Let's talk Chesapeake Bay Retrievers 

A dog with a hugely pleasant disposition and unflagging desire to go-and-get, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever lives up to their name. They are task-oriented to the bone and bred to fetch for bird sport. Sensible to boot, the ‘Chessie’ as they are nicknamed, is a super canine for both families and singles alike, especially those of the sporty type. Out of six total retriever breeds, this one is celebrated for being the most serious, and headstrong.

Official name: Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Other names: CBR

Origins: United States

Black and white portrait of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever
 Drooling tendencies


Warm weather? Very low
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Medium
 Energy level (high, low, medium) *: High Family pet? *
 Compatibility with other pets Very high
Can stay alone? * Very low

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

Inline Image 15
lllustrated side view of a standing Chesapeake Bay Retriever
58 - 66 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
29.5 - 36.5 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
53 - 61 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
25 - 32 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight

 Baby age:  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age:  2 to 15 months
 Adult age: 15 months to 5 years
 Mature age:  5 to 8 years
 Senior age:  From 8 years

close-up of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with his head cocked


Get to know the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

All you need to know about the breed

The reserved mug of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever conveys the character underneath: Polite, ready, and smart. With their good sense about them, the breed is an affectionate companion and a superb sport dog. Raised and refined in the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay in and around the coast of Maryland, United States, the dog has a hugely even-keeled temperament and desire to do their job, go home for dinner, have a snooze, and the next day, do it all over again.

Their dense, oily double coat has developed perfectly to handle these conditions—and even more intemperate ones. The breed will easily dive right into any icy body of water and make an exit undaunted; they are used to it and most content when at work—which, to them, is the same thing as play.

Make no mistake:  Chesapeake Bay Retriever intelligence is up there with the best of them. Their clear amber eyes convey a canine cool that beats all. Let’s face it: Any dog who will dive into the ice to fetch a duck has to be pretty chill.

Proper nutrition is essential for an extremely active breed like this. A food composed of high-quality, high-digestibility protein is the best choice to help your dog develop into the muscular animal they are destined to be. This is a dog who needs a lot of exercise on a daily basis. Take them hiking, swimming, or running—the more, the better as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever will always be up for it.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever standing eyes closed looking up to the sun


2 facts about Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

1. Can be stinky

If used for sport, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers can acquire the scents – natural as they might be – that they get into. This is a dog who will readily run through the fields or charge into the bay, paying no mind to what’s in their path. However, unless particularly stinky, don’t bathe the Chesapeake Bay Retriever too often.

2. That coat! 

The famously task-oriented Chesapeake Bay Retriever never misses an opportunity to do the job they were bred for: Jumping in the water to retrieve. Lucky for them, they have a built-in bathing suit in their thick double coat, the oily surface of which repels water. This is a dog that loves to swim and the coat, from years of breeding, can handle hours in even the chilliest bodies of water.


History of the breed

The ultimate sport dog, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever started life on the jagged coast between Maryland and Virginia during the 19th century when, according to lore, two Newfoundlands were rescued from a shipwreck and made their way into the canine community. Mating with Irish Water Spaniels and other hounds resulted in a hardy dog that could do the job duck club sportsmen of the area sought. The Bay’s shallow water stays frigid much of the year, and with the area known as the Atlantic Flyway – where a third of all migratory birds winter – sportsmen found the waters near-Nirvana for their pastime. With a powerful broad chest and webbed feet, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever became the perfect foil for the fowl.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever personality is now widely celebrated for being upbeat, bright, and devoted. Because of their keen perception, they are used for drug and bomb detection and search-and-rescue. One of the first nine breeds registered in America in 1878, the dog was then recognised as well upon the American Kennel Club’s founding in 1884.

Black and white portrait of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever looking to the right


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

1. Ears

Small ears set up on head, hanging loosely.

2. Head

Well-proportioned broad, round head.

3. Body

Strong, well-balanced powerful body, deep, wide chest.

4. Tail

Straight, slightly curved tail, medium in length.

5. Coat

Harsh wavy outer coat; dense, fine, wooly undercoat with natural oils that repel water.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever stood facing the camera in a field


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retriever stood in fallen leaves


Caring for your Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Grooming for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is as easy-going as they are: A harsh outer coat covers a soft undercoat comprised of oily deposits, nature’s way of allowing water to roll right off, just like the feathers of the ducks they retrieve. Baths need to happen every three months or so. Exercise is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s middle name. This is a dog used consistently for sport, and if they aren’t, running is still in their genes. They’ll need lots of daily activity—walks, runs, hikes, and especially swimming, which they adore. As for training the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, discipline needs to be instilled from the start. This very headstrong dog needs a firm and consistent owner. The breed has a mind of their own and can be inclined toward dominance if not socialised well.


All about Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

The coat of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is oily, so water is naturally repelled. Recommended bathing for most dogs is every three months, but that of course depends on the level of mess your pup gets into. If used for sport, like the Chesapeake Bay Retriever often is, that mess may be, well, messier.

The two retriever breeds are equally beloved but it’s their coat that’s the standout difference. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a curly coat and one that’s thicker and oily while the Labrador Retriever has a smoother coat. The Chesapeake is also slightly more dominant in nature whereas the Labrador is extremely affectionate.


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/