Welcome to Breed News Weekly – the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club’s weekly roundup of what is going on in the Chesapeake world. If you have something you’d like to share, please email Chrissie Mayhew at bobmayhewQhorses@aol.com.

10 December 2023

I have had this breed since the 1970s and I have lost count of the number of times I have written to this or that magazine in response to something that they have published about gundogs and omitted to mention the Chesapeake. Often my letters have been published, which made me feel the effort was worthwhile.

With our breed finding favour and gaining in popularity in their rightful place, i.e. with wildfowlers, in the UK I am still once again stirred to get out my pen and paper.

A recent shooting magazine has an article about wildfowling dogs. I read it anticipating praise of the Chesapeake but no, although the breed is mentioned almost as an afterthought, the author makes clear that a Labrador is his dog of choice. Fine by me, each to his own, although I get the impression that he has never seen a Chesapeake work and possibly has never met one.

What did infuriate me though was that he backed his choice of breed, implying that they were the best, by saying that the vast majority participating in a BASC membership survey showed Labradors were the most popular breed for gundogs, closely followed by Springer Spaniels. He says, “other breeds such as golden and flatcoated retrievers, also have their fans.”

Now I’m sorry but it doesn’t take too many brain cells to realise that with Labrador KC registrations for last year totalling 44,311 and the other retriever breeds well below this vast number (Chesapeakes 64), this is bound to be reflected in the breed of dogs belonging to BASC members. Yet another case of poor research and slanting an article to suit your choices.

Let me add that I have nothing against Labradors, they can be great gundogs, but when it comes to the job of wildfowling, they are just not designed for the job anywhere near as well as our Chesapeakes are. And so, once again I feel I will be putting pen to paper!

This news from our Breed Health Co-ordinator, Sue Worrall:

If you are thinking about DNA tests for your dog, please note there are changes to be aware of. When a dog has its DNA screened for hereditary health conditions, some laboratories automatically send a copy of the test results to the Kennel Club for publication. Other laboratories may not do this, and owners need to send copies of the test results to the KC directly.

The KC will only record test results from certain laboratories, so it is important that you check the lab you intend to use is on the KC’s list of acceptable laboratories. The KC has recently been reviewing the criteria it uses to accept a laboratory on its list. You can find more information and a list of accepted laboratories on the KC website, where you can scroll down to ‘Laboratories we record and publish results from.’

You will also find information on how to submit your dog’s test results to the KC. Please don’t forget to send copies of your dog’s test results to me for publication in the Chessie Club’s yearbook too!

If you have any questions on this, please get in touch with Sue.

Thank you to Karen Preece for this report from the lovely island of Jersey:

While the northern Chessies were enjoying snow and cold, this calm cookie (Tabatha) passed her Silver Good Citizen with flying colours. Didn’t move a muscle when the reactive GSP next to her broke his “stay” and veered toward her. Proud of her this afternoon.

I was shocked to read on Facebook of a female Chesapeake exhibitor in the USA who was punched in the face by a man purely because she had asked him to take his loose dog away from her dogs who were in a pen outside her campervan. This assault took place in daylight hours on a female who was quite obviously pregnant.

People can be very funny about their own dogs and a lot seemingly cannot see when their precious pet is doing something unacceptable to dogs owned by others, but to react in such a violent way is appalling as I know you will all agree. Sadly it is something that we seem to see more and more of these days. Beware. There is a saying ‘you can insult a man’s wife but never his dog.’

Taba passes her silver exam

A few reminders: we need any points that your dogs have gained during the year in show, working tests, or obedience in order to allocate the end of year trophies that will be awarded at the AGM. Please see the Home page for details and send any points to cbrcpoints@gmail.com.

The yearbook (Chessie Chat) for 2023 will be going to the printer early next year so please place your adverts soon – a real bargain at £10 per page to joy.midds@outlook.com. Joy has offered to help with designs if anyone would like.

Don’t forget that adverts are not restricted to dogs, so let everyone know about your business or anything else that you feel would be of benefit to our readers.

Christine Mayhew


3 December 2023

Sadly Chez (Anthony Ciraolo) has had to say goodbye to his great wildfowling dog, Eider (Northsolway Sand Sprite at Franeo). Eider was bred in Scotland by Donna (Mammy Peake) who imported semen from Am Ch Chesabars Copper Reflection to produce a litter from her Devonshot Leotie at Northsolway.

Eider was the first gundog that Anthony had trained and he certainly did a great job. The pair won and placed in almost every club working test that they ran in and Eider proved a fantastic wildfowling dog for Anthony, and in recent years for Anthony’s son, Theo. Not only a great worker, Eider was really good looking and a great example of the breed. She placed at the one Chessie show she had entered, and would have easily held her own in any show competition if she had been campaigned.


Eider lived to a good age of 12 and produced one litter sired by Mr Cree, and one sired by Ryder. Anthony kept a bitch by Ryder, Ebb, and so the line lives on.

This week saw another interesting webinar by the Kennel Club, this time the topic being the BVA/KC Eye Scheme.

For those unfamiliar with the scheme, which started in the 1960s, there are 35 BVA/KC eye scrutineer vets who are able to test dogs under the scheme, and these are scattered around the country although sadly lacking in Wales.

It is recommended that all breeding dogs are tested for hereditary eye diseases prior to being bred. Each certification lasts for twelve months. The Club endorses this and will only advertise stud dogs that have been eye tested, and only litters where both parents hold current eye certificates.

Some 316 people joined the webinar which was extremely comprehensive in terms of conditions mentioned in various different breeds that we now test for.

I did my veterinary nurse training ‘on the job’ and worked with renowned veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr Geoff Startup at the Grove Lodge Veterinary Hospital in Worthing. Dr Startup published the textbook Eye Diseases of the Dog way back in 1969 and, at the practice, we saw many ophthalmic referrals. I thought that I was aware of all the hereditary eye conditions that various breeds suffer from – but this webinar covered many that I had never heard of. I am assuming that sadly they have evolved since those early days.

