Meet the Breed Monday ~ July 2020

NormanIt’s Monday and we hope the weekend was tickety-boo. While you’re rubbing the sleep out of your eyes and heading into a brand new week, let’s  ‘budge up’ and have a good chinwag about this month’s edition of “Meet the Breed.” Norman here. Elsa and I argued chatted up which breed we wanted to look at and finally decided to look no farther than within our own family for a good look at a very cool breed, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, often called as “Chessies.” Rudder and Axel are mum’s nephews and just moved into a new mountain home not far from rivers and streams, a Chessies dream world. You can visit their blog here.


Blimey! Look at that boy’s take off! That handsome, athletic fella is Rudder. Can I just say… mate, my golly! You think he can give me loads of advice on water fun?

To say Chessies are “water dogs” is a bit of an understatement. This American original embodies all that is valued in retrievers. They’re loyal, upbeat, affectionate, and tireless and well known for their waterproof coat. Rudder is always ready for retrieving sticks or rocks thrown into nearby streams.


Chessies are strong, powerfully built gundogs standing anywhere from 21 to 26 inches at the shoulder with males weighing between 75 to 100 pounds. The distinctive breed trait is a wavy coat that is oily to the touch. Chessies are solid-colored, either chocolatey brown, sedge, or deadgrass, with keen yellow-amber eyes that nicely complement the coat and live between 10-13 years.

Adorably cute Axel as a puppy

Chessies are more emotionally complex than the average gundog. They take well to training, but can have a mind of their own and can tenaciously pursue their own path. Protective of their humans as well as polite, they may not be openly friendly toward strangers. Chessies make excellent watchdogs and a well-socialized Chessie makes for a confident companion and hunting buddy.


So how did this breed originate you ask? Seems that during the 19th century well-heeled owners of the duck clubs that lined the shores of the Chesapeake Bay  began breeding the breed we’ve come to know today. It’s believed that Newfoundlands, Irish Water Spaniels, and other hounds of undetermined origin were among the breed’s early genetic mix. By the time the AKC was founded in 1884, a definite “Chessie type” had been established.

To understand this breed, one needs to know a bit about the area from where they originated. Two key features to the 200-mile-long estuary surrounded by Maryland and Virginia factor into why Chessies were developed. First, the Bay is relatively shallow with a low capacity for storing heat allowing water temps to get down to around freezing in early winter and stay there until spring. Secondly, Bay’s location lies along the “Atlantic Flyway,” a flight path taken by ducks and geese to their winter homes. Every year the Bay hosts a good third of all migratory waterfowl wintering on the East Coast of the US.

Hunters used these features to breed a dog who is well-suited to the Bay’s frigid water and visiting waterfowl. The thick, oily, double coat of a Chessie  not only insulates, but it is waterproof as well. Repealing moisture much like  duck feathers do and broad chest acts much like a plow against ice floes while the powerful hindquarters with large webbed feet enable him to swim tirelessly against the Bay’s windy conditions. Ideally equipped for retrieving, Chessies are a reliable, indefatigable dog possessing a ‘soft mouth’ ensuring the hunter that his retrieved fowl will remain intact upon retrieval. I’m guessing the Ninja wouldn’t make a very good retriever since she manages to chew ears and feet off all my toys, despite her own breed’s soft mouth. *sigh

Chessies are real charmers being perceptive and sensitive and make excellent therapy dogs. With their strong ability to follow scents, they do brilliantly in search-and-rescue work or drug and bomb detection. Dashing good looks and athleticism definitely give these blokes a definite leg up in show rings as well as in a variety of dog competitions.

Ruddy and Axel living the good life

Hope you enjoyed meeting mum’s ‘nephews.’ Have you encountered these athletic dogs before? Mum says if you are interested in featuring your own breed in the coming months, be sure to contact her. I’d love to tell all my mates about your good dog. Cheerio!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

86 thoughts on “Meet the Breed Monday ~ July 2020

  1. We’ve always enjoyed reading about the exploits and successes of the Sand Spring Chesapeakes, and there were a couple other blogs we used to read that featured them, which have since shut down. They always struck me as a very active, athletic and talented breed! Perfect for the families that enjoy different dog sports, or simply enjoy being outdoors.

    1. Absolutely. We’re big fans of the Sand Spring gang. Amazing athletes and just plain talented pooches.

  2. One of our neighbors has a Chessie…but we only have a creek nearby and a shallow yucky pond… He is a handsome dog, too…as are Rudder and Axel!Thanks for the write-up!

    I bet they could give one a good whap when they wag their heavy tails! Rudder is a very apt name:)

    1. Hey there, Meesers & Woofs, you’re right, both Rudder and Axel have thumpy whip-like tails!

  3. Thank you for this Norman. This is a new breed to me. Have not known of it before, so I found it all very interesting. Sorry about the toys o:(

    1. Oh you know, John…having a Ninja for a sister is a bit of a tradeoff. Chessies aren’t well too well known around here either but they’re a terrific breed and mum says they are smart and good nephews.

  4. Mee-yow wow Norman yore 2 Couzinss Axel an Rudder are furry hansum!!! LadyMew an mee leerned alot today ’bout “Chessiess’….they sur seem like ‘fun poochiess’…..
    Mee not sure yore a water doggie purr say….butt you are furry hansum too!
    **purrss** BellaDharma

  5. That’s a great action shot! My camera would blur it! They are a great breed. They don’t get the notoriety that the labs do, but great dogs anyway.

