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Thread: Need some info on Chessies

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    Default Need some info on Chessies

    I am looking to own and train my first hunting dog. I am strongly looking at a Chessie. I have done a lot of research on the breed but I am still looking for some info from people with first hand experiance with the Chessie. I am still trying to decide between a Lab or a Chessie, but I am leaning more towards a Chessie. Any info on the Chessie would be greatly appreciated.....how well you like the breed, does it train well, any problems faced, things you do and don't like about the breed....or anything else that comes to mind.

    Thanks for the help and again, anything is helpful.

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    They are loyal devoted retrievers. They handle Alaskan weather conditions well. They make great family dogs.
    As in any breed ..... Proper socialization is key. This needs to be done at a young age. If not they may react afraid or agressively at things they are not accustomed to or exposed to previously.
    I have trained a lot of fine chessies. Got a young female in training here now. It doesn't take a 2x4 to train them though sometimes it may seem like it. This breed takes a lot of repetition for them to learn. You may teach them something one day and then progress to the next. But 2 or 3 days later you are out training with them and it's like they've never seen this before. You've gotta be patient during this process and be willing to take a step back when needed. Getting frustrated and having the 2x4 training mentality only compounds the problem.
    Some male chessies can be strong willed. So you better be prepared to match mental will power.
    Always ask to see the parents. Maybe even ask to see them in a public place. Just to see how socialized they are. I say this cause I've seen some aggression issues in certain lines and certainly would want to cull that out of the breeding stock. Asking the breeder about show and/or working titles is a good way to ensure the sire and dam have a good working attitude. Next questions to ask would be about health clearances. There are quiet a few. I'll leave that info open to some of experienced breeders on here. 3cbrs is very knowledgeable on chessies. There are some others but she is most accessible via this forum.

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    I've had Chessies for the last 30 years. They are extremely loyal and can be possessive which is a drawback to some. When I was a kid, I hunted waterfowl everyday and I owned a black lab and a chessie. We hunted the Greater Canadian geese which got up to 20 pounds. Many times we'd knock a bird down in the water and the Lab would on a retrieve only to get abused by a wounded goose. The Chessie would go out there and bring the goose back everytime. The one I have now came from Chesapeake Rescue which adopts out abused or abandoned dogs. I adopted her when she was 4. She was gun shy and very dominate over other dogs. By working with her I was able to break her domination and now she goes crazy when she sees a gun knowing that we are going hunting. The point is that even older Chessies can be trained and aren't stubborn like some people say. Good Luck and I recommend looking at the Chesapeake Rescue website. There are lots of good dogs available and some of the dogs hard luck stories will bring a tear to your eye.

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    I had a Chessie who passed away a little over a year ago, and when the time comes I would not hesitate to get another one. I also have had a lab and they will do anything you need them to do, ducks, geese, upland etc.

    Baron has some great info posted above and HomerAdam's testimonial is valid too.

    3CBRS posted a link to an article about the different working traits of the three main retrievers breeds. It was an interesting article you might take a peak at it...http://oakhillkennel.com/library/breeds.html

    They are probably not the best dog to learn to train dogs with, but if you can be patient and enjoy the process it will be okay.
    I would also say that if you can get out and train with other retriever people you will have help for one thing (you need lots of bodies for retriever training) and you can learn from their experience.
    Good luck

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    Thanks for all the info so far. Everything has been very helpful. One question that has come up is, do chessies like to make up their own mind on how they get the job done? Or do they still listen to you no matter what? I by all means do not know what I am doing. This will be my first dog that I have owned. As Burke said that they are probably not the best to be the first dog to train unless you are patient and I have heard that from a couple people. Is the chessie not a good breed to start with as a first dog? I am a very patient person and am looking forward to working with a dog and getting it to do what I want. I know it takes a lot of work and time and I am prepared to do whatever it takes. I know a couple guys that have trained dogs and i will be asking lots of questions and have them help me where ever possible. One of which has only ever owned chessies and is willing to help me with any questions I have.

    Thanks again for all the input and help.

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    Years back I owned several CBRs and am tempted to own another. The above advice is all sound but another consideration is gender. If I were hunting mostly alone or at least without other dogs, I'd get a male as they are the most effective duck retrieving machine out there but don't tolerate competition for the birds. I found the females to be a more amiable family dog as in most breeds.