Luckily the eye conditions considered to be hereditary (and tested for) in our breed amount to two – namely progressive retinal atrophy and hereditary cataracts (some cataracts are not hereditary and will be noted but not listed as hereditary on the results). Consider other retriever breeds who have to be tested for many other conditions. There are presently six conditions in Labradors, and both Golden and Flat-coated Retrievers have more hereditary eye conditions than our Chesapeakes. So we are lucky!

The current BVA/KC eye test costs £63. Anyone wishing to have their dog tested just needs to ask their own vet where the nearest scrutineer is and then book an appointment with them, or take a look at the BVA website: Find An Eye Panellist, which includes a map showing where all the panellists are located. The dog owner needs to take their dog’s Kennel Club registration form with them. If you are breeding a litter, or standing your dog at stud, this test is imperative. The knowledge of eye conditions in the breed would also benefit from more dogs being tested regularly, including the older dogs, but at £63 a shot, this obviously will put some off. Maybe one day we can organise a fund for older dogs to be tested?

Overall I thought the webinar to be interesting although too complex for the general dog-owning public. The time was too limited to cover the mode of inheritance in the eye conditions, many of which involve a broad range of involvement, and some very complex which we still do not fully understand. It felt good to know that our breed was quite simple compared to many others AND that we have the benefit of DNA testing for PRA. I applaud the Kennel Club for running these webinars and hope that there will be more to come. Thank you to our breed health co-ordinator, Sue Worrall, for bringing this chance to learn to our attention. You can find more information about health testing on the Health page. 

Crufts 2024: the entries are now open on Fosse Data, and we are on gundog day, which is Friday 8 March.

Christine Mayhew


26 November 2023

Great news from Debbie Crewe who says:

“On Saturday 18th November Wigton Dog Training Club held their final obedience show of 2023 and Ramses (Chesarab Saltmarsh WGC) won the beginner class. Thirty dogs had entered and 22 booked in to work. We dropped only 2 points throughout all the exercises.

At all our obedience shows this year, we have always been second, third or fourth, and at one show we were only 1/4 of a point behind the winner!

In the beginner class the handler is only allowed to win two classes, and last Saturday was my second win (the first was with Phoenix (Chesepi Neah Bay).
We are now out of beginners and all my future dogs will have to start in Novice as their lowest class.”


For those who don’t have a knowledge of obedience competition, it is incredibly difficult to gain any sort of award. The obedience world is where total perfection is the name of the game and, for example, a ‘sit’ is not just a sit, but has to be instant, on first command, perfectly straight, and in the correct place. Likewise all other obedience commands. This will explain why the game is dominated by the very trainable border collies. Debbie and Ramses deserve every accolade for achieving this standard. Congratulations both.

In response to requests made for CBRC merchandise we have now launched a virtual shop! Go to www.yourclubshop.co.uk In the ‘club login’ box at top of the page enter the password CBRC1895 to access the club shop and place your orders.

There are two options for delivery. First, direct delivery by Royal Mail or UPS, where the order will be produced and shipped out directly to the member’s home address. However a shipping charge will be made.

Alternatively, we have a bulk order option. Select the ‘free shipping’ option. Orders are collated and shipped in bulk to one address and we will then hand them out at the next event. We are currently aiming for Manchester Champ Show as a realistic date for this option. There will still be a delivery charge but this would be shared between the collated orders, so we would expect that to just be a few pounds each.

As an introductory offer, the company behind the webshop are offering 10% off orders placed between now and midnight on 3 December! The reduced price is shown on the webpage.

Many thanks to Cathy Broomfield and Dave Rigby for sorting out designs and colours of clothing, and for finding the right supplier. Either Cathy or Dave can answer any queries you may have.

At next year’s AGM, Mark Straw will be standing down as the Club’s WT Secretary, and Dave Rigby will be stepping into the breach. We already have dates and locations for next year’s working tests, so you can put them in your diary and not miss out! The Spring WT weekend will be at Broadoak in Cumbria on 20/21 April 2024, where there will be a training day on the Saturday, followed by the test on the Sunday. Our trainers and judges will be Emma Stevens and Adam Peace. The Autumn WT will be held at club member Fleur Bament’s home in Somerset on 21/22 September 2024. Entry forms and further details will be on the Events page soon. 

Joy Middleton and I have just had a little trip under the Channel, then driven to the North of Holland to once again compete at the Dutch Winners show. With two days of shows we were hoping to complete the Dutch Championship title on Buoy (Sh Ch Arnac Weatherdeck Buoy) and on Hebe (Sh Ch Arnac Bay Hebe WCG), a goal that was achieved on the first day of the shows.
With Joy expertly handling both dogs under two different Dutch judges, each dog won top honours in their sex each day, topped by Hebe winning best of breed on both days.

Buoy and Hebe on their travels

Subject to confirmation, these wins also give Hebe the title of International Champion, having won over four CACIBs in three different European countries. Hebe is co-owned by myself and Joy. She lives with Joy who puts in all the work of training her and presenting her in the show ring, well muscled and in such great condition.

Christine Mayhew

Joy and Hebe
19 November 2023

Thanks to our Club’s breed health co-ordinator, Sue Worrall, we were made aware of the Kennel Club’s online interactive webinar about hip and elbow dysplasia in dogs.
Held this past Tuesday evening, it was well worth listening to.

Hosted by the Kennel Club, the speakers were the present head of the British Veterinary Association’s scrutineers, Dr Jerry Davies, and the incoming (2024) head scrutineer Mrs Elizabeth Baines.

Over 400 people registered for this informative session which threw light on the way in which the scrutineers evaluate the radiographs (X-rays) submitted to the BVA under the KC/BVA scheme to evaluate our dogs’ hip and elbow scores.

Dr Davies admitted that radiography was not ideal in diagnosing dysplasia, and that other imaging systems (MRI etc.) were more conclusive but seriously more expensive and would therefore prohibit the numbers of dogs included in the scheme. This quite obviously would defeat the object of trying to include the largest population of breeding dogs.

