Chinook Dog

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 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 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)
  • Size:
    • Weight: 50-90 pounds
    • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Colors: Chinook individuals are described as a tawny color. That 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 to 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. The breed was founded by New Hampshire’s own Arthur Walden in 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 his or her 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 bring them 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

Health problems are always a concern when you welcome a furry friend into your home and heart. 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, make sure you 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.

One health problem associated with large breed dogs is hip dysplasia. It’s a hereditary condition that can lead to arthritis and joint pain. Ask your vet about getting an X-ray to screen for hip dysplasia and other joint issues.

Some other issues the Chinook dog may be prone to include:

​Diet and Nutrition

High-quality food is essential for a happy and healthy pup, but deciding on the right one can be puzzling. One tip is to find 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 a dry kibble for your Chinook dog. Dry food 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. This will help prevent bloat in your pup, making sure he's eating smaller meals. If your dog eats too quickly, and you’re still concerned about potentially fatal bloat, consider purchasing a puzzle toy or slow feeder bowl.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Maybe you’re ready to rush out to find a Chinook or perhaps you’re still skeptical on your search for the perfect dog breed for you. Either way, it’s imperative to do your research before picking up your new pet. Learning more about the breed helps make sure you’re giving him or her the right home. And before you bring one home, research reputable breeders and rescues to find a healthy pup.

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

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