Why Shouldn’t You Get A Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

If you are in the market for a new dog, you may be attracted to the Chesapeake Bay retriever, especially if you are a fan of other retriever breeds such as the Labrador or the golden retriever. However, you should think twice before taking in a Chesapeake. Here’s why you shouldn’t get a Chesapeake Bay retriever.

Chesapeakes are excellent for retrieving, but may be unsuitable for many owners due to:

  1. Their stubborn nature
  2. Aloof and reserved temperament
  3. High exercise requirement
  4. Possibility for aggression
  5. Potential for rambunctiousness
  6. Need for plenty of training
  7. The upkeep expense

Chesapeakes, or Chessies as they are affectionately known, are wonderful dogs that have been bred to retrieve waterfowl, and they are excellent in this intended role. Nevertheless, some compelling reasons we don’t recommend Chessies to the average dog owner. Let’s take a look.

The Reasons Why Shouldn’t Get A Chesapeake Bay Retriever

While Chessies have some fantastic points, we think you should consider whether this breed is for you. Once you have read through this list of reasons not to get your own, you may decide to opt for another breed. If you get one anyway, get it from a reputable breeder concerned about health and temperament, or consider adopting one through Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief & Rescue.

Chesapeakes Require A Lot Of Exercise

Chesapeakes were bred to be active and need enormous amounts of vigorous exercise. A sedate walk around the block won’t do. You will have to give them at least an hour of running a day, energetic games of fetch, and time in the water.

Chessies love to swim and are never happier than when in the water. Ideally, you should be able to take them hunting or to field trials. Giving them a chance to do agility or flyball also helps. If you can’t provide all this exercise, don’t get a Chesapeake.

Chesapeakes Require Plenty Of Company

Chesapeakes are oriented to thrive on lots of human companionship and love being with their people. You shouldn’t get one if you can’t include them in many of your daily activities and keep them in the house.

A Chesapeake that is lonely and exiled to the yard will tend to bark, dig, and may become fearful or aggressive.

Chesapeakes Tend To Be Serious

If you love the goofball nature of Labradors or the fawning, demonstrative behavior of golden retrievers, you may be surprised that Chesapeakes are not like this. Despite superficial similarities in appearance, they are not related to the other retrievers and act differently.

They are affectionate and deeply attuned to their owners. They become deeply attached to their people, but in a far calmer way than the other retrievers.

Chesapeakes Have An Assertive Nature

Chesapeakes are assertive by nature, and if you don’t take charge, they will. If you are not prepared to be the leader (alpha) in the family and tell your dog what to do, they will take over. While this is possible with any breed, Chessies show a particular tendency to this issue. Even if you are assertive in leading them, you will find them quite stubborn.

Chesapeakes Require Plenty Of Training

With this assertive nature comes a need for lots of obedience training. If you cannot devote time and money to taking your Chesapeake to an obedience club or dog trainer while they are young and trainable, don’t get one.

You will have to train them personally under someone’s tutelage, as obedience and respect are personal between the dog and the trainer. Whatever rules you enforce, if you get a Chessie, you will have to ensure that everyone in your household implements them.

Chesapeakes Shouldn’t Be Kept With Young Kids

While Chessies generally bond well with their humans and play well with older kids, they will not tolerate rough-housing and abuse. We don’t recommend keeping them with young children, as they are possessive of toys and food, guarding them against intrusion and potentially growling or snapping. They are also mouthy and may tend to take young hands into their mouths.

Chesapeakes Have The Potential To Be Aggressive

Chesapeakes are generally reserved and standoffish toward strangers. However, without adequate socialization with a variety of people, while they are young, this can become an aloof, suspicious streak and even tip into aggression. While you want a dog who will guard your house, an aggressive dog is asking for trouble.

Chesapeakes are vigilant and guard their families well. However, they don’t deter potential wrongdoers because they don’t look fierce. If you want a dog to deter bad guys, consider something like a German shepherd or Rottweiler.

Moreover, while they will bond with family members, male Chessies, in particular, can be aggressive toward other dogs and may kill strange cats.

Chesapeakes Can Be Rambunctious

Young Chesapeakes tend to be very boisterous and jump up on people. While you can train them not to do so, it is still dangerous to the elderly, the infirm, and young kids to have a large, heavy dog leap on them. Not to mention muddy paws making a mess of clothing.

What’s more, if Chessies don’t get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, they become bored and will come up with games of their own devising. These include digging up your yard, barking incessantly, chewing things you don’t want to be chewed, and being boisterous.

Chesapeakes Tend To Make Your Home Messy

While Chesapeakes’ wavy coat doesn’t shed much, they still “blow out” a couple of times a year, and then your home will be full of fluff. What’s more, the waterproof nature of their coats and their love of playing in water and mud means that they tend to bring a lot of dirt into your house and generally make it messy.

While they are not the worst dogs for making your home untidy, we would not recommend getting one if you are house proud.

Chesapeakes Are Expensive To Buy And Keep

Chesapeakes are expensive to buy because it takes careful breeding to ensure good temperament and health (mainly to avoid hip dysplasia and eye problems). A good breeder will also spend time socializing the young pups. What’s more, neutering and spaying costs for large breeds are higher.

In addition to the initial cost, they are big dogs that take a lot of feeding, and good-quality food is expensive. Vet’s bills for large breeds are also higher for various reasons, including the more significant quantities of anesthesia needed for operations. Don’t get a Chesapeake if you cannot afford to buy and look after one.


Chesapeakes are fantastic dogs in many ways, and owners of this breed are often mad about them. However, many also say that they would never get one again, and after reading these reasons not to get one, you probably understand why. While it is your choice which dog breed you get, we urge you to reconsider getting a Chesapeake.












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