The Chesapeake is a strong, muscular dog with a short, thick wavy coat. He comes in any shade of brown and has yellow or amber coloured eyes. Compared to the Labrador, he is slightly bigger in stature, and has a very different personality.

A Chesapeake is a very devoted dog, and is totally loyal to his owner and family. He will make friends with others but he will always follow his owner. If left alone, he will guard your home or car and has been known to protect his human family from threat.

The Chesapeake has been bred for generations as a working gundog and he excels in his job, especially in water. Dogs of this breed have also been trained for other jobs: obedience, working trials, agility and even drug and explosive detection dogs.This is one of a few breeds where the work and show side are not at all different, and most of the UK show dogs work in one way or another. The breed standard describes a dog fit for work, and it is this standard that dogs are judged on in the show ring.

Because the Chesapeake is a strong dog, he needs the right kind of home and owner. His main need is an owner who he will admire and look up to. He is NOT suitable as a pet dog treated as an equal. If he admires you then he will work for you and love you as only a dog can. Whilst he can be a devoted housedog, it is best combined with an active lifestyle or a working life where both his brain and body are exercised. He craves company and should not be in a home where he is left alone for much of the day.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club recommends that anyone contemplating buying a Chesapeake should meet some adult dogs and their owners and be sure that this breed is suitable for them and their lifestyle.

Books about the breed and its history

The Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Eloise Heller Cherry (1981)

The New Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Dr Dan and Janet Horn (1994)

A History of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever edited by Eloise Heller Cherry

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Dyane Baldwin (1997)

Our Chesapeakes edited by Eloise Heller Cherry (1977)

These last two are American Chesapeake Club publications.

Do Chesapeakes like water?

Will they swim in icy waters? Is it true they will break ice to bring back the retrieve?

Chesapeakes are water specialists. They are strong dogs, with the perfect construction and water-resistant coat to retrieve from water. They also have a determined attitude and really love to swim. 

Here’s Boss, who enjoys a swim as part of his walk, whatever the weather! 

Illustrated Guide to the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The American Chesapeake Club has recently produced an Illustrated Guide to the Chesapeake Bay Retriever which can be viewed online.

Chesapeake owners, this will be of interest to all Chesapeake enthusiasts, whether you work or show your dog. You will find that the breed standard for the Chesapeake is a blueprint for a working, wildfowling dog and, like the design for a purpose-built vehicle, covers every aspect of construction that will help the dog to do his work.

Judges, please note that this will be very educational for you to help your knowledge when judging the breed in the ring.

PLEASE Keep in mind that nothing in the text or illustrations changes the official Breed Standard. Instead, it is a supplement to and expansion on the Standard. The American Chesapeake Club has produced this Illustrated Guide to help clarify the unique breed characteristics that set the Chesapeake Bay Retriever apart from the other retrieving breeds.

Please note that due to the UK Kennel Club wishing to standardise their breed standards, the UK breed standard differs slightly from the USA one. For example, there are no disqualifications in the UK. Those judging in the UK should make themselves aware of the UK standard.