Chesapeake Bay Retriever vs Labrador: Major Differences

The key distinctions between a Labrador Retriever and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever stem from their lineage and breeding objectives. Both breeds excel as gun and hunting dogs, but the Labrador Retriever boasts a much longer breed history than the relatively younger Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Check out our detailed Chesapeake Bay Retriever vs Labrador guide.

  • Labs are happy-go-lucky and sociable with cute and friendly faces. Chessies are more independent and protective, making them the better dog for experienced dog owners.
  • A labrador retriever breed is a better family pet and makes great family members, while Chessies are a lesser-known breed that requires a strong leader to bring out their best qualities.
  • Labs have a smoother coat and come in a wider range of colors, while Chessies have a thicker coat with fewer colors. Both are highly intelligent and make excellent hunting dogs and retrieving dogs. The final choice fits your lifestyle, experience level, and personal preferences.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Vs Labrador: Overview

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, often called “Chessie,” is a distinctive breed with impressive retrieving skills and a curly, waterproof, thick outer coat. Their name, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, stems from their purpose of retrieving waterfowl in the frigid, icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. They were initially bred for retrieving waterfowl. Their loyal and protective personalities make Chessies great family companions for family adventures.

curly coated retriever vs chesapeake bay retriever
chocolate lab vs chesapeake bay retriever

Labrador Retriever dog breeds

Labrador Retriever, or “Lab,” is the most beloved breed. Due to their friendly and outgoing personalities, Labs are often used as service dogs in rescue operations and are low-maintenance dogs.

They love water and have excellent retrieving skills, making them a great family dog and a better family. They are high-energy dogs and an affectionate dog breed.

Various clubs accept these breeds, namely:- United Kennel Club, National Kennel Club, Continental Kennel ClubAustralian National Kennel Council, Kennel Club Dog Registry of North America, and Cynologique Internationale Kennel Club. Mostly all national breed club websites feature and accept them.

chesapeake labrador retriever
chesapeake bay retriever vs labrador

Does A Chessy And a Labrador Retriever Look The Same?

You may be unable to differentiate between a Chesapeake Bay Retriever (Chessie) and a Labrador Retriever in a dog park. It’s a common issue many first-time dog owners face, especially since these two breeds share many physical traits.

Size and Build

One of the most noticeable differences between Chessies and Labradors is their size and build. Chessies are generally larger and more muscular than Labs, with a broader, deeper chest, thicker neck, and wider head. They weigh between 55 and 80 pounds and stand around 21 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder.

In contrast, Labs are leaner and more athletic, with a narrower chest, longer legs, and a  streamlined body. They weigh between 55 and 80 pounds and stand around 21 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder.

Coat and Color

Another critical difference is their coat and color. Chessies have a wavy, short, and wooly undercoat of fur that’s oily to the touch, which protects them when swimming in cold water.

Chessie’s super repellent coat comes in shades of brown, ranging from light to dark, with a distinctive red tint to their excellent fur coat. A Labrador retriever has a short, thick natural labrador coat that’s dense and waterproof. Their coat comes in various colors, including black, yellow, and chocolate.

Head and Face

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever exhibits an intelligent expression with medium-sized, clear, yellowish, or amber eyes set wide apart.

The ears are small, set high on the head, and hung loosely with medium leather. Their skull is broad and round with a medium stop, while the nose is medium-short. The muzzle is tapered, pointed but not sharp, and the same length as the skull. The lips are thin and not pendulous.

A gentle and kind expression characterizes the labrador breed. The skull is broad with a defined stop and without fleshy cheeks. The muzzle is of medium length, powerful, and not pointed. The nose is broad with well-developed nostrils.

Their eyes are medium-sized, almond, or diamond-shaped (a sign of an intelligent breed. They have a  good temperament and dark brown or hazel eyes. The ears are medium-sized, hang close to the head, and are set rather far back. The jaws and teeth are strong, and a scissor bite is preferred.


The tail is another critical difference between these two breeds. Chessies have a distinctive tail that’s thick at the base and tapers to a point, resembling an otter-like tail. Their tail is also carried high, like a flag. ‘

Labradors, on the other hand, have a tail that’s thick at the base and gradually tapers to the tip. They carry their tail at a medium height and use them to communicate their mood and emotional level.

lab vs chesapeake bay retriever
chesapeake bay retriever vs labrador retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever VS Labrador: A Detailed Comparison

While both breeds are great dogs, they have notable differences that might make one a better fit for your lifestyle than the other. 


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever originated from a shipwreck in 1807 off the coast of Maryland in the Chesapeake bay area. Two Newfoundland pups, a male named ‘Sailor’ and a female named ‘Canton’  survived the wreck. They had great adaptability potential.

They were bred with local sporting breed dogs, including Curly and Flat-coated Retrievers. The resulting breed became unmatched in retrieving in cold weather conditions.

The Labrador Retriever originated as a versatile waterdog and retriever on Newfoundland Island. Due to anti-dog laws, the breed was almost wiped out in its native land but was saved and preserved in England. These dogs love water and retrieving. They have excellent noses and gentle mouths.

chesapeake bay labrador
chesapeake labrador


The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a muscular dog with a wavy, waterproof coat with shades of brown, sedge, or dead grass. They have webbed feet, making them strong swimmers as they are great water dogs.

In contrast, the labrador dog breed has a medium-sized, sturdy working appearance and a compact build. They are athletic and have broad skulls, ribs, powerful hindquarters, and loins. Essential traits of these water mammals include a water-resistant double coat, an otter tail, and a sound temperament.

