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Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Tags: Sporting, Large-sized, Kid-friendly, Challenging for first-time owners, Requires firm, dedicated training

Found aboard a shipwreck off the Maryland shore in the fall of 1807 were the following: tons of Newfoundland codfish bound for England, a crew of intoxicated sailors, and two Newfoundland puppies. The skipper of a nearby ship, Capt. George Law, rescued the besotted sailors, let the cod slip into the sea, and paid the English brig's captain a guinea apiece for the puppies -- a male and a female whom he named Canton (after his own ship) and Sailor. Canton and Sailor went their separate ways, given to dog breeders in West River and Sparrow's Point, Maryland. There the Newfies were mated with local hunting and retrieving dogs, (including Irish Water Spaniels, Flat coated and Curly-Coated Retrievers, and Coonhounds). The shipwreck's canine survivors apparently never met again (and certainly never mated) but Sailor and Canton are revered to this day as the founding stock of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever breed -- the official state dog of Maryland.

Rave review

  • Affectionate, devoted family friend
  • Agile and active
  • Born to run, happy to walk
  • Busy is better than bored
  • Classy canine
  • Coat needs regular care
  • Confident and self-assured
  • Courageous canine
  • Even-tempered, good-natured

Report card

  • Hardy hunter
  • Independent thinker
  • Intelligent and ready to learn
  • Lives to work
  • Loves kids and vice versa
  • Dominant
  • Novice owners might be challenged with this breed
  • Outdoor enthusiast
  • Caters to the country, tolerates town
  • Training must be firm, patient, consistent

What to expect

I need you to do some research and know what you're getting if you want a Bay for a house pet. Do know that our training and socialization can be a long, sometimes difficult and often patience-testing haul? Or that we don't emotionally mature until around age three -- after our muscular, rough-around-the-edges body has matured? Yet, our protective instincts can kick in anywhere from 9 to 18 months. Can you find me a series of obedience classes with experienced instructors? Still with me? Great, we'll have lots to talk about during those frequent brushing-and-combing sessions.

Watch for

Pup's parents should be screened for hip dysplasia and PRA. Also, watch for possible elbow dysplasia, cataracts, ear infections, and bleeding disorders.

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