Chesapeake History by Nancy Lowenthal
Berteleda Kennels Mill Valley, CA
unique qualities of this American retriever were bred and developed
for specific needs of early America market hunters and sportsman on
the East Coast of the U.S. The
market hunters shot 200-300 birds a day on the rugged
freezing coast of the Chesapeake Bay, and the surrounding
marshes. These waterfowl
were loaded into wagons and sold in the small settlements.
The Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, often referred to as “Bay
Dogs”, were expected to have the determination and perseverance to
retrieve enormous numbers of birds from icy rough waters, under severe
weather conditions, and to guard the wagons and possessions of the
hunters. Food and
housing for dogs were scarce and only the toughest specimens survived.
Chesapeake's origin were two Newfoundlands, a brown dog & a black
bitch. They were smaller and shorter coated than the modern
Newfoundland. This breed
was used to hunt waterfowl and to retrieve flotsam and jetsam from the
shipwrecks that occurred on the rugged coast of Newfoundland.
The brown dog and black bitch were selected as breeding
specimens and were being exported to England from Newfoundland, but
the boat carrying them to England wrecked off the Maryland Coast in
1807. The dogs were
rescued and purchased by Mr. George Law.
They went to different owners who interbred them to the few
hunting dogs that were available, probably tan & yellow hounds,
Otter hounds, and water spaniels.
Chesapeake’s unique retriever qualities, are his coat, hare shaped
feet, high hindquarters, and his prideful loyalty and protectiveness
towards his owner and his possessions.
He is the toughest, tallest, heaviest, and hardiest of the
retrievers and will work hard and long under almost any conditions.
While he is sensitive and gentle with his family,
he can also be very protective of them as well as his
conformation demonstrates a true relationship to the performance
expected of him. His
short, harsh, oily, wavy, coat is unique in the dog world and enables
the Chesapeake to work in almost any cover without picking up
brambles, burrs, or other debris.
It retains very little water and does not easily ice up.
His heavy undercoat enables him to work under harsh weather
conditions. His hare
shaped feet enable him to dig in and climb steep, muddy banks.
His high, well muscled hindquarters provide the strength to
work in thick, deep marsh mud and the tremendous power needed to swim
against strong winter winds and water currents.
His small ears are placed high on his head to help prevent
water from entering his ear canals.
His tail is strong and slightly curved with moderate feathering
in order for him to negotiate water turns easily.
His chest is deep and wide and his ribs are well sprung to
provide the great air capacity needed for endurance.
His strong bone and balanced conformation further contribute to
his working ability.
used throughout the world for hunting waterfowl under rough
conditions, the Chesapeake is very versatile.
He loves to work and is at his best when working for his master
or the family. He is an
excellent guard and a quiet calm house pet.
He will kennel well as long as he has plenty of human
have been successfully trained and used to do search and rescue work,
as guide dogs for the blind, for tracking humans and animals, and for
competing in obedience and agility trials.
In Europe Chesapeakes are used for pulling carts and sleds for
the handicapped, tracking elk, hunting rabbits, upland game, and
waterfowl. In Canada and
Alaska they are especially prized for hunting large geese, ducks, as
sled dogs and for hunting Kodiak bear.
1500 member American Chesapeake Club is devoted to maintaining the
original purpose and conformation of the breed.
An ideal Chesapeake Bay Retriever should be able to hunt, show
in breed or obedience rings, run Gundog tests, field trials, and be a
loyal and gentle family pet. The Club tries hard not to have the breed
separated into two distinct types:
show retrievers and field retrievers, as seen in some of the
other retriever breeds. The
Club publishes the monthly American Chesapeake Club Bulletin
containing timely results of Chesapeake activities throughout the
world, notice of upcoming events, current reports from its Board of
Directors, and includes informative and educational information about
the breed. The Club
financially supports and promotes Field Trial and Breed Specialties,
an All-Breed Field Trial, the three levels of Working Dog Stakes, AKC
Licensed Hunting Tests, Obedience and Tracking Trials, Eye Clinics,
Breed Seminars, the Chesapeake entry at a dozen nationwide “ACC
Supported Dog Shows,” and other educational programs through its
U.S. and European Regional Director Program.
The 70 Regional Directors are encouraged to sponsor any of
these events, or have training days for activities in which
Chesapeakes may be run or shown.
The Club recommends that all breeding stock be x-rayed for Hip
Dysplasia and examined for hereditary eye defects.
They strongly advise against breeding affected dogs.
The Club financially supports research institutions devoted to
these and other canine problems.
The Club also has available for its members the AKC Breed
Video, educational training and hunting Videos, a Breeders’ List,
current Stud Dog and Puppy lists, a brochure on the Breed, and a
recommended list of Breed Judges.
The Club’s Historian provides in depth pedigree information.
The members of the ACC Board of Directors are chosen to
represent different expertise, interest, and opinion from different
geographical areas of the U.S.
At present, the American Chesapeake Club is working to develop
and support a European Working Certificate that can be earned by
Chesapeakes in countries that have difficulty in filling certain
requirements described in the ACC Working Certificate Stakes.
The first Scandinavian Working Dog Stakes, with special
modifications, were held in Norway in 1987 through the efforts of
Norwegian ACC Regional Director Britt Overeng and then ACC President
about the Chesapeake visit the
American Chesapeake Club:
AKC Chesapeake Bay Retriever Standard:
The Chesapeake was
accepted in to the American Kennel
Club Sporting Group in 1878.
Chesapeake. The ONLY American-bred Retriever!