    Another trait I noticed in my dogs was the desire to dive off banks and docks into the water.....they seem to love it. Your boat or truck become their property and you need not worry about locking your truck while the dog is in it.

    Fifty years ago, the better CBR lines came out of Alaska....Aleutian King I believe.

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    qtip ...the Chessie may not be the best starter dog, but you have shared that you are willing and understand the task at hand. By admitting you don't know dogs and are willing to learn tells me you will do fine.
    If you have someone who has experience with training retrievers and you can be patient, persistent and consistent you can be successful with a Chessie as your first trained dog. Just remember that if the training sessions start to go south, take a break, both you and the dog will be better for it and as Baron says, Chessies do not take well to harsh training methods. They learn better by repetition rather than force. My Weimaraner was way more stubborn and would take a lot more pressure than the Chessie. As always the personality of the dog is unique and is greatly influenced by its environment. early socialization and exposure to lots of scenarios is key.
    My first attempt to train and run a retriever in Hunt Tests was a Chessapeake...I had worked with pointers before but not so much with retrievers and I was humbled many times by the Chessie. He turned out to be a great dog despite my inexperience.
    My Chessie (Willy) was an independent thinker but it helped me find wounded birds, I didnt mind it as long as it was the exception...in a test or trial is where the independence could be troublesome. Once Willy learned something he was pretty darn consistent at performing it.

    As much as the Chessie is a one man dog, at times I would send mine to training, fun trials and hunting with friends and he performed well for each of them. He was driven to hunt and work and therefore it didn't matter who was sending him on to retrieve.

    I would say to take your time in researching the breed and the breeders, go out and meet some Working Chessies. If you have the time go out and join a retriever training group even before you get your dog. There's are lots of good resources, books, videos etc out there that you can utilize well before the pup lands on the porch...knowing the big, long term picture is helpful to understand the steps to getting there. I had to wait a year for my pup because I was 4th on the list and only three pups were delivered. I spent the year throwing birds and training without a dog and learned a ton before I got Willy.

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    One other thing to consider is where you are at in your life. I have a 10 year old chessie male. When it was just him and I, everything was great. As I got married and had kids he seems to feel like he has moved down the totem pole. He still retrieves well, and is now protective of the kids. The drawbacks have been that he does not listen to my wife's commands, and seems to make his own decisions about when to heel and stay. He has not fully accepted my wife or our kids as part fo the family. He is great around the kids and tolerates all thier toddler ways. All in all, he is still a great dog, but there have been some growing pains. With that being said, I am currently looking for a female chessie to be our next family dog.

    When your chessie hits the water, and breaks ice to get ducks you, will not be able to conceal your pride!!! Especially when everyone else's dog won't go into the cold water.
    "Next time you feel important, try telling someone elses Chesapeake to do something"-- anonymous

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    I love the breed, always have. They are loyal, smart, tough and funny, and yes, I do think, harder to train than most labs. There is no reason you should not consider a Chessie as your first dog. But I would caution you to find a good puppy from a good breeder. I am knowledgeable about the breed and would be happy to talk with you in more detail. Baron also has given you some great advice. I think the young female he was referring to in his post is my pup "Bera" a nice breeding from my last litter of CH WR Chesaka Zoe's Bruin Hilde WDX and CH Z's Blazing Backdraft MH ***. If I would give a piece of advice is buy wisely, socialize early and often, don't rush the field training as a pup but do obedence, and socialize a lot. Oh, and they are going to want to be with you like all the time!
    Mary Pemberton, Chesaka Kennel, Chugiak

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    Lots of great advice for chessie owners on this thread. My chessie girl is now 11, we had a 4 yr old lab when we got her as a pup, and in my chessie's 11 years of life we have had 3 kids and recently added a St. Bernard to our household, our lab passed away last year. That being said, my chessie has adjusted well to all that change, no problems at all. I socialized my chessie a lot when she was young and she has spent every summer with me at our fish camp on the kenai and in the boat with me when I am guiding, I think clients remeber my chessie more than me! Great dogs.

    Mary, I will be looking for another chessie within the next year or two, keep us posted when you have upcoming litters, I would like to buy local if I can and have the opporunity to meet the parents. My current Chessie came out of Lakeshore Kennels in Ws.

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    I will probably breed Hilde again either next year or the year after. If you like, why don't you email me your contact information and that way I can keep you posted. Hilde is here with me and I would consider a repeat breeding to Blazer. My email is pembertonmary@yahoo.com. I also am on Facebook and Hilde is the dog in my profile picture.

