Despite the vast number of breeds of dog in the world, very few of those were developed in the United States. One of those few dogs that are American natives, however, is the Chinook.
The Chinook dog breed is one of the rarest that there is; on three separate occasions, it has gone down in the Guiness Book of World Records as being the rarest dog breed on the planet. At one point, in 1981, there were in fact only a smattering of 28 Chinook dogs in the world (and only 11 of those were used for breeding to make more). Luckily for the dying breed, 1990 brought about the first ever “Chinook Round Up” in Dayton, OH where Chinook owners around the United States congregated in an effort to revive their favorite dog breed and help it thrive. Today, there are roughly 800 registered Chinooks world wide with about 100 newly born each year, a record high for the breed.
Chinook Dog Picture by Bryan Gosline.
Famed dog sled driver Arthur Treadwell Walden is the sole developer of the dog breed known as Chinook. The “grandfather” of all Chinooks was a dog of the same name who was a cross breed between a Husky that was used during the Peary North Pole Expedition, and a male Mastiff. “Chinook” himself was then bred with various breeds including Belgian Sheepdogs, German Shepherds, and Candian Eskimo Dogs (as well as probably a few others).
“Chinook” was then also bred with his own offspring to create close to a purebred as could be. These dogs made great sled dogs and in 1927, Walden took a team of 16 male Chinooks to be a part of Admiral Richard Byrd’s first expedition into Antarctica, where the dogs drove sleds loaded with expedition materials.
When Walden died, Perry Greene took over breeding the Chinooks and was for a while the only Chinook breeder in the world. Because of this, when he died in 1963, the number of Chinook dogs dwindled rapidly until 1981 when there were only 28 left (only 11 of which were breeding worthy). Luckily, breeders around the country split up the last few dogs and bred them to save the breed successfully. Today, there are 800 Chinooks registered with the United Kennel Club, and nearly 100 are born every year.
The Chinook is a large breed dog that is both muscular and strong as well as being fast and agile. It stands between 21 and 27 inches in height and its weight rangers from 55 pounds to 90 pounds. The dog is a “tawny” color, ranging from a light brown to a more red-gold shade. It has a double coat (a primary outer coat and an undercoat which it sheds seasonally) that is of medium length. The tail is thick and firm, more like the breed’s Mastiff part than the bushy tail of it’s Husky part. Although the Chinook is used largely as a household pet now days, it is well suited as a working dog either for a dog sled team or for search and rescue ventures.
Originally bred specifically to be a sled dog, Chinooks are hard working creatures, ready and willing to have a task put to them. They are confident and dignified, carrying themselves with an air that is seldom ever shy or bashful. Their sled dog background also has them naturally good with other dogs without showing aggression to different breeds. They are instinctively good with children (especially ones they’ve been raised around), and are even friendly and tolerate of children they’ve never before encountered. Extremely loyal to their families, the dog will stay by your side including walking at your heel without needing a leash.