    1. They really are great dogs. Super in the field and water. They just aren’t as outgoing toward strangers as Labs so often are.

  6. They are a big breed in Virginia – after all, we have the Chesapeake Bay here (!). Seriously, they are wonderful dogs from what I know about them. They’re hard workers and super active. That photo of Axel is BEYOND adorable. Just look at that expression “you are under my spell!!”……….

    Hugs, Pam

    1. I’m sure you do see loads of Chessies! They are quite the breed. Everyone who meets Axel is still under his spell.

  7. I’ve never heard of this breed before! But they are exquisite and majestic creatures! One of my favorite parts of dog sitting was getting to know different breeds (like the black poodle Sassy I think I mentioned before). It seems like most dogs love or hate water. But for some breeds, it doesn’t seem so much a love as just part of who they are; I’m especially thinking of a mating pair of Portuguese Water Dogs (LONG before the Obamas got one – when we had four total in our entire state) I spent time with.

    1. PWDs are wonderful water dogs too. Chessies are hard workers in fields and get them around water and poof! into the wet stuff. 😆

  8. I have always loved Chessies, second only to Labs. But, I never wanted to get one because they can be protective. Maybe I should reconsider.

  9. Thanks Norman, and Aunt Monika, for the great write up of our breed! We think we’re kinda big shots now and our Mama’s gunna make us an extra special dinner. Luv Rudder and Axel💜💜💜💜

    1. We were pleased to share some info about you guys. We think you’re amazing and hope your mum makes you an extra special supper. 💙💙💙

    1. He’s quite the dog and could put any broad jumper to shame and the only dog I’ve ever seen retrieve rocks from the river. 😊

  10. What a great breed I have never seen on but have read about them. Have you ever ever thought about dashund or Chihuahuas. Thank you Charlie

        1. I’d be happy to feature them as a Meet the Breed -feel free to email photos and info. I have been fascinated with Dachshunds but admittedly, more than slightly terrified of Chihuahuas. 😇

  11. Oh, they are so pawsome! I loves their coats! And their eyes are amazin’! Ma is wonderin’ if they, um, are, um, odoriferous?? Bein’ water doggies, like myself (though, you knows me, I don’t likes gettin’ my furs wet, which is why Ma thinks I stinks,um…, odoriferous..hehehee) she thinks they could gets stinky if not ‘rinsed’ on a regular basis BOL! I say, that’s just ME! hehehee
    Thanks for the info on these pawsome puppers!
    Ruby ♥

    1. Can’t speak for the entire breed but the ‘nephews’ have never been smelly…well except for those occasional encounters with skunks 🦨😆 Good question, Ruby!

    1. They sure are!
      P. S. It’s all Norman and Rudder & Axel’s good work. 😊

  12. Interesting read. Good job Monika. I read something about a sheepdog poodle. It was a beautiful large animal. Do you know anything about that breed?

    1. Thanks! Sheep-a-doodles (poodle/sheepdog hybrids) are very popular in the area with several in my own neighborhood. There are now a number of breeders in Castle Rock.

    1. He really flies out over the water. Always love the enthusiasm that Rudder exhibits.

  13. What a gorgeous breed! I am unfamiliar with them; or rather was, until this fine essay. Thank you, Norman. Excellent job.

    1. Why thank you, Miss Dale. I love sharing info on cool breeds (hint, hint). The more we learn about the world the less likely we’ll be all judgy on the differences. 😇

        1. {snort} No pressure. 😇 But figure peeps would enjoy learning about Zeke dogs.

                    1. Most welcome and appreciated but don’t stress out about it.

                    2. Can work with JPEG, PNG, PDF so long as the size isn’t gargantuan.

                    3. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Oops, whichever one works easiest on you.

    1. Always happy to share tidbits about different breeds. Chessies are super athletic dogs. Not sure I’d be able to keep up with them these days! Ancient Dench that I am. 😆

        1. Knees are ok, it’s the stamina that’d do me in (plus non-stop tossing of sticks with two buggered up shoulders).

  14. Awww, that pup reminds me of our precious Little Bit. She was a flat coat retriever and looks a lot like this pup. She was mostly black though. Great family members.

    Have a fabulous day, my friend. Scritches to the pups. ♥

    1. Thanks, Sandee. Here’s hoping your Monday is pawtastic. Just recently met a Flat Coat Retriever and thought, wow, looks like a black Chessie! Nice dogs, both breeds.

  15. What a great shot of him jumping into the river.
    Great choice of breed for this is a new one to me. Thanks for sharing. Their faces are adorable!

    1. Rudder has amazing form when he dives in a stream after a stick (or rock). They’re both sweet and Axel is quite a love bug.

    1. It’s an American breed so probably understandable. We’re big fans of Gambler and the Sandspring gang. He cracks us up when he jumps up on the counter. But boy can he retrieve ducks and geese!

    1. They really are. We’ve always been impressed at their sweet nature and love for the water.

  16. Mom’s first thought was, glad I don’t have to keep that coat groomed! They do seem to have a wonderful mix of characteristics, and I bet we could be best friends. XOX Lucy

    1. Their coats are easy to maintain I suspect. Just need lots of towels to dry them off because they’re always in the water! 😆

  17. chessies have such pretty eyes. They are active breeds for sure, and we knew a lot of them when we lived just off the Chesapeake in MD.

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