Temperament And Energy Level

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Labrador Retriever both are friendly, loyal family pets. The former tend to be more stubborn than a labrador retriever and need obedience training. They can have strong personalities and may be wary of strangers.

Continuous obedience training and early socialization are necessary. Chessies have a dominant personality and are less prone to separation anxiety. In contrast, the Labrador Retriever is a popular dog breed that is friendly and outgoing. They are even used as therapy dogs because they are kid-friendly dog breeds.  Labrador is a more sensitive dog breed suited for office environments.

chesapeake bay retriever vs chocolate lab
chesapeake bay retriever black lab mix


Both breeds are active dogs requiring plenty of exercise. However, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever needs more practice than the Labrador Retriever breed. They were bred as working dogs and possessed high energy levels. They need at least 1-2 hours of exercise in their daily routine with opportunities to swim.

Labrador Retrievers are also active but can get by with less activity. They need around 30-60 minutes of exercise daily, such as a brisk walk or a game of fetch. Their average wanderlust potential is much more.

Proper Training

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Labrador Retriever are intelligent dogs that respond well to training. However, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever can be more challenging to train than Labradors due to their independent streak. They may require more patience and more intense dog training sessions. A Labrador Retriever is generally easier to train. If trained properly, they make for an excellent watchdog.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever VS Labrador: Which is a Healthier Breed?

Both are generally healthy pups and have a similar lifespan. However, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is more prone to specific health issues than a Labrador Retriever, like degenerative myelopathy.

They may develop hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, and allergies. Labrador Retriever is prone to obesity and certain types of cancer.


The chesador breed and the Labrador Retriever have hearty appetites and require a nutritious diet to stay healthy. However, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever has more specific dietary needs due to their susceptibility to certain health issues.

They benefit from high-quality dry food rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in carbohydrates. Labradors can benefit from a diet high in protein and low in fat to prevent obesity. They can have human food as well.

Grooming & Coat Type

Both breeds have different grooming requirements. Chesador breeds are long-haired and need regular brushing to maintain their water-resistant coat to prevent matting.

The coat is thick and wavy and requires proper care. They are prone to excessive shedding. A few professional grooming sessions per year may be necessary for them.

A Labrador Retriever is a short-haired breed with a dense coat that is easy to maintain with regular brushing. They do shed seasonally and may need more frequent brushing during shedding periods.

Puppy Price

The average price of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy and a Labrador Retriever puppy can vary depending on the breeder and location.

However, Chessies are generally rarer than a Labrador Retriever and more expensive. On average, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s price can be anywhere from $1,000 to $1,800, while a Labrador Retriever puppy can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever life expectancy

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever and a Labrador Retriever have a similar lifespan of around 10-12 years. However, some factors such as genetics, diet, and exercise can affect their lifespan.

The best way to choose the right dog for you is to spend time with different breeds, research, and find the one that fits your lifestyle best. Chessies and Labradors are lovely dogs with unique personalities and traits, so whichever breed you choose, you will surely have a loving and loyal companion.


Can You Train A Chessie The Same As The Labrador Retriever?

No, you cannot train a Chesapeake Bay Retriever the same way as a Labrador Retriever, as they are two completely different breeds with different temperaments and learning styles.

What Is Better About A Labrador Retriever?

A Labrador Retriever is known for their friendliness, trainability, and versatility in many activities, such as hunting, service, and therapy. They are high-energy dogs who are short-haired breeds. Classic breed for the office environment. Labradors are best for novice or first-time owners due to their high affection level.

What Is Better About a Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

Due to their thick coat and webbed feet, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever excels as a hunting dog and retrieving game in rough, icy waters. They are a sporting breed. Recommended for an experienced dog owner

Who Should Get A Labrador Retriever?

Active individuals or families with time for daily exercise and training would enjoy owning a Labrador Retriever.

Who Should Get A Chesapeake Bay Retriever?

Experienced lab owners who enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting and swimming in cold weather would appreciate a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

do chesapeake bay retrievers shed more than labs?

No, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers do not shed more than Labrador Retrievers. In fact, some experts believe that Labs shed slightly more than Chessies. Both breeds are considered to be moderate shedders, meaning they shed year-round but more heavily during the spring and fall shedding seasons.

Does A Chesapeake Bay Retriever Have a Protective Nature?

While the Chesapeake Bay Retriever can be protective of their owners, they are not bred or trained for guarding or protection work. They make a terrible guard dog.

What are Some Other Water Dogs?

American Water Spaniels and Irish Water Spaniels are great water dogs

are chesapeake bay retrievers rare?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are a relatively uncommon breed, ranked the 50th most popular breed by the American Kennel Club out of 197 recognized breeds.

Author Profile

Sarah Sheikh
Sarah SheikhProduct Reviews Specialist and Cofounder
Labradors have an extraordinary capacity for love and companionship, and my mission is to help you unlock their full potential. Hi there! I'm Sarah, a proud contributor to Labradorandyou, the go-to online resource for all Labrador Retriever enthusiasts. As a lifelong owner and avid admirer of these remarkable dogs, I bring a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience to our readers.

One of my strongest beliefs is in the power of positive reinforcement training. I'm truly passionate about helping our readers build strong, positive relationships with their Labradors. Whether you're a first-time owner or a seasoned Labrador enthusiast, I aim to provide you with the resources and guidance to cultivate a bond that will endure a lifetime.