Chinook: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

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

Looking at a Chinook, you may think it’s a mutt. The Chinook, bred in New Hampshire by an Alaskan adventurer, has features similar to a number of breeds: the coloring of a German Shepherd, stature of a Husky, and personality of a Labrador Retriever (minus the retrieving part). The Chinook is a unique and super-friendly dog breed. They will happily become pals with anyone and anything. In fact, their large size is likely the only intimidating thing about them.

Chinooks are as sharp as a tack and they love training opportunities. They’ll gladly accompany you on a long walk or hike, and they’ll be even more happy to snooze on the couch with you afterward. There’s no doubt about it, they love their pack. Chinooks are not suitable for homes where they are alone for long periods of time as they are happiest when getting pets and snuggles.

If you’re looking for a happy and affectionate large breed pet, you’ll love the Chinook. Loyalty, natural athleticism, and affection make them a wonderful companion for just about any type of dog owner.

Breed Overview

Group: Working (AKC)

Height: 22–26 inches

Weight: 50–90 pounds

Colors: Chinook individuals are described as a tawny color which can range from a pale honey hue to a deep reddish-gold. Other standard colors for the Chinook include fawn, white, and black with dark brown or black markings typically around their eyes and muzzle.

Life Expectancy: 12–15 years

Characteristics of the Chinook

Affection Level

High

Friendliness

High

Kid-Friendly

High

Prey Drive

Low

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 state dog of New Hampshire is the Chinook, and the breed was founded by New Hampshire’s own Arthur Walden during the early twentieth century. Walden, an adventurer, made his way to Alaska at the height of the Gold Rush in 1896 where, among other things, he took up 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. To accomplish that, he bred a Mastiff-type dog with a Husky, naming the resulting breed after the lead dog of his sled team, Chinook. From there, the breed is history. All Chinook individuals in existence can be traced back to that dog.

After Walden died in 1947, the Chinook breed suffered. Numbers dwindled, reaching near extinction, and the Chinook was named the rarest dog breed by Guinness World Records 20 years later. Chinook enthusiasts from around the world took on the responsibility of bringing the great breed back to life and, subsequently, the Chinook was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 2013 as part of the Working Group.

Chinook Care

Chinooks were bred as sled dogs, but don’t let that convince you to leave them outdoors. They are hardy, but love to be near their people at all times. Keep them wherever you are and take them on the occasional hike to exercise their working dog muscles.

Vigorous exercise does not need to be a top priority of a Chinook dog owner. This breed only needs regular walks and play time totaling about an hour daily. They mostly want to be the center of attention, right by your side.

The Chinook is a determined and intelligent breed that responds well to training. Pups will respond quickly to positive reinforcement training techniques, making house training and behavior training a breeze.

Make sure to groom your Chinook regularly. They don’t necessarily need extensive cleaning but brushing your dog while providing rewards for good behavior is an excellent way to bond with them. The plus side is that using positive reward-based training while grooming will make it easier on everyone when you do need to bathe them or head to a professional groomer.

Like many large dogs, the Chinook has a double coat to keep them warm in cold climates. That means bi-annual bouts of shedding do occur. Because of this, it may be beneficial to brush your Chinook dog daily and give them occasional de-shedding baths to keep shedding under control.

As with all dogs, regular teeth brushing, nail trimming, and ear cleanings are also necessary for optimal health.

Common Health Problems

Whether the problems are nonexistent, manageable, or life-threatening heavily depends on where you got your dog. Find a reputable breeder who can give you a certificate of health ensuring the dog is in good shape. If adopting, speak with the shelter or rescue about previous veterinary care. And, in both situations, establish a positive relationship with a vet and get your pup a check-up as soon as possible.

Some issues the Chinook dog may be prone to include:

  • hip dysplasia (a hereditary condition that can lead to arthritis and joint pain)
  • Cataracts (an eye condition that can lead to blindness)
  • Seizures (convulsions and related symptoms usually related to epilepsy)
  • Gastrointestinal issues (most common are inflammation or infection of the stomach and intestines)

​Diet and Nutrition

High-quality food is essential for a happy and healthy pup, but deciding on the right one can be puzzling. Consider food with whole ingredients and high protein content. Because the Chinook is an athletic breed, they need nutrients that will keep them strong. Ingredients like real meat, fruits, and vegetables are great for Chinooks. Stick to dry kibble for your Chinook which will help prevent health problems like gum disease.

It may also be beneficial to feed your Chinook multiple times a day, rather than leaving out a day’s worth of food throughout the day. Smaller meals will help prevent bloat in your pup. If your dog eats too quickly, and you’re still concerned about potentially fatal bloat, consider purchasing a puzzle toy or slow feeder bowl.

Pros

  • Loyal and affectionate

  • Easy to train

  • Kid- and pet-friendly

Cons

  • High shedding level

  • Prone to several health problems

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Do your research before picking up your new pet; learning more about the breed helps make sure you’re providing the right home. Before you bring home a Chinook, review reputable breeders and rescues to find a healthy pup. Another source for puppies is the AKC marketplace.

Interested in similar dog breeds? The personalities of these closely match that of the Chinook.

Continue your quest for a lifelong pal by browsing through all of our other dog breeds.