The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a classic retriever appearance, with a muscular body, short (slightly wavy) hair, and hanging ears. Their weather resistant coat comes in shades of red, tan or brown. They have rounded heads with a distinct but medium stop and muzzle. Chessies have wide, strong chests and medium length bodies whose rears stand even or slightly higher than the withers. Their legs are long and lean, and their hindquarters are strong. Their webbed toes make them excellent swimmers, and dogs who will be working in the field should have their dewclaws removed.
Size and Weight
Male Chesapeake Bay Retrievers stand 23 to 26 inches and weigh between 65 and 80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, standing between 21 and 24 inches and weighing between 55 and 70 pounds.
Coat and Color
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is, of course, a water retriever and the coat is designed to be water resistant – much like the feathers of a duck. Their top coat is thick, oily and short whereas the undercoat is fine, but dense. This combination provides insulation that allows the dog to hunt in any weather condition, even snow. When a Chessie hops out of the water and shakes off, he is left only feeling slightly damp, because the coat does not hold water.
Not only is the Chessie's coat designed to be weather resistant, but it also acts as camouflage. This breed comes in shades of brown, sedge (strawberry blonde) or deadgrass, which varies from tan to yellow. Some Chesapeake Bay Retrievers sport a white spot on the chest, belly, toes or feet.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, like all retriever breeds, sheds heavily all year long. The coat should be brushed at least once per week to remove dead and loose hair as well as to distribute the oils of the skin. Picky housekeepers may wish to brush a Chessie more often. Over-bathing this breed can cause the natural, water-resistant oils of the skin to break down, so only bathe a Chesapeake Bay Retriever as needed.
The Chessie's ears should be checked on a weekly basis for signs of infection, especially if the dog spends a lot of time in the water. Using a veterinarian-approved cleanser can help prevent painful ear infections. Weekly tooth brushing helps promote healthy gums and teeth and will keep dog breath at bay. Nail clipping may be required if the Chessie does not wear down his nails naturally. If he makes a clicking sound on hard floors, a trim is in order.