Do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Shed?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (or Chessies) are large gun dogs that were bred to retrieve duck and other game birds in the cold, shallow waters of Chesapeake Bay, an estuary located in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia.

They are among the toughest, most tireless and capable of all retriever type dogs. But they’re not just prized hunting buddies, they also make loyal, affectionate family dogs.

How much do they shed? Chessies have short, thick, waterproof double coats that shed fairly heavily year-round and, like most dogs, it’s typically more noticeable during spring and fall as they “blow coat.” As a tough working dog, he’s not very high maintenance, but brushing regularly during shedding season can reduce how much fur he drops.

Read on to learn more about how much Chessies shed, what they’re like to groom, and how you can reduce the molting so that you don’t have to spend as much time vacuuming.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Shedding

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are an above average shedding breed.

This puts them in the same league as similar breeds such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers when it comes to how much hair they drop.

Interestingly, the American Kennel Club’s Chessie breed page states that they are likely to have been derived from the Newfoundland and Irish Water Spaniel. Which are both excellent swimmers and retrieving dogs, but they couldn’t be further apart in terms of shedding.

The Newfy sheds a lot of fur. In fact, he’s probably one of the heaviest shedders on the planet. While the Irish Water Spaniel is a very low shedder.

In any case, you should expect to see some fur floating around your home if you choose to adopt a Chessie. There’s no getting around it. It’ll end up on your floors, furniture, upholstery, clothes… you name it.

It could be worse though, and keeping it under control isn’t very difficult. In a healthy Chessie, it mostly comes down to brushing regularly.

Sometimes excessive shedding can be caused by things like poor diet, stress, fleas or allergies derived from fleas, or some other type of health issue. So if you have any concerns whatsoever, you should contact your local veterinarian.

But for the most part, shedding is normal among most healthy dogs. Even high amounts. They are just losing some of the old fur to make way for the new fur. The only difference is how much each individual dog molts, and how often.

Related: Why Do Dogs Shed Hair?

For example, during spring or early summer, you may notice your Chessie sheds more as he no longer needs such a thick undercoat for the warmer months ahead. And during fall, it’s common for dogs to shed their summer coat in preparation for winter.

So yes, they do shed. But they’re not the heaviest of all shedders and with a proper grooming regime, you can win the battle of the fur.

What Are Chessies Like to Groom?

Chessies are fairly easy to groom.

They’re not as low maintenance as dogs with short, smooth coats (like the Greyhound for example). But overall it doesn’t take much to maintain their coat.

For the most part, brushing them once a week is enough. However, brushing more regularly can help during shedding season, as it is one of the best ways to keep the hair out of your home.

Which brush should you use? Well, as with all dogs, the type of brush you use depends on what sort of coat they are sporting.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have short, thick, waterproof double coats that come in a variety of colors, but mostly sedge, deadgrass and brown. Their top coat is harsh and oily and their undercoat is dense and wooly. Which is ideal for a rugged, hard working dog like the Chessie. As it not only insulates him from the extreme cold, often icy conditions in which he was bred to work, but it repels water and dirt.

Two Chessie dogs playing in the water

So, with this in mind, a bristle brush or rubber hound glove is all you really need to effectively maintain his coat. However, a good deshedding brush will help to remove more of the dead fur in less time. So, while these tend to be a little more expensive, they can save you some time and effort.

What about bathing?

You rarely ever have to bath Chessies, and it’s important not to overdo it in an attempt to remove the dead fur or simply because he smells a bit. Reason being, over bathing (or using low quality or human shampoo) can strip his coat of its natural oils and cause dryness. Which in turn can lead to excessive molting and just isn’t good for his coat.

It doesn’t hurt to rinse them off with some fresh water if they’ve been out swimming though, which is something they love doing.

Can You Stop Chessies From Shedding?

No, you cannot stop your Chessie from shedding, or any dog for that matter. Shedding is something most dogs do, this is a perfectly natural and normal thing. So the best thing to do, if you want to adopt one, is learn how to manage it properly.

And doing so mostly comes down to the following:

  • Regular brushing
  • Proper diet

You don’t want to brush him so much that it irritates his skin, but keeping on top of the brushing can make a huge difference and save you a lot of time vacuuming. It’s also good for his coat and can be an enjoyable bonding experience (once he’s used to it).

Ensuring his diet is optimal is something your veterinarian should be able to help you with. And opting for a dog food made of high quality ingredients can not only benefit your dog, but can reduce excessive amounts of shedding caused by poor nutrition.

What about shaving him, would that help?

It’s not a good idea to shave any double coated dog, unless your vet specifically recommends doing so. They need their double coat to help insulate them from both hot and cold weather, and protect them from things like sunburn and mosquitos.

Some Chessie owners have them lightly trimmed in some areas, but shaving down to the skin is not the solution to shedding. It may help short-term but it can actually cause dryness and irritation of the skin, which may increase shedding.

In any case, managing the shedding isn’t difficult. It’s really just a matter of regular grooming and making sure his coat is in good shape. You can learn more about reducing shedding here.

Bottom Line

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are one of the toughest dogs on the planet. They were bred to withstand the cold, harsh conditions of Chesapeake Bay and tirelessly retrieve downed waterfowl, like duck and geese, for their owners. They also make affectionate and loyal family companions.

However, like other great pointing breeds (such as the Weimaraners) and retrieving dogs (like the Labrador) they molt fairly heavily year-round.

So if you’re looking for a dog that won’t leave fur laying around your home, you may be better off with a lower shedding dog like the Brittany or American Water Spaniel.

And they’re not the best choice for allergy sufferers either as they are not a so-called hypoallergenic dog. There’s no such thing as a fully hypoallergenic dog anyway, but some dogs (like the Schnauzer) are more suited to people who have concerns about allergies than others. And the Chessie is simply not one of them.

With that being said, if you don’t mind a bit of fur floating around, then with regular brushing you can keep this to a minimum and enjoy the company of this truly awesome dog!

Do Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Shed?

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