Gorgeous, friendly pups that equally love staying calm and being active


Toni Grzunov - Last updated on June 7th, 2021

All you need to know about the Chinook

Chinook is the official state dog of New Hampshire and is quite a rare dog breed. It can mostly be found in the United States and in much smaller numbers in the rest of the world.

Originally, these pups were bred as sled dogs but are now usually given the role of a pet. And for a good reason, since Chinooks are loyal, friendly, and highly devoted to their owner and family.

Any major Kennel Club did not recognize this breed for a long time so it might be hard to find information on it, but that’s why we are here. Luckily, it has a dedicated company of breeders who have committed themselves to promote the breed and was finally accepted by the AKC in 2013.

Fast Facts

Group - Working

Weight - 55-90 Pounds (male)  50-65 Pounds (female)

Height - 24-26 Inches (male) 22-24 Inches (female)

Hair Length - Short

Shedding - Moderate

Lifespan - 12-15 Years

The Appearance of the Chinook

Chinooks are large dogs with plenty of strength. The skull and muzzle of a Chinook are broad and when you view them from the side they are parallel to each other. 

The ears can look completely different from dog to dog. Sometimes they are droopy while at other times you will find prick-eared Chinooks just as commonly. In both cases, the ears are medium-sized and completely covered in hair. This serves as protection from frostbite.

A Chinook will always have a black nose with large nostrils. The size of the nostrils allows them to breathe more efficiently with better airflow, which is a staple of dogs as athletic as these.

The eyes of a Chinook are very expressive and always alert. They are brown and almond-shaped and give these pups a determined look.

These dogs have strong, arched necks that have some loose skin. However, this skin does not form a dewlap. They have long backs with straight toplines. The back is straight all the way to the loin where it starts to form a muscular arch.

Chinooks have long, furry tails that they usually carry below horizontal. The tails do have an upward sweep so they arch above the backs. They have deep chests and muscular limbs. Their bones are strong and everything about this breed screams athleticism.

These dogs are an Arctic breed so they have double coats that are moderately long. The outer coat is coarse and the undercoat is soft. Their paws are really furry as well.

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What colors does a Chinook come in?

According to the breed standard, the only accepted color for a Chinook is tawny. This color can have different shades that range from pale honey to reddish-gold. Chinooks are known for this coat color and you will most often see them this way.

Usually, the ears and muzzle will have darker coloring than the body. This coloring can sometimes be completely black, which is actually preferred by breeders. The nose, lips, eye rims, and pads will have diluted pigmentation. 

Some dogs will have white or cream to pale gold markings on the cheeks, chest, underside, and throat. These are also acceptable.

However, it is possible to find Chinooks in several other colors. These include:

  • White
  • Gray
  • Black

Although not accepted by the breed standard, these colors can look equally as beautiful as tawny. Dogs in these colors will usually have the same markings as mentioned above.

All about the Chinook personality

Chinooks are extremely calm dogs that will make for excellent companions. Although they are quite strong and really large, these dogs are very gentle and affectionate around their owners.

Chinooks won’t trust strangers easily. Females are generally more suspicious than males. Don’t expect this to last long, though, as once they are introduced to people, they will become super friendly. They make wonderful companions for kids as well. 

They do need their daily exercise, but once they’ve had enough, you can expect them to be laid-back for the rest of the day. This is surprising given their large amounts of stamina, but it makes them great pets!

Chinooks love company and they will want to spend as much time as possible with you and your family. If you have other pets that will be wonderful as well since they love playing with dogs they are familiar with.

Chinooks won’t show any aggression towards other people or dogs. In general, they won’t even notice them most of the time. They do have a soft spot for children and will become playful around them.

These dogs are energetic and dependable. They can be lively and dignified simultaneously. Outdoor activities will make them happy, which is natural since they were bred to be sled dogs. You can take your pet Chinook backpacking, jogging, sledding, or even herding.

If you prefer a more calm lifestyle, you don’t need to be worried. These pups will love spending their day curled up next to you while you’re just chilling on your sofa.

Don’t leave them alone for too long as they can become destructive. They don’t make good guard dogs since they are gentle by nature and quite calm. They are highly intelligent and curious, and they will love solving puzzles!

Is a Chinook easy to train?

Chinooks were bred to be a part of a pack so they are eager to please and will listen to all your commands and wishes. This makes them exceptionally easy to train. They can be quite vocal and will show you how they feel using various sounds. At times it will seem as if they are trying to talk to you.

These pups are responsive to your commands, but they do require strong leadership. This makes sense as they are pack dogs. Consistent and firm rules will work amazingly well, and you should implement them early on.

Socialization is really important with this breed. If properly socialized from an early age, they will become friendly around other people and dogs. They don’t trust strangers by nature, so you want your puppy to get used to being around other people.

Positive reinforcement will help out a lot, so use treats to help you during training. Chinooks are reliable off-leash, which is always a nice plus with pets. 

How much Grooming does a Chinook need?

Chinooks are not high-maintenance dogs, and you will only need to brush your pet once a week to keep its coat nice and tidy. They do shed heavily throughout the year. In Spring and Autumn, this is especially noticeable, and you will need to pay extra attention then.

Naturally, this means that these dogs are not hypoallergenic

You won’t need to bather your dog too often, as these pups know how to keep themselves clean. You might even do it as rarely as once or twice a year.

Naturally, you will want to keep an eye out for the dental hygiene and nails of your Chinook. 

Trim the nails whenever they become too long, as it can become painful for your dog.

The Living Environment of the Chinook

Ideally, you’d want to provide your Chinook with a large property where it can have a lot of room for various activities. People that have a backyard will definitely make these pups happy.

However, smaller homes or apartments can also work quite well as long as you meet the daily activity requirements of the Chinook. They actually don’t need a lot of activity, which is surprising considering their size.

Chinooks are dogs that know how to enjoy being calm and just laying around the house with you. Take your pet out for a walk twice a day and it will be happy with spending the rest of the day inside.

The Health of the Chinook

Chinooks are healthy dogs in general and don’t suffer from any conditions that are unique to the breed. However, there are some common ailments you should watch out for.

  • The first one we should mention is hip dysplasia. It is a skeletal condition that is quite common in large dog breeds. It affects the hip joints and dogs suffering from it don’t have a well-developed ball and socket of the hip. They start rubbing against each other instead of sliding, which causes tremendous pain.
  • Other conditions these dogs can suffer from include cataracts and epilepsy. Cataracts are an eye issue that mostly occurs in old age, and seizures such as epilepsy can be cured with various medications.
  • They can also be prone to certain hormonal skin problems such as hot spots or dry and itchy skin. This can also be treated with medication.

Where does the Chinook come from?

The history of the Chinook is well documented, unlike many other dog breeds. It starts off in 1917 in Wonalancelot, North Hampshire, where an Arctic explorer named Arthur Walden cross-bred a Siberian Husky with a large Mastiff-type farm dog.

Several pups were produced, and one large male had the traits Walden was looking for. It was strong and had a lot of stamina. He named this pup Chinook, and he was the start of this entire breed.

Later on, he was bred with a German Shepherd, a Canadian Eskimo Dog, and a Belgian Shepherd to improve the sled-dog capabilities of the breed. Explorers were looking for these types of dogs back then, and this experiment helped them tremendously.

This breeding program was highly successful and Walden and his dogs were invited to join the Antarctic expedition led by Admiral Byrd in 1928. In the following years, other breeders continued working on the Chinook, but the breed was still guarded by them extremely well.

In 1981 there were only 28 Chinooks alive because of this. This was when other breeders across the US got involved to prevent the breed from going extinct. Still, the breed is quite rare today.

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