9 Chesapeake Bay Retriever Colors (With Pictures)

Chesapeake Bay Retriever in three different colors

Although the Chesapeake Bay Retriever has not gained much popularity since its recognition, this underrated dog has a lot of undiscovered beauty, starting with its coat color.

Many dog enthusiasts and even their reputable breeders are still exploring the potential of this breed. Primarily, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was crossed with other dogs that possess distinct coat genes to create unique ones.

If you’re interested in the combinations that led to the colors and patterns of modern Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, this guide is for you! Here, we’ll talk about all Chesapeake Bay Retriever colors with pictures.

How Many Chesapeake Bay Retriever Colors Are There?

Chesapeake Bay Retriever relaxing outdoors

Most references would say that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever comes in three main colors: brown, sedge, and dead grass.

This dog does, in fact, have these colors, but they actually come in a range of tones, from light to dark.

As a result, different kennel groups have different interpretations of this dog breed’s coat color. Some even include tan and ash as the basic colors of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, while others do not.

Here is a list of the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers’ recognized coat colors according to the major kennel associations:

Kennel ClubRecognized Coat Colors
American Kennel Club (AKC)Brown, dark brown, light brown, dead grass, dark dead grass, light dead grass, sedge, and tan
United Kennel Club (UKC) All shades of brown, sedge, and dead grass
The Kennel Club (TKC)Dead grass, sedge, ash, and all shades of brown
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)All shades of dead grass
Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)All shades of brown, sedge, and dead grass

With the limitless shade variations between each basic color, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever may have more than three coat colors.

But then again, the recognition of each color will ultimately depend on the kennel club.

9 Chesapeake Bay Retriever Colors

Coat colors are important in purebred dogs for aesthetic purposes and conformation. But for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, the proper hue has more to do with function than beauty.

According to their breeding standards, these dogs must have coat colors that will help them blend in with their surroundings. Check out each camouflaging coat on the list below to learn more about it.

1. Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: rugers_world / Instagram

The first of the three basic colors available for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers is brown. This color is known as the “iconic color” of this breed and tends to be the favorite choice among hunters in hunting games.

These dogs can swiftly pounce on and retrieve game birds because of their aptitude for camouflaging themselves in their hunting habitat, along with their keen senses, intelligence, and agility.

2. Dark Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Dark Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: barrett_overland / Instagram

The dark brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever may look like it should be disqualified from the breeding standard. In the eyes of many, this color resembles black considerably.

However, this dog has a gene called B locus, which produces brown coloration, as opposed to K locus, which produces black coloring.

The deep color of the Chessies allows them to blend in with the muddy banks of the bay or river they are hunting in.

3. Light Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Light Brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image Credit: yelloweyedemmy / Instagram

The lighter shades of brown in the Chesapeake Bay Retriever are caused by a number of factors. This dog’s pigment may have been diluted, causing its coat to lighten from dark brown to pale brown.

Like other shades of brown, the light brown Chesapeake is prized for its ability to blend in flawlessly with the dead weeds and grasses that grow along the banks.

4. Dead Grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Dead Grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: thekirbster_ / Instagram

Different kennel clubs have various ways of defining the color of dead grass. Some describe it as a dark brown to fading tan color, while others simply say it is yellow.

The dead grass-colored Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, together with their keen, yellow-amber eyes, are ideal hunting partners in dry grasslands and other similar fields.

These dogs can easily blend in with the yellow dead grasses and wheat stalks that show up in the fall.

5. Light-Dead Grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Light Dead Grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: kyro.and.radar / Instagram

The light-dead grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever is usually referred to as the cream. This dog has a strong resemblance to Dudley Labradors, which have pastel yellow coats and pinkish noses.

Many dog owners refer to their light-dead grass-colored pets as “white dogs.” However, this is incorrect, as white Chesapeakes do not conform to the breed standard and are ineligible to be registered.

