Chesapeake Bay Retriever

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Belonging to the working gundog types of dogs, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever or CBR at is sometimes abbreviated to, is fond of being in water as much of the time as possible! It was developed in the 19th century as a pet and working dog and its temperament lends it to both of these very well indeed.


With a relatively recent and new history, the CBR was named for the area of America it was developed in, during the 19th century. They are thought to have descended from two Newfoundland Dogs which survived a shipwreck in the 1800's. These two dogs, a male and female, were not bred together, but with local Hounds and Spaniels and the offspring from these were the founder members of the CBR breed. In 1918 the American Kennel Club recognised the breed.


Average height to withers: Males 23-36 inches, females between 21-24 inches.

Average weight: Makes up to 45kg, females up to 41kg.

The CBR is a medium to larger breed of dog with a rump that is actually slightly higher than the withers. The eyes are usually a startling yellowish amber colour.
The weather proof double coat tends to have a wave, especially on the shoulders, neck and back. It also feels oily to the touch, helping towards its weather proof quality. Three basic colours are generally seen in the breed - brown, which includes all shades from light to dark, 'sedge', a reddish yellow through a bright chestnut red and 'deadgrass' which varies from a faded tan to a dull straw colour. The breed standard states that white may also appear but it must be limited to the breast, belly, toes, or back of the feet.

The head is round and broad with small ears. The hindquarters are especially strong and the toes webbed, like its Newfoundland ancestors, since excellent swimming ability is important for the CBR. It also has a powerful chest, which enables it to use its weight to break apart ice when diving into cold water.


A great working dog or pet, the CBR has a well rounded and easy going temperament but still needs a strong leader who kit can look up to and respect. This is a very devoted dog, which is loyal to its family and has a sharp and quick intelligence. It is well known for its love of water and likes to spend a lot of its time swimming, which can be problematic if you have not given it a good recall! In cold weather when ice forms on lakes, rivers and water where the owner may regularly walk it, the owner needs to exercise caution and ensure it does not get into trouble. That said, the CBR was built for the cold and its body and weight used for breaking ice in harsh condition, but nevertheless, care extra care should be taken.

This dog has the ability to be well trained and obedient and when the owner puts in the time and effort there is no reason why this breed cannot excel at many canine sports, as well as being a good gundog with the typical 'soft mouth' found in these breeds. With correct socialisation, the CBR can live very well with other pets and children. Being an active dog, it is suited to a high energy family who can devote time to it and who enjoy long walks and runs. This is not a dog that you can leave bored in the house. If it does become bored, many negative behaviours can follow including chewing and barking.


Considered to be a healthy breed the CBR can live up to 15 years of age in good health. This breed is mainly affected by Hip Dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia (HD) can affect all breeds of dog but is more prevalent in some breeds than others. It is caused by the abnormal formation of the hip ball and socket joint. Normally the ball would form a pivot point in the socket; however, some dogs are born with a genetic predisposition for HD. This means that at birth their hips are normal but as they grow, the hip joint does not grow correctly and as a result the ball no longer fits as it should. After the age of a year or so, the owner can opt to have their dog 'hip scored'. Hip scoring is a method used by vets to determine the degree of HD in dogs and involves the vet assessing a number of criteria during a diagnostic examination. If the dog is then found to have a high probability of HD, remedial action can be taken.

Caring for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The main time input required by the owner for this breed is the amount of time that needs to be spent exercising this dog. It is not a 'couch potato' breed and will not tolerate being left alone for long periods with little to stimulate its body or mind. At least two daily walks and runs are required to keep it happy and healthy, and the owner must never forget its love of water!

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