  12. #12

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    Got my first Chessie last January from ASD Kennels in Montana. Really good folks and top notch as far as the dog, their communication and shipping. I was nervous about shipping a dog, but she was totally unaffected by the flight...probably because she is a Chessie.

    Anyway, I have loved getting to know this dog and the breed in general. Quite impressive. She is definitely a 4x4 dog and to be honest, in my opinion, has a hint of "wild animal" in her, which I have not discouraged. She is tough as nails and retrieves through any brush or conditions I have thrown at her.

    As far as your questions:

    how well you like the breed: Love it. So far, 10 out of 10. Quite impressive.

    does it train well: This was my first Chessie and first time training a dog for hunting. I have done obedience training before, but not retrieving. She has been amazing throughout. I started training from 2 books, but settled mainly on the book Water Dog. I tried to follow it pretty much to the letter, though I got her a week later than the book recommends. (Couldn't ship during the week she turned 7 weeks due to winter restrictions.) I started her out right away with the basics and moved into some of the hunting applications as the book said. Worked like a charm. Yes, she is a bit stubborn, but for a person like myself who is demanding and looks for perfection, that is a good thing. She is not a soft dog at all and should I overcorrect her a little, it really doesn't phase her resolve or energy. She is the smartest dog I have ever been around, and I have owned some geniuses. She learned to go to the door in 4 days and although she had accidents for a few weeks, it was only because of her youth, not her understanding to go to the door. I actually force fetched her a little earlier than the book recommends, but she took to it easily and since about age 14 weeks has never returned without the dummy. Never. Not exaggerating. After she was pretty good with sit, stay, and come, I moved to the whistle and she picked it up within an hour and was getting it just fine after a couple days. I have never used a shock collar with her, although it would have been helpful at times. Today, she is pretty much perfect at obedience, whether it is sit, come, stay, or retrieving. Unfortunately for her, I was not able to duck hunt much this year and I didn't know where to go to get anything the days we went, so she is still waiting for her first duck. Maybe next weekend, who knows? LOL

    any problems faced: My only real issue with her is also a strength: fearless. She is fearless about everything and it makes me have to watch her closely sometimes. She doesn't understand that a car or a quad could hurt her, as evidenced this morning as she chased after and bit my plow while I moved snow with the quad. Metal plow, 1000lb 6x6...she doesn't care. Her fearlessness and stubborn streak just make me have to watch and teach a bit more. Oh, and their sense of smell is amazing, but if she is locked in on something, I can be 20 feet away and she literally does not hear me sometimes. The whistle always works, but not always the voice. Also, when correcting her, it is not like other dogs I have had. She hates to disappoint me, but honestly, if I have to get on ti her or spank her, it only lasts about 10 seconds at most. She really doesn't care that much afterwards. (For example, she is not allowed to go near the chicken coop or get into their feed or poop. Eating either one is upsetting to her stomach and I am the one who has to clean it up! But if she can sneak a bite and take a rap on the butt, she will! She is submissive when I say "No!" and when I whoop her butt...but as soon as I am done, she will lick her chops and be back to her playful self as if to say "yeah, yeah, yeah. it was worth it!" LOL) Again, I think it is a good thing because she won't become shy and timid.

    things you do and don't like about the breed: Love their size, sense of smell, toughness, and that she NEVER GETS COLD! Loves the snow, icy water, whatever. She doesn't get bothered. I am the one who has to stop her outside so she doesn't injure her feet from frostbite! Only thing I really dislike is their price! LOL

    Hope this helps! I am a Chessie man for life now.

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    I just wanted to sent a quick note and thank everyone for all the info and your experiances you have provided me with. It just makes me want to get a chessie even more.

    Thanks again for all the help.

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    The best way to decide is to spend time with people who have both. Just as there is a difference in general between Labs and Chessies, there is a diffence between male and female and between dogs even of the same litter. If you spend time with others you'll find the personality you lean towards. And you may find you like Labrador people better than Chessie people, hunters better than competitors or viceversa. When I started out it really was the helpful people that guided me to Labs. Lately I've found the same kind of people with upland dogs and liking some of those breeds as I get to know them. It's a total package.The events, training partners, and the dog. Without one part the others are not so fun.

