Health Issues

For additional questions regarding health issues contact the Chairman of the Health Committee.

Please note:

The American Chesapeake Club cannot provide legal or medical advice. Individuals are strongly encouraged to seek guidance from local professionals on such issues.



Congenital Ectodermal Dysplasia/Skin Fragility Syndrome in the Chesapeake 

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers have been recently described with a unique skin disorder comprising trauma-induced Skin Fragility and congenital Ectodermal Dysplasia, which is similar to Ectodermal Dysplasia/Skin Fragility (ED/SF) in humans.  At birth, affected puppies’ skin is lobster pink with blistering on the footpads.  Over the first 48 hours, they develop more severe blistering and pealing of the skin on their faces, limbs, and feet.  Their skin is extremely fragile and tears easily.  There is currently no treatment for this disease. View a complete report and link for the DNA test. You dog can be tested to see if they are clear or a carrier.  Results then can be used in a breeding program so no two carriers are bred together thus producing the disease in the offspring.

What is EDSFS?

Questions and Answers about the disease

For DNA test info view PennGen's website:
 ED/SFS PennGen Univ of PA testing
                                                   updated 4/22/15

The "Long Coat" Gene in the CBR

Some Chesapeakes can be a "carrier" of the Long Coat gene.  If you breed two carriers together you will then produce some puppies in the litter with a long, disqualifying coat.   DNA testing can be used to better manage planned matings and to make more informed selection decisions.  As a Breeder, one should make wise choices and not purposely breed known carriers together and/or produce disqualifications of the CBR.  There is a new DNA test in 2013 being offered for the CBR in the US.  Jane Pappler is keeping a DataBase of results from the long coat gene testing.  Please email her the dogs name, sex, sire, dam, date tested and a copy of the PDF result.

DDC Animal Testing                      

View the current Database here                                   updated 4/22/15


ACC / ACCCT Health Project:
 Degenerative Myelopathy Test

DM is a progressive neurological disease resulting in spinal cord tissue destruction, causing affected dogs to loose hind limb mobility, which worsens until they can no longer walk. 

Previous ACC / ACCCT Health Project:  
Degenerative Myelopathy Study

DM is a progressive neurological disease resulting in spinal cord tissue destruction, causing affected dogs to loose hind limb mobility, which worsens until they can no longer walk. The American Chesapeake Club (ACC) Health Committee and the ACC Charitable Trust (ACCCT) initiated the project in association with the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine.    More information...

Sample Submission Forms

Order the DM test from OFA:

updated 4/22/15



Exercise Induced Collapse

Data collected by Team Chesapeake and updated by Mario Beauregard

The following file is an excel spreadsheet file.  You will need to right click the link below and "save it" to your computer and then "import/open" it in either a spreadsheet or database program.

Download "Exercise Induced Collapse" file

Order the EIC test:  University of Minnesota

updated 4/22/15

ACC Health Survey

The American Chesapeake Club has concluded a confidential health survey of Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeders and owners for the purpose of identifying diseases and health conditions (both genetic and otherwise) that affect the breed. Funded by the American Chesapeake Club Charitable Trust (ACCCT), the survey will assist the ACC in determining the best use of ACCCT trust funds for health research.

Survey results were published in the March/April 2005 bulletin.  -  They are now available online.

ACC Health Data

The American Chesapeake Club has the following health data available:

The following file is a excel spreadsheet file.  You will need to right click the link below and "save it" to your computer and then "import/open" it in either a spreadsheet or database program.



CALL FOR RESEARCH DOGS: Canine Epilepsy Project.
The Canine Epilepsy Network

CALL FOR RESEARCH DOGS: Dogs Needed for Dwarfism Study. University of California at Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Maximizing Neonatal Survival. Robert Van Hutchison, DVM, presented at the "Canine Reproduction for Breeders" seminar, February 10, 2001

Maximizing Conception Rate. Robert Van Hutchison, DVM, presented at the "Canine Reproduction for Breeders" seminar, February 10, 2001

OFA Adds Database Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

Deskunking Home Remedy. From the Kansas State University website

Anal Glands—An Unpleasant Reality. Michael McCarthy, MD

Gastric Dilitation—Volvulus (Bloat) Study. Eric Reinertson, DVM

A New Age: Veterinary Molecular Genetics. Wendy Shepard Chisholm, V.M.D, April 1999ret

AKC Parent Club Canine Health Conference Report. Janet Cole, November 1997



American Chesapeake Club Charitable Trust (ACCCT). This IRS registered 501(c)(3) Charitable Trust will allow fanciers of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever to make tax-deducible donations for the furthering of health, education and rescue of this magnificent American breed. If you would like to help, please make a tax deductible donation to the American Chesapeake Club Charitable Trust (ACCCT) by visiting their website.

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. The OFA, established in 1966, is a not-for-profit organization originally created to assist breeders in addressing hip dysplasia. In recent years OFA has added databases to assist breeders in assessing elbow and patella deformities, craniomandibular osteopathy, autoimmune thyroiditis, congenital heart disease, copper toxicosis in Bedlington Terriers, and DNA databases.

Canine Eye Registration Foundation. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (C.E.R.F.) is an organization that was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog's lives were being affected by heritable eye disease. C.E.R.F. was then established in conjunction with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists, as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable eye disease in all purebred dogs by forming a centralized, national registry.

The Pet Athritis Center. The Pet Arthritis Center has been setup to provide you with the information you need to identify and treat arthritis in your pets, inform you of the dangers of certain prescription drugs such as Rimadyl, share tips on how to maximize your pets nutrition, explain how arthritis progresses in pets and how to recognize the common symptoms of arthritis and osteoarthritis.




PRA stands for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, an inherited eye disease found in Chesapeakes and in many other breeds. Chesapeakes have the form of PRA called "progressive rod-cone degeneration." It has a late onset, generally appearing in dogs between the ages of four and seven.

The first symptom of PRA is night blindness, due to the fact that the rod cells, which let the animal see in reduced light, degenerate before the cone cells, which are used for vision in good light.

Dogs developing PRA may bump into things in a dim room, or be hesitant going outdoors at night. Gradually the dog will become completely blind, even in good light.

Veterinary ophthalmologists can usually diagnose PRA before a dog’s owner is aware that the condition is developing. This is why it is imperative that breeding stock be checked annually by an eye specialist until age eight or nine. Since the type of PRA in Chesapeakes is of late onset, an eye clearance at age two, or three, or five does not guarantee that the dog is free of PRA.

PRA in Chesapeakes is inherited by an autosomal recessive gene. In order for a dog to be affected with PRA, he must inherit the causative gene from both of his parents. If a puppy inherits the gene causing PRA from only one parent, he will not have the disease, but will be a carrier with the ability to pass this gene on to his offspring, even though he doesn’t exhibit the disease himself. In this way the PRA gene made be "hidden" for generations, until two dogs which carry the gene are bred together and produce PRA affected offspring.


American Chesapeake Club PRA Registry

A list of ACC members' dogs who have tested for PRA through Optigen. This list will be updated on a regular basis.

New from OptiGen: Improved prcd-PRA Test for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers - NOW AVAILABLE!

Prcd-PRA-affected dogs still needed for research.
More Info...


The following are articles about
or relating to PRA:

Population Genetics, Lisa Van Loo, ©2000

DNA in Y2K, Lisa Van Loo, ©1999

Eye Diseases - Part 2, Wendy Shepard Chisholm, V.M.D, January 1997

Eye Diseases - Part 1, Wendy Shepard Chisholm, V.M.D, November 1996


Order the PRA test:

updated 4/22/15

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