I was pleased that the scrutineers admitted that both HD and ED involve multifactorial complex genetics and can be also influenced by diet and exercise in puppies. An overweight pup, and one subjected to extreme exercise when its skeleton and joints are still soft, are prone to joint damage.

Our breed, numerically, has a great record of submissions to the hip dysplasia scheme and the Club records all results for both schemes, which are printed in the yearbook every year.

A further webinar will be discussing the BVA/KC eye scheme and is scheduled for the 28th of this month.

Several show results this week, from the far North in Scotland to the far South in Jersey. Last Saturday at the Gundog Association of Scotland show under judge Tony Rainey, Tracey Boyle’s Pixiesrock Mr Tumnus by Bleyos won 1st open and best of breed, and Lorna Murray’s Muireatai Teris Love went 1st in post graduate and reserve best dog. Then on the Sunday at Waverley Gundog Association under judge Jean Collins-Pitma, Lorna’s Takoda Nathan was 1st in AVNSC topping it off with a 2nd in the memorial stakes with a £4 prize!

Cathy Broomfield reports that Ruby (Glaneils Cut Your Groove) won Best of Breed at Merseyside Gundog Premier Open Show last Sunday under breed judge Tom Graham, with her kennel mate, Lyra (Glaneils Don’t Worry Be Happy) winning the Reserve Best of Breed. Lyra was also placed 3rd in the Reserve Best of Breed stakes judged by Ed Casey.

Meanwhile, way South at the Kennel Club of Jersey’s open show, Karen Preece and Tabatha (Tabatha of Potomac River) took Best of Breed and then went on to win Group 4 in the Gundog group. Karen reports the she is really happy about how Tabitha is coming on in confidence in the ring.

Karen's Tabitha

If we sail across the pond to the USA, Gina Downin and USA GrCh Weatherdeck Arnac Bay Gudgeon were also on form this weekend winning the veteran sweepstakes at the well supported KC of Philadelphia Show, then going on to win an Award of Merit in competition with the youngsters! Gudgeon is co-bred by me and Gina, and is litter sister to my Buoy.

Christine Mayhew

Gudgeon's rosettes
12 November 2023

Hot off the press … Yesterday, Broc, Sh Ch Migwell Solomon’s Puzzle, passed his Show Gundog Working Certificate, which now means he is a full champion and can drop the ‘Sh’ from his title. Big congratulations to breeder and handler, Caroline Griffin-Woods, and to Broc himself!

Congratulations Caroline and Broc, who was one of two retrievers to gain their SGWC and become full champions

The shooting season is now in full swing, be it grouse, pheasant, partridge, goose or duck. Yes, there are some I have missed out … the one that springs to mind being the little woodcock. Did I miss him out because I hated him being shot? I don’t know, but I do know that every time the dogs retrieved one and placed it in my hand, I looked at those lovely eyes and the little body and apologised to him/her.

Why we should mind one being shot above the other is debatable but I suppose one could follow on and ask why we are happy to kill pests and have no conscience about it? But I digress!

One of the reasons why this breed appealed to me when I was young was that it was one breed where the show dog and the working dog were 100% one and the same. There are very few breeds who can make the same claim and so many have a very noticeable division between the successful show dogs and those who are capable of doing a day’s work.

Many of our present-day show winners are busy this season picking up on the foreshore and on land. and many others who have never visited the show ring are also earning their keep. I thought this week we could pay a pictorial tribute to a few of those dogs. If yours is missing, please send me a photo.

Christine Mayhew

Richard's Tide
Hayden's Tilly
Joy, Debbie and Peter with Hebe, Indie and Mink
Anthony and Theo with Ebb
4 November 2023

At the recent Mid Herts Gundog Premier Open Show best of breed went to Caroline Pont’s Diva (Sh Ch Oakmarsh Dancing Diva) who then went on to be shortlisted in the best in show competition. Diva also won 1st in open AV retriever under a different judge and her kennelmate Chippy (Ch Penrose Hash Brown SGWC) won the field trial/working class.
Finally, two of Caroline’s, namely Chippy and Ani, won the brace class. A good day for Caroline who left the show with prize money, rosettes and a lanyard donated to the show by Test Valley Lanyards.

There was a good response from the old photographs shown in previous breed news and a request for more, so here we go:

As most will know, the origin of the breed is well documented (very few breeds have their history so well documented) and the story starts in 1807 when an English brig foundered in stormy weather off the eastern coast of Maryland. The crew were rescued by a US ship, Canton.

Taken off the ship at the same time were two Newfoundland dogs who, along with the ship’s cargo, were bound for Poole, Dorset. Although unrelated, these two dogs were never bred to each other but were destined to become the foundation of the breed we now know.

Smaller than our present day Newfoundland dogs, the male was a dingy red, the bitch black, both had short but very thick coats with longer hair on their tails, and both had light coloured eyes. The writers of that time raved about their ability in water, their perseverance and their incredible stamina when in pursuit of wounded or dead duck, geese and swans. The conditions that they worked in were harsh.

Obviously these traits were perfect for the local hunters and these two Newfoundlands were bred to the local retrieving dogs, including liver-coloured spaniels with a curly coat. The gentlemen landowners and shooters took great pride in improving the strain in order to produce the best dog for the job. Poor specimens were ruthlessly discarded from any breeding programme.

There is documented evidence that Irish Water Spaniels were included in the evolving breed, and photographic evidence that bloodhounds and/or coonhounds were introduced for their superior scenting ability.

Several types of dogs emerged and several names to match the dogs including The Chesapeake Duck Dog, The Bay Duck Dog, The Gunpowder River Dog or Otter Dog, The Red Winchester Ducking Dog, The Brown Winchester, and the Red Chester.

The first time the dogs were shown – in Baltimore in 1874 – they were show under the name of the Chesapeake Bay Duck Dog. Three different classifications were decided as acceptable by the gentlemen at that show, namely the otter dog, the straight-haired dog, and the curly-haired dog.

Eventually type became more standard, and in 1890 a comprehensive and well written standard was adopted by the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Dog Club.

