The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the official dog of the State of Maryland and is the only American breed. Only 3 other hunting dogs come from America. In 1807 an English ship was wrecked off of the coast of Maryland. The cargo and crew were rescued by the American ship Canton on its way to Baltimore. Aboard the wrecked English ship were two Newfoundland puppies. The male dog was named "Sailor," and the female was named "Canton," by the ship's crew after the American rescuing vessel.
The reddish male became the property of John Mercer of West River, Maryland. The black female was given to Dr. James Stuart of Sparrows Point, Maryland, in gratitude from the sailors of the wrecked ship. Both Mercer and Dr. Stuart were waterfowl hunters of and they soon discovered that the two dogs were exceptional retrievers. They were cross bred with local hounds and other retrievers. By the mid-1800s the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was established as a breed. The breed became known for it’s ability to retrieve 200 to 300 geese in a day in ice packed water. Market hunters prized the dog but market hunters fed the dogs scraps and destroyed any dog that couldn’t retrieve 300 geese a day under brutal conditions. Poor specimens were shot and the weak died under relentless retrieving in icy sea waters with the worst kinds of weather conditions. Only the strongest survived to pass their genes to other generations.
Today the breed continues to be far more rugged than Labs or Goldens. Also Chesapeakes don't have to be forced to retrieve. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers still have the ability to retrieve hundreds of geese a day in the worst of icy high sea conditions. Only the mental temperament has become more gentle.