Maryland’s State Dog – The Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Did you know that we have an official state dog? The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, or Chessie, for short, has held that honor since 1964. In this article, an Ellicott City, MD veterinarian discusses this lovable, active pup.


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s name holds some important clues to the breed’s history. The breed’s origins trace back to the 19th century, when a ship sank in—you guessed it—Chesapeake Bay. Two Newfoundland pups were saved, and were later bred with local dogs. This union brought about some adorable puppies, who were the originators of the breed we know and love today. It didn’t take long for these pooches to develop a reputation for being great duck hunting dogs.

Honor Roll

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a member of the sporting and hunting group in 1878. The Chessie is now an official mascot for the University of Maryland in Baltimore.


Chessies are usually brown or red, with wavy coats. That fur actually has a lot of oil in it, which helps it stand up to all the swimming these pups love to do.


As far as their beauty needs go, Chessies are pretty low-maintenance. In fact, you want to be careful not to over-bathe them, as this can dry out that pretty fur. However, they do require weekly brushings. Dental care is also important with these guys.


Chessies have a reputation for being cheerful, loyal, and intelligent. Training is a must with these pooches: they can sometimes get a bit pushy if they haven’t been taught proper petiquette. However, when trained, they’re typically very polite. They’re also great at things like tracking and agility. Chessies are very active, and need lots of daily exercise. They do best in homes where they have plenty of room to run and play. If you like to hike, run, hunt, or swim, this may be a great pup for you!

Other Pets

One thing many people must consider before adopting a dog is whether they will get along with other pets, specifically cats. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are not one-size-fits-all on this one. Some do very well with kitties. Others? Not so much. Introduce Fido to his roommates slowly, and supervise all interactions.

As your Ellicott City, MD veterinary clinic, we’re dedicated to offering excellent veterinary care. Contact us anytime!

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