Chinook

When it comes to the ultimate sledding dog, the breed, Chinook, should be in that discussion. This high energy dog from the Working Group was a key figure in the Byrd expedition to Antarctica.

While the breed continues to grow in popularity, it’s hard to believe the Chinook nearly became extinct in the late 1900’s.

But others had bigger and better plans for this athletic and intelligent dog.

So what makes this American made breed such a great addition to your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Chinook.

History

If the prospect of a Spitz-type dog excites you, then the Chinook is right up your alley. A creation of American author, breeder and explorer, Arthur Walden of Wonalancet, New Hampshire. This American made breed was bred to withstand frigid temperatures for long periods of time. 

Historians believe that Walden chose a combination of a farm dog Mastiff and Rear Admiral Peary’s Husky of Greenland. The foundation of Walden’s dogs were all wonderful athletes. On top of that, Walden knew that breeding a dog that was great with other dogs and friendly with people was essential. He did just that in 1917.

In the 1927, Walden and his 16 Sire Chinooks were given the important position as head of Dog Department. Of course, this meant the pack of dogs and their master were in charge of lugging freight during the Antarctica expedition.

During the adventure, Walden had his lead dog in charge by the name of Chinook. That dog, which would receive top honors from the likes of Congress and Richard Byrd, would lend his name to the breed forever.

When the Walden squad wasn’t too busy accepting Congressional Medals, they were restoring the sport of dog sledding in New England. 

Today’s version of the breed owes its ancestry to the foundation of Chinook himself. Unfortunately, Chinook the dog, didn’t come back from the expedition. Yet, the state of New Hampshire, upon the request of Walden, made the decision to commemorate the dog in 1931. They did so by naming a stretch on Route 113A, Chinook Trail.

The breed would continue to do well with dog sledding competitions and even set records at the time for longest dog trek. In 1940, breeder Perry Greene and his team of Chinooks did 502 miles in only 90 hours.

However, once the innovators and creators of this breed died, the Chinook became more of a niche breed throughout the latter half of the 20th century. In fact, in 1965, this breed made the Guinness Book of Records as rarest dog with only 125 Chinooks remaining.

Most breeding took place in Maine, Ohio and certain areas in California. Thanks to the resilience of those breeders during a 20 year period, the Chinook beat out looming extinction.

In 1991, the United Kennel Club made the decision to give the breed official recognition. However, the registration numbers were still low until the early 2000’s. 

Thanks to the efforts of Chinook enthusiasts and kennel clubs, the breed would gain official recognition with the American Kennel Club in 2013. This, of course, twelve years after the breed was given entry into the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock.

Today, the breed still competes and excels as a sledding dog. Moreover,  Chinooks also make fine search and rescue dogs, K-9 competitors and of course as a companion. Still, the breed is considerably rare ranking 175th most popular on the American Kennel Club’s registry list.

Size

The Chinook is a large breed and the standard is quite interesting when it comes to male and females. Most breeds don’t see such deviation with regards to height or weight. That isn’t the case with this breed. According to the American Kennel Club, a male should weigh 55 to 90 pounds, but a female should lobby around 50 to 65 pounds.

With regards to height, the male Chinooks should stand 24 to 26 inches, as females stand 22 to 24 inches. 

However, some can weigh as much as 100 pounds, as the very first Chinook did.

Personality/Temperament

Like a good lapdog or a Toy, the Chinook is the kind of dog that enjoys following their master from room to room. A loyal breed by fault, this is a canine that thrives and feeds of attention and affection. Yes, they do expect much in return, but for sure, they definitely have plenty of compassion to give out. 

This spills over to the children. One of the great benefits to this breed is how they interact with other dogs. Of course, you have to keep in mind that this breed has a long history of working in packs as a sled dog. They are also wonderful around children, especially so when the Chinook is brought up with them. 

Patience is a virtue of this dog, they are very perceptive and highly intelligent. Chinooks aim to please their people. This is a breed willing to train and learns rather quickly.

They should never be aggressive or overly shy. That is a considerable disqualification among many kennel clubs. 

Additionally, this is a breed that really adores the outdoors. You can take this dog anywhere with you from dog parks to the best of hiking trails. And if you’re around the lake, don’t be afraid to cool off your Chinook to some swimming. Highly energetic when they are on the job, this is a mellow dog on the inside. If you relax, this breed is going to relax. 

Born to perform and be athletic, the Chinook can do just about any K-9 sport and task you ask of them. From agility to lure coursing. 

Finally, you are much better off keeping this dog in open spaces with plenty of room to run around with. They may be prone to wander, as they were bred to be curious adventurers, but at the end of the day, wherever you end up, there’s a good chance the Chinook will adapt.