These photographs show the differing coats as the dogs evolved and will give some explanation as to why we have some difference in coats today.

Of course there is far more to the history of this breed and for those seeking more information there are several good reference books listed on the About Chesapeakes page.

Christine Mayhew

29 October 2023

A few show results this week and, in order to save space and not to bore those who are not so interested in shows, I will only mention the major awards such as stakes wins, BOBs, etc., from open shows, and BOB, best puppy, reserve best of sex or CCs from championship shows. Any group placings or higher will be mentioned. Please note that whilst all champ show results are available to me online, I cannot report on any open show wins UNLESS I am notified of them.

South Western Gundog had an entry of six for the breed, and Lisa Murch took a pile of red rosettes home with Sh Ch Next Generations Arnac Arctic Storm, namely best of breed, 1st in AV open gundog (entry 11), 1st in special working gundog (entry 13), and 1st in AV Special Champion (entry 8). Not a bad day, especially considering that these awards were under three different judges.


United Retriever Club held it’s midweek open show this past Wednesday with a decent entry but sadly a lot of absentees. As is often the case these days, the day turned into a fun, social event.

Joy Middleton handled her jointly owned Sh Ch Arnac Bay Hebe to win best of breed, and whilst waiting for best in show, kindly held an impromptu handling class for a less experienced exhibitor.

Hebe doing a lap of honour with Joy

My own Sh Ch Arnac Weatherdeck Buoy had no veteran class in the breed classes but thrilled us all by winning the AV Veteran Stakes consisting of many dogs of all the retriever breeds (Golden, Labrador, Curly Coated, Flatcoated and Nova Scotia), again handled by Joy. This win gave him the Best Veteran in Show. It seems like only yesterday I flew him, as a pup born in the USA, home to England via France. For those who haven’t played the expensive game of importing dogs, this route is roughly half the price (or less) of flying directly into the UK.

Our own Caroline Griffin-Woods was judging Curly Coats on the day and her Best of Breed went on to win Best in Show, which, I am sure, would have been thrilling for Caroline.

Buoy winning Best Veteran in Show

Poor Fleur Bament had one of those horrible experiences that we all dread when her young, multi-talented Chessie, Chester, was hit by a truck in their farm yard. An accident where no one was to blame, Fleur didn’t see it happen, but heard the screaming.

There is nothing worse than that horrible screaming and I tragically have heard it with several dog accidents, usually in the shooting field, with my dogs getting caught and hanging on barbed wire, and two of my cockers breaking legs. It’s something no one wants to hear or experience.

Fleur's Chester after his accident

Luckily Chester has survived but has some serious injuries including multiple lacerations exposing tendons and, on one toe, the bone itself. A long road to recovery is ahead for this lad and his owner and I am sure that we all wish them well. How tragic that having just started his first shooting season, he is very likely going to miss the rest of it.

Not so lucky was a Chesapeake in Canada who was retrieving a sea duck for his owner when she was bitten by a juvenile great white shark about 8 foot long. The poor dog was roughly 20 feet from her owner’s boat, had grabbed the duck and turned to swim back when the shark erupted from below her, lifting her into the air and then pushing her down under the water. She subsequently bled to death from her injuries.

Although this incident was a very tragic event, it was very rare, and a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It reminded me though, of Millie Butcholz, a Chesapeake breeder and walking encyclopedia on the breed, telling me that when training in her home area in Florida they have to check for ‘gators’ before sending their dogs in the water. I didn’t quite comprehend this until she explained to me that she meant alligators! I was horrified!

The American Chesapeake Club is supporting the entry of Chesapeakes at the Maryland Sporting Dog Show on 2-3 March next year, which would be a great show to attend and visit the local area including the Chesapeake Bay with its wildfowling history and museums. The event is at the Howard County Fairgrounds, but don’t forget that it is Crufts the following weekend.

Janet Smith, who used to be a club member and active in the breed under her ‘Westering’ kennel name, was due to judge at our last championship show of the year, namely LKA at NEC Birmingham. She has had to pull out however and will now be replaced by Tracey Butler, who has owned one of the breed herself and is a very experienced judge of other breeds as well as ours.

Christine Mayhew

22 October 2023

At the recent Scottish Kennel Club October Championship Show, Lorna Murray and her Chesapeakes battled it out in the Any Variety Not Separately Classified classes against the other gundog breeds who did not have their own classes at this show. Team Muireatai put on a great show with Muireatai Miracle of Dreams winning first in Post Graduate, and Reserve Best Dog going to Takoda Nathan. Congratulations.

Goyt Valley Gundog Open Show had classes for Chesapeakes with Mr Bryan MCCabe-Bell judging. A very delighted David Rigby won best of breed with his fowling dog Gunnar (Chesepi Waco) and although the breed entry was small, Gunnar went on to get shortlisted in the best in show challenge. David says ‘Very pleased with Gunnar’s performance. We got some good comments as left the ring from other spectators.’ It is so nice to know that our breed is regularly being shortlisted these days as there was a time when best in show judges never gave them so much as a glance. Well done Dave.

I had an email this week to let me know that Earl (Doublecoats Earl at Arnac) had passed away at the age of nearly 14. I feel as an important influence on the breed, Earl needs to be mentioned in BNW.

I imported Earl from Sweden when he was a pup. His dam was a daughter of Swedish Champion Arnac Bay Sussex who came from a whole litter of lovely dogs, and Earl provided new lines from Redlions kennel (USA) and Blaesborg kennel (Denmark).

I showed him at the Swedish Chesapeake Show where he won best puppy in show and then drove him back to the UK via Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Holland, a trip I was familiar with having already driven the same route to collect Doublecoats Huckleberry Finn four years before.

Earl was a great tempered dog who loved all people and other dogs. He settled into life on the farm, learnt his lessons well and joined my picking up team.

Earl winning Best Puppy in Show in Sweden

Everyone loved him and I thought would be a keeper, however all that was to change. We were out picking up one day and, as a young dog, I was being careful about which birds he picked. Unfortunately whilst hunting in some thick brambles there was some sort of ‘incident’ where he came back with a very strong cock runner, something I had been hoping to avoid. I can only assume that this bird fought back strongly with his spurs as from that day onwards Earl would find the birds, no problem, but would deftly remove their heads before retrieving to hand!

