A Brief history of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Sandy Oak Chesapeakes

A Brief History of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever evolved from two unrelated St. Johns Newfoundland pups rescued from an English brig shipwrecked off the coast of Maryland in 1807. The red dog, Sailor, eventually went to Governor Lloyd where he was bred extensively producing many well known offspring. The black bitch, Canton, went to Doctor James Stewart of Sparrow Point and also became very well known for her performance and her progeny. Neither Canton nor Sailor were ever bred to each other but were crossed with dogs from the Carroll Island Kennels and other great kennels of that era to produce what is known today as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. There are excellent references to the history of our breed in many good books on the American Chesapeake Club website.

The Chesapeake is an American breed. They are a versatile breed and still bear much of the same characteristics as their fore bearers both in looks and ability. They excel in many areas of performance including conformation, obedience, agility, tracking tests, hunt tests and field trials and make excellent companions and hunting dogs. They are a happy dog with a natural desire to please their owners, but they are also a high energy dog with a natural protection instinct and often times don’t do well in the hands of an ineffective human leader. They require extensive training and exercise, and learn quickly, but don’t hold up well under pressure or put up with harsh training. With a Chesapeake, one needs to learn how to control the energy without deflating the attitude! They are somewhat free-thinking and usually need to fully understand what one is asking them to do or they simply might not do it or will do it their way! Sadly for the dog, this has been misunderstood by many over the years, including professional trainers, as stubbornness on the part of the dog, when in fact the dog is confused or thinks he has a better solution, and the owner has failed to see this and work through the problem with the dog.

According to the current breed standard for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Chesapeake should show a bright and happy disposition with an intelligent expression. Courage, willingness to work, alertness, nose intelligence, love of water, general quality and, most of all, disposition should be given primary consideration in the selection and breeding of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

In short, a Chesapeake is a wonderful companion dog if you spend the time to understand them, train them, properly socialize them, and aren’t afraid to set parameters and goals for them. But a Chesapeake in the hands of the wrong person can be a difficult dog to handle!

There is more information on the breed on The American Chesapeake Club Website. Also, if you still aren’t sure if this is the right breed for you, check out this article from Chesapeake Bay Rescue website.

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