For the Educated Buyer

It is important for puppy buyers to realize the influence they have on the future of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever breed. Demanding your next puppy comes from a registered litter with health certified sire and dam enhances the health of the genepool for generations to come. If you care about the Chesapeake, hold your breeder to a higher standard and walk away from breeders who are uninformed or do not care about your puppy or our breed.

Registration

ALL ethical breeders register their litters.

Not registering dogs, in essence, removes them from the genepool. They can no longer be bred to produce purebred Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. If puppies are worth bringing into the world they should be worth registering. Registration means a dog has a pedigree and breeders can use that information to make educated breeding decisions based on ancestry.

ALL ethical breeders in Canada & the USA register their litters and individual puppies with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) or the Amercian Kennel Club (AKC). Be aware of deceptive practices of using substandard registries as a substitute. (i.e. Continental Kennel Club)

Please note, registration alone does not ensure a breeder is ethical. The onus is still on the buyer to do further research. There are many misconceptions about the CKC's role in breeding. They do not require health testing, DNA testing etc. only that the breeder endorse that the pedigree is accurate and they have followed the bylaws. The CKC does have means in place to enforce bylaws however this is not done proactively but rather on a complaint basis.


"Purebred" without papers = federal crime

Plain and simple. The Animal Pedigree Act clearly states: "No person shall: ... h) offer to sell, contract to sell or sell, as a purebred of a breed, any animal that is not registered or eligible to be registered as a purebred by the association authorized to register animals of that breed or by the Corporation;"

Health

ALL ethical breeders screen their dogs for inherited defects for which tests are available. This is much more than a "vet check". Some certifications require examination by veterinary specialists. Breeders who don't test, often argue that even if sire and dam have certifications, the offspring could be affected. This is true with eyes, hips and elbows. However breeding dogs that test normal in these areas greatly reduce the odds of the offspring having problems. The DNA tests, on the other hand, are nearly 100% accurate. Failure to use these tests is neglectful.


Hips & Elbows

These certifications are performed via x-rays submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals (OFA). They are performed once in a dog's lifetime after they reach the age of 2. ALL passing results are posted on the OFA website. Abnormal results are available publicly only with owner permission. You can go to www.offa.org and search the registered name of the sire and dam and see their results. If you've been told the hips of the parents are good but you can't find them in the database, that is a serious red flag.

OFA Hips: Normal results are Excellent, Good, Fair. Borderline, Mild, Moderate or Severe are not normal.

OFA Elbows are scored Normal, Grade I, II or III Dysplasia.

PennHIP is also a valid hip evaluation method. Since it is not widely used at this time in the Chesapeake community here is a link for further investigation. PennHip Info


Eyes

OFA CAER Certification (Formerly CERF) should be updated annually or at least within 12 months before each breeding. The older the dog, the more likely problems are to be discovered.


EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse)

PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)

DM (Degenerative Myelopathy)

The 3 diseases above have DNA tests available. These tools provide breeders the ability with nearly 100% accuracy to nearly eliminate the possibility of any offspring from having to deal with these devastating diseases. For each disease, ONE parent must be clear in order for the pups to be unaffected / not at risk. DM is a bit more complex and slightly less accurate than the others but for all intents and purposes, recommended breeding selections are the same.


Other Tests

There are various other tests that may be done. A breeder must know their lineage and if these are concerns, they should be screening. Thyroid and heart are the two most common. If any type of heart murmur is detected, an advanced cardiac test (such as echocardiogram) is called for. Some breeders also must test for Ectodermal Dysplasia. The dog where this problem originated has been isolated so only breeders with that particular dog in their pedigree need to test for it. See how important that pedigree can be? There is also a DNA test for the long coat gene. Ethical breeders avoid producing this disqualifying fault.


American Chesapeake Club Health Tests Database

All of the above tests may be listed in the OFA database which is publicly accessible at this link: https://www.ofa.org/. With the exception of hips and elbows, the owner must pay a fee for each test to be listed. This led to many owners not listing their information. Recognizing the need for a centralized FREE health test database, the ACC (American Chesapeake Club) has developed this database. Owners need only submit their test results to the ACC and they will be posted for public viewing for no charge. Follow the link below and search on the sire and dam of the litter. With this new free service, there is no excuse for having health certifications that are not easily verifiable.

Titles

Titles are Important

I'm not going to show my dog or run tests and trials so why should I care about titles?

Titles from various venues speak to a dog's conformation, trainability, etc. but beyond that it shows that your breeder is out doing SOMETHING with their dog(s). A breeder out earning titles is in constant contact with other breeders and dogs learning how their dogs compare to what others are producing and more and more about the breed and breeding in general.

