Chesapeake Bay Retriever

AKC Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever probably originated in 1807 with a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland. Two Newfoundland pups rescued from the wreck were later mated with local retrievers. The breed was established enough to be recognized by the AKC in 1885. Careful breeding through the decades created an outstanding retriever with incredible enthusiasm and endurance. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has been known to retrieve 200 ducks in a single day in frigid waters. The breed does well in obedience and tracking as well as in retrieving, hunt tests, and field trials. The Chesapeake also makes a fine family companion.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a powerful, muscular retriever with a slightly wavy, rather short coat in shades of brown, red, or tan ranging from a dead-grass straw color to a deep dark brown with red overtones. Solid colors are preferred, but some white is permitted on the chest and feet. Both the harsh outer coat and dense woolly undercoat are oily for water repellence. The head is rounded and broad with a medium stop and muzzle. The small ears hang down and the eyes are amber colored. The chest is wide and strong. The body is medium length with the rear even with or slightly higher than the withers. The forelegs should be straight with good bone. The hindquarters are especially strong and the toes webbed, because excellent swimming ability is important for the Chesapeake. Dewclaws on the rear legs, if present, should be removed. Removal of front dewclaws is optional, but highly recommended if the dog will be used in the field.

Key Facts

  • Height: 23 to 26 in. (male); 21 to 24 in. (female)
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 65 to 80 lbs. (male); 55 to 70 lbs. (female)
  • Availability: May take some effort to find
  • Talents: Hunting, tracking, retrieving, watchdog, guarding, competitive obedience, and Schutzhund


Different than other retrievers in that he is more aggressive, willful, and reserved with strangers. May be combative with other dogs. His oily coat has a distinct smell, but helps protect him from icy waters. Likes to sleep outdoors. This excellent retriever loves to swim and needs regular exercise. Beware of hip dysplasia and eye problems. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip dysplasia clearance and current CERF or OFA eye clearances, and from a reputable breeder. The Chesapeake prefers cool climate to hot unless there is a body of water nearby.


Courageous, willing, loving, intelligent, and trainable. Good with children. Willful; can be prone to dominance problems if not properly and firmly trained.


  • Children: Good with children
  • Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Independence: Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance: High
  • Other Pets: Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness: Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Not a barker
  • Indoors: Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner: Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming: A little grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Short coat
  • Shedding: Average shedder
  • Exercise: Vigorous daily exercise needed
  • Jogging: An excellent jogging companion
  • Apartments: Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate: Does well in most climates
  • Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Standard

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Gifts