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  • Temperament: Smart, Patient, Devoted
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 190 of 191
  • Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 55-90 pounds (male), 50-65 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Chinook lying in three-quarter view
Chinook at the 2016 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin.
Chinook sitting outdoors - head and shoulders.
Chinook head outdoors facing left.
Six dog Chinook sled team.
Chinook coat detail
Chinook puppy sitting in a field of wildflowers.

Find a Puppy: Chinook

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Chinook was developed in the United States as a sled dog whose function was drafting and sled dog racing. Bred to combine the power of freighting breeds with the speed of the lighter racing sled dogs, he is an athletic, hard bodied dog showing good forward reach and rear extension in a seemingly tireless gait. The Chinook is an impressive dog, with an aquiline muzzle, dark almond eyes, black eye markings, a variety of ear carriages, and a tawny, close fitting coat. His saber tail is held in a graceful sickle curve. The male should appear unquestionably masculine; the female should have a distinctly feminine look and be judged equally with the male. A dignified and affectionate family dog, the Chinook is known for his love of children. The Chinook is to be presented in a natural condition with no trimming. The following is a description of the ideal Chinook.
Size, Proportion, Substance: The Chinook is a slow maturing breed. Size – Ideal height at the withers: males 24 to 26 inches; females 22 to 24 inches. Proportion – When measuring from point of shoulder to the point of buttocks the Chinook is slightly longer than tall. The proportion of height to length of body being as 9:10 in ratio. Substance – Muscular with moderate bone, a gender difference is easily discernible. The Chinook exemplifies a sound athlete in grace, muscle tone, movement, and carriage.

HEAD

The head is broad, wedge-shaped, and impressive but in balance with the size of the dog. Cheeks are well-developed and slightly rounded. The expression is intelligent, inquisitive and kind. The eyes are medium in size and almond in shape with black rims. The eye can be any shade of brown but dark brown is preferred. Dark markings around the eye that accentuate the eye and give character are desirable. Extended black pigment in an apostrophe shape at the inner corner of each eye is preferred. Disqualification-Any eye color other than brown. The ears are set near the top line of the skull. They are medium in size, V-shaped, and slightly rounded at the tip. The ear tip should be just long enough to reach the inside corner of the eye. Any ear type is allowed, including drop, prick, or propeller ears that maintain a fold when at attention. For aesthetic purposes, dropped and matched ears are preferred. The topskull is broad and slightly arched between the ears. When viewed from above, the topskull is almost square, gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes. The stop is moderate and marked with a central furrow extending up the top skull. The muzzle is aquiline and shorter in length than the top skull, measuring from nose to stop as 2:3 in ratio with stop to occiput. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is tapered to form a blunt wedge. Viewed from the side, the top of the muzzle to the nasal cartilage and the top skull are almost parallel. The nose is large, prominent and the leather is solid black. The lips are black. Bite – The Chinook has a full complement of strong teeth meeting in a scissors or a level bite.

