Chinook – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Not sure if powerful Chinook is for you? Read on to discover more about the breed's history, personality, and grooming needs.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
21 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder
55 to 70 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Chinook is a medium-size dog of 26 inches and between 50-90 pounds.

Males are much bigger than females who can weigh up to 65 pounds and go to 24 inches in height.

This rare breed usually lives between 12-15 years and they love spending their lives being active outdoors, and cuddling with their humans indoors.

The Chinook was developed in the early 1900s and is the official state dog of New Hampshire.

In 1965, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the Chinook as the world’s rarest dog breed. Until this day, this breed remains one of the rarest dog breeds alive.

Just to explain how rare this breed is, you should know that by 1981, only 28 Chinooks were remaining.

Most of these ultra-rare dogs were senior dogs or neutered, making only 11 dogs still suitable for breeding.

Thanks to responsible breeders and their enormous efforts, they created a carefully designed breeding program, bringing Chinooks back to life.

AKC officially recognized the breed in 2013, under Working Group. Tawny is the only color allowed for this breed and can vary from pale honey tone to a deeper reddish-gold.

The coat is double and thick, and easy to care for.

Proper grooming tools should be enough to help you keep Chinook’s coat healthy and shiny. With this breed, you should expect heavy shedding twice a year.

They have pendant ears, also known as drop ears that hang down – this style is the preferred one as well.

They are natural athletes and as such great companions for several dog sports including agility, obedience trials, or some of the human’s favorite outdoor activities such as camping or hiking.

This breed loves to pull. Therefore, help your Chinook excel at sports that require pulling such as skijoring or sledding.

Quick Facts

Real name: Chinook
Origin: States
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: 55 to 70 pounds
Height: 21 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Litter Size: 3 – 6 puppies
Color: Light honey to reddish-gold
Coat: Medium lenght coat with thick undercoat

Chinook History

The Chinook is one of only a few American dog breeds. These dogs were developed in New Hampshire, and Arthur T. Walden is a person responsible for bringing this breed to the world.

After intense days of the Gold Rush in Alaska, Arthur decided to create a specific breed.

In fact, he decided to create a unique breed of sled dog with great stamina, above-average power, and speed. This is why he decided to bred a northern husky with a mastiff type, to get a dog that he wanted.

From that first litter, three tawny color puppies were born, and only one puppy had all the qualities that Arthur wanted.

That puppy was named Rikki, who later on got a new name ‘Chinook.’

Chinook was a dog of larger size, highly intelligent, and a great sled dog who served Arthur and led his team of sled dogs.

Today’s version of Chinook was created by mixing German and Belgian shepherd working dogs. This breed is recognized by the United Kennel Club.

Chinook Physical Appearance

When it comes to Chinook’s appearance, it’s important to note that this breed can vary in size.

As a rare breed, Chinook may continually vary in appearance.

Still, some standards are defined and you can expect a dog between 23 to 27 inches and up to 70 pounds.

Females are slightly smaller than males. Overall, this is a powerful sled dog with an athletic body, dark almond eyes, and a close-fitting coat.

The head is broad and wedge-shaped, while the ears are medium in size and V-shaped. The neck is strong, arched, and balanced.

The body is hard and well-muscled. The Chinook has a thick double coat set close to the body, while the outer coat is strong, straight, and coarse.

Coat color is usually from honey to a deep reddish-gold, and the gold variety is preferred.

Ears and muzzles may have darker coloring than the body, and this is accepted in dog shows. Gait should be smooth, easy, and balanced.

Chinook Personality

Chinook’s owners describe this breed as calm, and eager to please mostly. They are also described as being pack animals and true family lovers.

With strangers, Chinooks prefer to keep their distance. Interestingly, with this breed females are more of an independent spirit than males are. This isn’t a breed for first time dog owners, especially due to their activity needs.

This golden-like dog is an amazing athlete within the canine world, and as such, this breed is highly recommended for families and individuals who lead an active life.

