What Colors do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Come In?

What Colors do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Come In?

The Chesapeake Bay RetrieverOpens in a new tab. is a large gundog and is one of the most popular breeds in the US. They were created in the 1800s from Coonhounds, Irish Water Spaniels, and flat/curly-coated Labrador retrievers to retrieve hunted animals in the Chesapeake BayOpens in a new tab..

For this reason, they are excellent hunters but also have a love of water. One of the most important characteristics of this breed, along with their general type of balance, is their coat.

This comes in various different colors to suit the environment in which the dog works. These colors are often shown on a Chesapeake Bay retrieverOpens in a new tab. color chart.

This coat is made of wavy hair rather than smooth (like a Labrador retriever), and it is considered at its best when it is kept short on the face and legs.

This wavy hair is due to the cold conditions the dogs would have had to face in the Chesapeake BayOpens in a new tab., where they were originally developed, and so their coat acts to keep them dry and warm.

These dogs usually have a happy temperament and are highly intelligent, so they make great pets for any household when socialized properly.

Chesapeake Bay retriever color chart

Chesapeake Bay retrievers come in various colors which match their surroundings, to act as camouflage when hunting. These colors are:

  • Brown – all shades from silvered brown to deep chocolate
  • Sedge (red) – containing elements of red, and varying from reddish yellow to bright red to chestnut
  • Deadgrass (fawn) – containing no shades of red, from faded tan (including ash) to a dull straw color which can be close to white

No particular color is preferred for Chesapeake Bay retriever fanatics, although a block color is preferred to lighter and darker shadings of the same color.

This can be difficult as coat and texture also have an impact on colors, such as effects like masking, striping effects, saddle markings, agouti coloring, and tan areas.

These variations in coat color are not favored when it comes to judging Chesapeake Bay retrievers, although they are all acceptable for the breed.

The disqualifications for color are only for black-colored and for white found on any part of the body, except the breast, belly, toes, or the back of the feet.

The eyes of Chesapeake Bay retrieverOpens in a new tab. can be either yellow or amber, again with there being no preferred color for breed standards. There are also no desired combinations of coat and eye color.

Chesapeake Bay retriever color chart

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Color Genetics

Coat color is genetically determined, and DNA tests are available to be able to see exactly what colors your dog’s coat consists of. This can be particularly useful if breeding Chesapeake Bay retrieversOpens in a new tab. to be able to be more sure what color pups you will get.

Several genes make up the standard coat colors of Chesapeake Bay retrievers, such as:

  • MC1R. Some breeds are fixed for the outcome of this gene being either black (such as in Large Munsterlander) or red (such as in Irish Setters). The particular version of this gene that is important to Chesapeake Bay retrievers is the red/yellow (E locus) which inhibits black pigmentation, allowing these lighter colors to be seen. This can only happen if both MC1R genes are this version, so parental testing is a good idea to see what combinations of coats might appear in the litter, due to different numbers of this gene version being passed on.
  • Blue dilution: the prevalence of this gene is fixed at around 6% for Chesapeake Bay retrievers, and this gene causes a dilution of base coat colors to lighter tones
  • Agouti: agouti is a gene that has many different variants and is vital for coat color. In Chesapeake Bay retrievers, this gene is found in the form of the Ay version at 100%, which helps give the coat a yellow color.


There are various other interesting genes that can change the coat color of your dogs which can cause problems, as listed here:

  • Curl (Keratin-71) gene: this is the gene that creates curly or wavy hair. If your Chesapeake Bay retriever has no copies of this gene, then it will have straight hair, but if it has two (one from each parent) then it will have curly hair. For the breed standard for this dog, it is ideal to only have one copy of the gene to give the desired wavy coat.
  • The intensity coat color gene (MFSD12): this gene causes dilution of red or yellow pigment (phaeomelanin), but does not affect brown pigment. This is a huge problem in sedge Chesapeake Bay retrieversOpens in a new tab. as it can cause cream or white-colored dogs which do not meet the breed standards. This gene is only inherited if both parents are carriers of the gene (have it but don’t show it), so it is quite easy to check if any pups will have it.
  • Dominant Black gene (K locus): this is another gene that could pose problems for Chesapeake Bay retrieversOpens in a new tab. as dogs with two of these genes turn out fully black in color! As this is one of the colors of Chesapeake Bay retrievers which is not accepted by the breed standards, it is important to test both parents for this gene, in case they are carriers of it.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever Color Genetics

Chesapeake bay retriever Coat care

Coat care is particularly important in Chesapeake Bay retrievers as it can alter the coat color, which is such an important trait to this breed of dog.

The coat on Chesapeake Bay retrievers is so thick and impermeable due to the natural oils within it that it is difficult to get it fully wet to wash it! That being said, washing is recommended once every 3-4 months – more often and the protective oils are removed and the texture of the coat, which is so vital for the breed, is lost.

Therefore, the coat color, genetics, and care of Chesapeake Bay retrievers are very important for their health,Opens in a new tab. but also for their compliance with breeding standards. The colors can vary from brown to sedge, to deadwood, but black or too much white can be held against this lovin

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