6. Dark Dead Grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Dead Grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever 1
Image Credit: gamehogg.chessies / Instagram

Another color that can be mistaken for brown is dark dead grass. This dark-colored dog, like other dead grass Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, has more of a yellow color but a darker tone.

Because of its coloring, this dark dead grass Chesapeake Bay Retriever appears to be one of the Golden Retriever mixes.

7. Sedge Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Sedge Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: rosie. the.chessie / Instagram

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers with red coats are referred to as “sedge-colored” dogs. This is a result of their capacity to resemble sedge, a grass-like plant that thrives on moist soils.

Most of the time, many individuals get confused between brown and red Chesapeake. These canines are more orange-brown or brilliant brown in color rather than red.

8. Ash Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Ash Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: agentcoopercbr / Instagram

The ash-colored Chesapeake Bay Retriever, sometimes known as the gray Chesapeake Bay Retriever, is not common in this dog breed.

Most kennel associations, except for The Kennel Club, do not recognize this color as separate from other colors. Instead, it is part of the primary colors, such as brown and dead grass, but not the sedge.

9. Tan Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Tan Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Image credit: quincythechessie / Instagram

Tan Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were dubbed “brown dogs” by many dog enthusiasts.

These dogs may fall under the “shades of brown” category, but according to the American Kennel Club, dogs with this color are different.

Tan Chesapeake Bay Retrievers typically exhibit orange rather than brown coloring. With this coloring, these dogs have an excellent ability to blend in with sunrises and sunsets.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Markings

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a dense wooly undercoat that allows it to blend perfectly with its hunting environment. This characteristic enables this dog to stalk its target without being noticed.

While solid color is preferred for this dog, it can also have patterns like masking, bridling, and saddling.

Some standards do not discuss these patterns. However, the American Kennel Club, Federation Cynologique Internationale, and other major kennel clubs expressly accepted and disqualified certain patterns.

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever may display a variety of patterns. This includes masking on the top skull, bright and dark body and leg stripes, clear and fuzzy saddle markings, agouti coloration, and tan points.

While these patterns are not preferred, they are not grounds for disqualification under the breeding standard.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever may also have white spots or honorable scars on any part of its body. However, this dog’s breast, belly, toes, or rear feet must have little to no spot. Otherwise, it will be penalized.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Breed Standards & Disqualifications

Chesapeake Bay Retriever standing on dried leaves

The Chesapeake Retriever’s coat color has different standards for each kennel club. However, when we examine each one carefully, they all boil down to the same point: this dog’s coat must match its environment.

Brown, sedge, and dead grass are the preferred colors for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. These are the basic ones, and they can even be varied in any shade, from light to dark.

However, this dog is not allowed to have either a black or a white coat under any circumstances. Only these two solid colors were officially excluded under all breeding standards.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Coat Color Genetics

The Chesapeake Retriever may not be as colorful as other dogs, but predicting the exact color and pattern of this dog can also be challenging.

A number of genes affect how its coat color expresses itself. Some genes control the degree of pigment in your dog’s fur, while others control specific markings or patterns.

Understanding how each gene functions is crucial if you want to guarantee that you can achieve the color you want.

The genes responsible for the usual coat colors found in Chesapeake Bay Retrievers include, but are not limited to:

  • MC1R: The red/yellow (e/e) variation of this gene avoids black pigmentation and improves the visibility of lighter colors of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.
  • Blue Dilution: Base coat colors are diluted to lighter tones due to this gene. For Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, the frequency of this gene is fixed at 6%.
  • Agouti: The Chesapeake Bay Retrievers’ coat color depends heavily on this gene. Any dog of this breed will have it, and it is present in the Ay variant, which contributes to the coat’s yellow hue.

Color mixing offers many potentials, but it requires a thorough understanding of how genetics works. To reduce the risks associated with color, it is best to breed dogs of the same color.

Do Chesapeake Bay Retriever Colors Affect Behavior and Health?

