesapeake Club
Last Updated on January 23, 2020 by Bridget Shirvell

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 55 – 80 pounds (24.95 – 36.29 kg)
  • Height: 21 – 26 inches (53.34 – 66.04 cm)

The Look of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have powerful, well-built, retriever-type frames covered in short, wavy coats. Their heads have rounded, broad skulls, hanging ears and medium-length muzzles. They have clear yellow or amber eyes. Their strong, muscular necks slope down to deep chests, strong backs and straight tails. Their legs are sturdy and strong with webbed feet—ideal for swimming. They have dense coats that usually come in dark brown or dark red, sometimes with white patches. Overall, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a poised and durable look.


  • Tough
  • Resourceful
  • Friendly
  • Protective
  • Great retriever
  • Loves to swim

Ideal Human Companion

  • Hunters and fishermen
  • Families
  • Runners and joggers
  • Experienced dog handlers
Chesapeake Bay Retriever courtesy Jessica O’Dell

What They Are Like to Live With

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are friendly and easy to love. They get along with the entire family, including children. Given lots of love and attention, Chessies can develop beaming, warm personalities to go along with their built-in toughness.

In some respects, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are the ideal hunting dogs—they have a no-nonsense, down-to-business attitude that comes in handy on the marshes or in the woods. They will swim, scout, fetch and retrieve all the livelong day.

Unlike most retrievers, Chessies are fiercely protective of the family and home. They are perfectly polite with strangers, but can be slightly reserved until they feel comfortable. If you’re looking for a retriever with some guarding skills, you’ve come to the right place.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever courtesy Jessica O’Dell

Things You Should Know

Chessies are very strong. Remember this when you go out for a walk. If they see something interesting, hold on tight and grab onto a street sign. These dogs are obedient and intelligent, but they also have an independent streak. Be sure to give them proper, consistent training from an early age.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were born and bred in the outdoors. City life—especially apartment life—will make them feel a little confined. They need lots of fresh air, daily walks and swimming if possible.

A healthy Chesapeake Bay Retriever can live as long as 12 years. They are generally healthy, but some can develop hip dysplasia and eye problems. Their thick, weatherproof coats are easy to groom, just needing a good brushing every few days. Remember not to bathe them too often—the soap can remove the oily film that protects them from harsh temperatures.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever History

In 1807, an English ship sunk off the coast of Maryland. Fortunately everyone survived, including two Newfoundland puppies. One of the men who helped rescue the passengers was given the puppies as a gift. They grew into first-rate retrievers and were eventually mixed with various Chesapeake-area dogs like the English Otter Hound and the Curly-Coated Retriever. Over time the distinctive, resourceful and water-resistant “Chessie” evolved.

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