The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the sturdiest of all the retriever dog breeds; being much more strong-willed and protective than the other retriever breeds. In fact the chessie as it is affectionately known by its admirers and lovers of the breed has been described as “The greatest heavy-duty water dog America has ever seen….”
The breed is so sturdy and tough, that its stamina, energy and feats of endurance under the harshest of conditions are legendary. In fact legend has it that one particular dog was capable – and indeed did so – of retrieving as many as 300 downed birds in a single day from near-freezing waters.
So formidable is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog breed’s prowess in retrieving that the only explanation for its rather limited popularity with the American people at large, is because in appearance it is rather plain and homely looking. Put simple, this is no dog breed that is going to stop most in their tracks to think, “wow that’s a good looking dog!”
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever got its name from the large inlet off the Atlantic coast of the United States just south of Washington DC. However before its present name became permanent it has also variously been known as:
- The Red Chester
- The Brown Winchester
- The American Duck Retriever
- The Ducking Dog
The Development & Origins of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Unlike most cases of canine history, the origins of this particular dog breed are pretty well documented. In 1807 a shipwrecked British vessel had its crew and cargo rescued by an American ship just off the Maryland coast.
On board the doomed British vessel other than the crew were two Newfoundland puppies. The puppies were taken ashore and raised into adulthood when they were mated with local retriever dogs. The offspring of that genetic union resulted in dogs that excelled at retrieving and aquatic abilities. The progeny of the Newfoundland and local retriever mix also had a phenomenal tolerance for ice cold water.
The results so delighted the local populace that they bred more and more puppies from the rescued Newfoundland puppies that before long a new breed was formed. The original pair of Newfoundland puppies rescued from the doomed British vessel was a light brown male called Sailor and a black female called Canton.
It is not completely known what other dog breeds eventually comprised of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever but speculation has it that at some time or other the following breeds played their part:
- Flat-Coated Retriever
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Curly-Coated Retriever
However whatever the genetic soup or mix of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, one fact was undeniable and that was the fact that it was and still is an exceptional water retriever unmatched by any other.
Improvement and refinement of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever continued throughout the 19th century such that by the mid 1880s the dog breed had been perfected to its modern form. Indeed by 1885 this dog breed was completely established and recognized by the AKC. In 1918 the national breed society was formed.
Article on Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Kayye Nynne