Chinook

Canis lupus

Last updated: February 8, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Sophia Yip/Shutterstock.com

A calm and friendly breed!

Chinook Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Chinook Conservation Status

Chinook Locations

Chinook Locations

Chinook Facts

Temperament
Friendly and loyal
Diet
Omnivore
Common Name
Chinook
Slogan
A calm and friendly breed!
Group
North

Chinook Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
14 years
Weight
41kg (90lbs)

Chinook as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Moderate
Separation Anxiety
Moderate
Preferred Temperature
Cold climate
Exercise Needs
High
Friendly With Other Dogs
Group
Pure bred cost to own
$1000 to $2500
Dog group
Working
Male weight
-90 lbs
Female weight
-65 lbs

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The Chinook dog is known for its intelligence, loyalty, and patience. These working dogs have a gentle, kind temperament.

Their high level of intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, but they can be stubborn. The origins of the Chinook date back to 1896. A polar explorer from New Hampshire named Arthur Treadwell Walden bred them to serve as sled dogs. The intelligence and social nature of Chinooks make them excellent sled dogs. Those same traits make them a welcome addition to a family’s household.

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Chinooks are categorized as working dogs. They are friendly, affectionate, and sociable with both dogs and people. Their floppy ears and curious, alert eyes are irresistible!

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Evolution and the original Chinook

Arthur Treadwell Walden of Wonalance, New Hampshire, is responsible for bringing the Chinook into being. Walden was an adventurer and explorer who grew to love dog sledding while working on gold mining expeditions in Alaska. He wanted to breed a sled dog that was strong with great stamina and had a gentle, friendly nature. The foundation for the Chinook was a descendant of Admiral Perry’s husky lead dog, Polaris, and a mastiff mix farm dog who produced three pups in 1917. One of these puppies was named Chinook after one of Walden’s favorite Alaska sledding dogs. This puppy was to be the father of the Chinook breed.



Chinook was the originator of his breed and died a hero on Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition.

©Caronna / Creative Commons

Chinook grew to be a massively strong, 100-pound dog with a thick, tawny yellow coat, dark ears, and a dark muzzle. He became renowned for being a great sled dog and for his gentle disposition with children. Descendants of this beloved dog would later be called Chinooks in his honor.

Health and Entertainment for your Chinook

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Chinook led Walden’s dog sledding team to international fame. After catching the attention of Admiral Richard Byrd, Chinook and 15 of his children were appointed, along with their master, to head the dog sled team for his first Antarctic expedition. Walden went on to receive the Congressional Medal in 1931 for his role in the famous expedition.

Sadly, Chinook, at the advanced age of 12, never made it back from that great arctic adventure. The entire world mourned the loss of this strong, brave, loyal, sweet-natured dog.

Owning a Chinook: 3 Pros and Cons

Pros!Cons!
A breed with an affectionate temperament!
Chinooks are eager to please. They are affectionate and gentle with children, adults, and other pets.
Dislikes being alone
This dog breed can become destructive if left alone for long periods of time. It is a social animal.
A sociable pet!
Chinooks get along with other dogs mostly because they were bred to be part of a sled dog team. This is ideal if there are other dogs in the household.
Not an ideal guard dog
They are likely to bark when someone knocks or rings the doorbell. But they’ll probably welcome whoever is at the door, stranger or not.
Always up for an adventure!
Chinooks are great dogs for families that enjoy the outdoors. Families who love to go camping, boating, and hiking are going to love having one of these dogs along for the excitement.
Can be stubborn during training
The intelligence of Chinooks contributes to successful training sessions. However, they have a stubborn streak which means an owner must be firm and direct during obedience lessons.
Minnow the Chinook dog
Chinooks are fully grown at 18 months with females weighing 65 pounds and males 90 pounds.

©iStock.com/Kathleen Riley

Size and Weight

Chinooks are large dogs with a double coat of thick tan hair. The average height of a male is 25 inches at the shoulder while females are 23 inches tall. A fully-grown male weighs 90 pounds whereas a female weighs 65 pounds. At seven weeks, a puppy weighs approximately 10 pounds. These dogs are full-grown at 18 months.

Height (Male)25 inches tall
Height (Female)23 inches tall
Weight (Male)90 pounds, fully grown
Weight (Female)65 pounds, fully grown

Common Health Issues

Chinooks, like other dog breeds, have a few common health issues. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary health problem of some of this breed. When a dog has hip dysplasia it means the ball and the joint in the hip do not move together in the right way. This condition can develop in a Chinook as it moves through adulthood. Another common health issue is cataracts. This condition appears as cloudiness in a dog’s eye or eyes. Cataracts make the dog’s vision blurry and can get worse over time. Atopy, a skin condition, is another common health issue. Atopy can result from all types of allergies. A dog itches and bites at its skin/coat causing bleeding and bald spots.

