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.

25 February 2024

A quick but important veterinary note for your information is that Xylitol, the sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs is now being labelled as ‘birch sugar’. Although this has been used as a sugar substitute for decades, its popularity has increased dramatically in the last decade. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of Xylitol can cause hyperglycaemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, or even death in dogs. So if you use products containing this substance (chewing gum, for instance), make sure they are stored safely out of reach of your dogs.

The latest Chesapeake Chat and yearbook is now printed and ready to be distributed. The editor, Joy Middleton, will be taking copies to Crufts and to the club show for people to collect in person. Any that are not collected at these events will be sent out but all collected will naturally save the Club in postage so please look up Joy on the Chesapeake benches at Crufts or at the club show.

Also available at both events will be the new UK Book of Champions which gives details of ALL UK show champions since the breed was awarded CCs and able to make up Champions. Each page names the dog, gives its pedigree, details of where and when it won its championship qualification awards, and every dog bar a very few, has a photograph or more. This is a great source of information for now and for years to come and will be of interest to every Chesapeake enthusiast. More so, it will be a fantastic resource for those who like to study history and pedigrees of the dogs or for anyone thinking of breeding or just looking up their own dog’s relatives. So much information is lost over the years if it is not documented. Copies of the book can be obtained or ordered from Joy who spent many hours compiling this and will be offering them for sale at £15 each.

Book of Champions cover

Show news and at the Dukeries Gundog Club’s Premier open show James Newton handled his and Maddie Mahon’s Gus (Sh Ch Arnac Bay Huron at Bergelle) to take best of breed and then go Group 3 for best in show from 26 other gundog breeds. Reserve best of breed and best puppy in breed was Maddie, Joy and Robyn’s young import, Hudson, quite an achievement for one so young! Congratulations all.

James and Gus
James and Gus
Puppy Hudson peeking
Maddie, Joy and Robyn's Hudson

Fantastic news from Sweden is that the judge for their club show this year is our very own committee member and judges co-ordinator James Newton. James is now passed (certified) by our Royal Kennel Club to award Challenge Certificates in Chesapeakes, Gordon Setters and German Shepherds, and this will be his first overseas judging appointment for Chesapeakes. The Swedish Club Show is on 27 July for anyone wishing to incorporate a holiday in Sweden with a dog show. The event is normally attended by Chesapeake enthusiasts and exhibitors from all the Scandinavian countries and from other European countries as well. I am sure that James, being a Chesapeake owner and exhibitor himself, will draw a great entry, as did our UK judge and breeder, Caroline Griffin-Woods when she judged in Sweden last year.

Swedish Chesapeake Show

Wildfowlers take note – there is a special class for you and your dogs at the upcoming club show on 31 March. Camouflage gear optional but it would be fun – please join in. Entries on the day or in advance (links to the show entries are on the Shows page). Anyone not knowing how to enter, send me an email or FB message – Chrissie Arnac Mayhew, and I or one of the committee can talk you through or do the entries on your behalf. Last year we had some first-time handlers who had a great time and some good laughs (Steve Camoccio). The club show is like that, very friendly, fun, and not too serious, with Chesapeake owners from all over the UK joining in. Come along even if you don’t want to enter your dog in the show. You will have a fun time.

This year we have another great cake made by the talented Julie Gifford and gallons of bucks fizz that needs drinking on the day before the bubbles fade. The Hungarian Wire-haired Vizsla Club is sharing a hall with us and we are sharing catering facilities with them with Eliza Jade Catering. Once again there are masses of goodies for the classes sponsored by Sporting Saint (gundog equipment), Josera dog food, Acme whistles, the rosette shed, Variare leads and collars, and many others. A scurry, a photobooth, a raffle and another great auction, it promises to be a fantastic show once again.

The judge for the Championship Show is Mike Blay who, us oldies will remember, used to handle a Chesapeake for Sandy Hastings back in the day when he was a youth handler. Mike is now an all-round gundog judge but has continued to be interested in the breed and has judged them many times before at both open and championship level.

Entries close on 11 March for the regular show classes.

Please note – the spring working test information and entry details are now available to download from the Events page.

Christine Mayhew

18 February 2024

News from Cumbria where Debbie Crewe’s imported lad, Ramses (Chesarab Saltmarsh WGC) has passed his Kennel Club Good Citizens Gold award. This is the highest level in the Good Citizen scheme and is not handed out willy nilly, so a big congratulations to Debbie and Ramses. Details of the scheme can be found on the KC website.

Whilst in the North, the Club’s spring working test now has a fabulous new venue. With a training day to be held on Saturday 20 April, and the tests the next day, our trainers and judges are Emma-Louise Stevens and Adam Peace who many of you may already know.

