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Do you like the idea of being a pet-parent to a "rare breed?" The easy-going personality and friendly disposition the Chinook offers could be just what you've been looking for!

I really enjoyed writing about "Rare Purebreds," and during my research, I found that the Chinook was listed as a rare breed. This breed almost fell to extinction in the 1980's with only about a dozen or so breedable dogs left! This week, I decided to highlight this incredibly rare breed.

The Origin of the Chinook

There's a lot of fun history about the Chinook! This rare breed was sired by a St. Bernard Mix and a "Northern" Husky, making this breed derived from only two ancestors. Born at Arthur Walden's Wonalancet, New Hampshire farm in 1917, the Chinook became a reliable and popular sledding dog that was highly desired in the United States, as it consistently set records for the amount of loads hauled, time, and distance. The Chinook breed was used to haul freight on Admiral Byrd's late 1920's Antarctica Expedition. Sadly, during this expedition, the eldest Chinook lost its life.

The Chinook consistently set records for the amount of loads hauled, time, and distance. The ears of the Chinook come in three different varieties, either dropped (which is actually the preferred look), helicopter (flying), or pricked straight up. A pet-parent won't know which way their Chinook's ears are going to be until their teething phase has passed, usually around 9 months old.

Job Please

The Chinook does best in an environment when they have a job. Whether it be sledding, carting, or skijoring, the Chinook CRAVES a winter sport! Agility, flyball, obedience, and many other dog related sports can help the Chinook maintain a healthy mental attitude.

The Chinook is often used for hiking expeditions and is happy to carry a backpack load for their pet-parent. They make a fantastic breed to take camping and on those hiking adventures!

A daily walk is a must for a Chinook, but preferably a running, hiking, or rollerblading partner will be best for this athletic breed. If you desire sharing your life with Chinook, but won't be able to provide significant and daily exercise, Doggy Daycare is a fantastic alternative for this breed. The Chinook enjoys and prefers to be around other dogs. Doggy Daycare would be a win-win for the pet-parent and Chinook.

Very Friendly

This breed is known for their friendly disposition. They enjoy being around children when raised with them, other animals, and especially other dogs. They can be shy around strangers, although they aren't known to be aggressive at all. Don't expect a guard dog with a Chinook.

The Chinook is known to act "immature" for many years into their adulthood and is often described as "puppy-like" even when they are older. Chinook's can be vocal, but not in the excessive barking way. They tend to whine or woo when they want your attention or during playtime because of their excitement.

Don't let that deter you; even though they have a young-spirit about them, they are considered a very calm dog once they have been properly exercised. They enjoy lying near their pet-parent or will often entertain themselves with their toys.

Early socialization with the Chinook will help to ensure their friendly trait of the breed as well as help them with their shy attitude towards strangers.

Smart Makes Training Easy

The Chinook is very intelligent and can quickly learn commands, and tricks. This breed is known to be great off-leash because of their loyalty and strong work ethic, anticipating their next job for their pet-parent. They remain close by, and they just enjoy being with their people. With that said, I still recommend training the Chinook to ensure their safety while off-leash.

Because of their quick wits, the Chinook excels in agility and other dog sports. A pet-parent that desires participation in these activities, and is looking for a breed that has the stamina, dedication, and willingness, need look no further then the Chinook.

Chinook's will be happy to "run the household" if given the opportunity, but in an incorrect manner. A take-charge and confident personality should be paired with this breed and early training is recommended.

To Groom or Not

Chinook's have a double coat that is downy underneath and course on top. Some enthusiasts of the Chinook claim they only shed twice a year for approximately 1 week, while others claim they are an abundant shedder, with their fur overtaking a home.

Either way, the Chinook should have a daily to weekly brushing to maintain their coat and help reduce shedding. Because the Chinook has short fur, regular grooming at a pet-groomer isn't necessary.

No Heat Please

This is a Northern Breed, and they do not do well in hot climate areas. Even in northern areas, during summer, a pet-parent to a Chinook should take caution in helping them stay cool. Providing them space in a home that's air-conditioned will be important during the humid hot summer months.

The Chinook is NOT an outdoor dog. Although they thrive in an outdoor environment where they are encouraged to work and play, their desire to be with their humans needs to be fulfilled. A pet-parent should provide them an indoor lifestyle, which will help keep the Chinook a very happy dog!

Friendly, Active, Loyal

The Chinook is a pet-parent's dream - with the exception to some minor flaws, such as shedding and shyness around strangers. They are extremely loyal to their family, very friendly around people they know, and ready to participate in any activity given to them.

The average lifespan of the Chinook is 10-15 years. Some are prone to a few minor health issues that include overall shyness, cataracts, dysplasia, seizures, cryptorchidism, and some skin issues. However, these health issues only affect a small percentage of the Chinook breeding stock.

Adopt First

As you begin looking for a Chinook, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!


Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe

Dog Breed Info


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