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    One of my favorite articles on Lab vs Chessy

    Chessie or Lab: It’s a matter of taste
    Rising to the Bait
    Dan Sisson
    The Anchorage Times
    Sunday, August 29, 1982

    In all the annals of dogdom there is no rivalry as the longstanding as that between the Chesapeake Bay retriever and the Labrador. It began over 400 years ago when the Chesapeake’s made their first appearance on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. At lease two centuries later a Labrador showed up and as far as tradition goes, the Chessies have it all over the Labs.

    This initial edge given to the Chesapeake is not inconsiderable, as anyone the least concerned with history will know. In any comparison between the two dogs it may easily led to sense of innate superiority but fortunately or unfortunately that feeling transferred to the Chesapeake owners – a fact that many refuse to let Lab owners forget.

    Chesapeake owners, being the most rational of men (few women own Chesapeakes as a rule, while more than a few own Labs) maintain there are scientific reasons for their attitude. Chesapeakes are hardier dogs. They have thicker hair and more fat on their bodies than Labs and that enables them to withstand more cold.

    The Chesapeake’s glands secrete more oil on the coat, thus making the hair more resistant to freezing air and water. Beside a Chesapeake will plunge into icy water all day long to retrieve ducks and then ask for more, while a Lab will often sit, cowering in the blind, shaking, refuse to dive thirty feet below an ice flow to retrieve a Canvasback. Evolution then would appear to favor the Chesapeake.

    It is said that Labs are more congenial, more lovable and more gentle; while Chessies are too independent, mulish and simply impossible. In addition, Chesapeakes smell while Labs are odoriferous and only smell when wet. But, as every dog lover knows, these are matters of perception and differ with the individual dog. They have nothing to do with genetics.

    But ask any Chesapeake owner what he thinks of congenial, lovable gentle and odoriferous dogs and he’ll say, “You don’t want a retriever, you want a rabbit.” Chesapeakes owners are basic types, not given to fancy anything.

    When the focus shifts from dog to owner the trouble really starts. I've never met someone who owned a Chesapeake that wasn't hard-headed, ornery and fiercely independent. Lab owners on the other hand are suave, urbane and bear all the marks of good breeding. They wear well, like their dogs; but the only question for a Chesapeake owner is: “Would you go hunting with one?” The real test for dog lovers though is how a boy or girl reacts to a puppy for her is where the future Lab or Chessie owner is bred. One boy I know very well told me about his Chesapeake this way.

    “For the first three months she chewed on everything: furniture, rugs, cloths, blankets, toys and newspapers. Nothing loose or attached was secure and it didn't matter how soft or hard it was. My father built her a doghouse and she ate it, roof and all. Within two months shed had chewed every board into inch-long splinters.

    “Not only was she headstrong, she turned out to have the strength of at least three dogs. After the second month she never tired but grew amazingly stronger. She was so rugged no one could hold her on the leash. Every collar we put on her was broken with in a week.

    “She ate three times as much as the average dog and always wanted more. For the first year she never left a scrap, no matter how much was put in front of her. “For six months she howled at the moon, nearly every nigh. She barked at strangers as well as friends and took great delight in scaring little children and old ladies. The occasional deliveryman would throw our packages in the yard rather than come to the door at which point the Chessie would try to devour them.

    “Whenever I took her down to a shallow stream to play she would race up to the water’s edge and then put on the brakes. If we threw her in she’d panic, swim around in circles, snorting and coughing, and pretend she was drowning. If we took her out we couldn't get near enough to catch her for the rest of the day.

    That was more than four years ago and the boy has become a Chesapeake believer. When I asked him if he might someday be a Lab owner his reply put the issue of rivalry between and Labs into perspective. “I might get a Lab,” he said, “but if I could razz the Lab owners it would take half the fun out of life. And besides I want to win one of those field trials that always go to the Labradors.”


    Another story on differences.

    How to tell what type of retrievers the owner had after a burglary.

    When the owner comes home and all the valuables and the dog are gone, they had a Golden Retriever.

    Goldens are so anxious to please they went around and pointed out where the owner hid the valuables. They love everyone so they left with the burglars.

    When the owner comes and the valuables are missing but the dog is still there, the have a Labrador.

    Labradors also are anxious to please, they went around and pointed out where the owner hid all the valuable, but they are very loyal so it stayed and waited for the owners to come home.

    If the owner comes home and everything is in its place and there is blood on the door step they have a Chesapeake.

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    I love that article! Lol...so true!

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