Chugach Chesapeakes


Pedigrees mean something. A dog is who his ancestors are. Titles, which are reflected on pedigrees, are reflective of accomplishments and talent.

If you are a hunter, and you are looking for a pup, it would behoove you to look at the field titles that a particular dog has. They are indicative of field acumen and birdiness. If you look at a pedigree, and there are no field titles, like many show pedigrees are, there is a significant chance that the dog may not reflect the working characteristics of the breed. That in Chesapeakes means a passion for hunting. Regrettably, there are many show breeders that make no attempt whatsoever to make sure the dogs from their lines contain the basic working characteristics of the breed.

The dogs in my pedigrees have earned many titles. At a minimum, all my dogs have Master Hunter titles (MH) and all but one are qualified all age. (The exception was not run in trials due to the DM panic of 2006). These titles are bestowed by AKC due to the dog meeting certain criteria and are indicative of talent and someone putting the necessary time in to accomplish them.

My personal interest is in the field titles as I am a passionate hunter, but I also believe that a Chessie should look like a Chessie, and have good build, great coat, and be able to be hunting when the dog is 12 or 13. Therefore, I do pursue the conformation title, but it is not the priority.

Pedigrees now incorporate some of the health clearances. Please see health clearances tab for a description of the various health clearances.


  1. FC Field Champion, this a field trial designation of great accomplishment. Very few Chessies achieve this. In the last 10 years there have only been 3 Chessies that have achieved FC titles.
  2. AFC Amateur Field Champion, this is a field trial designation of great accomplishment. In the last 10 years, there have only been 4 Chessies that have achieved AFC titles,
  3. QA2/QAA Qualified All Age 2, and Qualified All Age, this is a field trial designation. There is an average of 9 Chessies per year that become QAA. The QA2 is an actual title in which the dog has met the criteria of being QAA twice. QAA is not an official title, but many note it for in the breed it is a great accomplishment.
  4. MH Master Hunter, this is a hunt test title, with a master hunter being a very polished and skilled hunting dog. 10-20 Chessies achieve this per year.
  5. SH Senior Hunter, this is a hunt test title, of intermediate standing. Denotes a good dog.
  6. JH Junior Hunter, this is the lowest level hunt test titles, and frankly does not mean much other than the dog has some interest in birds and retrieving.
  7. CH this is a conformation title, some call it a bench champion, it is from the dog shows and has nothing to do with the dog’s field ability, but adherence to the breed standard and looks.
  8. DC This is an extremely rare dog, there have been fewer than 30 in the history of all retrieving breeds. This dog has achieved and FC and CH.
  9. The combination of CH/MH/QA2 is also a very unique dog. Fewer than 40 ever in the history of all retrieving breeds.

Health Clearances

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, typical of purebred dog breeds, is beset by a number of health problems/diseases. There are now ways to test for some of these, and in some cases prevent them from being expressed when a reputable breeder goes about deciding a pairing. The ultimate goal of the reputable breeder, and emphasis on reputable, is to produce as healthy a puppy as possible. For the Chessie, the 6 tests that reputable breeders do, and they do cost money, are discussed below. Breeders not doing these tests are not interested in the well being of the breed, nor care what type of puppy is produced.

Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia is common in many breeds. The high incidence of it prompted veterinarians in the late 70’s to develop a set of criteria that evaluated the quality of the dog of the dog’s hips. This is an analysis of a radiograph of the dog's hips and is done by an organization called the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Their website is and it contains a great deal of information about animal diseases, including hip dysplasia. While there is a genetic component of hip dysplasia, there are other unknown factors that cause the abnormal hips. The bottom line is that because of the evaluation, and reputable breeders choosing animals for breeding that have good hips, this has reduced the incidence of hip dysplasia in the breed. Unfortunately, it is still common, just not as common as it was. Hips are rated excellent, good, fair, borderline, mildly dysplastic, moderately, dysplastic, and severely dysplastic. Dogs must be at least 2 years of age to get evaluated. Chugach Chesapeakes only breeds dogs that have a hip rating of excellent or good.