Our working test secretary, Dave Rigby, writes:

The training day and tests will be held just outside the Cumbrian village of Brough with its old castle ruin. The location is shortly after the village heading east on the B6276. The farm where it is being held is at the bottom of a steep farm track with camping available behind one of the barns.
There is a variety of terrain, from flat fields to steeply banked ravines and a fast flowing stream to make for interesting training and tests.

To add to experience, there are roe deer wandering around the farm with sheep, horses, hens and peacocks. Along with the farm dogs it is essential our dogs are kept on leads in the grounds when not training or competing in the tests.
There will be a pub meal arranged for the Saturday evening.

Ramses the Chesapeake
Debbie's Ramses

Entry forms and all the information you need to come along and join in will be on the website shortly.

So everyone, now is the time to get your dogs accustomed to peacocks although I am sure they will stay well away from the tests! I can remember one time on Chilgrove shoot when I was quietly standing on a track during the drive, marking birds down and sending for runners, when suddenly this ‘thing’ landed in the bushes beside me. Yes, a full grown peacock. It gave me a big surprise as I was expecting pheasants, not peacocks. The dogs looked pretty surprised too! Luckily the bird regained its composure and ambled away seemingly uninterested in the likes of us and we returned to concentrating on the real thing! On asking about it later, I discovered that a very large and impressive house not too far away had several just wandering loose on the South Downs.

Show news and at Barrow and District Kennel Association’s Centenary Open Show, Cathy Broomfield showed Lyra (Glaniells Don’t Worry Be Happy) to best of breed, with David Rigby handling his dark brown dog, Gunnar (Chesepi Waco) to reserve best of breed.

Roll onto United Retriever Club’s open show held last Wednesday at the Kennel Club Buildings, Stoneleigh, and what a day for our breed. The United Retriever Club has been in existence for as long as I can remember and caters for the six retriever breeds in the UK, namely the Labradors, Goldens, Curly Coats, Flatcoats, Nova Scotia Duck Tollers, and the Chesapeake Bays. The Club holds field trials, working tests, and has two open shows and one Championship show every year.

With 242 dogs of the retriever breeds entered for the show on the day, we started off with the Chesapeake classes where Hebe (Sh Ch and International Ch. Arnac Bay Hebe WGC ShCEx EW22) won best of breed with her daughter Jelli (Arnac Bay Jellicoe) winning best puppy. Cathy Broomfield handled her own Max (Glaneills Count on Me) to win the best opposite sex and reserve best of breed.

Chesapeake at dog show
Kirsty winning Best Veteran in Show

Next up the variety classes where all of the retriever breeds are eligible to enter and compete against each other. The best in show judge will go through these classes and our breed’s first success was in the brace class where Joy Middleton bravely handled Hebe and her daughter, Jelli, trotting along together and threatening to have a good rough and tumble game in the middle of their performance, which is what many of us expected and were looking forward to seeing. However they stayed on track and won!

URC Brace class
Joy with Hebe and Jelli in the brace class

Kirsty Watts was the next one to fly the flag by winning the special working class and then best veteran (which automatically gave her best veteran in show) with Oakmarsh Acorn VW SGWC.

Onto best in show where the six best of breed dogs challenged each other and, much to our surprise and elation, the judge Carole Coode picked Hebe for best in show. A great celebration for me and Joy as owners, and for all of our friends who stayed to watch Joy handle her to perfection. Another tick in the box for the breed.

Christine Mayhew

Joy with Hebe winning Best in Show
11 February 2024

It has been necessary to change the venue for this year’s CBRC spring working test, which will now be held at Brough, near Penrith in Cumbria. Full details of the venue will be in next week’s BNW and on the Events page, from where entry forms will also be available to download early next week.

The entries are now all in for Crufts Dog Show to be held at the National Exhibition Centre over four days starting on Thursday 7 March, with our gundog day being Friday 8 March. Our judge Dr R W James is an all-round judge who judges many different breeds and was in fact due to judge Best in Show at Crufts in 2019. A retired veterinary surgeon, and beagle breeder, he pulled out of judging on that occasion due to his previous association with a medical research establishment. I believe that he has judged our breed three times before at championship level although he judges many other breeds in all groups.

Whilst I personally would always prefer a breed specialist or gundog judge, Crufts, by virtue of its fame, will always draw a good entry and this year we have an entry of 65 Chesapeakes. Entries made by our breed total 94 including second classes entered and, of course, the gamekeeper classes where last year’s show saw Chesapeakes winning both the dog and bitch classes for Any Retriever Other Than Labrador.

