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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Chinook Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Chinook Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Chinook dog in snow

The Chinook is a no-frills working dog that is known for their intelligence and trainability. They are eager to perform and very patient with their people, which makes them great family pets. These dogs aren’t absolutely huge, but males can weigh as much as 90 pounds. Females are usually much smaller and daintier. You can typically guess a dog’s gender based on their size alone.

These dogs were bred to pull heavy freight. Imagine a sled dog that can pull more; that’s a Chinook.

Breed Overview


22 – 26 inches


50 – 90 pounds


12 – 15 years


Fawn, tawny, tan

Suitable for:

Active families


Intelligent, Laidback, Active

They are used for all sorts of purposes today, including carting, agility, and search-and-rescue work. They can even herd animals if trained properly.

Despite their working attitude, they actually aren’t that busy when kept in a home environment. Many owners describe them as laidback and easy to take care of.

Today, these dogs are extremely rare. They were created by a man named Walden in the late 1800s for sledding and crating. However, after Walden’s death, the breed dwindled and nearly went extinct. In 1965, there were only 125 dogs left. They have made a bit of a comeback today, though they are still considered one of the rarer breeds.

Chinook Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Chinook Puppies

The main hurdle of adopting a Chinook rests largely on finding one. There are very few breeders out there, which often leads to very few puppies. As you might imagine, you could spend a very long time waiting for a puppy to be available. Waiting lists are often decently long, so don’t expect to get the perfect puppy right away. The waiting time can be even longer if you have a particular gender or ear type that you’re looking for.

When you bring a Chinook into your home, make sure to provide enough mental and physical stimulation for your pup to avoid boredom. They are very playful and energetic, making them excellent family dogs.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Chinook

This dog is well-known for their intelligence and eager-to-please nature. They require quite a bit of mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Otherwise, they can attempt to make their own fun and may get into trouble. When properly stimulated, though, they are pretty laid back and easy to care for.

The Chinook is generally indifferent towards people that he doesn’t know. He isn’t necessarily aloof like some other dog breeds, but he likely isn’t going to run up with his tail wagging either. He is more than welcome to hang out in a quiet corner while you have guests. He doesn’t require significant amounts of attention from others and typically doesn’t mind being ignored during house parties.

However, these dogs are very devoted to their people. They love attention from their family and prefer to be with their people as much as possible. Their patience makes them fairly good with children, as long as they are socialized properly from a young age.

Image By: rwtrahul, Shutterstock

While these dogs aren’t necessarily aggressive, they do require early socialization. They aren’t as outgoing as other canines, and not socializing them can emphasize their reserved nature. If you want them to be friendly and accepting with visitors, it is important to get them around lots of strangers when they are young.

The Chinook does best when given a job to do. They love to please and may easily become bored if left alone. They are not dogs that you can simply leave alone for much of the day. They are happiest when participating in things like hiking and canine sports. They are perfect for active families who want a canine to tag along.

This dog is also relatively quiet. They don’t make good alert dogs, as they may not even bark at people as they walk by. Generally, they keep to themselves. Typically, they don’t bark at all but make whining and howling sounds to communicate.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Chinook makes a wonderful family dog. Their patience allows them to get along quite easily with children, while their laidback nature makes them easy to take care of for busy, modern families. As long as you can meet their exercise and mental stimulation needs, they typically don’t cause much trouble.

Their larger size means that they are less likely to be injured by toddlers. They are also much less likely to be scared of children for this reason. Unlike small dogs, they simply don’t have to worry about toddlers hurting them. Most dogs bite young children out of fear, especially if they have been injured by them before. The Chinook’s size eliminates this problem and decreases potential bites.

At the same time, they don’t tend to be very hyperactive or energetic, so the odds of them knocking a child down are rather low.

While these dogs do best in active families, this isn’t necessarily a requirement. They do perfectly fine with more laidback families as long as they are walked appropriately.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

This dog breed usually gets along fine with other dog breeds. They aren’t super pack-oriented, so they don’t necessarily get a lot from having other dogs around. However, they are not territorial or aggressive towards other dogs either.

Early socialization is important to ensure that the Chinook is confident around other dogs. Getting them around lots of different dogs when they are puppies ensures that it isn’t a new (and potentially scary) experience when they get older.

Their aloof nature is likely to come out in these situations as well. They are not likely to be particularly friendly towards other dogs, but they likely won’t be aggressive towards them either.

On the other hand, they usually do not get along well with cats and other small animals. They have a decently high prey drive that will cause them to chase smaller animals that run. This isn’t something that you can easily train out of them, as it is completely instinctual. A dog that has been fine with a family cat for years may suddenly chase her one day.