A dog's ability to be competetive in any venue is a testament to a its temperament and trainability. Will it allow a strange judge to touch it everywhere from head to toe in the conformation ring? Will it sit and patiently "honour" while another dog retrieves a bird?

Beyond

Dogs are more than health tests and titles.

There should be a lot more that goes into breeding than the minimums outlined above. Having a registered, titled, health certified male with functional testicles and a registered, titled, health certified female with functioning ovaries does not mean they should be bred. A truly good breeder goes far beyond those minimums to create the best matches. They ensure the strengths and weaknesses of the sire and dam and their pedigrees complement one another. They are not breeding just to "make puppies". They are looking for the next generation to be used in the preservation and advancement of our beloved breed.

Good breeders will:
  • Ensure buyers are adequately educated on the breed.
  • Have a mentor in the breed and /or be a mentor.
  • Pursue a lifetime of education on the breed and breeding.
  • Attend regularly US National Specialties for either field or conformation.
  • Track health problems other than those for which there are tests available.
  • Stays in touch with their dogs for their lifetime.
  • Make difficult decisions to remove dogs they love from their breeding program when it is in the best interest of the breed and their kennel.
  • Is an invaluable resource when you encounter problems and is always willing to help.
Red flags:
  • Multiple litters from the same stud.
  • Refuse to give out pedigree information / registred names of sire and dam.
  • Puppies going home before 8 weeks.
  • Sire or dam under 2.5 years of age.
  • Breeding for "rare" colours.
  • Intentional breeding of long coats (sometimes called curly) or other disqualifying faults.
  • Guarantee that requires return of the puppy.
  • "Vet checked" instead of legitimate health certifications.
  • "Champion pedigree" but no champions on-site.
  • Low quality food used.
  • A disturbing trend we've noticed lately is sire or dam listed as "rescue" dogs.
  • A lack of knowledge of the breed and health clearances.
  • Advertising hypo-allergenic or low-shedding.
  • Crossed with another breed.
  • No care for how the next generation will be bred.
Price

Price is Complex

A breeder could make a tidy profit selling Chesapeake puppies for $500-600 or they could also lose money at $2000 per puppy.

Expect a registered Chesapeake puppy from parents with clearances to cost a minimum of $1000 - more realistically $1200. Registrations, health clearances, food and vet bills are all costly and steadily rising in price. A puppy from a breeder taking more steps to ensure the health and future of the breed will be in the $1500-2000 range.

Expenses for an individual litter can vary vastly. Some expenses that may need to be covered are: stud fee, semen shipping or travel to stud, ovulation timing testing, brucellosis tests, trans-cervical or surgical insemination, whelping equipment & supplies, supplements for male and female, C-section, puppy food, post-whelp veterinary care, puppy vaccinations and examinations. Sometimes a breeder can incur many of the expenses and not get a litter.

Expenses not directly related to the litter also need to be taken into consideration. An AKC show championship is estimated to cost approximately $4000-6000. Typically our females are bred twice. Occasionally they are bred only once, and rarely three times. We have quite a few champions that have never and will never be bred. Sometimes we raise dogs to maturity and decide, for one reason or another, that they do not meet our standards for breeding. It is costly to have high standards. Veterinary care is a little different for a reputable breeder as well. When we encounter a problem, we not only need to ensure that the dog is taken care of but if the problem is potentially hereditary we sometimes have to dig deeper to investigate if close relatives have similar issues. Some kennels keep their older dogs and some place them when they are over "breeding age". Of course, care for geriatric dogs is typically more expensive than care for young, healthy dogs. At the time of writing this, we have seven dogs between the ages of 8 and 12 enjoying their retirement here. It is important to us to live with our older dogs and see how they age as longevity is a priority we take seriously. Most top-notch breeders are also paying for kennel maintenance, subscriptions or memberships, frozen semen storage etc.

Time is something rarely considered in calculating the cost of maintaining a kennel. For us and many others, breeding is a passion. Our lives revolve around our dogs. Dogs are the first tended to in the morning and last in the evening. Our property, vacations, vehicles, furniture and flooring are all chosen to best suit our dogs. We have rescued dogs we bred from shelters. We spend countless hours on the phone discussing the suitability of a Chesapeake for a home, counselling health or training problems, researching pedigrees and exchanging information with other breeders. We give back to the world of purebred dogs by volunteering and donating to events held by various clubs and doing extensive work with breed rescue.

Breeding is a passion for a few of us and we don't expect to be compensated for our time or recoup all our expenses. But not all breeders are created equal. An investment in a well-bred puppy from a reputable breeder should:

  • be an investment in the health and future of the breed.
  • increase your odds of having a healthy puppy.
  • be a guarantee you will have the breeder's support for the lifetime of the dog.
  • denote a stand against those breeding without care and concern for the dogs or the breed.