We are first in the ring (Ring 36 in Hall 5) so an early start. The gamekeeper classes are normally in the adjacent rings which is perfect for those having to dash between the two. Spanish Water Dogs follow us in the ring. A great social event, Crufts is always worth a visit with so many trade stands and many other competitions, from flyball to agility and obedience, and there is too much to take in on one day alone.

Other show news from Cathy Broomfield who is flying the flag for the breed and says

We have had local Gundog open shows for two weekends in a row. First of all Border Counties where Max was awarded best of breed under judge Jim Richardson. Then last weekend at Merseyside Gundog where Max was best of breed and his sister Ruby was reserve under judge Jane Howarth. This was topped by the variety classes where both dogs gained second places in big classes of limit and open respectively.
Max, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Cathy and Simon's Max

Hudson is a male puppy recently imported from Robyn Haskins in the USA and is owned jointly by Robyn, Maddie Mahon-Hunns and Joy Middleton. At only 6 months old, Hudson recently went best puppy in breed at Isle of Ely Open Show and then went on to win Puppy Group 2. A couple of weeks later and Hudson went to Stoke on Trent Gundog Show where he not only went best puppy in breed but also best of breed! A bright future for this young lad and, looking to the future, some new bloodlines for the breed in this country.

Puppy Chesapeake Bay Retriever at a dog show
Maddie, Joy and Robyn's recently imported puppy Hudson

Sad news from Richard Playle is that he has lost his old dog, Sh Ch Riptide Beaver after a short illness. Beaver was bred by Richard from Riptide Islaurona, and she was sired by Riverrun Away In A Hack.

Born in June 2011, Beaver was a lovely looking Chesapeake who earned and easily deserved the title of Show Champion. Like so many of the breed, Beaver was also a fantastic working dog, heading out to the marshes of Essex and beyond on so many of Richard’s wildfowling trips.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever at a dog show
Richard's Beaver

Tilly tells me that Beaver was the most determined scavenger, hunting out anything edible around the farm, and emptying any refuse bag she could find. There is even a story of when some campers put a bag on the roof of a car, assuming it would be out of reach from Beaver. Wrong! She managed to climb onto the roof where she happily laid down and sorted through her ‘treasure’.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever retrieving from water
Beaver doing what she loved best

A great life for a great dog but it is always sad when they leave us. Our thoughts go out to Richard and his family. Happy hunting geese and garbage across the rainbow bridge, Beaver.

Christine Mayhew

4 February 2024

An exciting last weekend for me. I had been invited by the Norwegian Retriever Club to give a seminar about the breed to their judges and student judges. So it was that I flew out of Heathrow to Oslo last Friday.

I landed in a thick snow covered airport with snow still falling at an impressive rate (the airport was later closed for 1½ hours) and was met by Maud, one of the Chesapeake breed council. Luckily Maud hailed originally from the very north of Norway and thought nothing of zooming through very white roads. Being a Brit from the South, I was loving the winter landscape.

I was very impressed by the Norwegian Retriever Club as they had organised a weekend of education for their judges to cover three breeds, and had seminars on the Nova Scotia Retriever, the Chesapeake, and the Curly Coat, all numerically small in Norway.

Accommodation and education was all held in a glorious hotel with perfect facilities to show powerpoint presentations, lovely rooms, and excellent food. We even had soft ice cream and popcorn on tap from the foyer near the lecture room! Perfect!

Chrissie presenting at the seminar in Norway

Over the previous months, I had put together a presentation using the Federation Cynologique Internationale breed standard for our breed, which differs from our UK one in slightly different use of wording and breakdown but is almost identical to the American standard.

Luckily most Norwegians speak and understand English as both my presentation and that of the Nova Scotia (given by a lady from the Netherlands) was spoken in English. The Curly Coat presenter was Norwegian and naturally used his native language.

I had used photographs from my (very) vast collection to demonstrate each part of the breed standard and to demonstrate why the standard is so effective in describing a dog designed for his work. Thanks to many wildfowlers worldwide working their dogs in cold, icy and muddy conditions, and to others who patiently took photos of dogs’ fronts, rears and every other part of their anatomy. I hope to think I covered everything with photos. I certainly had very few questions at the end.

About forty judges attended, some of whom I recognised from international shows. The Norwegian Chesapeake Breed Council printed and gave out a full copy of the American Chesapeake Club’s illustrated guide to the breed, and we had 12 Chesapeakes present at the end of the talk for me to assess and the judges to go over. All in all a fantastic learning opportunity. I and the Chesapeake Council had many compliments, with the main question at the end being ‘why is this breed not more popular?’ Hopefully it now will be in Norway!

