What Do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Die From?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are excellent hunting dogs bred for retrieving prey in the cold waters of Chesapeake Bay. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, but 1-in-5 dogs don’t live past five years. It makes one wonder what do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers die from?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, especially when unvaccinated, are at risk of dying from contracted viruses like canine parvovirus, rabies, and distemper. Cancer, gastric dilation, dental disease, obesity, and parasites are also known to kill many Chesapeake Bay Retrievers in the long run.

Vaccination is key to protecting your Chesapeake Bay Retriever from being infected by a viral or bacterial disease. A vet is the best person to access your Chessie’s health regularly and will be the first to identify any problems. Taking them to the vet is vitally important in spotting diseases or medical conditions before they get the chance to develop into something worse.

What Do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Die From?

Thinking about our furry best friends dying is horrible and one that many dog owners choose to banish when they arise. But we have to face the scary and uncomfortable truth; on average, our best friends will perish way before we do.

Like any other dog breed, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are susceptible to certain diseases and conditions that ultimately lead to or play a decisive role in their deaths. Many diseases and health concerns in pets are inherited, which means they are linked to their breed.

Genetic predispositions that affect Chesapeake Bay Retrievers that don’t typically lead to death are the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Entropion
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Von Willebrand Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Follicular Dysplasia
  • Distichiasis
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Allergies (Atopy)
  • Cataracts
  • Pano
  • Degenerative Myelopathy

The above-listed conditions are typically treated with medicine, medical procedures, and rehabilitation.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Can Die From Viral Infections

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are susceptible to viral and bacterial illnesses, such as Parvo, rabies, and distemper. Most of these viral infections can be avoided by getting your Cressie vaccinated. Unvaccinated dogs are more at risk of getting these bacterial and viral infections and can die from them.

Canine Parvovirus (CPV)

Canine Parvovirus (CPV), widely known as Parvo, is a highly infectious virus that affects dogs. It is a particularly lethal disease in young puppies, with a death rate of 80%. Parvo attacks the tonsils and lymph nodes in the mouth, then spreads to the bloodstream via lymphocytes (white blood cells).

Once in the bloodstream, the virus targets rapidly dividing cells such as those that border the intestines, bone marrow, and the heart. The early symptoms are severe diarrhea and nausea, but the intestinal surface can eventually become so damaged that it breaks down, allowing germs ordinarily confined in the gut to infiltrate the intestine walls and enter the circulation.

Parvo isn’t always fatal, but it can cause death in dogs, usually due to dehydration or shock and the effects of septic toxins created by gut bacteria that have spread throughout the circulation. Puppies that have not recovered by the third or fourth day of treatment have a dismal outlook for recovery in most cases.


The rabies virus typically targets the central nervous system (CNS), traveling from the infection site to the brain through the nerves. Infected animals suffer from paralysis, which invariably affects the respiratory system and results in death.

Rabies can infect any mammal, including humans. Early indications of rabies can appear moderately and can be hard to detect in the beginning stages. Symptoms may include decreased appetite, less energy than normal, and fever.

Rabies presents itself in two forms – paralytic and furious. When a dog is infected with rabies, they can display signs of either type or a combination of both, and might become violent and delusory, seemingly attacking their surroundings as if they are drugged.

Rabies symptoms such as weakness or paralysis of the legs, convulsions, difficulty breathing, hypersalivation due to difficulties swallowing, and strange behavior worsen swiftly after 2-4 days. Extreme anger, depression, or coma are all examples of behavioral changes.

The paralytic stage is where the dog becomes immobile as some muscle groups becomes paralyzed. At this stage the dog may have difficulty in swallowing, leading to excess foaming at the mouth and hypersalivation. When paralysis and frequent seizures occurs, the dog can fall into a coma and die.


Dogs of all ages can be affected by the highly infectious distemper virus, and the areas that are affected are the nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. A core series of vaccinations can lower a dog’s risk of contracting the disease:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Adenovirus-2


Canine distemper has no treatment. Distemper is diagnosed by a veterinarian based on a combination of clinical indicators and diagnostic testing, and a postmortem autopsy. Once a Chessie has been diagnosed, all care will be entirely supportive. Diarrhea, vomiting and neurological signs are treated by veterinarians, who also strive to prevent dehydration and subsequent infections.

The viral strain and the power of the dog’s immune system determine the survival rate and duration of infection. Some distemper cases can be resolved in as little as ten days. Neurological symptoms may persist for weeks or even months after that in certain situations.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Die Of Cancer

Many cancers can be healed by surgically removing them, and certain types will be treated with chemotherapy. It’s crucial to catch cancer early, so be sure that your vet does periodic diagnostic tests and searches for lumps and tell-tale bumps.

In senior dogs, cancer is the leading cause of death. Because your Chessie is expected to live longer than many other breeds, they are more likely to develop cancer in their senior years.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Die Of Bloat (Gastric Dilation)

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV or Bloat) is a condition that affects dogs with deep, narrow chests, typically big dog breeds. Bloat is when the stomach of your dog twists on itself, fills up with gas and cuts off blood flow to the stomach, spleen, and the heart.

The following signs can indicate bloat, and if you spot them in your Chessie, take him to the vet immediately:

  • Heaving/Retching without vomit coming out
  • Agitated
  • Depressed
  • Restless
  • Signs of an enlarged abdomen
  • Lethargic
  • Weak
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Drooling excessively

If left untreated, bloat can potentially kill your Chessie in less than 30 minutes. Preventive surgery, which involves tacking or suturing the stomach in place so that it does not twist, is a possibility if you are concerned that your Cressie might succumb to this condition.

Dental Disease Can Kill A Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The most frequent chronic condition found in 80% of all dogs is tooth and gum decay by two years. Tartar build-up on the Chessie’s teeth proceeds to gum infection and tooth rot.

Without preventative measures put into place from a young age, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever will eventually lose their teeth, putting its organs (kidneys, heart, liver, and joints) at risk.

Dental disease can shorten the lifespan of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever by 1 to 3 years if left untreated. Regular brushing and other dental maintenance are of the highest importance when taking care of a Cressie.

Parasites Can Kill A Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Worms and parasites of many kinds can infest your Chessie’s body, both inside and out. Ticks, fleas, and ear mites can infest their skin and ears. Drinking polluted water, treading on contaminated dirt, or being bitten by an infected mosquito are all ways for hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms to enter her system.

Some of these parasites may be passed between people, posing a major threat to not only a dog but also the owners. In your Chesapeake Bay Retriever, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so you must get them tested regularly. A vet can also prescribe preventative medication.

Obesity In Chesapeake Bay Retriever Can Lead To Death

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever requires daily exercise and some water fun to stay fit and healthy. When a Chessie becomes obese, it can represent a significant health problem where it worsens any joint problems, digestive and metabolic disorders, back problems, and most importantly, heart disease.

The health problems that arise from your Cressie being obese can all play a role in shortening their lifespan.


Ensuring that your Chesapeake Bay Retriever is vaccinated from a young age will drastically reduce the chances of dying from a viral or bacterial infection. Regular visits to your local vet are a great way of keeping your Chessie as healthy as possible.









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