The most common health issues for Chinooks are:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Atopy
Chinook lying in grass Attribution not found
Chinooks were bred to be friendly and affectionate and are great family pets.

Temperament

The personality of a Chinook is friendly and loyal. These traits make it a great dog for families with young children, teenagers, and any age in-between. A large amount of energy is another notable quality of this dog. This should come as no surprise considering they were bred to be sled dogs! So, these dogs need to live with families that can give them at least an hour of exercise each day.

The behavior of this dog breed is sociable. It’s happy to be with both dogs and people. Once again, this is no surprise knowing these dogs were bred to work on a sled team. They are known as working dogs or sled dogs. Mush! Mush!

How to Take Care of Chinook

Whether a family gets a Chinook puppy or an adult, it’s best to learn as much as possible about these dogs in order to give them the proper care. In addition to common health issues such as hip dysplasia, cataracts, and atopy, there are other factors to take into account when caring for this pet.

Chinook on lease
Chinooks need a diet high in protein to maintain strong muscles.

©jude / CC BY 2.0 – License

The Best Dog Food for the Chinook

A growing puppy has different nutritional needs than an adult dog. The following outlines the unique needs of both Chinook puppies and fully-grown dogs.

Chinook puppy food: Look for a puppy food that’s high in protein. Protein helps with a Chinook’s developing muscles, tissues, and organs. Calcium is another important ingredient that aids in developing strong bones which is important for dogs vulnerable to hip dysplasia. Puppy food that’s high in fatty acids assists with the development of the immune system which can help to prevent atopy and other allergies. Avoid puppy foods with corn or cereal in the first three ingredients. This is filler with very little if any nutritional value. These puppies should eat four to six small meals a day. They burn a lot of energy!

Chinook adult dog food: An adult needs a diet that’s high in protein to maintain strong muscles and organs. Fish is a good source of protein. Food with vitamin A along with Omega-3 fatty acids contributes to healthy vision and may prevent cataracts. A small amount of carbohydrates gives an adult dog energy while not adding unnecessary weight. Calcium is another essential ingredient to keep an adult Chinook’s bones in good health.

As a note, split an adult Chinook’s food in half and feed your pet half in the morning and a half in the evening. This helps an older dog to digest its food gradually and not leave it hungry in the evening before bedtime.

Also, since the breed is prone to atopy from allergies, try out a limited-ingredient food that alleviates dogs’ allergies.

Accordingly, the A-Z Animals recommendation of the best dog food for Chinooks is Inception Dry Dog Food – Complete and Balanced Dog Food – Meat First Legume Free Dry Dog Food.

Firstly, this formula leaves out stuff like corn, wheat, soy, legumes, potatoes, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Therefore, your Chinook may be less susceptible to allergies and atopy. Plus, the natural fish recipe has supplemental vitamins and nutrients, including L-carnitine and taurine for eye health.

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Inception Dry Dog Food – Complete and Balanced Dog Food – Meat First Legume Free Dry Dog Food
  • INCEPTION IS PROTEIN FIRST – Inception is formulated with animal protein first to serve your canine companions’ needs. We understand your canine companions are carnivore first, omnivore second and thrive with good animal protein in their diets. At Inception, we ensure our first two ingredients are animal protein.
  • INCEPTION CHICKEN FORMULA - Our Inception Chicken recipe contains chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein providing high-quality, essential amino acids, and trace minerals. Chicken is a “protein-dense” ingredient, meaning that it provides a lot of protein compared to fat in a given amount of meat. This makes it an excellent source of protein that may help in weight control because fat contains more calories than protein. Chicken is high in vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin B5. It’s also a great source of selenium and phosphorus.
  • INCEPTION IS LEGUME FREE – Inception formulas are free of legumes, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. We want to give your canine companions everything they need for a long and happy life with you.


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Maintenance and Grooming

How much does a Chinook shed? They have a double coat of thick hair and shed an average amount. As a comparison, an Alaskan Malamute is known to shed a lot of hair. A Chinook should be groomed one time per week to remove dead or loose hair from its coat.

A slicker brush is a helpful tool that can get down into the double coat of the dog to remove loose hair and tangles. Be sure to choose a slicker brush with bristles that are rounded or have plastic tips. These bristles won’t harm a Chinook’s skin as it’s brushed from head to tail.

Chinook with handler at show
Chinooks are smart and focused – making them relatively easy to train.

©Sophia Yip/Shutterstock.com

Training

Chinooks are relatively easy to train. They are smart and focused which helps in obedience lessons. Keep in mind that some Chinooks have a stubborn streak that can slow down the training process. Siberian Huskies share this stubborn streak with them. Alternatively, Australian Shepherds are known to be easily trainable because of their alert nature. Of course, an owner can be successful in training a Chinook with the use of treats as incentives and making sure the dog knows the owner is in charge.

