Chinook: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Chinook dog in a field with a woman
Amy Neunsinger / Getty Images

The Chinook is a large working breed from the United States with an athletic build, long legs, floppy or upright ears, and a medium-length coat. This dog may resemble a mutt at first glance, but it's actually a purebred native to New Hampshire.

These unique dogs are typically friendly with anyone they meet. Along with its calm disposition, this breed is hardworking and trainable. If you’re looking for an affectionate large breed, you’ll love Chinooks. Their loyalty, natural athleticism, and intelligence make these dogs wonderful companions for a variety of owners.

Breed Overview

Group: Working

Height: 24 to 26 inches (males); 22 to 24 inches (females)

Weight: 55 to 90 pounds (males); 50 to 65 pounds (females)

Coat: Smooth, medium-length fur

Coat Color: Fawn, red-gold, silver fawn, tawny, palomino, or gray-red; often with dark markings on eyes and muzzle

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Friendly, intelligent, loyal, calm, alert

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United States

Characteristics of the Chinook

Chinooks are as sharp as a tack, and they love opportunities for training and learning new skills. They’ll gladly accompany you on a long walk or hike, and they’ll be even happier to snooze on the couch afterward. Since Chinooks have a playful temperament, they're a great choice for families (though as a large breed, their interactions with young children should be supervised).

These dogs undoubtedly love their packs. Chinooks are not suitable for homes where they are alone for long periods of time, as they're happiest when getting plenty of attention from their owners. Great with kids, other pets, and strangers, they have laid-back and sensible personalities that work well in social households.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Low
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Chinook

The Chinook is the state dog of New Hampshire, and the breed was founded by the state's own Arthur Walden in the early 1900s. As an adventurer, Walden made his way to Alaska at the height of the Gold Rush in 1896 and began driving sled dogs.

Upon his return home to New Hampshire, Walden brought his newfound passion with him. He decided to breed his own line of powerful sled-pulling puppies. Walden started by breeding a Mastiff-type dog with a Husky, and he named the resulting breed after the lead dog on his sled team, Chinook. All Chinook individuals can be traced back to these dogs.

After Walden died in 1947, the Chinook breed suffered. The population dwindled (reaching near extinction), and the Chinook was named the rarest dog breed by Guinness World Records 20 years later. Chinook enthusiasts around the world took on the responsibility of bringing this unique breed back. Subsequently, the Chinook was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 2013 as part of the Working Group.

Chinook Care

Chinooks need a moderate amount of exercise, but they do not require as much activity as many other working breeds. This breed is highly trainable and eager to please its owners. When it comes to grooming, Chinooks are known for their tendency to shed heavily, so prospective owners should be prepared for regular brushings to reduce stray hair around the house.


Vigorous exercise does not need to be the top priority of a Chinook owner. These dogs only need regular walks and playtime totaling about an hour daily. Chinooks make great partners for hikes, runs, bike rides, or swimming, and they're also content to play in the backyard. They were bred to be sled dogs, but that doesn't mean they do well when left outdoors. Chinooks are hardy dogs that love to be near their people at all times. Your dog will likely stay by your side as often as possible.


Chinooks have double coats to keep them warm in cold climates, and they also shed heavily twice per year. During these seasons, daily brushing and occasional de-shedding baths can keep stray fur under control. Brushing a few times each week is sufficient throughout the rest of the year.

Bathe your Chinook on an as-needed basis when you notice the dog's fur becoming dirty or after long play sessions outdoors. This breed's coat does not need to be trimmed, but owners should keep up with regular grooming care like teeth brushing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning to maintain their dog's health.


The Chinook is a determined and intelligent breed that responds well to training. A few basic obedience lessons can begin when puppies are six to eight weeks old, but this breed also excels at advanced training as it grows older. Housetraining and learning good behavior is usually a breeze for these smart, devoted dogs.

It's best to use positive reinforcement training and avoid any methods that involve punishment. This sensitive breed is likely to become fearful if yelled at. By rewarding your Chinook for performing desired actions, you'll build a strong bond and encourage your dog's natural instinct to please you by obeying commands.

Common Health Problems

Like many purebred dogs, Chinooks are susceptible to developing a few inherited health conditions. Responsible breeders strive to maintain high standards by testing their dogs for genetic problems before breeding. Always ask your breeder to provide your new puppy's medical history. If you're rescuing a dog from a shelter, ask for any previous veterinary records to help keep your new best friend healthy in the future.

The following conditions are associated with the Chinook breed:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This hereditary condition can lead to arthritis and joint pain, and it's caused by a malformation in the joints as your dog ages.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts look like cloudy patches on the eye. Since this condition can lead to blindness, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to improve your dog's vision.
  • Seizures: These bodily convulsions and related symptoms are often caused by epilepsy.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: The most common gastrointestinal issues for Chinooks are inflammation or infection of the stomach and intestines.
Chinook Dogs as Pets

The Spruce / Kelly Miller

​Diet and Nutrition

Feed your Chinook a diet of high-quality dog food twice per day, either commercial or home-prepared under your veterinarian's supervision. If your dog exercises frequently, it will likely require larger portions to stay healthy.

Some owners opt to feed these dogs smaller portions several times per day to help prevent Bloat—but most importantly, you should talk to your veterinarian to determine the healthiest diet and portion plan for your specific dog based on its age, weight, and activity level. Fresh water should also be available at all times (especially for very active Chinooks).

Where to Adopt or Buy a Chinook

Before you bring home a Chinook, review reputable breeders and rescues to find a healthy, happy pup. Chinooks are still a rare breed, so it's not always easy to find these dogs in local shelters. However, breed-specific rescues exist to help Chinooks in need. Your local shelter can also introduce you to similar dogs waiting for their forever homes.

If you plan to adopt a puppy from a breeder, start by researching responsible breeders in your region. You should see the litter's medical history, be allowed to meet their parents, and be able to see that the dogs are raised in a comfortable, safe indoor location. Chinooks from breeders typically cost around $1,000 to $2,500, but prices can vary based on pedigree and availability.

To start your search, check out these resources for the national breed club, rescues, and the AKC:

Chinook Overview

  • Loyal and affectionate

  • Easy to train

  • Kid- and pet-friendly

  • High shedding level

  • Shouldn't be left alone often

  • Rare breed; can be hard to find

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you love the Chinook, you might also like these similar breeds:

There's a whole world of different dog breeds out there that can join your family. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Chinooks Good Family Dogs?

    Chinooks make wonderful family dogs thanks to their calm and affectionate personalities. This breed does very well with children and can live happily with other dogs or cats when socialized properly.

  • Are Chinook Dogs Easy to Train?

    Intelligent and eager to please, Chinooks are very trainable dogs. They're quick to learn new skills and do best with positive reinforcement training methods.

  • Are Chinook Dogs High-Energy?

    Chinooks were bred to pull sleds, so these dogs are capable of plenty of physical activity. However, they're also content to relax at home and tend to be very even-tempered inside the house.