Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Breed Characteristics

Hardy, burly, strong, rugged. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers make excellent watchdogs; can be protective and territorial. Calm in the house if properly exercised. Very talkative. Loves water; can handle icy water with ease. Excellent family dogs, although require a strong owner as they can be dominant. Not for the new dog owner.

Is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever approved as a pet in a Singapore HDB flat?



United States, 1800s. In late 1807, two Newfoundlands that survived a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland were adopted by a family of dog lovers. They were later mated with local retrievers including English Otter Hounds, Flat-Coated Retrievers and Curly-Coated Retrievers. Meticulous breeding over the years resulted in an outstanding retriever with astounding enthusiasm and endurance. The dogs were used to hunt waterfowl in the rough and icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay, retrieving hundreds of birds in a single day in frigid waters.

Original Purpose

Hunting and retrieving game (ducks), especially in rough conditions.

Behaviour and Temperament

Hardworking, strong-willed, loyal, inquisitive, courageous, protective. Chesapeakes are usually slow to mature.

What are some Physical Features of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

53.5 to 66 cm; 25 to 36.5 kg. Colours are brown shades, including a light shade called “deadgrass.” Other shades include red, brown, yellow, tan, and “sedge.” White markings are permitted on the chest, belly, toes, or back of feet. The coat tends to fade a bit in the summer. Eyes are amber-coloured.

Coat Type and Recommended Grooming

Double, water-resistant coat is thick, wavy, and short (less than 4 cm), loaded with natural oils and has a distinct smell; undercoat is dense and woolly. The coat repels water like a duck’s feathers. Moderate maintenance; brushing twice a week. Bathe only when necessary to prevent any noticeable odour, as frequent baths may strip the coat of its oils. No trimming required. An average shedder.

Life Expectancy of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

10 to 13 years.

Have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

Health Concerns

Hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, eye problems (PRA, cataracts), eczema.

Exercise Needs

High; this tireless dog needs a lot of outside exercise. Factor in swimming, as they are good swimmers.


Not suitable for urban life; needs a lot of room to run; preferably near a body of water. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers prefer cool climates.


Very protective of family. Friendly and good with gentle kids. Reserved toward strangers. Will usually accept other dogs, although tries to dominate them; may be aggressive on occasion. Will accept cats that are living in the house, but will chase other cats.


Average. Early socialisation and regular obedience training is needed to stay in charge of this dominant dog; they can be wilful. Needs a firm and consistent approach. Many do not do well with crate training.

Recommended Activities

Field trials, waterfowl retrieving, obedience.