Roll on the next seminar to be held the day before our club show, when I will be reverting to the UK Breed Standard wording with a collection of interesting photographs to include the history of the breed and some really impressive retrieving pictures.

Vroni Royle writes about her first season out shooting with her Chesapeake ‘Togo’:

Togo and I are new to the gundog and Chessie world. I’ve been taking him to gundog training since he was little and done the tests but I had so little trust in myself that I always thought we would be laughed at. Gosh, the first day I arrived in leggings!

Early this season however, Deborah Herring offered that I could come and join the beaters to see what it is like. I loved it! The following week I brought Togo and many treats and a line … he soon surpassed my expectations. He loved being out working, coming back, beating! He loved being with other dogs and we both discovered a new side of us.

Togo and his partridge
Togo and his partridge

Fast forward to today and it was beaters day! By now I hardly needed treats but with birds coming down everywhere his urge to retrieve overcame the better of him as he spotted a clipped partridge, followed and retrieved it. Super proud human here! We shall not mention that he held on to it longer than desired but with the bird perfectly intact, it’s just something else we can train for next season. Thank you UK Chessie world for welcoming us.

I think this perfectly demonstrates how inbred the desire to work is in our breed, and how the experience of seeing your dog just switch into work mode when faced with the job is something to experience and never fully described. Long may it continue.

Debbie Herring tells us that a gundog trainer and Flatcoat owner, Andrew Durrant, has written an ebook for people who are new to minority breeds, offering hints and tips from choosing a suitable puppy through to puppy and adult training advice. Andrew wants to raise the profile of minority breeds and encourage new owners, so is offering the book free of charge. To get a copy you just send him an email and he sends a link back to download an e-copy of the book. His email is glenturret.ad@gmail.com.

Christine Mayhew


Front cover of Andrew Durrant's ebook
28 January 2024

First, the Our Dogs top puppy for the year is confirmed as Pixiesrock Green Kirkle, and not as published by another breed writer. Congratulations to Lisa Murch who is both owner and breeder. Cora, as she is known at home, is sired by Sh Ch Arnac Weatherdeck Buoy and out of Chesepi Utica.

When I saw Lesley Cumper’s post recently about her Chesapeake Fin doing Hoopers, I was intrigued as I had never heard of it, and so I asked Lesley to write a little bit about the sport. Lesley writes:

Fin began Hoopers training in July last year with Froghall Hoopers and he loves it.

I chose Hoopers as an activity as it is low impact and teaches the dogs distance handling skills so anyone can do it as there’s no need to run with your dog. Hoopers teaches you to negotiate a course of hoops, barrels, tunnels and a mat using verbal cues. It’s fast-paced but no tight turns or jumping involved.

Fin has really taken to it, and after a few months of learning the foundation exercises, he was soon putting the exercises together to run a course, and he’s fast! We are looking forward to trying out some competitions this summer.

Lesley's Fin

This sounds great fun and so good for the dogs’ brains and fitness, maybe some more Chessies will try?

A fun day was had at Manchester dog show held at Stafford Showground. Thankfully the temperature was reasonable as this venue can be so, so cold depending on which hall you are in. Our benching however was a considerable distance from the ring and so many of us stayed ringside (we only saw the notice saying not to put crates ringside halfway through the day – oops).

The well known and very experienced judge, Frank Kane had the job of judging us but we all had to wait until the completion of judging of first the Bracco Italianos (and how popular they have become with 76 dogs entered) and then the German Wire Haired Pointers (entry of 38), both of whom were in the ring before us. Needless to say, the wait was long, and made the day very long. Whilst waiting and watching, I tried to learn something about the Braccos who move in such a loose and free way – but I digress!

There were 31 Chesapeakes entered and it was lovely to see some new kids on the block (or in the ring), including a new US imported male pup from Robyn Haskins, owned by Robyn, Maddie and Joy. It is always good to have some good new bloodlines for the breed here in the UK.

Waiting for the judging to start

Frank Kane, always efficient, went through his classes decisively until it came to choosing best of breed between the dog CC winner, Sh Ch Arnac Bay Huron at Bergelle, and the bitch CC winner, his litter sister, Sh Ch Arnac Bay Hebe.

Frank moved them, moved them again, and moved them again. Thank goodness both handlers (James Newton and Joy Middleton) are young and reasonably fit as it was an exercise and a half, and kept us all guessing as to how it was going to end. These two have often met in ‘the challenge’ and have swapped places many a time but today it was the turn of Gus (Huron) to take the top honours.

Gus with James and Maddie

Unbelievably Gus went on to win Group 4 (4th) in the gundog group. A great honour as not many Chesapeakes have been placed in group judging over the years. Gus is owned by Madeleine Mahon Hunns and James Newton, and Hebe is owned by Joy Middleton and myself.

