THE CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER
(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)
Equally proficient on land and in the
water, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever
was developed along the Chesapeake
Bay to hunt waterfowl under the most
adverse weather and water conditions,
often having to break ice during the
course of many strenuous multiple
retrieves. Frequently the Chesapeake
must face wind, tide and long cold
swims in its work. The breed's characteristics are specifically suited to
enable the Chesapeake to function with ease, efficiency and endurance.
In head, the Chesapeake's skull is broad and round with a medium stop.
The jaws should be of sufficient length and strength to carry large game
birds with an easy, tender hold. The double coat consists of a short,
harsh, wavy outer coat and a dense, fine, wooly undercoat containing an
abundance of natural oil and is ideally suited for the icy rugged conditions
of weather the Chesapeake often works in. In body, the Chesapeake is a
strong, well-balanced, powerfully built animal of moderate size and
medium length in body and leg, deep and wide in chest, the shoulders
built with full liberty of movement, and with no tendency to weakness in
any feature, particularly the rear. The power though, should not be at the
expense of agility or stamina. Size and substance should not be
excessive as this is a working retriever of an active nature.
Distinctive features include eyes that are very clear, of yellowish or amber
hue, hindquarters as high or a trifle higher than the shoulders, and a
double coat which tends to wave on shoulders, neck, back and loins only.
The Chesapeake is valued for its bright and happy disposition,
intelligence, quiet good sense, and affectionate protective nature.
Extreme shyness or extreme aggressive tendencies are not desirable in
the breed either as a gun dog or companion.
Specimens that are lacking in breed characteristics should be
Size, Proportion, Substance
Height--Males should measure 23 to 26 inches; females should measure
21 to 24 inches. Oversized or undersized animals are to be severely
penalized. Proportion--Height from the top of the shoulder blades to the
ground should be slightly less than the body length from the breastbone
to the point of buttocks. Depth of body should extend at least to the
elbow. Shoulder to elbow and elbow to ground should be equal.
Weight--Males should weigh 65 to 80 pounds; females should weigh 55 to
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever should have an intelligent expression.
Eyes are to be medium large, very clear, of yellowish or amber color and
wide apart. Ears are to be small, set well up on the head, hanging
loosely, and of medium leather. Skull is broad and round with a medium
stop. Nose is medium short. Muzzle is approximately the same length as
the skull, tapered, pointed but not sharp. Lips are thin, not pendulous.
Bite--Scissors is preferred, but a level bite is acceptable.
Disqualifications: Either undershot or overshot bites are to be
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck should be of medium length with a strong muscular appearance,
tapering to the shoulders. Topline should show the hindquarters to be as
high as or a trifle higher than the shoulders. Back should be short, well
coupled and powerful. Chest should be strong, deep and wide. Rib cage
barrel round and deep. Body is of medium length, neither cobby nor
roached, but rather approaching hollowness from underneath as the flanks
should be well tucked up. Tail of medium length; medium heavy at the
base. The tail should be straight or slightly curved and should not curl
over back or side kink.
There should be no tendency to weakness in the forequarters. Shoulders
should be sloping with full liberty of action, plenty of power and without
any restrictions of movement. Legs should be medium in length and
straight, showing good bone and muscle. Pasterns slightly bent and of
medium length. The front legs should appear straight when viewed from
front or rear. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. Well webbed
hare feet should be of good size with toes well-rounded and close.
Good hindquarters are essential. They should show fully as much power
as the forequarters. There should be no tendency to weakness in the
hindquarters. Hindquarters should be especially powerful to supply the
driving power for swimming. Legs should be medium length and straight,
showing good bone and muscle. Stifles should be well angulated. The
distance from hock to ground should be of medium length. The hind legs
should look straight when viewed from the front or rear. Dewclaws, if any,
must be removed from the hind legs.
Disqualifications: Dewclaws on the hind legs are a disqualification.
Coat should be thick and short, nowhere over 1½ inches long, with a
dense fine wooly undercoat. Hair on the face and legs should be very
short and straight with a tendency to wave on the shoulders, neck, back
and loins only. Moderate feathering on rear of hindquarters and tail is
The texture of the Chesapeake's coat is very important, as the
Chesapeake is used for hunting under all sorts of adverse weather
conditions, often working in ice and snow. The oil in the harsh outer coat
and wooly undercoat is of extreme value in preventing the cold water from
reaching the Chesapeake's skin and aids in quick drying. A
Chesapeake's coat should resist the water in the same way that a duck's
feathers do. When the Chesapeake leaves the water and shakes, the
coat should not hold water at all, being merely moist.
Disqualifications: A coat that is curly or has a tendency to curl all over
the body must be disqualified. Feathering on the tail or legs over 1¾
inches long must be disqualified.
The color of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever must be as nearly that of its
working surroundings as possible. Any color of brown, sedge or
deadgrass is acceptable, self-colored Chesapeakes being preferred. One
color is not to be preferred over another. A white spot on the breast, belly,
toes, or back of the feet (immediately above the large pad) is permissible,
but the smaller the spot the better, solid colored preferred. The color of
the coat and its texture must be given every consideration when judging
on the bench or in the ring. Honorable scars are not to be penalized.
Black colored; white on any part of the body except breast, belly, toes, or
back of feet must be disqualified
The gait should be smooth, free and effortless, giving the impression of
great power and strength. When viewed from the side, there should be
good reach with no restrictions of movement in the front and plenty of
drive in the rear, with good flexion of the stifle and hock joints. Coming at
you, there should be no sign of elbows being out. When the Chesapeake
is moving away from you, there should be no sign of cowhockness from
the rear. As speed increases, the feet tend to converge toward a center
line of gravity.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever 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.
1. Specimens lacking in breed characteristics.
2. Teeth overshot or undershot.
3. Dewclaws on the hind legs.
4. Coat curly or with a tendency to curl all over the body.
5. Feathering on the tail or legs over 1¾ inches long.
6. Black colored.
7. White on any part of the body except breast, belly, toes, or back of
The question of coat and general type of balance takes precedence over
any scoring table which could be drawn up. The Chesapeake should be
well proportioned, an animal with a good coat and well balanced in other
points being preferable to one excelling in some but weak in others.
Positive Scale of Points
Head, including lips, ears and eyes - 16
Neck - 4
Shoulders and body - 12
Hindquarters and stifles - 12
Elbows, legs and feet - 12
Color - 4
Stern and tail - 10
Coat and texture - 18
General conformation - 12
TOTAL - 100
Approximate Measurements - Inches
Length head, nose to occiput - 9½ to 10
Girth at ears - 20 to 21
Muzzle below eyes - 10 to 10½
Length of ears - 4½ to 5
Width between eyes - 2½ to 2¾
Girth neck close to shoulder - 20 to 22
Girth at flank - 24 to 25
Length from occiput to tail base - 34 to 35
Girth forearms at shoulders - 10 to 10½
Girth upper thigh - 19 to 20
From root to root of ear, over skull - 5 to 6
Occiput to top shoulder blades - 9 to 9½
From elbow to elbow over the shoulders - 25 to 26
Approved November 9, 1993
Effective December 31, 1993
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SPORTING BREEDS CENTRAL
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The CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER Parent Club
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CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER Kennel Clubs