Chinooks shouldn’t be left alone for too long periods. They should get along with another home dog as long as they are introduced safely and slowly in a safe environment.

They will bark at strangers so address this possible issue during the training process.

Chinooks will always thrive in a pack environment, making them great hiking or running partners.

If left alone indoors for long periods they may chew furniture, or show any other form of destructive behavior. If left alone outside, they may try to dig under a fence first.

Chinook Training

Training is what makes a dog a good canine citizen.

Did you know that dogs can learn basic commands as of eight weeks of age? This is why you should focus on teaching your Fido basics during the socialization period.

Use this period to teach your dog basic commands, house dog rules, and how to behave around people.

Once your veterinarian gives you a green light, once the vaccination is completed, you can take your Chinook to a dog park.

Dogs learn by exploring the world around them and by interacting with other dogs, animals, and people. These factors are determining when it comes to proper socialization and training.

As puppies, Chinooks will be full of life, affectionate, and ready to jump and face any obstacle.

As an intelligent breed, training should be easy as long as you have experience with dogs. To get the maximum out of training sessions make them fun, consistent, and engaging.

Chinook Exercise

Chinooks have above average amount of energy that needs to be channeled the right way. This is why training, exercise, and additional sports are so important.

Dogs thrive on activity, and when there is a job to be done.

As a breed that created close connections with their owner,s they are great companions during long walks and even camping trips. They are huge water lovers, meaning any water sport for dogs will do.

Since they were bred to pull sleds, Chinooks will excel at sports such as sledding, scootering, and even bikejoring.

If you have time, think about sports such as agility or obedience.

Chinook Grooming

Grooming gives you two big things: a stronger bond with your dog and a healthy dog.

Being a dog owner goes beyond cuddles and brushing. Grooming is a much more complex process that should be mastered.

You can always hire a professional groomer, but it will cost you more, and you might lose connection with your canine.

Still, if you go for this option, do your best to provide weekly brushing at least.

A 20-minutes long brushing session should be enough to keep debris away and make the coat clean.

Expect more intense shedding during the shedding season, which occurs in spring and autumn.

To keep grooming stress-free and easy have the right grooming tools on hand.

The rest is basic care:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Check gums and eyes weekly
  • Use brushing time to check skin for fleas and any sign of skin infection
  • If your veterinarian recommends it, brush Fido’s teeth

As general rules, dogs don’t like grooming. In fact, they are not fans of being handled.

To get your Chinook used to begin handled start grooming practice when he is a puppy. This applies to veterinarian visits as well.

Chinook Health

The Chinook is a healthy and robust breed, of strong appearance. Still, certain health conditions may appear during Chinook’s lifetime.

Some of the conditions that may appear are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Allergies
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

You should talk with your veterinarian about these conditions and see what you can do to prevent them.

Chinooks, at least some of them, may suffer from a condition called ‘Chinook seizures,’ which is in fact a movement disorder and not a true seizure.

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his weight.

Make sure that you know how much you should feed your Chinook and how often.

This is the best way to avoid one of the biggest issues in dogs these days – obesity.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise and as you may know already, this occurrence can lead to numerous health issues.

Not only that poor health can harm your dog seriously, but it will also add to your bills. Think about pet insurance as a way to always be financially prepared for the unexpected.

Is Chinook For You?

Chinooks are dogs of strong energy level and impressive working ability. This does mean that you will see them performing specific tasks.

In fact, you are most likely to see them being active, like running with other dogs.

As very people-oriented dogs, Chinooks will be more than happy to follow you around.

So, unless you’re really fine with having 24/7 shadow, you might want to think about a more independent breed.

On the other hand, if you have experience as a dog owner, you should consider this breed, if you want a dog who is:

  • Medium to large in size
  • Has a thick coat
  • Still has a working heritage
  • Is dependable
  • Is polite with strangers

If these traits are something you are comfortable with, then a Chinook may be right for you.

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