Reserve CC winner for dogs was the veteran dog winner and the best veteran Sh Ch Next Generations Chesepi Range Rider, and reserve bitch CC winner was the best veteran bitch winner, my own Sh Ch Arnac Bay Flax, both beating a stack of youngsters and proving that the oldies can still do it! Ryder is owned by Molly Barker and was handled by her daughter, Michelle.

Molly's Ryder

It was really great to see and chat to Angela Corcoran with her new puppy. Angela lost her old Chesapeake a while ago and this was her first show with the pup, Oakmarsh Kingsley Adsila who won the bitch puppy class, the pair then going on to win best special beginner.

Best puppy overall, however, was Richard and Tilly’s home-bred dog, Riptide Gentleman’s Relish, known as Roly, who certainly made an impression. A very successful start for this lad who was being shown for the first time.

Richard's Roly

Overall a good day for the breed made special by the Group 4 placing. Home time and we all had to battle storm conditions on the way, with wind and rain playing havoc. Luckily everyone got home safely but with some tales to tell!

Christine Mayhew


21 January 2024

Not everyone has the opportunity to go picking up, so first this week Anthony Ciraolo reports on a smashing day a few friends had last weekend:

Following on from our little get-together back in October when a small group of Chessie owners from up north got together for a training session, we got an invitation to make up a Chessie-only picking up team, to be worked on a small shoot that Mark Poulton, who is the gamekeeper and owns and works his Chessie Otto on.

Mark’s wife Rhian came up with the idea that a picking up team that consisted only of Chesapeakes would be a good opportunity to show off our breed to their guns, and also some of the dogs invited could gain from some quality experience in the field, picking up freshly shot game.

Siddington Syndicate Shoot is a friendly shoot where the guns mingle with the beaters and dog handlers, which made the Chessie owners, who might have been a little nervous, feel welcomed and relaxed.

We met up in the morning at the shoot barn, where we got acquainted with the guns and beaters over a brew. The shoot captain went through some dos and don’ts, and we were on our way.

Caroline with Broc and Rina, Rhian and Mark with Otto, Sue with Inka, Anthony with Ebb, and Dave with Gunnar and Trigger

The first drive was a short distance away. On our arrival we were placed out to cover the line of guns. The handlers with less experience paired up with a regular picker upper who helped and directed us on where to stand and what to do. It was a great opening drive and a good warm up for what was in store. Most of our dogs had the opportunity to retrieve pheasants.

We went back to the barn, from where the rest of the day’s shooting was within walking distance. The next drive saw more pheasants shot and Sue’s Inka retrieved her first freshly shot birds. I also believe that Caroline’s dog Broc made a fantastic retrieve from a gulley.

Mark and Anthony

On the third drive I noticed a partridge that had been lightly shot, but on coming down, made its way to a wood valley. Ebb and I went off to go and find it which meant I missed the rest of the drive, but I knew Sue had my back covered with Inka. Said partridge took around 15 minutes to find but we did, so that meant the guns had to put some money in the charity box, as partridge was classed as a fineable bird on this shoot.

The next drive was action packed and saw ducks and pheasant shot. At this point the guns had got their eye in and the picking up became more frequent. The following drives were equally as productive which gave Dave Rigby’s two dogs plenty of work to do. All dogs did a fantastic job of retrieving the mixed bag, which consisted of pheasants, partridge, ducks, woodcock, a crow and a jay. We went back to the shoot barn where one of the beaters had prepared a meal of coq au vin made with the previous shoot’s pheasants.

A huge thank you goes to the Siddington Syndicate Shoot for allowing this shoot to go ahead, and to Mark and Rhian for organising it. It was said that the bag was above average, and we like to think it was down to the Chessies not missing many birds.

It was a fabulous day and so great to spend it with friends. Thanks so much to Mark and Rhian for making it possible.

If you haven’t yet entered the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club Championship and Open shows at the end of March, now is the time to get your entries in. The day before the show, there is also a great learning opportunity anyone who wishes to learn more about breed history and the breed standard. Aspiring judges will have the opportunity to complete the MCE (providing they meet all criteria of JEP Level 1) and to potentially partake in a Group Mentoring session – subject to passing the MCE. Our breed speaker is the highly experienced breeder/owner/judge Chrissie Arnac Mayhew!

For more information, please contact James Newton at cbrbec@gmail.com to ensure your enquiry does not get lost.