When it first happened I thought it was a one-off, but no, something in his brain told him that he would be safer with a headless bird and so he removed every one. I tried everything to cure him of the habit but to no avail. It was so frustrating as in every other way, he was the perfect gundog and the sweetest personality.

When you are being paid to pick up on commercial shoots, as I was, there are only so many headless birds that you can hand over to the game cart. He never damaged a bird’s body which was good, but no keeper and no game dealer wants headless birds.

With most of my winter months spent picking up on commercial shoots with a team of dogs, I had to make the decision whether to keep a dog that was going to sit in a kennel while I was out (4 or 5 days a week) or whether to re-home him.

The last chance I gave him I remember vividly. He had gone a long distance across a field at Petworth, down a steep bank into the river and clambered back up the bank to bring the bird back. I thought we had made it as he came cantering back with a cock pheasant, complete with head. Then, half way back, in full view, he stopped, put the bird down, pulled its head off and returned with the rest. I could have cried.

As it happened, a couple with a young family came to see some pups and immediately fell in love with Earl and he with them. And so they went home with a young adult dog, Earl. Happily these lovely people were to be his family for the rest of his years. I quote a portion of the email from his owner who told me of his passing.

He didn’t quite make it to 14 years old but he had a long run and, until the last few days, was still happy to potter about in the park. He had arthritis, and could barely see (due to a corneal condition) but he remained strong, if a bit wobbly, determined and ridiculously affectionate with family, friends and strangers.

We moved from Sussex to Kenilworth in 2014. Earl was never a fan of pebbly beaches and was very happy to be able to access wooded common land only a 5 minute walk from our house. He spent many years on the school run and gained something of a fan club at the school gates. It was not uncommon for parents and children to explain that they didn’t like dogs “except Earl”, because they trusted him and just couldn’t resist giving him a cuddle.

As his walks got slower it would take longer and longer to get round the route, not just because of his speed but because everyone else walking a dog felt the need to respond to his desire for stroking and attention.

I was quite distraught this weekend, the house feels so empty, but I took great comfort from reviewing your Arnac website. We looked through your list of dogs and, upon reading “she will make a beeline to say hello” (Flax) I thought she must be related to Earl. Reading about Flax and Curlew it is good to know his personality lives on and I was overjoyed to see the little white star on Curlew’s chest. It reminded me of an incident at the Weald and Downland museum when another Chessie owner asked if our dog was “one of Earl’s”. They were terribly impressed to find out he was the original. We always knew he was a star but it’s nice to know other people think so too.

Earl sired four litters: the Arnac C and D litter, and the Chesepi P and Q litter. His line goes through his daughters, Caroline Griffin-Wood’s Arla, dam of Broc, Molly’s Cola, dam of many Chesepi dogs including David Rigby’s Gunnar, and through Curlew to my own Flax and her kids, Katy’s Thor, Sue’s Inca … and many more. I’m sure that many of you will find his name way back in your dog’s pedigree.

Earl was a nice looking dog with a fantastic coat, but I think his greatest contribution to the breed as a sire was his superb temperament which could not be bettered, a trait that he passed on to his sons and daughters.

Entries for the Club Shows in March 2024 are now open! You will find more info and links to the entry details on the Shows page.

Christine Mayhew

15 October 2023

With no news that I know of, and none sent my way, I thought that this week we would have a pictorial history of Chesapeake dogs.

Many of the early dogs looked more like a smaller version of the original Newfoundlands that they originated from, and had longer coats than we normally see today. The introduction of some Irish Water Spaniel blood in some lines would also have contributed to the longer coat.

Two pictures of Earl Henry’s strain of Chesapeakes from the 1880s: two dogs in a boat waiting to retrieve any shot birds, and Earl Henry himself with one of his dogs. As a real enthusiast of the breed, Earl Henry’s name can be found in many historic articles on the breed.
This one is from 1909 in Washington State where they have obviously been hunting on horseback: the hide of some type of deer is draped across the horse's rump, and another hide is hanging over a pole near the cabin.
From 1915 with a dog in the snow and the caption: ‘He is not a runty, spindly fellow, but is blocky and big and husky.’ An interesting observation as whilst this is really nice looking dog, I wouldn’t describe him as blocky ... but language changes over the years.
1900s and a deadgrass dog with a man in a flat cap. The dog looks just like some of ours today and shows that the deadgrass colour has been in the breed for many years.
1955 and this lady, dressed for the era, has taught her Chesapeake to ‘shake hands’.
A lovely sepia photo of a rather smart man in hat with waistcoat and watch demonstrating that the breed was not only popular with the market hunters, but also with the rather more wealthy gentlemen, as those who have read up on the breed will know (Carrolls Island Duck Club).
1906 and this dog gets to sit in the car!
Pride of Maxwell, 1887

And last, but very much not least, Pride of Maxwell (1887), a lovely example of the breed even then.

I have many more in my collection – many thanks to Dyane Baldwin for supplying the vast majority when we were compiling the KC judges seminar. If anyone is interested in seeing more like this, please shout and we can do more in BNW.

Christine Mayhew


We are very lucky in our breed in as much as the original standard, drawn up many years ago, was decided upon by a group of American shooting gentlemen in 1890 and was described even at that time as very well written and very comprehensive. Whilst the wording of the standard has been tweaked and adapted to modern day language, it remains very true to those original words and provides a blueprint for what our breed should look like. You can find the breed standard on the About Chesapeakes page.

What is most impressive is that our Chesapeake standard is a blueprint for a wildfowling dog and, as one would design a racing car for speed, and a tractor for strength and functionality, so our dogs are perfectly designed for the job of work that they were bred to do.

The standard asks for a dog with courage, a love of water, and a desire to retrieve. It describes an active worker with a strong muscular appearance. The muzzle should be of sufficient length to carry a goose, the ears well set up on head to keep them out of the water, the neck of a length to reach out of the water to see a shot bird, or his handler.

