Chinook is a relatively rare dog breed in the USA and around the world. These dogs were developed in 1971 in New Hampshire, mainly for the purpose of sledding. The UKC only started recognizing the breed in 1991. In this guide, we will study Chinook dog’s temperament, their origins, training tips, and other important things you need to know when raising a Chin.
Fun facts about Chinooks
- Chinook dog breed history – The origins of this breed aren’t well documented. But it is believed that Spitz and Mastiff type dogs may have been used to create the Chinook. A Greenland Husky and dogs with St. Bernard blood may also have been used for their development.
- By 1970s, the breed almost became extinct. But dedicated breeders gathered the 40 odd remaining dogs and managed to increase their numbers to nearly 150. Today, dedicated breeders are trying very hard to maintain this breed. They make sure to use selective out-crossing along with pedigree analyses to rule out disorders and create healthy lines of Chinook dogs.
- Arthur Walden’s lead sled dog Chinook is the ancestor of most New Hampshire Chinooks today. Unfortunately, on a mission to Antarctica, Chinook wandered off, got lost and died in the wilderness at the age of 12. The news of his death was heard around the world for his fame as the lead sled dog was highly publicized. If you visit the small town of Wonalancet in New Hampshire, you’d find that Route 113 A from Tamworth to Wonalancet still bears the name ‘The Chinook Trail’ in his memory.
- Admiral Byrd wrote the following words about Chinook dogs he had taken on his Antarctica expedition in 1929 in Little America: ‘Had it not been for the dogs, our attempts to conquer the Antarctic would have ended in failure. Walden’s single team of 13 dogs moved 3500 lbs of supplies from ship to base a distance of 16 miles in each trip. These dogs were the backbone of our transport system.’
- Chinook dog size – Height is between 55-66 cm or 22-26 inches. Females are shorter and lighter. The average weight of the Chinook is between 25-32 kilos or 55-71 lb.
- This is a medium-large sized powerful, muscular dog. They have a long skull, tapered muzzle, and chiseled cheeks. Their eyes are almond-shaped and brown or amber in color. Chinooks have dark noses and pendulous dark lips. They have a deep thorax and a well tucked up abdomen.
- Coat – the dense double coat is tawny, honey or red-gold in color. While the outer hairs are coarse and rough, the undercoat or inner hairs are soft.
Where to find a Chinook
Visit the Chinook Club of America website to find registered breeders near you. Before adopting, ask to see all the health records of the puppy. You do not want a dog that comes with a host of health issues. If possible, seek to meet the puppy’s parents. Ensure that the pup’s dam has a good temperament. This can have a direct bearing upon your pet’s temperament.
Be wary of breeders or sellers who aren’t willing to answer your questions or who seem to have an off-putting relationship with their dogs. Ask the breeder specifically what his intentions are behind breeding Chinooks. If s/he seems to be in it only for the money, steer clear from them.
Seek ethical, reputed breeders who truly care about the well-being of the Chin. A good breeder will be willing to take back the puppy (no questions asked) should you be unable to take care of him. Ethical breeders will also ask you hundreds of questions about why you want a Chinook for a pet. So be prepared to answer those questions and reassure the breeder that his puppy will be in good hands. Since dog breeding is an extremely scientific process these days, and even more so in case of rare breeds like the Chinook, expect to pay anywhere between $1000 and $2200 for a Chinook with a pure bloodline.
Chinooks make great family-friendly dogs; they love children. They are loyal, hardworking, and extremely versatile. Chinooks mature slowly but they are fairly easy to train. They are alert, curious, and an intelligent breed that loves to please its humans. They are generally friendly, calm, and reserved but nor aggressive. Chinooks are active dogs that love to play with kids. Their gentle-nature and fun-loving temperament make them an all-round family pet. They get along well with other dogs and house pets. Shyness and fearfulness is a trait that has been seen in nearly 11% Chinooks present today. These traits can be prevented and overcome with proper obedience training and socialization.
Training your Chinook
When Mrs. Lombard of New Hampshire Kennels started breeding and training Chinooks, she realized that the breed had inherited the gentle and affectionate disposition of the St. Bernard dogs. She also found that the Chinooks could easily adapt to any climate and situation and were especially fond of children. When trained to a sled or a cart, a single Chinook could provide hours of fun and entertainment to youngsters. These dogs love to carry and pull weights so if you love camping and sledding in winters, assign your Chinook to carry all your stuff for you!
Like with any breed, keep training positive, reward-based, and fun-filled. Never shout or raise your voice while training. Keep calm. Repeat the command and when your Chinook obeys, praise, reward, and pet him.
Start training your puppy the very first day that he comes home. If you plan to get your dog involved in sled racing, then prepare to put in long hours of training. If needed, work with a canine behavior expert or a dog handler for this job. You can also find canine obedience classes near you.
While Chinooks are mainly family pets, they have been bred with the purpose of pulling and sledding. So give your dog some pulling activities to do apart from an hour of active exercise like running or brisk walking. Exercise is extremely important for this active breed; otherwise, your dog will get bored and depressed and that could result in unwanted behavior.
Chinooks have a dense double coat that sheds twice a year. These rugged and hardy dogs do not need too much grooming. Simply brush their coats once or twice a week, trim his nails every now and then and brush his teeth every day.
Some of the common inherited health issues seen in Chinooks are Chinook seizures or epilepsy, hip and elbow dysplasia, and patella luxation. Many Chinooks also suffer from hypothyroidism, allergic dermatitis, and cataracts. The average life-span of Chinooks is between 12-14 years.