Please don’t forget that subscriptions were due on 1 January. There is a grace period until the end of January, after which membership will need to be reapplied for. If you have any questions regarding membership, please get in touch with Maddie at

I gave my email to someone today, and as he read it, he said to me, ‘Chesapeake Blue – is that a cheese?’ Those who know me will not be surprised that I was oblivious to his joke, and started to tell him about dogs on Chesapeake Bay! Chrissie will be back next week and she will no doubt bring her sense of humour with her.

Sue Worrall

14 January 2024

Well, no news this week so I will revert to history instead, as found in my endless library of cut outs and photocopies. American Field magazine/paper, pronouncing itself to be ‘The Sportsman’s Journal’, published an article on 24 January 1931, some 93 years ago, which I reproduce as written:

There is a commendable movement under way to bring about recognition of a single Chesapeake Bay Dog standard. The American Field is eager to give space to any news which will add impetus to this undertaking. The striking photograph of three undefeated Chesapeake Bay Dogs, which is reproduced as the cover illustration for the present issue is particularly interesting from the viewpoint of the breeder of this remarkable canine, unquestionably America’s foremost retriever and a gundog of quality.

The dogs depicted are Lake Como Beaver, Lake Como Sprig and Bud Parker’s Prince, all three the property of that keen Philadelphia fancier, Charles W. Berg. The latter has been prominently alive in the effort to reconcile the stands of the East and the West in so far as Chesapeake Bay color and type in concerned. It has been his constant aim and endeavour to breed the best specimens procurable from all sections of the United States and Canada in order to develop a type that would be satisfactory, not only to sportsmen in all parts of the country, but to judges of bench shows as well.

The dogs shown represent three distinct types. Lake Como Beaver is typically an original eastern specimen. His mother, Lake Como Sprig, the centre figure in the photographs, is representative of the western dog. Bud Parker’s Prince, pictured on the extreme right, is a pure-bred Canadian Chesapeake by Champion Bud Parker out of Champion Bell II. Even one with little knowledge of, or experience with the breed will notice the difference in the type of these dogs, regardless of the fact that their ages vary somewhat. At the time the photograph was taken about a month ago, Beaver was eleven months old, Sprig three years of age and Prince, eight months.

We have Mr Berg’s word for it that western fanciers would tell you Sprig is the perfect specimen, the ideal type. In the Chesapeake Bay section from whence comes the breed name, breeders would affirm that Beaver is a marvellous eleven month old puppy. But if you chanced to ask a Canadian Chesapeake Bay enthusiast, he would most likely inform you that Prince would be hard to excel for a puppy. Yet the difference in the type of each dog is easily discernable.

In the reading columns of the Kennel Department we publish a communication from Anthony A Bliss of Westbury, New York who has been authorised by the American Chesapeake Bay Dog Club to canvass the fanciers of this breed in an effort to bring forth a universally recognized standard. Mr Bliss has mailed circulars to a large list of Chesapeake breeders many of whom have courteously sent their views of the present standard and what they consider the ideal type. It is to be hoped, earnestly, that this campaign will not only do away with the present dissension in the ranks of Chesapeake fanciers, but elicit a standard that will have the united support of the entire country.

Concluding this brief editorial on one of the most popular of American sporting dogs, it might be remarked that the hope of breed betterment and improvement depends upon the recognition of a single standard. Sportsmen like Messrs Berg and Bliss are to be complimented on their sincere efforts to spread appreciation of this noble animal.

American Field Magazine, 1931.

Christine Mayhew

7 January 2024

A significant LKA win that I omitted to mention in the last breed notes, was Katy Duncanson with Thor (Arnac Bay Invincible at Dunakitts) who really made a mark for the breed by winning a huge Good Citizen Stakes class and walking away with £50! For those who are unused to show prizes, we normally get absolutely nothing! The fact that a Chesapeake beat some top winning dogs in more commonly seen breeds, is fantastic.

Katy's Thor

At the very end of last year, Caroline Pont and Diva (Sh Ch Oakmarsh Dancing Diva), won first in open and BOB under Julien Barney, at Ashbourne and District CS open show where they were classifying the breed for the first time. Diva then went on to win Best Gundog Veteran, and to top it all Group 3, a fantastic result.

Preparations are already under way for the club show on the last weekend of March so just a reminder to put the date in your diary and to save any unwanted Christmas gifts for the raffle!

Caroline and Diva

This week saw Kevin Amaira mentor Joy Middleton on the ‘art’ of wildfowling by taking her out on grounds managed by Langstone and District Wildfowlers. The birds obviously had heard of their arrival and flew well out of range so no shots were made but by all accounts the two humans and dogs, Hebe and Zoar, had a good time out in a lovely setting, and watched a very beautiful dawn.

Joy and Kevin with Hebe and Zoar

I have been rummaging through old letters, paperwork, and cuttings recently, all relating to Chesapeakes and the early days of our breed in this country (and some abroad). So much fascinating stuff, much of which I had forgotten. I had to rack my brains to remember what BFSS stood for when I read a report of a country show where I and others had some Chessies present for the early ‘meet the breed’ events. (The Chessies also won the scurry on that particular day.) Then I remembered – British Field Sports Society – of course, the name had to be changed to provoke less antagonism from those early ‘woke’ people and is now known as the Countryside Alliance. I wonder how many less physical attacks the shoots would have suffered in those days had the name been different then.

In a similar vein, a report from a show relates the story of how Angela Ingram won so much in the way of dog food and prizes from Pedigree Chum, with her very successful Arnac Bay Eventide of Barklands, that she could barely stagger back to her car with the goodies. This was in the days when Pedigree Chum sponsored all of the championship shows and it was exciting to make your way to their stand with your best of breed, best opposite sex, or best puppy voucher to pick up food and a variety of prizes, from engraved glasses, to Pedigree Chum towels and umbrellas, dog bowls, etc.

All that changed soon after a very one-sided TV programme ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ altered the attitude of the day and made us (dog breeders and people who showed dogs) out to be the bad guys.

I could understand and have always agreed in the opinion that some breeds have been bred for exaggerated features and are causing problems, for example bulldogs that can’t breathe, Shar Peis with entropion, skin problems, and other conditions in an assortment of breeds. I suppose that the programme did some good in forcing the Kennel Club to act on those specific breeds, but sadly the producers tarred us all with the same brush and public opinion turned against us. Ever aware of what the public think, Pedigree Chum stopped sponsoring dog shows.

Of course our breed is very healthy, and the Chesapeake breed standard by which the judges judge asks for the type of dog that is fit and healthy and capable of doing a day’s work, but no mention was made of the ‘good’ dogs or their owners. Maybe the word ‘gundog’ would have sparked another anti-shooting debate anyway?

Christine Mayhew

30 December 2023

Well 2023 is coming to a close, and what a fantastic year it has been for our breed.

More shows have classified the breed so we are not always the ‘any other variety gundog’, more dogs have been competing at the shows and in the working tests, and more dogs going to genuine wild fowling homes than I can remember. And the breed continues to be a true dual purpose breed. Long may it continue.

The club has been very active again this year:

At the end of April, we held a championship show, an open show, and a special award show at the Kennel Club Building in Stoneleigh. The following day we had a breed appreciation and judges educational day at the same venue, with our judge from the USA giving a seminar.

On to May and the club spring tests were held at Selborne, Hampshire, running four classifications, namely puppy, novice dog/novice handler, beginner and unclassified open.

In June, in Dorrington, Shrewsbury, and the Club held a day for the Chesapeake Working Certificate day with six dogs passing level one, five passing level two, and two passing level three.

There was yet another working event the following day when the Chesapeake Club hosted a friendly minor breed working test at the same venue with teams of Chesapeakes, Irish Water Spaniels, Flatcoats and Curlycoats.

August saw the next club open show, held in conjunction with the National Gundog Show at Malvern, Worcestershire.

In September it was time for the Club’s autumn working test, this time at Roanlodge, near Buxton, with a training day on the Saturday and the actual test on the Sunday.

All Club show and working test results will be reported on in full in the yearbook.

‘One-off’ awards for 2023:

Passing the Kennel Club Working Gundog certificate:
Pixiesrock Maestro Cadenza

Gaining CBRC Chesapeake Working Certificates:
Level one:
Show Champion Arnac Bay Harvest
Arnac Bay Invincible at Dunakits
Glaniels Catch Me If You Can
Chesarab Saltmarsh
Riverrun Finnegan’s Wake
Pixiesrock Maestro Cadenza.
Level two:
Petsalls Canuck
Arnac Bay Invincible at Dunakits
Glaniels Catch Me If You Can
Riverrun Finnegan’s Wake
Pixiesrock Maestro Cadenza.
Level Three:
Irish Champion Riverrun Everybody’s Friend
Petsalls Canuck

Three new show champions were made up:
Petsalls Pride Beech at Glaniels
Arnac Bay Harvest
Next Generations Arnac Arctic Storm.