His chest needs to be well developed to give heart and lung room, both his fore and hindquarters strong with good bone and muscle to give the power for swimming and on land. His feet are well webbed, again for swimming (and will assist him when wading through thick mud on the foreshore). And his coat, well all colours that will blend with his surroundings but most of all his coat has to keep him warm between retrieves, so this is very important. His coat is described as “a distinctive feature. Coat should be thick and reasonably short, not over 4 cm (1½ in) long, with a harsh, oily, outer coat and a dense, fine, woolly undercoat covering the whole body … Oil in harsh coat and woolly undercoat of extreme value. Coat should resist water.”

I am sure that most reading this will have already read the breed standard when they were thinking about getting one of this lovely breed, but did you realise that the dogs in the show ring were judged on this standard and that the working dogs and show dogs are one and the same?

This is one of the reasons why I love this breed as so many other gundog breeds have divided into two types. The show Labrador often resembles a coffee table in its width and lack of athleticism, whereas the field trial Labrador is losing bone and substance to the point that is doesn’t resemble those original dogs one sees in sporting paintings. Of course there are exceptions, and I admire the breeders who have persevered to keep the breed as one.

So the next time you see a photo of a UK ‘show’ Chesapeake, compare it in your mind’s eye to the standard that you have read, and you will realise that this has all the qualities of a working dog … and most of them DO work!

Likewise if you and your dog do not win the top prize in the show ring, instead of blaming bad judging or making accusations of cheating (as a small few have been known to do), try looking at the winners and you might realise that they actually fit that breed standard better than your dog. That does not make your dog bad, nor unworthy; it just means that the judge compared your dog to the standard and considered another dog fit that standard better on that day.

Christine Mayhew

1 October 2023

As promised last week, here are the results and report on the Autumn working test that took place last weekend.

This was the last test being run by our present working test secretary, Mark Straw, who stepped into the role ‘temporarily’ some few years ago. Thank you Mark.

Held at the increasingly popular gundog training ground of Roanlodge, near Buxton, the test ground was typical of what I consider to be sheep grazing country and certainly challenges the dogs. Far more civilised at this venue is the availability of a toilet (a luxury at working tests) and a water urn for constant tea and coffee available in the barn – another real luxury.

Cathy and Vincent talking to our host Lesley

The weather was thick fog which luckily cleared. Trainers and judges were Lisa Coates and Brian Chesser, both straight talking folk who put the dogs through their paces on the first day, offering advice to all.

Sue Worrall has provided this information:

The ground was grassy moorland, with ditches, fences and drystone walls. The weather was dry and clear for the training session on the Saturday, but we all arrived at the test on Sunday in thick fog. The strong wind changed direction constantly, but at least it blew the fog away. Despite the conditions, everyone was smiling all weekend.

Kevin and Zoar

The puppy, beginner and open tests were all similar but with increasing levels of difficulty. The first test for puppy was a mark over a fence, followed by a memory in the same area. The beginners did the same test but with a longer distance. The open dogs moved to a different starting point where they were sending the dogs uphill so the dogs could not see where the dummies landed due to the tall vegetation.

The second test was a marked retrieve in a small open area, downhill, but the dogs had to go through thick cover, over a ditch and through more cover to get to it. If the dogs didn’t mark it, it was very difficult to get them onto it.

We then stopped for lunch as everyone was wet and windswept. After lunch we had the water retrieves, which were from a small pond with the dogs were sent about 100 yards back from the bank.

Mark and Anthony with Ebb

The landowners were amazing. Not only did they come and watch, throw dummies for us and provide refreshments, they also gave lifts to three of our handlers who were struggling with the rough terrain. Huge thanks to Lesley and Chris.

Our judges were just great. They made it clear before the test started how they would be scoring, and were a calming influence when you walked up to the line with your jelly legs. Afterwards they said that they thoroughly enjoyed watching our dogs and the camaraderie between owners.

Anthony and Ebb, Caroline and Broc, Debbie and Ramses await their turn to run

And to the results. There was only one entry in Puppy, and this was won by Petros, owned and handled by Vincent Acheson. 

Onto the Beginner test where as usual the entries were the highest with nine dogs. Sadly only one award was made here and this was Franeo Fowlers Lone Ranger, owned and handled by Dave Compton.

The Unclassified Open had 7 entries and more successful runs, ending with first place going to Arnac Bay Inca owned and handled by a delighted Sue Worrall (Christine Mayhew co-owner). This duo only lost two points in the whole series of tests. Second place went to Petsalls Pride Canuck (Zoar), owned and handled by Kevin Amaira, and third place to Show Champion Arnac Bay Harvest, owned and handled by David Thompson.

A big congratulations to all those in the awards but win or lose, by all accounts it was a fun, friendly weekend – as usual with our club tests.

David and Breeze

Judge’s Choice was awarded to Vincent Acheson’s puppy, Petros, who was just a few days short of 18 months old. 

A new trophy was awarded for the first time at this test – the Kes Cup – presented in memory of Kes (Lateshift Nightshine) to the dog aged 8 years or over with the highest points. The Kes Cup was awarded to Carole Harris’s  Migwell Deutsher Passion. 

Fleur and Chester
Caroline and Broc
Sue and Inca

Molly Barker has been serving on our committee in various ways, more ‘recently’ as secretary of the Club. I write recently in commas as I cannot remember Molly not being our secretary, it has been so many years! All good things come to an end however, and Molly has decided that the time has come at nearly 82 years of age (and she certainly doesn’t look it) to hand the ropes over to someone younger with more of a ‘computer’ brain. A lot of us will know the feeling of being so non-tech!

Molly is carrying on until the next AGM in February 2024 when she will also retire from the committee but remain in the background should anyone in the Club need help in any way. Which I am sure we will. I know this won’t be the first time this is said but thank you so much Molly for so many years of service to the Club.

