The history of the Chesapeake TaffBay-Retriever 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 cargo. Chesapeake BayThe 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.

Chess, BrunoThe 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
Taffswimming 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 superior qualities:

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 Pikeand 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 appearing at
v.l. Pike, Chess, Brunothe 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.




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One of the first Chesapeake Bay-Retrievers.
Maritime Museum,
St. Michaels,
Chesapeake Bay / USA