BODY

The neck is strong, balanced in length, arched, and covered with fur that forms a protective ruff. The skin on the neck is pliable but a pendulous dewlap is a fault. The neck blends smoothly into the withers. Topline – The back is straight, strong and level, with no sign of weakness. There is a slight arch over the loins. Faults-sloping topline, roach or sway back. The body is well muscled and hard. The chest is moderately broad, well filled and deep, and neither too broad or too narrow. The forechest has a prominent prosternum that extends beyond the point of shoulders when viewed from the side. The brisket reaches to or nearly to the elbows. The ribs are well sprung, oval in shape, flattening toward the lower end to allow for elbow clearance and efficient movement. The loins are muscular with a slight arch, having enough length to be athletic but still in proportion. The underline has a moderate tuck-up. The croup is muscular, slightly sloping, broad and without exaggeration. Faults-Narrow or barrel chest, dropped croup. Tail – The saber tail is moderately set just below the level of the topline and is well coated with distinct but moderate fringing. It is broad at the base, tapering to the end and reaches to the hock with a slight curve at the tip when relaxed. When alert or moving, the tail is carried in a graceful sickle curve, neither curling to the side of the body nor touching the back. The tail should never be docked. Faults-low or high tail set.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are moderately laid back with the shoulder and upper arm forming an angle of approximately 110 degrees. The shoulder blade and upper arm are equal in length. The forelegs are straight, well-muscled, with moderate, oval bone. When viewed from the front, the legs are parallel, and straight. The elbows turn neither in nor out. The pasterns are flexible, moderate in length, strong, and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet are tight, oval in shape, with arched toes, webbing between the toes, and with strong nails. The pads are thick, tough, and darkly pigmented. The front feet may turn slightly outward when standing.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are muscular and strong, moderately angulated, and in balance with the forequarters. The slope of the pelvis is approximately 30 degrees off the horizontal with the angle of the stifle at about 110 degrees. The upper and lower thigh muscles are well-defined. The rear pasterns are parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the ground when viewed from any angle. The rear feet point straight ahead. Rear dewclaws must be removed.

COAT

The Chinook has a thick double coat lying close to the body. The outer coat is straight, strong, and coarse. The length of the outer coat is longer over the ruff, shoulder blades, withers, breeches, and along the underline and the underside of the tail but is never so long as to obscure the clean-cut outline of the dog. The undercoat is short and dense, downy in texture, providing insulation. The groin and inside of the rear legs are protected by coat. A winter coat feels soft and plush with coarser hair following the topline. A summer coat may be thinner, feel coarser, and should not be penalized. The tail is well-furred with feathering starting about four to five inches from the root. There is slight feathering of shorter hair along the back of the forelegs. The Chinook is shown naturally and trimming is not acceptable. Faults-Thin, sparse, or excessively short coat, long, rough, or shaggy coat, unprotected belly and/or groin. Trimming of the coat is to be severely penalized.
Color: Tawny coloration, ranging from a pale honey to a deep reddish-gold, is a distinguishing characteristic of the Chinook. Dilute tawny, and its associated diluted pigmentation of nose, lips, pads, and eye rims, is acceptable but not preferred. It is desirable for the ears and muzzle to have darker coloring than the body. This darker ear and muzzle coloring runs from a tawny that is darker than the body to a black shading, with some black shading being the most preferred. A black apostrophe shape mark at the inner corner of each eye is desirable. Symmetrical white or cream to pale gold markings are acceptable on the cheeks, throat, chest, breeches, and underside. Any other white markings are undesirable including blazes, socks, and scarves. Disqualification- Any color other than tawny as described.

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Chinook illustration

About the Chinook

Tawny-coated, no-frills Chinooks are muscular and substantial, with males standing as high as 26 inches at the shoulder. Females, with their distinctly feminine look, are a bit smaller. Chinooks were conceived as dual-purpose haulers, with the power of freighting dogs and the speed of sled racers. They are the picture of stouthearted dignity, with a kindly twinkle in their dark, almond eyes.

Chinooks are calm, people-oriented dogs with a special feel for children. They are trainable workers who aim to please. Sledding, carting, obedience, agility, search-and-rescue work, and herding are a few pursuits they’ve mastered. Chinooks are not particularly busy dogs, but they need consistent exercise to stay in proper hard condition.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. The Chinook Club of America is the official AKC Parent Club representing the Chinook breed.
Chinook puppy sitting in a field of wildflowers.

Find a Puppy: Chinook

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.

