I have both Labs and Chesapeakes and love the hell out of both breeds and let me tell you THE ONES THAT BADMOUTH CHESAPEAKES HAVE NEVER OWNED ONE.
I retired early as all I wanted to do was breed, train a Chesapeake to the MH level. Did that 3 times and now working on a forth but I heard Labs were easier so I got one and put a MH on her. Are Labs easier YES they are if you get a well bred one that likes water. Labs can be just as tough to train as Chesapeakes if you don't know what you are doing so your first dog shouldn't be a Chesapeake in my opinion because if you make a mistake with a Chessie, it will stay in the memory forever and take a long while to overcome. The first Chessie I owned was the only dog I knew that in deep water could, swim up to the back of the boat, put his front feet up on the transom, hook his head behind the motor and pull himself into the boat all by himself and he weighed in at a whopping 110#. There was no teaching envolved in him doing that he did it all on his own,