Another secretary who has just retired from the role is the American Chesapeake Club secretary, Gina Downin, who many of us know personally. Gina has now been elected vice-president of the ACC and I am sure I speak for all in the UK who know her when I say a big congratulations. I am sure that she will fulfil her new role in her normal efficient and diplomatic manner.

Christine Mayhew


24 September 2023

Sharon Augustus reports that this week two of her Bea’s daughters have been awarded best of breed – in two different continents! In Australia the winner was Sharbae Rose of Tenarda who was also shortlisted in the group, and then Sharon’s Sharbae Prettiest Star this side of the world at the Isle of Wight Gundog club open show where she also won two variety classes! I doubt that many can make that claim!

Sharbae Rose of Tenarda

Working Minority Retriever Test and thank you to Debbie Herring for this report

Last Sunday saw the last working test of the season for the Working Minority Retriever Club held at Crouch Farm, Swindon and run in partnership with the UK Irish Water Spaniel Association.

There were 18 entries in total: 4 Chesapeakes, 7 Flatcoats and 7 Irish Water Spaniels. The judges were Ken Green and Neil Varney.

Our Kennel Club panel judge, Ken, started the day with a chat about the importance of reading and understanding the Kennel Club J Regulations before a test and also had a chat regarding allowing dogs to go to toilet during a test.  Thoughts on this area tend to vary from judge to judge, but his take was that dogs could be trained to wee on command and it is the owners’ responsibility to encourage dogs to relieve themselves before each test, so stopping for a wee but continuing to hold the dummy would be an automatic 5 point deduction (other judges on the circuit score 0 for weeing), however dogs weren’t trained to poop on command so he would allow a stop for a poop so long as the dog did not place the dummy down. I would be interested to hear other people’s views on whether they consider this to be fair or not. It is a difficult thing to prevent if a ground has been marked by dogs on previous runs.  

Vroni Royle and Togo made their debut into the working test world, competing in Novice Dog/Novice Handler and did a great job. Although not in the awards, they learnt a lot and received some positive feedback from the judges.  

Both my Indie and Fleur’s Chester were having an off day and I think both would have preferred to be on a proper shoot rather than hunting the woods for dummies.

Success for the Chessies came in the form of Peter Clark and Arnac Bay Ibis (Mink) who were awarded a highly respectable Certificate of Merit in the open class.   

Award winners at the Working Minority Breeds Test

A fun day was had by all, meeting friends old and new and comparing notes and training ideas. I love that all owners are as happy to share in celebrations as they are to offer commiserations when things don’t quite go to plan. That is what a great club is all about. Thankfully the rain held off until we were all back at the marquee for tea and cakes whilst the judges totted up their scores. It was a lovely day out.

A recent show report from Lorna Murray was missed from my notes and so I include it this time. Apologies to Lorna who says it was a lovely day at North Riding Gundog Club show where Lorna says the weather was kind. Lorna showed her Chesapeakes under judge Mr Graeme Hughes. Muireatai Miracle of Dreams went reserve best of breed, with Muireatai Teris Love taking the top honour of best of breed. Jane Eyeington judged the stakes and the Chessies represented the breed and also took several awards there.

Debbie Herring, Peter Clarke and Joy Middleton have been doing a great job of flying the flag for the breed again participating in the gundog demonstrations at South of England show and horse trials this weekend. All exposure of the breed at these sort of events can only do the Chesapeakes good and opens up enquiries from working gundog and country people which, as we all know, are the perfect homes for our breed. Well done guys and gals.

Meanwhile at the Kennel Club of Jersey, Karen Preece showed her young girt Taba to win best of breed and then 2nd in the retriever class. Added to this was a 3rd in the handling class. Congratulations from all of us on the mainland Karen!

Karen's Taba
As I write, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club’s autumn working tests are under way – full report next week!
Christine Mayhew
17 September 2023

Sharon Augustus and Isla (Sharbae Prettiest Star) last weekend attended a Rally weekend on the Isle of Wight. Sharon reports:

The weather was boiling hot on Saturday and we had two rounds, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Isla was focused in me and scored the same 196 in both rounds. On Sunday, in the morning round it poured with rain she scored 189 but she wasn’t quite so focused. In the afternoon the sun came out and she scored her best round to date, 202. A brilliant weekend, lots of cake and good company.

Fantastic results. Congratulations to this team, representing the breed in a crowd of other breeds.

Isla with her Rally rosettes

Someone posed a riddle to me this week, namely Carole Harris who asked, “What do you get if you mix a Chesapeake asleep on the floor and too many tequilas?” I was assuming the tequila drinker was Carol herself and I was right! Well the answer was: a broken rib! It transpired that Carole had walked up the garden in the pitch black, fallen over her Chesapeake, Leibe, who was asleep, and landed on the edge of the fire pit, which was alight! Carole adds, “I’m lucky that I still have hair!” And the motto of this story is maybe only drink tequila if you have a deadgrass Chesapeake that shows up in the dark?

Carole and Leibe

Only one show to report on this week and that is Darlington Championship where there were Challenge Certificates on offer. Not a great entry for this show with 14 dogs on the day. Judge G Haran (who judged the gundog group at Crufts this year) chose Mayhew and Middleton’s Sh Ch Arnac Bay Hebe for his bitch CC and best of breed, and her litter brother, Sh Ch Arnac Bay Huron for the dog CC (owners Mahon and Newton).

Reserve dog CC was Boyles’ Pixiesrock Mr Tumnus by Bleyos, and reserve bitch CC was Watt’s Oakmarsh Acorn who also won the best veteran.

Hebe with her Darlington Show rosettes

The entries have now closed for the club’s Autumn working tests and we have 19 dogs running, which is a great entry and well worth attending to watch even if you are not running. The tests are next weekend, on the Staffs/Derbyshire border. All details are on the Events page.

The American Chesapeake Club’s specialty show in Salt Lake City, Utah, is just coming to an end, with best of breed going to Next Generations This is My Land, a lovely looking bitch (from the photos) sired by Sandbars Hardcore Hank and out of Next Generations Black Diamond who was produced from frozen semen from Dill (my Arnac Bay Ardent) that I sent to the USA some years back. The best opposite went to Next Generations Accelerate who is a grandson of Black Diamond. So it’s nice to know that there is some British blood behind the winners!

