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Chesapeake Bay Retriever: The Ultimate Guide to Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

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Who can resist the charms of a retriever canine? The answer is, almost nobody!

Retrievers are popular for their lavish locks, loopable snoots, and their charisma that every dog lover can’t resist. But, did you know that there are more to retrievers than just the well-known Golden Retrievers and Labradors?

There are six kinds of retrievers, from which one hides in the shadows for its calm temperament. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, also known as Chessies, are possibly the most reserved retriever breed as well as the one with the most color variations. 

In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the Chesapeake Bay Retriever colors. But first, let’s examine the origins of these canines and see how common they are. Spoiler alert, they might not be as common as you think!

Origins of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

The history of these canines is known to many. Dating back to 1807, a ship was saved off the coastline of Maryland after sending a distress call. 

Among the goodies and people who boarded that ship was a pair of Newfoundland dogs that happened to be good retriever gundogs. 

Later on, the rescued pair of dogs were mated with different kinds of dog breeds. The resulting progeny proved to be good retrievers as well and were named Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. 

They were given that name due to their excellent hunting skills, with the Chesapeake Bay being the region of their origin.

Characteristics and Life Expectancies

Characteristics and Life Expectancies

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are among the large dog breeds that are characterized by having a double coat.

Their outer coats are curly, short-haired, and thick. Such coats function as heat insulators that help Chessies battle the chill of the hunting season in the Chesapeake Bay. 

Their outer coats are so dense, you can hardly find their skin when you part their fur. Their undercoats, on the other hand, secrete natural oils that help them adapt to harsh weather conditions. 

What makes a Chessie’s double coat impressive is that it’s water-resistant. If you touched its fur coating after it got exposed to water, you’ll notice that it’s almost dry. 

That is due to the fact that a Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s double coat doesn’t hold water in it, which makes it suitable for hunting waterfowl birds.

In terms of physical appearance, a male Chessie is larger in size and weighs heavier than a female does. 

Males’ heights range from 23 to 26 inches and weigh anywhere between 65 to 80 pounds. Contrarily, females can reach a height of 21 to 24 inches and weigh almost 55-70 pounds.

On top of that, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have a long life expectancy. 

They can live as long as 10 years and some may live up to the age of 12 years. They begin developing in the first 7 to 8 months of their lives, where they grow in both weight and height.

Their growth process then slows down significantly as they start gaining fat and muscle. They reach sexual maturity by the age of 12 months and finally transition into adulthood by the age of 24 months.

Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Rare?

It’s hard to find Chesapeake Bay Retrievers anywhere outside of their native lands. They’re a rare variety mostly bred by hunters or people who want a hunting companion.

You may find breeders outside of Maryland and Virginia who sell Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. The downside is, a handful of these breeders are irresponsible and uninformed on how to properly care for Chessies.

Purchasing a negatively trained adult Chesapeake Bay Retriever can be a challenge. Chessies possess strong personalities and like to assert their dominance. Not training them to obey their owner can lead to a destructive environment for both parties.

Training a young Chessie isn’t easy either. You’ll be required to show confidence and assertiveness when training them to help overcome their stubbornness. 

Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Good Family Dogs?

Despite their fierce appearance, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are affectionate canines that won’t hesitate to show their love for their owners. They’re a tranquil breed, meaning they don’t cause as much ruckus as their counterparts from other breeds do.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers’ temperament doesn’t change much when they mature. Chessie puppies are intelligent and also quite friendly. They aren’t scared of meeting new people nor they act cautiously around them. 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers won’t mind the company of other furry fellows when it comes to other pets in the house. Having said that, they can get a bit feisty with strange animals. They won’t think twice about chasing unfamiliar creatures if they ever spotted one.

Chessies make up good family dogs, especially since they get along well with children and pets. However, owning a Chesapeake Bay Retriever would require being outdoors for hours on end.

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Adult Chesapeake Bay Retrievers can get bored from sitting around doing nothing all day and this is where things can get ugly. 

Although Chessies are serene canines, they can get destructive when they’re frustrated. This frustration mainly stems from the lack of action. This kind of breed needs to do something all the time, whether it was chewing a toy or having a walk around the neighborhood.

Keep in mind that these simple activities can’t always keep Chesapeake Bay Retrievers entertained.

They’re filled with energy to their brim. Take them hiking, hunting, or even swimming every now and then as regular exercising is vital for these canines. You can consider indoor exercising as a temporary replacement for taking your Chessie outdoors. 

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Furthermore, Chessies’ serene nature qualifies them to be guide dogs more than companion dogs. This is by the dint of their sustainability, great stamina, and friendliness.

What Colors do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Come In? 

Similar to their personalities, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers come with three basic solid-colors for their coatings. 

According to the American Chesapeake Club, all of the three colors alongside their variations are accepted as the standard hues for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. White spots on the chest, stomach, toes, or the bottom-rears of feet are also accepted.

Although markings on Chessies are unfavorable, they don’t disqualify them. These markings include saddle blotches and tan colorings and can be found on any part of a Chessie’s torso.

However, white spots on any parts of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s body -other than the parts we mentioned- automatically disqualifies them. They’re considered undesirable just as much as black Chessies are.

Here are the standard three colors of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever:


For those who aren’t familiar with what color dead grass is, it’s a combination of deep yellow and tan. Among that combination of color, a variety of shades can be seen especially in darker dead grass coatings.

These shades aren’t acceptable and deemed unpleasant since they’re uncommonly seen in Chesapeake Bay Retrievers’ coatings. They include:

  • Ash
  • Gray
  • Taupe


Sedge-colored chessies often have a red hue surrounding them. This red shade can differ in its intensity, where some Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have a light strawberry-blond coating and others have a deep mahogany color.

What makes sedge different from the previously mentioned color is the remarkable red shades and their amounts. Deadgrass’ shades, for the most part, consist of yellow and amber with no red at all, while sedge is the complete opposite.  


Whether it was light brown, dark brown, or tan, all shades of brown are accepted in a Chessie. The reasoning behind this is simple; because brown aligns with the camouflage concept that Chesapeake Bay Retrievers need to maintain to successfully hunt their prey.

How to Care for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever? 

There isn’t a lot that you have to do in order to take care of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Regarding their cleanliness, Chessies require bathes every two or three months. It’s preferable if it was every three or four months too, as to not ruin the dense texture of these canines’ coats. 

Moreover, Chessies need frequent grooming, especially during their seasonal shedding. They excessively shed throughout spring and fall seasons, where additional grooming might be needed to get rid of the dead cells.

When it comes to nutrition, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers consume moderate portions of food. Male Chessies eat anywhere between 3 to 5 cups on a daily basis, while females consume between 1 to 3 cups. 

Regardless, it’s advised to feed a Chessie in proportion to its needs.

Lastly, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers don’t like spending time alone despite their quietness. They prefer engaging in different tasks that keep them busy throughout the day.

They aren’t needy when it comes to keeping them occupied, you can leave them with animals they’re familiar with and they’ll happily play around with them. 

Don’t leave a Chessie male with another male, though. They can get aggressive and might even attack the other male.


All in all, this kind of dog breed is a good match for those who enjoy being outdoors.

Besides their soothing temperaments, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers’ colors are visually pleasing to the eye, making them the almost perfect dog breed out there.

We hope this Chessie guide has helped you decide whether or not these canines are the kind of dogs you’re looking for.

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