The state dog of Maryland, the Chessie has found nationwide fame as a remarkable duck retriever and dedicated companion.


In 1807, two St. John's Water Dog pups, named Sailor and Canton, were rescued from a sinking ship off the coast of Maryland. Both dogs grew up to become well-known retrievers, and both were bred to local spaniels, hounds and other dogs to create separate strains of water dogs. Their descendents were later interbred.

By the mid 1800s Chesapeake Bay Duck Dogs, Newfoundland Duck Dogs or Brown Winchesters, as they were called, were popular anywhere there were ducks and cold water. They were the choice of professional duck hunters and sportsmen. Even General Custer and Teddy Roosevelt hunted with them. For decades they were the most popular retriever in America.

Chessies are the toughest of the retrievers, and can even be protective. No surprise, they love to fetch and love to swim, so get them lots of throw-able toys–especially ones that float.


Watch your Chessie's diet and weight. When dieting a dog, you must make sure he gets enough essential nutrients. We suggest supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, probiotics and, if the coat is dry, a fatty-acid supplement.

Besides the usual problems of obesity, Chessies have a special concern: joint problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia. Feeding a diet formulated for large-breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia, and probably elbow dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size–just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin supplements, are also vital for protecting joint health.

Grooming is simple. Brush once a week. During shedding season, use a comb or tool designed to remove excess undercoat. The Chessie's coat is unusually oily, which is how it repels water. But it can also add to doggy odor. Use a deodorizing shampoo when bathing.

Keep the ears dry after swimming. Ear cleansers have a drying agent that can dry deep into the canal, so it's a good idea to clean the ear after swimming, or once a week in dry conditions. Any time the ears get goopy, clean with an ear-cleanser. If the goop comes back, see your veterinarian.

Brush the teeth daily.

Use a heavy-duty nail clipper to keep the nails short.

As your Chessie ages, he's more likely to be affected by arthritic changes. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him young at heart and in body well into old age.