Chesapeake Bay Retriever

  • Overview

    Quite a bit of folklore surrounds the creation of this intelligent, water-loving breed. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are reportedly descended from two Newfoundlands who turned up on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay after a shipwreck. The large, powerful dogs displayed excellent retrieving skills, so hunters bred them with local working dogs to create a quicker, more efficient water retriever who could still work in cold climates. Chessies are still quite large — males stand between 1 foot, 9 inches and 2 feet, 2 inches tall. Females are slightly smaller.

    Chesapeake Bay Retrievers make excellent dogs for owners who have experience training strong-willed dogs and who are able to provide them with the opportunity for outdoor activity, like running, retrieving and roaming, that they crave.

  • Personality

    Chessies should be natural retrievers who are eager to approach people. However, they are not quite as friendly as Labs, for whom they are frequently mistaken. They can be a little stand-offish or hesitant around people they do not trust, and they are not as naturally exuberant or outgoing around strangers. Instead, these dogs really prefer to work or play actively outdoors. Not surprisingly, Chessies love to fetch and retrieve, and they will cherish the opportunity to do so on a daily basis.

    These dogs are aware of their size and power. Chessies had to be tough and confident to hunt in harsh weather conditions and work away from their owners. Because they are used to being the boss and working tenaciously, they can have some problems with authority. If Chessies are not properly socialized and trained by an experienced, dominant owner, they can become dominant or overly willful. With firm, consistent training, they develop into loyal, obedient companions who strive to please their owners and channel their diligence into outdoor work and play.

  • Coat Care

    The Chesapeake Bay Retriever's coat is so oily that water rolls right off his back like a duck's. This oily outer layer gives him his ability to swim and retrieve in the chilly Chesapeake Bay, even in temperatures so low that he might have to break the ice to retrieve a duck or a fish. The dense, wooly under coat insulates this retriever when he works outdoors. The coat should not be any longer than 1 1/2 inches so that it does not interfere with the Chessie's powerful swimming ability. The coat should not curl, but it can be slightly wavy. Their coat is seen in three shades of brown, including sedge and dead grass, which reference the coat's tendency to blend into prairie grasses.

Brushing

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have thick coats that shed heavily. Brush Chesapeake Bay Retrievers every day to remove dead hair and stimulate new hair growth. Frequent brushing is also crucial to maintain the oily texture that is the Chessie's signature. Make sure to use a rubber or thin bristle brush instead of a metal rake, which can break down the texture and remove the natural oils.

Bathing

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but dogs with short coats do produce a distinctive dog odor, so your nose may encourage you to bathe them more frequently - about every 8-12 weeks. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Wipe wrinkled breeds with a soft cloth and make sure they are totally dry after bathing; high-velocity dryers work great to remove excessive loose hair with shedding; coat should be fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair.

Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Most dogs with short coats generally require occasional trims and tidying up in areas of excessive hair growth with trimmers or blunt scissors. It's always wise to take a dog for a short walk or exercise to calm them down before trimming. Remember to brush the coat first to remove tangles and mats. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed.  When finished, the coat should lay flat and smooth against the body of most short-haired dogs.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Some short-coated dogs, like hounds and mastiffs, have large, sensitive ears that should be checked  weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If you have a small dog, like an Pug, take special care to  clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes to make sure they are comfortable. Dogs with facial wrinkles, like Pugs and Dogues de Bordeaux, be wiped down at least weekly to prevent infection.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.