Chesapeake Bay Retriever tongue out

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever may be subject to discrimination due to its coat color. This dog may look strong and aggressive, yet no research has found that the color of this dog actually affects its behavior or health.

That being said, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever continues to possess a cheerful and upbeat demeanor regardless of coat color.

This dog will also have courage, intelligence, a strong work ethic, and an alert attitude that make it an ideal watchdog.

My colleague, who has been focusing on breeding Chesapeake Bay Retrievers for about 7 years, has successfully produced different colored Chesapeakes, especially brown, light brown, dead grass, and sedge.

He has mentioned that he has noticed no distinct behavioral differences between the same gender of different colors. All his Chesapeakes are known to be active, affectionate, and polite.

As for its health, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is fairly healthy by nature. However, there is a popular notion that dogs with diluted genes are inherently unhealthy.

Color dilution alopecia (CDA) is a genetic disease that can be inherited from diluted dogs. This condition causes the Chesapeake Bay Retriever to lose hair and suffer from skin issues.

However, CDA does not occur in all diluted dogs. If the two diluted dogs with healthy genes were mated, there would be no or a significantly lower chance of CDA.

Do Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

​​Several Chesapeake Bay Retriever owners have observed their dogs change colors quite a bit depending on the time of the year.

Some reported that their puppies darkened quite a bit in the summer, while others reported that their dogs got quite a bit lighter.

Amazingly enough, exposing your dog to the sun can bleach its coat. This process is similar to what humans do in the summertime just to have sun-bleached hair.

Aside from the sun, though, your dog’s coat color may vary due to a variety of factors, such as aging, stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal issues, and stains.

If you want to determine what your puppy’s fur coat will look like, try examining the tips of their ears; the color of their ears will reveal their true and ultimate color.

Although many people believe this method of identifying your dog’s color is accurate, there is no scientific evidence to back this up.

What Color Will My Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppy Be?

Chesapeake Bay Retriever side profile

A purebred Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy will have any of the following colors: brown, sedge, and dead grass. Obviously, if two dogs of the same color are crossed, there’s a big chance of having the same color.

It’s not impossible, however, for an offspring to have a color that differs from that of its parent. This dog breed carries numerous alleles of the agouti gene, which creates a large pool of potential colors in the offspring.

Asking a breeder or observing the coloring of the parents is the best method to find out what a puppy’s adult coloring will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chesapeake Bay Retriever on an open field

Can Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Be Black?

​​No, a black Chesapeake Bay Retriever is not recognized by the American Kennel Club and other major kennel associations.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were bred for a particular purpose, which is, specifically, to hide and blend in with their surroundings by means of camouflage.

What Kind of Coat Does a Chesapeake Bay Retriever Have?

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are well known for their double coats. These dogs have a dense, wooly undercoat that is layered over by short, coarse hair.

Their coats hold natural oils, making these dogs more water-resistant. These qualities equip them better for their hunting duties.

What Is the Rarest Color of Chesapeake Bay Retrievers?

Dead grass is the rarest of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s three basic colors. This coloring is a combination of light brown and red tones.

Dead grass isn’t just one color, though. It encompasses all of the dead grass’s yellow tones, from dull straw to faded brown. It may also be so light that it seems nearly white.

What Is the Most Common Chesapeake Bay Retriever Color?

A brown Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the most common color seen in this breed. This hue varies from light brown to bittersweet chocolate and smoothly complements the mud shores of the bay or river.

Aside from being the most common, this color is also the people’s top pick for the best Chesapeake color. Because of this, breeders are motivated to produce more of it.

Final Thoughts

The coat of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is quite unique in many ways. This dog breed has three primary colors, namely brown, sedge, and dead grass that vary from light to dark.

When picking a Chesapeake, remember that the breed’s color is not very significant.

However, if you have certain preferences, make sure to ask the breeder about its parents to ensure that you’re getting a healthy puppy with your desired color.

Have you ever encountered a Chesapeake Retriever that displayed one of the colors mentioned in this guide? Let us know what you think of them in the comments section!

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