Elbow Dysplasia
This is also common and is an orthopedic disease of the elbow. OFA evaluates a radiograph of the dog’s elbow and determines whether the elbow is dysplastic or not dysplastic. Dogs must be at least 2 years of age to get evaluated.

Eye Exam
OFA Eye Certification Registry exams are ophthalmic examinations, and must be performed by a member of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) Diplomates, to assess dogs for the presence or absence of observable hereditary eye diseases. Dogs with normal exam results will receive OFA eye certification numbers valid for one year. Eye Certifications are an important part of the routine health screening practiced by responsible dog breeders to produce healthy puppies. The OFA’s ECR has the full support of the ACVO. The eye exam can be done at any age and does not include PRA. More information can be found on

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
This is a horrible irreversible degenerative neurological disease, similar to ALS in humans, in which paralysis sets in the hind end of the dog and gradually moves forward. The owner of the dog has to endure a heart wrenching and anguished decline of their pet. It results in the animal having to be euthanized 100% of the time. This is a genetic disease, the mutation which causes it, occurs in all breeds, but is particularly acute in about 7 breeds. The Chessie, most unfortunately, is one of those 7. There is a very high incidence of DM in Chessies. The gene pool is full of the mutation. The mutation occurs at the SOD1 gene. This is not a simple Mendelian pairing, for there is another, as yet unknown, gene at play that may trigger the mutation to express itself. We are able to test for the mutation. A dog that is known as a clear, has 2 copies of the normal gene (N/N), a carrier, 1 copy normal, 1 copy of the mutation, (N/C) or be what is know as at risk, 2 copies of the mutation (A/A). It is the A/A dogs that develop DM. Therefore, a reputable breeder will only breed clears to clears, or clears to carriers. If 2 carriers are bred, there will be A/A dogs produced. A clear can be bred to an affected, and all the resulting puppies will be carriers. First, though, the breeder actually has to be doing the test. The test itself is straight forward. Onset of the disease usually occurs between 5 and 10 years of age in Chessies.

PRA Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This is a genetic disease of the eye. The animal experiences degradation to the point where it goes blind. This disease is in all breeds with the mutation being common in many including the Chessie. This is a simple Mendelian pairing. There are clears, carriers, and affecteds. If the animal gets the mutation from both parents, it will go blind. The test is straight forward. The same rules for breeding as stated above for DM apply to PRA. You cannot breed carriers to carriers or you will get affected dogs.

Exercised Induced Collapse is a genetic neuromuscular disorder characterized by muscle weakness, lack of coordination and life-threatening collapse after intense exercise in otherwise apparent healthy dogs. Affected dogs tolerate mild to moderate activity but will display signs of EIC after 5-20 minutes of strenuous exercise. The severity of EIC varies, some affected dogs continue to run while dragging their hind legs while others have progression of weakness from rear to forelimbs resulting in a total inability to move. EIC events are often accompanied by a dramatic elevation of body temperature, although unaffected dogs also exhibit elevated temperatures under the same exercise conditions. EIC episodes last from 5-25 minutes with a gradual return to normal with no apparent residual weakness or stiffness. Affected dogs show signs of the disorder as early as 5 months of age, which is typically when more strenuous training and activity begins. Dogs with EIC can lead full, productive lives with proper management. Owners of affected dogs should familiarize themselves with the types of activities that are appropriate for their dogs as well as specific triggers of EIC episodes. EIC is caused by a mutation in dynamin 1 gene (DNM1 c.767G>T). It is inherited as an autosomal recessive disorder, which means that both males and females are affected equally, and that two copies of the mutation are needed to cause the disease. Dogs with one copy of the normal gene and one copy of the mutation (carriers) do not exhibit any signs of EIC. The same rules for breeding as stated above for PRA and DM apply to EIC.

These tests could be considered optional. I run them, as they affect the dog’s frame to the point where gross abnormalities appear and can result in dwarfism. These are not a straight forward Mendelian pairings. Carriers have been affected. Therefore, the only acceptable breeding is clears to clears.

The xray below shows a dog affected by CDDY:

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