They don’t often understand that there is anything wrong with this behavior. It is simply in their nature.

For this reason, we don’t recommend them in homes with smaller animals. This includes things like chickens.


Things to Know When Owning a Chinook:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Chinook is a larger dog and needs a suitable diet. Puppies should be fed a diet specifically for larger dogs, as they need slightly different nutrients than smaller breed puppies.

You should also be very careful not to over-feed your Chinook as a puppy. Too many calories can cause them to grow too big too quickly. This can upset the growth in their joints, causing their ball and socket to grow at different rates. This results in hip dysplasia, which often begins in puppyhood but worsens as the dog gets older. Eventually, this can cause arthritis-like symptoms, though at a much younger age than arthritis typically rears its head.

This dog does need quite a bit of exercise to stay fit. However, some of them act like they’re perfectly fine laying around all day. This makes them somewhat prone to obesity, so you should keep a close eye on their body condition. Obesity can lead to all sorts of health problems, so it is important to properly adjust your canine’s diet if they become overweight.

With that said, exercise will play a large role in their weight loss, especially if they aren’t getting the appropriate amount of exercise to begin with.

Besides this, the Chinook usually doesn’t require a special diet. They typically do great on a normal, commercially available diet. Some may develop health problems that require them to be on a special, prescription diet. However, this is rare, as this breed is quite healthy.

Exercise 🐕

Because they were bred to pull heavy loads over long distances, these dogs are quite athletic. However, you wouldn’t exactly know this by looking at them. They tend to be rather laid back, especially when they are exercised properly. Unlike other athletic dogs, they aren’t hyperactive or very energetic. They prefer to spend much of their time lying around, with bouts of physical activity thrown in.

You should plan on taking these dogs on at least one long walk a day. This is also a great time to meet their mental stimulation need by allowing your dog to sniff around. This helps wear them out physically and mentally at the same time.

Of course, these dogs thrive most when they are given tougher, more intense exercise. They love having some sort of a job to do, so canine agility and carting are great options for them. They excel in many canine sports. Even if you don’t plan on competing, we do recommend looking into training your dog for these sports.

If you live a relatively active life, this is a great dog to tag along with you. They can hike and backpack with ease, especially given that they were bred to haul heavy loads. They can also learn to run next to a bicycle and perform similar tasks. Look for ways to integrate their exercise needs into your daily life.

Training 🎾

The Chinook is one of the easiest dogs to train. They are intelligent enough to learn most commands, and they are people-pleasing enough to listen in real-life situations. Most are quick to catch on to new commands, which means that they usually train very quickly.

If you have ever trained a dog before, you can probably train a Chinook. However, we still recommend group training classes – if only for the socialization aspect. These dogs are often aloof and distant towards new people and canines alike. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we don’t want that aloofness to turn into fear and aggression.

Therefore, it is important to introduce these dogs to a variety of different people and animals at a young age. Puppy classes are an easy way to do this, as they usually contain plenty of other people and puppies for your dog to socialize with. Plus, they are generally safe environments since all dogs have to have the appropriate vaccinations to participate. You can also guarantee that most people there are perfectly fine interacting with dogs. They are taking a dog training class, after all!

While the Chinook’s high intelligence does make them easy to train, it also means that they require quite a bit of mental stimulation to thrive. Otherwise, they can become bored and potentially destructive. If your Chinook is acting up, it is likely because they aren’t getting the mental stimulation they need.

Training is an easy way to provide this mental stimulation. However, because these dogs often pick up on the basic commands rather quickly, you may find yourself struggling to find new things to teach them. Often, the best course of action is to train them in canine sports, as these are rather difficult and require quite a bit of training. You can potentially train your dog in agility forever, slowly adding more challenges as your dog progresses.

Chinook dogs
Image By: Nick Chase 68, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

This breed has a double coat, which means that they do shed quite a bit. Their fur is usually medium-length, with a soft undercoat and a coarser outer coat. Their coat is designed to keep them warmer in colder climates. However, it also does a rather good job of keeping them cool in warmer climates. Their coat is designed to regulate their temperature to a reasonable level. Therefore, it works in about any climate.