Christine Mayhew

Next Generations winners at the ACC Specialty this week
10 September 2023

Fantastic news for Fleur Bament and for the breed is that Chester (Pixiesrock Maestro Cadenza) has just passed his Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate.

Chester was bred by Lisa Murch out of Chesepi Utica and sired by Lisa’s dog Franeo Original Long Gunner at Pixiesrock, and Fleur has been doing great things with him in working competition, and at the shows. Interestingly enough he is also an appointed volunteer therapy dog. Many strings to his bow and really demonstrating the versatility of this breed. Well done Fleur for putting in the work to achieve all of these goals.

Fleur and Chester

Several championship show results recently, none with CCs for our breed so no chance for an award towards a champion. First, Driffield in the North, and Annette Mappin of Gordon Setter fame handled Molly Barker’s dog Sh Ch Next Generations Chesepi Range Rider (Ryder) through best dog to win best of breed and best veteran. It’s great to know that we have a new Chessie handler on the block!

Best veteran bitch was Cathy and Simon Broomfield’s Sh Ch Petsalls Pride Beech at Glaneils who also won best bitch. The oldies are definitely showing the youngsters a thing or two recently. Cathy and Simon also won reserve in both sexes.

At the City of Birmingham Show, the Kennel Club were holding Good Citizen tests where Peter Clarke handled his and Leslie’s young bitch, Mink (Arnac Bay Ibis) to pass both her Gold and Silver awards (she already has her bronze). Peter says in a jovial way, “She actually did very well, the examiner said she was one of the best he’d tested, the real good news is that we will not need to go to the Birmingham show again!” As Peter’s interest is more gundog work than beauty, I fully understand his sentiments!

Back to the beauty ring though and Cathy and Simon are really doing well with their dogs, with best of breed at this show going to their Glaneils Daydream Believer (Chilli). Likewise Molly by winning best dog again with Ryder who also won best veteran. Reserves in both sexes being won again by another two of Cathy and Simon’s dogs.

Peter and Mink

Norfolk and Norwich Canine Society held an open show where Joy Middleton judged several breeds including Chesapeakes, awarding her best of breed to Jason and Julie Hayes’s young male Tideflight Floki.

Meanwhile, Floki’s mother Tide has been doing the job the breed evolved for, namely wildfowling. This time with Jason’s son Jack who at the age of 13 is proving a good shot, bringing down two geese for Tide to retrieve.

Theo Ciraolo, also aged 13, was another young shot out on the marsh with dad Anthony and Chesapeake Ebb, giving Ebb some work on Geese. It makes me so happy that these dogs are doing the very job they love and so very happy that the next generation are being brought up to continue with this sport and with a love of the breed.

Jason's son Jack with Tide
Anthony and Theo with Ebb

The last show report of this week is from the recent Richmond Dog Show, this time in the South at Guildford. Again no CCs. Best of breed went to Darren Davies-Jones handling Dallandor Jocasta (Freja), co-owned by him and partner Jo Coppin who had travelled a long way for the judge D Alcorn. Best dog went to my own Buoy who was the only male there on the day! Best veteran and reserve best bitch was my own Sh Ch Arnac Bay Flax.

Christine Mayhew


3 September 2023

First, a reminder that our Autumn Working Test is fast approaching and with entries closing on the 15 September, don’t forget to get yours in. With classes for puppy, novice dog/novice handler, beginner, and unclassified open, there is a class to suit every standard of dog and experience.

If you have never run in a working test before, why not come along and enter the Novice Dog/Novice Handler class? Or volunteer to help out, to see what goes on (and you can enter next time!). We always need helpers – no prior experience necessary.

We're a friendly group

The date is 23rd for a training day and 24th for the actual test. The venue is Roanlodge Gundog Training Centre, on the Staffs/ Derbyshire border near Buxton just off the A53 (nearest postcode SK17 OTB). All details are on the Events page, where you can download an entry form, training booking form and all the info you need.

Trainers for the Saturday are Lisa Coates and Brian Chesser who will also be the judges for the test the next day so they will be helping you to do your best.


For those wishing to camp or bring caravans, several Chesapeake people have booked into Four Trees caravan and campsite, postcode SK11 0PH. All is set for a fun weekend, training and testing our dogs together, so we hope you can join us.

Lisa Murch made her judging debut this last weekend at Hampshire Gundog premier open show and it was lovely to see a Chesapeake person judging at an open show, especially as Lisa has come up ‘through the ranks’ having taken every opportunity to learn via breed seminars, and through showing and working her own dogs. So often we have people who judge other breeds being given our breed to judge as an ‘also’.

Lisa chose for her best of breed, Sharon Augustus’s homebred Sharbae Prettiest Star who I feel has often been overlooked in the past. Reserve best of breed was another homebred dog, this time a lovely young male, Tideflight Floki, owned and bred by Jason and Julie Hayes, handled by Julie.

Sharbae Prettiest Star and Tideflight Floki

Horley Open Show clashed with Hampshire Gundog, which was a great shame as the entries for open shows are never that great in numbers and a clash means a reduced entry for each show. This time the judge, Howard Ogden, normally a toy breed judge, found his best of breed with Ms Watt’s Oakmarsh Acorn and reserve with Mayhew and Middleton’s Sh Ch Arnac Bay Hebe.

It was great to see that the Gundog Journal this month had used two full pages to include Debbie Herring’s report on the minority breed competition at the Game Fair. Well done to Debbie for taking the initiative to send in a report and photos. All publicity for this type of competition showcasing our breed is good publicity, especially as the dogs and handlers performed so well.

The American Chesapeake Club is in the throws of an election for board members and officers. Facebook is full of supporters of one candidate or another battling out their preferences and I almost feel as though this is a US presidential election. How different it is in our UK club where very rarely is there more than one candidate for any vacancy. In this instance I feel that it is preferable to be a small club and avoid all the battles!

Christine Mayhew