Ectodermal dysplasia or skin fragility syndrome health testing for the Chesapeake Bay retriever

Ectodermal dysplasia or skin fragility syndrome health testing for the Chesapeake Bay retriever

Health & Safety

The Chesapeake Bay retriever is a retrieving gundog breed that loves water and the great outdoors in general, and that is a high energy and very intelligent dog breed that is particularly notable for being versatile, very amenable to training, and excellent with children.

While the Chesapeake Bay retriever is not one of the most common or popular retrieving dog breeds in the UK, they do have a lot to recommend them to prospective owners who love all of the core traits of retrieving dogs and that are looking for something a little more unusual in their next dog.

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are large dogs that need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and fulfilled, and they are a good fit for owners that like to spend lots of time outside, walking their dogs and generally spending time with them. The breed as a whole tends to be fairly healthy and not overly fragile, but there are also quite a large number of hereditary health issues that have been identified within the breed, and which individual dogs have a higher chance of inheriting than dogs of other breeds.

One of these is called ectodermal dysplasia or skin fragility syndrome, and while this isn’t one of the most prevalent Chesapeake Bay retriever health conditions, it is one that is often very serious and commonly results in euthanasia at a young age in order to prevent further suffering.

There is a DNA test available to identify the markers of ectodermal dysplasia in the Chesapeake Bay retriever dog breed, and in this article we will explain in more detail what Chesapeake Bay retriever skin fragility syndrome is, how it is inherited, and how to get a dog tested for the condition. Read on to learn more about ectodermal dysplasia in the Chesapeake Bay retriever.

What is ectodermal dysplasia?

Ectodermal dysplasia is the scientific name for skin fragility syndrome, and you may hear both terms used to refer to the same condition.

Dogs affected by ectodermal dysplasia lack a certain protein that the body needs to knit the cells of the skin together. Generally, symptoms of ectodermal dysplasia in the Chesapeake Bay retriever are present from birth, and this is mostly indicated by the presence of particularly pale and abnormally fragile skin that might even appear to be translucent in some areas, such as the ears, nose and mouth, and the feet.

When the affected dog licks and grooms themselves (or when their dam grooms them) this skin will tear easily and slough off with minimal pressure.

Ectodermal dysplasia often results in the death of affected puppies within a short time of their birth – often just days or even hours. However, affected pups that live past their first couple of weeks of life will continue to exhibit symptoms of skin fragility syndrome for the remainder of their lives, which involves weak, fragile skin that tears and sloughs off easily, particularly on areas of the body that are under friction and at the site of mucous membranes such as the eyes.

Additionally, Chesapeake Bay retrievers with ectodermal dysplasia often suffer from foot problems on top of fragile skin, such as overly hard and thick paw pads, and malformed claws that are often smaller than normal. Pups with the condition tend to grow at a slower rate and reach a smaller size than unaffected puppies, and will tend to have sparse, patchy fur.

Dogs that do survive their first few weeks of life tend to have a poor quality of life with lots of pain and discomfort, and so affected pups are generally euthanised when still young to prevent further suffering.

How is ectodermal dysplasia in Chesapeake Bay retrievers inherited?

Ectodermal dysplasia is passed on from dog to dog by means of autosomal recessive heredity. Any given Chesapeake Bay retriever can have a status of either clear, affected or carrier; carriers will not suffer from symptoms and can lead a perfectly normal life, but they can still pass the gene mutation that causes ectodermal dysplasia onto their own offspring.

The status of a puppy or litter can be worked out before its parents are even mated if both of the parent dogs are health tested to find out their status, and ectopic dysplasia in the Chesapeake Bay retriever is passed from dog to dog as follows:

  • Two clear dogs will have a clear litter.
  • Two affected dogs will have an affected litter.
  • Two carrier dogs will have a litter of 50% carriers, 25% affected and 25% clear.
  • A carrier and an affected dog will have a litter of 50% carriers and 50% affected.
  • A carrier and a clear dog will have a litter of 50% carriers and 50% clear.
  • A clear dog and an affected dog will have a litter of carriers.

How can you get your Chesapeake Bay retriever tested for ectodermal dysplasia?

If you are considering breeding from your own Chesapeake Bay retriever and have any concerns about ectodermal dysplasia or if there are previous known or suspected cases of skin fragility syndrome within the breed line, it is important to have both prospective parent dogs tested to ensure that the litter will not be affected.

Testing for ectodermal dysplasia in the Chesapeake Bay retriever is performed by means of a simple DNA test, and to have this performed you just need to let your vet know, and allow them to take a DNA sample from your dog. They will then send this off to a testing laboratory, who will return a definitive result of the dog’s status.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services

Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale