Misty Shores Chesapeakes


What You Should Know Before You Buy A

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

A Chesapeake is not a breed for everyone! As a breed they have a few features some people find endearing, some find mildly unpleasant and some people find intolerable.
Don’t buy a Chessie because you think they look cool and no one on your block has one; there is a reason for that, Chessie’s are not comparable or related to other retrievers such as Labrador’s and Golden’s. They are the largest of the retrievers and have a very different genetic make-up. Chesapeake’s originated from two Newfoundland’s rescued from a ship wreck in 1807 that were crossed with hounds, water spaniels, pointers, setters and otter hounds in the early 18th century in Maryland. Later in that century being recognized as a distinct breed. They were ducking dogs used by market hunters for retrieving over 200 waterfowl per day and protecting the day’s catch. These traits are still seen in the Chessie of today, they are hard working, loyal and protective companions. Chessie’s are not "happy-go lucky" retrievers; they will not love everyone they meet; they are indifferent to other people and dogs. Chesapeake’s are unique, intensely loyal, protective, sensitive and serious dogs; you must give thoughtful consideration before bringing a Chessie into your life and family.

Socialization is a must with Chesapeake’s; they are a naturally protective breed and without proper socialization they can become overly protective. Once your puppy has received its final puppy vaccination series I suggest taking your pup to the pet store with you (most are more than happy to let you bring your dog in on lead) so the pup can meet new people and surroundings. Take walks through your neighborhood and let your pup meet new people, children and adults that will pet and hold it. Expose your pup to as many different surroundings and people as possible so they will learn who to tolerate and who to repel. Without your leadership your puppy will not learn this distinction. You cannot socialize a Chessie too much and they will not lose their protective instincts by doing so.

Basic Obedience training is essential not optional for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I recommend an 8-10 week obedience course with a reputable trainer that is familiar with teaching Chessie’s and their owners. This training must continue at home in short consistent sessions. Your Chessie must learn to reliably respond to your commands, sit, stay, come, to lie down and walk at your side on or off leash. It is not important what your rules are in your home, but how you, not your dog, enforce your rules. Young Chessie’s are eager to please and relatively easy to train. Once they have learned something they tend to retain it well; so make sure you only teach the behaviors you desire in the future. It is important that as your Chessie learns each new behavior it is carried over with every member of your household. Your cute little puppy will grow up to be a large 55-80 pound (on average) powerful assertive dog. If the dog grows up respecting you and your rules this will work in your favor; but if the dog grows up without rules and guidance they will make their own rules. You will end up with a very large out of control dog with no manners! Chessie’s respond best to their owners so I do recommend that you work closely with your trainer if you are sending your dog out for training. A good trainer will work with you and your dog as they are going through the training process which will help build a good working relationship with you and your dog. 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are a highly intelligent, loyal, protective, affectionate breed and a wonderful dog if raised appropriately; if you lack leadership and assertiveness this is not the breed for you. You must be able to establish the pack hierarchy by being the Alpha (pack leader). Dogs live in a social hierarchy and look to the Alpha for direction, guidance and approval. If you let your Chessie become their own boss and assume leadership the dog will enforce their rules against you and the members of your household; this will be very unpleasant for everyone. Chessie’s tend to be a breed that is of a socially dominant personality. You do not have to be a drill sergeant but you do need to have the calm, self assurance of "because I’m your mother, that’s why" attitude. You cannot afford to let a Chessie become your boss! 

If you are an immaculate fastidious person a Chessie is not right for you. Although they do not shed as much as some breeds they do what we call "blowing coat" twice a year. You will find balls of "Chessie bunnies" around every corner for several weeks. They also like to swim and play in the dirt which they will gladly transfer to your house to share with you. They are low maintenance on grooming and bathing, as too many baths can ruin a Chessie’s coat as well as using improper brushing tools, so if you are a fanatic about grooming and bathing think twice about getting a Chessie.
Although Chesapeake’s are very adaptable to your lifestyle they do need and enjoy physical activity; they are a working dog and like to have a job to do! You don’t have to run a marathon with them but they do need some sort of physical activity to stay in peak condition. So if you are not a hunter you will need to find an activity for you and your dog so they can exert some energy; remember a tired dog is a happy dog and owner. If you can find a swimming hole for your Chessie you will really see your dog come to life and what a treat to watch them swim! 

Chesapeake’s have a life span of 10-13 years so if you cannot commit to a life time….do not get a Chessie! As most dogs’ have a life span of that long or longer please do not get any dog! 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are smilers. Some people mistake this for barring the teeth in an aggressive manner. A dog that is warning you will have teeth barred, a stiff erect body, tail out, head down and hair bristled; a Chessie that is smiling at you will be showing its teeth, wagging its tail, wiggling its body, prancing around and possibly snorting or sneezing. It is important you learn how to read your dog’s body language and too put your company at ease if your Chessie greets them with a smile. There is nothing more heartwarming than coming home to a big smile from your Chessie! 

If after reading this and doing research on your own (which I highly encourage you to read books and talk with other reputable breeders), you decide that this breed is exactly what you are looking for then a Chessie may be right for you.

I urge you to seek a reputable breeder for your Chessie! They strive on breeding sound temperament, trainability, good health in mating and are selective in their breeding stock. They will be able to provide proof of health clearances on the the dam and sire of the litter as well as offer a health guarantee on puppies they sell. Reputable breeders will be there for you with advice and consultation throughout the life time of your dog and will gladly take it back or assist with new placement if ever you are unable to keep it.

If you are willing to share your life, your home and put in the time required for training and socializing a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, they will undoubtedly be every bit the wonderful dog you desire and you will have a lifetime of enjoyable memories together!   

Some suggested reading:

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, edited by Dyane Baldwin. The ACC, 1997

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, by Eloise Heller Cherry. The ACC, 1967

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, by Eloise Heller. The ACC 1959

The Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever, by Eloise Heller Cherry. Howell House 1981

The Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever, by Janet Horn & Dr. Daniel Horn. Howell 1994

Suggested websites to visit:

Michigan Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club www.micbrc.org

American Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club www.amchessieclub.org


CBRR&R   www.cbrescue.org

Cherry, E. H. The Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever


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