Created in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Chinook dog breed made his name on Admiral Byrd’s first Antarctic expedition in 1928. These days he’s a multipurpose dog who’s happy hiking, competing in agility and other dog sports, pulling a sled or other conveyance, and playing with the kids.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
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Chinooks come in many different colors, but the most interesting thing about their physical appearance is that they come in two different “ear styles.” They can have floppy ears or pointed, fox-like ears—and owners won’t know what kind of ears they will have until they are at least 4 or 5 months old.
Chinooks are a very special breed of dog. Developed in the early 20th century to be used as sled dogs, Chinooks are an all-American breed that have been beloved by cold weather people in the United States since the early 1900s.
Unlike most dog breeds, which were developed over the years in a collaborative fashion, Chinooks really owe their existence to one person in particular, Arthur Treadwell Walden from Wonalancet, New Hampshire. Mr. Walden owned sled dogs, and all modern day Chinooks can trace their ancestry to his lead and favorite dog named “Chinook.” Chinook was born in 1917, and the breed has remained so unchanged since that time that photos of Chinook’s puppies look an awful lot like modern Chinooks.
Chinooks are loving, gentle, and happy dogs. They are loyal and want nothing more than to please their owners. Much of this good temperament comes from the fact that Chinooks were bred exclusively as sled dogs. They have a tendency to be suspicious of strangers and, while rarely aggressive, they may be shy when initially introduced to new people. Because they are accustomed to working with other dogs—sled dogs’ success depends entirely on their ability to work well with the team—they will enjoy the companionship that comes with a multi-dog household. They also do well with other animals, such as cats. That being said, Chinooks need to be adequately socialized like all dogs.
Their gentle nature makes them excellent pets for families, and they are good with children. Because they are relatively reserved dogs, they will do much better with unknown children if they are raised with children in the home.
Because Chinooks traditionally spent a lot of time running through the icy tundra of the Northern United States, it’s not difficult to understand that they need a decent amount of exercise. For this reason, they don’t really make good dogs for city and apartment dwellers; they will be much happier and healthier in a suburban or rural home. Wherever they live, Chinooks will need plenty of vigorous exercise daily to keep them from becoming destructive in the home. Chinooks should be allowed to run every day, if not multiple times a day.
Chinooks are a purely American breed, and people who do not live in the continental United States will likely have a very difficult time finding one. In fact, they are pretty rare in the United States, as well. Prospective owners may be put on a waiting list for a litter once they find a reputable breeder. But don’t worry—the wait is well worth it.
Chinooks on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Chinook ancestry.
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