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Recognized as the official state dog of New Hampshire, the Chinook was developed to be the perfect sled and working dog. Now popular as a family dog, the Chinook is a friendly and smart large breed.

Physical Characteristics

The Chinook can weigh anywhere from 55 to 90 pounds and stands at a height of 21 to 27 inches. This breed is very muscular, with a long snout and pointed ears. The coat is a tawny color, ranging from a light tan to a deeper reddish coloring with black markings at the end of the snout, around the eyes, and inside the ears.

Personality and Temperament

This breed is known as a kind and friendly dog that is good with people and other animals. Although large, the Chinook is not aggressive and has even been known to be shy at times. Originally bred as a weight-bearing sled dog, the Chinook is very intelligent.


The coat of a Chinook requires little grooming, but because of its thickness it does shed, so a daily brushing may help to keep the shedding manageable. It requires moderate exercise and is a good family pet.


There are no breed-specific health problems associated with the Chinook. However, common hereditary problems can occur, such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and atopy. Chinooks live an estimated lifespan of about 10 to 15 years.

History and Background

The Chinook dog breed can be traced back to one ancestor — a puppy that was born into a litter of three in 1917 and that was aptly named "Chinook." Arthur Walden of Wonalancet, New Hampshire is credited with the first "Chinook." That first puppy was a combination of a Mastiff, Saint Bernard type on the father’s side, and a Greenland Husky on the mother’s side. Chinook grew into a dog that was powerful and intelligent enough to lead a team of sled dogs — the Perry North Pole Team — and friendly and gentle enough with children to be a good family dog.

One of the things that made the original Chinook so interesting was that he did not resemble either of his parents, although his physical characteristics would be passed on to his offspring. Eventually the Chinook breed would become known for its immense size and strength, as well as its stealthy speed. In fact, most Chinooks were used as sled dogs, and were well regarded for their ability to carry heavier loads for further distances than other breeds.

The core of the breeding stock would pass from Walden to Perry and Honey Greene, who promoted the dog breed for many years. However, in 1965, the Chinook was declared the rarest dog in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Chinook breed eventually saw somewhat of a rebound in numbers as it spread to other countries around the world, and was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1991.

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  • Errors in Chinook descrip
    07/11/2016 11:21pm

    The description of the Chinook is not 100% accurate. I suggest that you read the UKC Standard for the breed which can be found on the Parent Club website at www.chinook.org.
    1. The snout is NOT long. It is proportional in length to the length of the lead. and is not snipey.
    2. Other colors include buff (cream with gold highlights), black and tan marked like a Rottie or Dobermann, or gray and tan. These colors other than tawny are considered a fault in the UKC standard but are a Disqualification under the AKC standard, which is a major point of contention within the breed fancy.
    3. Tawny dogs do not all have black markings. Some have no markings at all and others have cream markings (palomino) on the face. White markings or large patches of white are to be discouraged.
    4. Chinooks should NEVER BE SHY! Some are reserved with strangers but that should never be interpreted as shy. Many are just plain out-going. They are friendly with children if exposed to them when young. Likewise, they are good with other breeds of dogs, even those much smaller than they are, cats, and other pets as long as they are introduced when they are young.
    5. The Chinook does have unique health issues. They have a seizure-like disorder that is like a 30- to 60-second attack of Parkinson's Disease and it is thought to be genetic though there is no test to identify carriers as of yet. They also suffer from the typical levels of hip dysplasia, cataracts, allergies, and low thyroid that affect other large dogs. Breeders attempt to control all of these as best possible in their litters.
    6. The first and original "Chinook" was the product of a mastiff type sire and a dam that was the daughter of the lead dog from Perry's North Pole team.
    7. Chinooks did NOT go to the North Pole. However, they did go to the SOUTH POLE with Adm. Byrd in the late 1920s. The developer of the breed, Arthur Walden, was Byrd's Lead Driver & Dog Trainer for the 1929 Antarctic Expedition.

    One exciting fact about the breed is that today we are working with Population Geneticists to ensure that we maintain as much genetic diversity as possible. We have conducted a successful Out-Cross Program to bring in new genetic material from three of our foundation breeds and may expand this. We are actively pursuing new DNA tests to combat various health issues that have been dealt with by chance up until now. No stone is being left unturned in our efforts to make our breed more healthy in the 21st century.

    Personally, I've been a Chinook owner and breeder since the 1980s and am now one of the oldest still-active Chinook breeders in the world.


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