Exercise

Would it be surprising to learn that Chinooks need at least an hour of exercise per day to maintain good health? After all, these dogs were originally bred in the state of New Hampshire to charge across snowy ground pulling a sled. Chinooks like to trot, run, jump and, you guessed it, pull things around! It could be an old cushion, a blanket, a huge branch, or even an owner’s small cart.

This dog needs space to move around so it’s not a good choice for apartment living. Running in the woods, an enclosed yard or a dog park are just a few of the ways to give this dog proper exercise.

Puppies

Chinook puppy standing on grass Attribution not found
Chinook puppies need room to explore, run around and play.

Chinook puppies are active, so they need to be fed four to six times a day. This feeding schedule gives them the energy they need to explore, run around, and play with family members. Just like adult Chinooks, these puppies need exercise every day. It’s best to allow them to exercise in a fenced yard until they learn commands such as stay and come that will keep them safe in an unenclosed area.

Children

Do Chinooks get along with small children? Yes, they do! This dog’s affectionate nature and high level of energy pair well with small children who want to run around the yard with the family dog. They like to cuddle and are even-tempered. Chinooks have a reputation for being excellent dogs for families with kids.

Dogs Similar to Chinooks

Chinooks are a rare breed of dog. At one time, there were very few Chinooks being bred. Many of the males in this group were being neutered so they couldn’t reproduce. By the early 1980s, Chinooks were almost extinct! However, their numbers have been growing slowly since that time. They are now the state dog of New Hampshire!

There are some dog breeds similar to this rare breed. Three examples are the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, and the Eskimo.

  • Siberian Husky – Siberian Huskies fall into the category of working dogs just as Chinooks do. They are sled pullers and are known for their loyalty and intelligence.
  • Alaskan Malamute – Affectionate and loyal are two words used to describe the Alaskan Malamute. Sound familiar? This breed works as a sled dog just like Chinooks.
  • Eskimo – The Eskimo breed is another sled dog known for its persistence and intelligence. They are social dogs but aren’t as even-tempered as Chinooks.

Popular names for Chinooks include:

  • Sammy
  • Musher
  • Blizzard
  • Balto
  • Vixen
  • Dory
  • Mekko
  • Lady
  • Auggie
  • Juniper

Famous Chinooks

Although these dogs almost went extinct and are still considered a rare breed, there was, in addition to the original beloved Chinook, a famous Chinook dog in the movies. It was Chinook the Wonder Dog. This animal actor starred in the films Trail of the Yukon (1949), Yukon Manhunt (1951), and Yukon Gold (1952). Chinook the Wonder Dog was, no doubt, playing the role of the mighty sled dog who inspired Arthur Walden to create the Chinook breed.

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About the Author

After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.

Chinook FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does it cost to own a Chinook?

The initial cost of buying a Chinook from a breeder ranges from $1000 to $2500. There are some organizations that help people adopt Chinooks which is a less costly way to get one. Since this is a rare breed of dog, it may take a few months to find one.

Yearly vet costs for Chinooks can range from $300 to $500. This can vary depending on the health of the dog and the fees of different veterinarians. It costs between $50 to $100 per month for Chinook food.

Are Chinooks good with kids?

Yes. Chinooks are known for their affectionate nature and gentle way with kids and adults.

How long do Chinooks live?

The lifespan of a Chinook ranges from 12 to 15 years. Of course, some Chinooks live much longer than 15 years!

What is a Chinook dog?

A Chinook is categorized as a large, working dog. It has a light brown or tawny coat of thick hair. This dog is alert, friendly, and smart.

What is the difference between a Chinook and a Siberian Husky?

There are a few differences between these two dogs. While a Chinook is content to stay around its family, Siberian Huskies are prone to wandering away. Plus, Siberian Huskies can be difficult to train. Siberian Huskies have a coat with a mixture of gray, white, and black. Chinooks have a tan or tawny coat. Chinooks are larger than Siberian Huskies. A male Chinook can weigh up to 90 pounds whereas a male Siberian Husky weighs up to 60 pounds.

Are Chinooks good family dogs?

Yes. This sweet dog is highly recommended as a pet for a family of any size.

Are Chinooks herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Chinooks are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Chinooks belong to?

Chinooks belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Chinooks belong to?

Chinooks belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Chinooks belong to?

Chinooks belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Chinooks belong to?

Chinooks belong to the family Canidae.

What order do Chinooks belong to?

Chinooks belong to the order Carnivora.

What genus do Chinooks belong to?

Chinooks belong to the genus Canis.

What type of covering do Chinooks have?

Chinooks are covered in Hair.

What is an interesting fact about Chinooks?

Chinooks are a calm and friendly breed!

What is the scientific name for the Chinook?

The scientific name for the Chinook is Canis lupus.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  5. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. The American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/chinook/

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