One dog gained his Junior Warrant:
Pixiesrock Mr Tumnus by Bleyos

One Show Champion gained a Show Gundog Working Certificate:
Champion Migwell Solomon’s Puzzle (making him a full champion)

Passing Show Gundog Working Certificate
Oakmarsh Freedom

Gaining a Show Veteran Warrant:
Show Champion Oakmarsh Chestnut

Subject to confirmation, the Our Dogs top dogs for the year:
Top winning show dog: International Show Champion and Dutch Champion Arnac Bay Hebe WGC, Sh Cex
Top Stud Dog:
Show Champion and Dutch Champion Arnac Weatherdeck Buoy
Top Brood Bitch: Arnac Bay Gamble
Top puppy: Pixiesrock Green Kirkle
Top breeder: Arnac kennel

Christine Mayhew

25 December 2023

17 December 2023

Entries for next year’s Crufts on Fosse Data close online on 22nd January. Don’t forget to enter! I know that many readers are not ‘show’ people, but Crufts is always worth a visit with so many things to see besides the breed judging, and trade stands galore covering all sorts of canine things. Not only canine but also clothing, art, leather bags, and much else for humans! What I love is that many overseas visitors come to the show and make a beeline for their respective breeds, so we see and meet Chesapeake owners from many other parts of the world, often year after year the same visitors.

The Ladies Kennel Association held the last championship show of 2023 at Stafford Showground on the 10th of this month. Tracy Butler was our judge. Tracy had a Penrose Chesapeake some years ago and is an experienced judge of both Chesapeakes and Border Terriers. Needless to say, she drew a good entry.

Best of breed and bitch CC went to Sh Ch Arnac Bay Hebe WGC, with her daughter, Arnac Bay Jellicoe winning best puppy at just over six months of age. Both dogs owned by Mayhew and Middleton. The reserve bitch CC and best veteran was my own Sh Ch Arnac Bay Flax, still notching up the wins at age 10, bless her.

Jelli - best puppy at 6 months old

The dog CC was awarded to Tideflight Floki, owned and bred by a very delighted Julie and Jason Hayes, with Julie handling. I have to say that this young dog well deserved his win and although he is a ball of energy, Julie did a great job and finally got him to trot in a civilised manner! It was so lovely to see two people so chuffed and I am not ashamed to say that I had a tear in my eye when the card was handed to Julie. Floki is not only handsome but is a worker too.

The reserve dog CC went to another chuffed owner and handler, Charlene Chapman with her Muireatai Life Journey at Dkai, yet again a working gundog … thus making all four top winners, genuine working gundogs.


Joy Middleton, wearing a very festive outfit, took Hebe into the best in group ring and expertly handled her to be short-listed the final line up for best in show.

A good showing of Chesapeakes and some festive moments. Caroline Pont brought a selection of her beautiful home-made Christmas baubles and wreaths and several of us went home with some. It is hoped that Caroline will have a stand at the club show as these items, made with feathers, are just incredible.

Caroline's feather baubles

We all start gundog work with our dogs at training sessions, on dummies, eventually cold game, and then hope to get some sort of introduction to the real thing. That is often the sticking point these days, with so many shoots ceasing to exist, picking up places are like gold-dust and shoots usually need an experienced picker with two or more dogs.

I was lucky in having Dennis Izzard as a mentor when I had Flat-coated retrievers, and I was out picking up from the age of 19. This hobby became a lifestyle every shooting season and I was very fortunate to have several large commercial shoots in my area who paid me to have a team of dogs doing the thing both they and I loved most.


It is very hard to get that sort of introduction these days, and so I was pleased to learn that Debbie Herring has enabled several Chesapeake owners to bring their dogs out working on her local shoot. Joy and Peter joined them last season with Hebe and Mink respectively and are now regulars, and then today I learn that Vroni and Togi are getting their introduction to a day’s shooting. Brilliant!

If there is anyone who is able to invite another Chessie owner (dogs must be under reasonable control) to experience a day’s shooting, please do try to do so. I know that one of our gang is going to experience wildfowling for the first time later this year. This is all so good for the dogs and keeping our dual purpose claim well and truly alive, and I have never met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the whole experience.

Joy, Peter and Vroni out beating

For those shooting folk amongst us, a recent headline caught my attention, namely that Chris Packham has been sacked by a bird charity for becoming too political and doing no work for the organisation.

The BBC star and naturalist was let go by bird of prey rehabilitation centre Raptor Rescue because it was reported that his environmental campaigns were “splitting” its membership. The charity’s chair said some members didn’t like the “political side” of Mr Packham’s activities and it couldn’t support his advice on breaking the law for environmental reasons.

I do not know what was involved with regards to his breaking the law suggestions, but all country folk know how anti-shooting Mr Packham is and how he has tried to use his BBC exposure to drum out his personal opinions on shooting. I for one am glad that some have realised how political he is. He also seems to be very ignorant on how the countryside works in real life. Such is society these days that anyone in the public eye considers it acceptable to preach to others on all manner of things.

Christine Mayhew