  • To Shave or Not to Shave? You shouldn’t shave your dog, even if you live in a relatively warmer climate. This can mess with their coat’s regulating abilities and may make them warmer than they would be otherwise. If you live in a hotter climate, simply ensure that you are grooming them properly and providing them with shade during the hotter months. Their coat should do the rest. Usually, dogs in warmer climates will have thinner coats than those in colder climates.
  • Brushing: The Chinook should be brushed at least weekly. This helps limit shedding and helps your canine stay cool, especially if you live in a warmer climate. Brushing also helps remove the dirt and debris from their coat, as well as spreading around their natural oils, which also helps keep their coat clean. These dogs may shed extra during the spring and fall, as they are switching out their coats. We recommend increasing brushing during this time to remove the extra hair that they are shedding.
  • Brushing: The Chinook should be brushed at least weekly. This helps limit shedding and helps your canine stay cool, especially if you live in a warmer climate. Brushing also helps remove the dirt and debris from their coat, as well as spreading around their natural oils, which also helps keep their coat clean. These dogs may shed extra during the spring and fall, as they are switching out their coats. We recommend increasing brushing during this time to remove the extra hair that they are shedding.
  • Bathing: They rarely need a bath, especially if you keep up with their brushing. Regular baths can interfere with their natural oils, which can cause skin irritation and similar problems. It is only recommended that you bathe them when they get visibly dirty, like after rolling in a mud puddle. Otherwise, their coat is self-cleaning and can typically take care of itself.
  • Nails & Ears: Like all other dogs, you’ll need to keep their nails trimmed down. Otherwise, they may become too long, causing pain and cracking. Trim them whenever they start clicking on hard surfaces, as this is a sure sign that they have become too long. You should also keep an eye on their ears, especially if they are floppy. They tend to trap dirt and debris, which can cause ear infections if not cared for properly. If their ears become too dirty, then you will need to clean them with a damp cotton ball.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Generally, the Chinook is pretty healthy. While they are purebred, they are largely produced by breeders that participate in the proper health testing. This keeps them relatively healthy and allows the breed to flourish without many common health issues.

However, they are prone to some common diseases. The most common of these include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and eye problems.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is the most common of these. There is a genetic component to hip dysplasia. Some dogs simply seem more prone to it than others. However, there is also a significant environmental component. This allows you to prevent this disease somewhat. Hip dysplasia occurs when your canine’s hip grows out of sync. The ball and socket stop growing at the same speed, which causes excess wear on the bones. Eventually, this leads to arthritis-like symptoms. Some dogs are only minorly affected, experiencing some pain and stiffness. Others may become lame and need surgery to correct their joints. A puppy’s diet, while they are growing, has an effect on whether or not they develop hip dysplasia. Too many calories can cause a puppy to grow too quickly, which can cause the joint to grow at the wrong speed. Injuries and excessive exercise during growth can also cause hip dysplasia.
  • Obesity: Due to their laidback nature, these dogs are somewhat prone to obesity. This can put even more wear on their joints, so it is recommended that you keep them at the appropriate weight. This is especially true if they have hip dysplasia, as it can cause their joints to wear down faster than they would otherwise.

Male vs. Female

Male Chinooks are typically much larger than females. You can often tell a dog’s gender based on their size alone. However, that is the only significant difference between the genders. Otherwise, they are quite similar. Their temperament doesn’t differ much between the genders.

What gender you want depends largely on your personal preference. However, clinging too tightly to one gender may make your wait for a puppy even longer. Therefore, we recommend being as flexible as possible.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Chinook

1. They are extremely rare.

The Chinook has almost gone extinct multiple times. They once only had just over a hundred individuals in their breed, though they have made somewhat of a comeback since then. Many breeders are currently working to keep this breed from dwindling again.

2. The AKC didn’t recognize this breed until 2013.

This breed has barely had a history with the AKC, the largest kennel club in the United States. They were just recognized in 2013, though their numbers have grown considerably since then.

3. The breed is named after a specific dog.

The Chinook breed is named after a dog of the same name, who was thought to be the first canine of this breed. He was bred by Walden and was the lead dog on his sled team. All current dogs of the breed are descended from this specific canine.

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Final Thoughts

The Chinook is a rare breed. They were originally bred to haul large loads over long distances. However, they also make great family dogs. Their exercise and mental stimulation needs do mean that these canines need a little bit of extra care and attention to stay happy. However, when all their needs are met, they tend to be quite laid back and friendly.

They are distant towards other people and sometimes even dogs as well. But they are very affectionate with their family and love attention. They excel at canine sports of all sorts, especially given their high intelligence. Overall, these dogs are pretty easy to train. They learn quickly and listen easily to their owners.

Though they are purebred dogs and have a small genetic pool, this breed is relatively healthy. They don’t suffer from many health problems, and those they are affected by often affect all larger dogs as well.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Igor Plotnikov, Shutterstock

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