The history of the Chesapeake
begins with 2 St. John’s Newfoundland puppies rescued from an English
shipwreck in stormy seas off the coast of Maryland/USA in 1807.
The America ship “Canton” took over the sinking English ship’s crew and
two pups were handed over to the owner of the “Canton”, who named the
black bitch after his ship “Canton” and the reddish colored dog “Sailor”.
Canton and Sailor were given to hunters who trained the dogs for duck
hunting in the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Both dogs had extremely
thick and coarse coat – a double coat.
hunters were living on the opposite side of the Chesapeake Bay. In this
tough game during the harsh long winters at the bay dogs were necessary
that were relentlessly pursuing wounded and crippled ducks or swans for
miles through fog and ice choked waters.
The stature of the dogs was rather small and several hunting and water
breeds are reported to were used as breeding stock. The Irish Water
Spaniel for example for its
acumen and athletic built, the Curly Coated for its coat. Also the Flat
Coated and some Setter breeds were crossed in.
Soon Canton and Sailor as well as their offsprings became famous for
their courage, strength, tenacity and endurance. Very often they had to
retrieve 200-300 ducks per day in snow, ice and heavy seas.
Even thou Canton and Sailor were never bred to each other, they are
still regarded as the original foundation dogs of this breed. Many local
hunters in those days sought after offsprings inheriting these
spectacular qualities and the result of careful breeding were these
A fanatic retriever never ever giving up!
In 1878 the Chesapeake Bay-Retriever was registered. Up to then the
breed was known by several names: Bay Duck Dog, Otter Dog, Chesapeake
Bay Ducking Dog. The latter name prevailed into the 19th
century. On one of those seldom farm-exhibitions offsprings of these
dogs from both sides of the bay were shown
their likeness was amazing!
They all had this thick, wavy, harsh, water resistant and dark brown
coat. Even the unusual light color of Sailor’s eyes was found in a lot
of these offsprings. The deadgrass coloring was unknown at that time
beginning of the 20th Century by breeding.
Due to the former quarantine-regulations the first chessies came to
Europe in the middle of the 20th century. Approx. 500
chessies are registrated in Germany today.