Health

Chinooks are a very healthy breed for the most part and most likely that is attributable to their breeding and occupational role.

That said, when you buy a Chinook from a breeder, it’s always better to purchase from a breeder with a good reputation. You want to make sure you get the proper health clearances as well as documentation. Additionally, you should bring your dog by the veterinarian on the regular.

Chinooks have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. Most of the issues affecting the breed is somewhat minor.

This breed has a 17.9% Hip Dysplasia occurrence rate. While some think that’s awful, it really isn’t when you consider the Pug and Bulldogs are up around 70 percent. When the femur ball separates from the hip socket or joint, it causes rubbing as well as wearing of the cartilage. This causes pain, discomfort and lameness. 

Abnormal alignment to the knee joint or Patella Luxation is also found with the Chinook. In fact, aside from the Pomeranian, Yorkie, AussieTerrier and Tibetan Spaniel, who are all in the top 4, the Chinook is the fifth worst at 12% dysplastic occurrence rate. Patella Luxation causes the same effects; pain, lameness, and discomfort.

Furthermore, the Chinook suffers from a peculiar condition Cryptorchidism, which is when one or both testicles are missing from the scrotum. A 7.7% occurrence rate for this unknown condition.

Hypothyroidism, which is a when the thyroid gland is under performing is found within this breed. While this condition is treatable it isn’t curable. Other breeds like the Doberman, Dachshund, Golden Retriever and Cocker Spaniel are among the highest at risk breeds.

Also, issues like Allergic Dermatitis, Epilepsy, Cataracts and Retinal Dysplasia may be found with the Chinook.

Care

This is a breed that should get out regularly and find the time for exercise. It shouldn’t be hard for this breed considering how much they enjoy the outdoors. You can teach them obedience as well as give them early socialization to better help with integrating them as adults. Regular walks from 40 to 60 minutes a day will suffice the Chinook.

You should brush this dog’s teeth regularly as well. Remove tartar buildup and watch what kind of food, especially wet food, that you give to your Chinooks. Inspect their ears routinely for infection or bacterial buildup. Trimming their nails is also a good idea  to protect overgrowth and splitting. 

You shouldn’t have to worry much about smaller children and other dogs with the Chinook. Keep in mind, however, this is a larger breed with some muscle to them. They may inadvertantly knock a child or try herding them as well. Something to consider.

Of course, this is a breed that should be a part of the family. This is where they thrive. You need to show the Chinook plenty of affection and give them enough attention to make them a part of the squad. 

Feeding

This is an active breed, a working breed, that should be fed a high quality, protein diet. Treats and table scraps should be given to this breed sparingly. 

Additionally, how much your Chinook eats depends on a few factors. Their age, metabolism, activity rate are a few deciding factors. Of course, spaying and neutering can also affect how much your Chinook eats.

Most owners of this breed seem to be content feeding their dog between 3.5 cups to 4.5 cups of top quality dry food per day. This doesn’t have to be in one shot, in fact, it’s best that you split up the servings into two or three meals per day. This will help prevent obesity issues, that the breed sometimes is prone to suffer and Bloat.

Meat first ingredient diet is the best for most breeds. Lean chicken, turkey, salmon and lamb should cut the mustard for Chinooks. Taurine and Omega 3 and 6 will help promote better joint and heart health.

As always, you should provide your Chinook with fresh drinking water.

Coat

The Chinook will shed heavily about twice a year. To keep up with their coat needs, you should get in the hang of brushing their double coat two to three times per week. Most Chinook owners say the coat is easy to maintain.

The outside coat is straight, long and coarse to the feel. The undercoat is short but dense and downy. Their coats provide them with insulation, as the dog routinely would lug freight in the freezing elements.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Chinook has five acceptable coat colors: Fawn, gray, red, palomino, red gold, silver fawn. A black mask, buff and white markings are all acceptable markings according to the standard.

Fun Chinook Facts

  • Currently, there are only 400 UKC and a little over 800 AKC registrations for this breeds.
  • Chinook is an Inuit word meaning “warm winter winds.”
  • In 2009, the breed became the official state dog for New Hampshire.

Closing Words

The Chinook in their short history as a breed has done some remarkable things in such a short time. From search and rescue dog to a key figure in the famous Antarctic expedition.. Athletic and eager to please, this intelligent breed can do it all and will continue to thrive in competitions as word gets out about Chinooks.

Yet, if you ask a Chinook enthusiast the biggest and best thing about this breed, without a doubt, they will tell you it’s their ability to love and make their people smile. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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