Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Good Family Pets?

Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Good Family Pets?


I’m sure you’re familiar with the well-known golden retriever and Labrador retriever.Opens in a new tab. Even if you don’t own either, you may have seen them in popular movies.

A Golden retriever Opens in a new tab.was the star of the funny and poignant movie, Marley and Me, and who could forget the yellow Labrador, the lead in the timeless and sad classic, Old Yeller?

But, there is another retriever that is often overlooked; the Chesapeake Bay retriever.Opens in a new tab. Like the Golden and Labrador retrieversOpens in a new tab., the Chesapeake Bay retriever is also a gun dog, retrieving game for hunters, and also a member of the sporting group of dogs.

They do have some similarities with the other retrievers, but share no genetic relationship and have differences as well.

In this post, will be information on this retrieverOpens in a new tab., Chesapeake Bay retriever temperament, and Chesapeake Bay retriever facts.

If you are considering adding a Chesapeake Bay retriever to your family, I will also delve into, are Chesapeake Bay retrievers good family pets?

To check your Chesapeake Bay Retrievers’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vet Opens in a new tab.website for all the help you may need.

Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Good Family Pets?
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Chesapeake Bay Retriever Origin and History


The Chesapeake Bay retriever has been created from a few different breeds of dogs, with the end result, a retrieving dog, but one that is unique in its own way.

In 1807, a ship on the verge of the sinking had two “Newfoundland-like” dogs rescued off the coast of Maryland, named Canton, a female and appropriately, “Sailor,’ a male.

They were actually a St. John’s water dog, extinct today, but descendants of the Newfoundland breed.

No proof was ever found that they bred with each other but they did breed with other dogs in the Chesapeake Bay Opens in a new tab.area, notably, hounds and Irish water spaniels.

This produced what is known today as the Chesapeake Bay retriever and they were fully recognized as this breed by the American Kennel Club in 1918.

Also known as the Chessie, these dogs sported very thick double coats and had a reputation for being excellent water dogs and retrievers. Today, the Chesapeake Bay retriever has changed little.

The Chesapeake Bay is located along the Atlantic Flyway, which is a migratory path used by geese and ducks while flying south.

It is also an estuary 200 miles long with freezing water temperatures. This area is a hunter’s dream and the Chesapeake Bay retriever is a hunter’s work partner, able to retrieve game from these frigid waters due to their double thick, insulated and waterproof coat.

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever Appearance

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are medium-sized dogs with adult females weighing in the range of 55lbs to 70lbs and males, 65lbs to 81lbs.

These dogs are perfectly proportioned from head to tail. They have their double thick, coat with an insulated undercoat which is spun fine with fluffy, wool-like fur containing oils that make the coat waterproof.

This keeps the Chessie warm while retrieving ducks or geese from icy cold waters. The outer coat is wavy but short.

The retriever’s colors can range from a dark tan, brownish-green, red sedge, or a rich chocolate brown. These colors serve them well as camouflaging while waiting for prey with hunters.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Temperament and Personality


Originating in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay retriever is a tough-as-nails breed, very intelligent, loving, and loyal.

They absolutely love to be around their humans, but contrary to this they can amuse themselves and are fine on their own.

They don’t act out to get attention like many breeds who are bored and need to have someone to amuse them at all times.

Chesapeake Bay retrievers are also very brave and protective, being slightly less welcoming of strangers than the happy-go-lucky Golden retrieverOpens in a new tab. and the Labrador retriever as well.

They are good with children, not unlike the other two retrievers, and get on well with other dogs and even cats.


All breeds, of course, need proper socialization and training and the Chessie is no exception, They can be willful and stubborn at times and want to do things their way, and do the thinking for themselves.

This is why training and assertiveness on your part are essential. You must be the leader and boss.

The Chesapeake Bay retriever also revels in being active. They are happiest when they are engaged in physical activity and have a job to do.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Temperament and Personality
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Are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Good Family Dogs?


Chesapeake Bay retrievers are the strongest and most powerful of the retrieving breeds, being water retrievers and possessing the strength to swim in cold choppy waters while retrieving ducks or geese at the same time.

The Chessie also supports a personality that is a strong one requiring a good leader but is loyal and loving with family.

They do make excellent family pets, but you the owner will have to be the boss with this breed and this, in reality, is true with any and all breeds.

As each breed and dog have their own individual personalities, some Chessie’s may test you and others may be more docile.

There is no genetic link between the Chesapeake Bay retriever, the Golden retrieverOpens in a new tab., and the Labrador retriever, which shows that there is a difference in which each of these relates to strangers.

The golden and Lab are generally more laid back and happy to greet strangers, especially the golden who would happily take a thief to your best silver if given some attention!

The Chesapeake Bay retriever, on the other hand, is more reserved with strangers, can be weary, and is discriminating, possessing instincts that clue them into who may be friend or foe. In today’s world, this may prove to be an asset and not at all a bad quality. These dogs do make better guard dogs than the latter two.

Your Chesapeake Bay retriever will need socialization as a puppyOpens in a new tab. and can overcome its standoffishness with unfamiliar people.

Obedience training is also a necessity, as with any breed, to own a well-mannered pup so as not to end up with a rambunctious, out-of-control adult.

They do well with training, being highly intelligent, and excel when training and play are combined using fetching and retrievingOpens in a new tab. games.

Because they are hard-working dogs, this gives them a sense of accomplishment, like work.

For your Chesapeake Bay retriever to be an awesome family dog, they do need a certain type of family and this is one that’s active.

A daily short walk around the neighborhood will never satisfy their exercise needs nor their instinctual working-dog persona.

If your family is a more sedentary one, perhaps a smaller less active breed would suit your lifestyle better.

This breed does best with an active family who jogs, hikes, or has a place they can be allowed to run. Swimming is also a big part of this retriever.

This they truly love and it’s great exercise. If you have a pond or there is a lake nearby, this would be ideal.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Facts

Listed below are a few interesting facts about the Chesapeake Bay retriever.

  • State dog of Maryland
  • Webbed feet that help them swim
  • Love the outdoors
  • Love to play catch and fetch
  • Good with other pets
  • Loyal to family and protective when the family is threatened
  • Like to carry things in their mouths
  • Made in the USA, unlike the other retrievers, whose ancestry is European
  • The mascot of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) since 1966
  • Bronze Chesapeake Bay retriever statue on the campus of UMBC called “True Grit’ and rubbing the nose before final exams for luck may give you an A
  • besides being great retrieving dogs they make excellent therapy dogs, law enforcement partners, and search and rescue dogs

Chesapeake Bay retrievers do make stellar family dogs, especially with an active, outdoorsy family. If your family also owns a boat they are wonderful boating companions and sailors too!

Keep in mind that they are polite with strangers but more reserved than the other retrievers and with socialization and training they will be an all-around well-mannered and well-behaved pup.

This breed can offer hours and hours of family fun as they not only excel at watersports and can be trained for dock diving but they love frisbee and all land sports as well.

As always, seek out a reputable breeder when including a Chesapeake Bay retriever in your family.

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