Hunting Dog Profile: The Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of the best duck dogs in the world. But it’s not a dog for the faint of heart.

The powerful and beautiful Chesapeake Bay Retriever – commonly known as “Chessie” – is a real workhorse of a hunting dog. Bred to beat the cold, rolling waves of the mid-Atlantic off the Maryland coast, there might not be a tougher waterfowl dog out there.

With the right training, a chessie is an exception companion, both inside and outside. But this is a breed that requires more work than a Golden Retriever or even a Labrador, for example.

Let’s meet with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever: Breed Information

Chesapeake Bay Retriever hunting

The breed was born in the 19th century and is believed to be a mix of Newfoundland dogs, Irish water spaniels, and a few other indistinct dogs. They’re a place dog for sure and do well with their namesake’s spirited Chesapeake Bay.

The Chessies mostly have dark brown fur with yellowish or amber eyes, and their unique double coat is a tell-tale mark of the breed. It’s wavy, thick, and oily to the touch. The soft primer in combination with a hard outer coating ensures an extremely water-repellent and quick-drying system.

The size is typical of your common retrievers. Height ranges from 21-26 “at the shoulder and weights from 55-80 pounds. Men tend to be taller and heavier than women.

However, a chessie’s personality is a little more complex than that of the average retriever. They tend to have an independent series that comes with intense loyalty to their owners and families.

If chessies aren’t properly socialized, they can be wary of strangers. Unlike other retrievers, they are a better guard dog. But it would be wise to imagine that they are closer in personality to a German Shepherd than to a Golden Retriever. This is certainly a sensitive breed that can do best in a seasoned home.

Nevertheless, the Chessie is highly intelligent and trainable. And once they’re trained, they’re extremely confident. They are excellent working dogs. Outside of the hunt, chessies can be found in bomb sniffers and search and rescue teams.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever: Hunt

Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy

If hunting waterfowl in cold weather and cold water is your jam, the Chessie is the ultimate companion. The American Kennel Club described the Chessie’s work ethic as “tireless” and this is certainly a retriever who is tireless in its endeavors.

A chessie can break ice, swim in rough water, and bring back birds that are likely to last longer than you are comfortable with outside. Her waterproof coat keeps her warm in all weathers and her strong constitution keeps her focused and focused on work.

Although the Chessie is considered a light-blackout water bird, it shouldn’t be considered a fabulous highland flusher. Their work ethic carries over to every terrain they face and there is no limit to what this smart, hard working dog can do in the field with the right teammate at the helm.

Reputable breeders will provide hip dysplasia checks and health certificates, and speak to prospective owners about the needs of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Final thoughts

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Chess is not necessarily for everyone. Her sensitive and strong-willed nature requires a thoughtful and experienced owner who is dedicated to building a concrete foundation. Of all the retriever breeds, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the toughest and most complex.

But for hunters and people looking for a working dog that can handle extreme environments with ease, the Chessie is an excellent partner.

Hunter with rifle next to yellow labrador dog

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