A reader who has recently become keen on wildfowling is wondering whether this would be the perfect breed?

Q: I am new to wildfowling but I am totally hooked. I have never owned a dog before but hanker for a Chesapeake Bay retriever because I have read so much about them as excellent wildfowling dogs. Do you think this would be a suitable breed?

A: It’s great to hear that you are enjoying your wildfowling; 
I am sure you will enjoy it even more when you have a dog alongside you. Labradors tend to be the most popular dog among wildfowlers and you shouldn’t completely disregard them, but if you have developed an interest in ‘Chessies’ you owe it to yourself to find out more and make 
a balanced decision.

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Cheapeake Bay retrievers can be challenging to train

Chesapeake Bay retrievers – a superb breed

As a wildfowler’s dog Chesapeake Bay retrievers have so much to offer.  — size and strength, staying power, they are great at swimming, have a thick and waterproof coat and a long history 
of doing exactly the job you need. But they can be more challenging to train compared with a Labrador.

It would be foolhardy to take on a breed that is too much for you as a novice owner and trainer, so give yourself time to fully investigate the Chessie. Get in touch with the Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club, which will be delighted to hear from a potential new supporter and will, I am sure, help you locate others involved with Chessies, who can give you expert advice. Ideally, you need to visit some breeders to see their dogs and if possible watch them working, too.

I have known two Chesapeake Bay retrievers owned by friends — both wonderful dogs, but each was said 
to be rather strong-willed in training, though they certainly mellowed as they matured.
If you do decide on a Chessie you will probably be told not to expect 
too much too soon from your new dog, so be patient. I am sure it will 
be worth it.

springer spaniel dream gundog

The dream gundog team

I’ll tell you what I want to see behind me when I am standing in a line of guns outside a likely looking…

What to know about the breed

  • A breed of dog that will hunt in bad weather, often breaking the ice to make a retrieve
  • Bred to retrieve game but also sit in the boat
  • The breed is very protective of owners and property
  • Has a “waterproof” coat that can feel a bit oily
  • Colours include light to dark brown
  • Some dogs “smile” by baring their front teeth in a grin