Care

NUTRITION

Breeders recommend that the Chinook be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some Chinooks are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but bear in mind, giving too many treats may contribute to obesity. Avoid feeding cooked bones. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The Chinook’s plush double coat is fairly easy to care for. Like all mammals, Chinooks shed a bit throughout the year. Weekly brushing will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Longer, daily brushing sessions will be required during shedding season, which generally occurs twice a year, but happens more often with spayed or neutered animals. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

While they often appear relaxed and mellow around the house, Chinooks have a tremendous amount of energy, and they thrive on exercise and play. Because they bond strongly with their owners, they make great companions on long walks, hikes, bicycle rides, and camping trips. They even enjoy swimming and boating with their human family. Of course, Chinooks were bred to pull sleds, so it’s no surprise that they excel at sports such as sledding, skijoring, bikejoring, and scootering. Chinooks also enjoy participating in agility, obedience, rally, tracking, and lure coursing events.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended for all dogs and help to ensure that the Chinook grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. Chinooks are easy to train using positive reinforcement techniques. Unlike most sledding breeds, they can be reliable off-leash. Chinooks, especially young ones, are enthusiastic and affectionate, and they tend to jump up and go face to face with human friends and family members unless they are trained early on not to do so. Because of his friendly, confident, outgoing personality, no amount of training will make a guard dog out of a Chinook.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

The Chinook is a robust, healthy breed, but there are certain health conditions that it is prone to. These include hip dysplasia, cryptorchidism (the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum), gastrointestinal disorders, and allergies. Some Chinooks suffer from a condition called “Chinook seizures,” although it is generally thought to be a movement disorder and not true seizures. As with all breeds, a Chinook’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Multidrug Resistance Mutation Test (MDR1)
Chinook standing on a fallen tree trunk in the forest.
A Chinook portrait of its head facing right.
A vintage photograph of a Chinook with its front legs propped up on the arm of a standing man.
A vintage photograph of two Chinooks sitting next to a man.

History

The Chinook was founded by adventurer and polar explorer Arthur Treadwell Walden, of Wonalancet, New Hampshire. In 1896, the 24-year-old New Englander’s wanderlust led him to Alaska at the height of the Gold Rush. For six years Walden worked his way across the Klondike as a prospector, stevedore, logger, riverboat pilot, and, most significantly, a sled-dog driver.

By the time Walden returned to his hometown, he was a devoted musher determined to breed his own line of sled dogs. As his foundation stock, Walden used a mastiff-type dog and descendants of one of Admiral Robert Peary’s Greenland huskies. The pups he bred were admired for their all-around sledding ability and a friendly, affectionate nature. Walden named the breed after Chinook, the lead dog of his sled team. (Chinook is a Native American word meaning “warm wind.”) This dog was the breed’s granddaddy and the one to which all Chinooks trace their lineage.

Walden’s breeding program was a fabulous success, and he and his new breed became well-known in sledding circles. Their fame was soon eclipsed, however, by Len Seppala and his Siberian Huskies, who became international celebrities for their 1925 “Serum Run” to Nome, Alaska.

Walden and his Chinook team accompanied Admiral Richard Byrd’s celebrated 1928 expedition to Antarctica. Byrd was duly impressed by the grit of the 58-year-old Walden and his 11-year-old lead dog, Chinook. He wrote, “Walden’s single team of thirteen dogs moved 3,500 pounds of supplies from ship to base, a distance of 16 miles each trip, in two journeys. Walden’s team was the backbone of our transport.”

Walden died in 1947 while saving his wife’s life from the fire that destroyed their Wonalancet farmhouse. In the following years, the numbers of the breed he created dwindled to the point of near extinction. In 1965, Guinness World Records listed the Chinook as the rarest dog breed, with only 125 known specimens. That number dipped even lower before dedicated Chinook enthusiasts around the world slowly brought the breed back from the brink. Their hard work paid off in 2013, when the Chinook joined the AKC Working Group. The Chinook is the official state dog of New Hampshire.

Did You Know?

The Chinook has been assigned the Working Group designation and was recognized by the AKC in 2013.
In June 2009, the Chinook was named the state dog of New Hampshire.
The Chinook is the AKC's 173rd breed.
In February 1990, Harry Gray completed a 325 mile "Trek for Life" with his team of Chinooks to raise awareness and funds for the Maine and New Hampshire Kidney Foundation's organ donor program.
Chinook is the Inuit word for warm winter winds.
In 1925, Walden and his lead dog "Chinook" led the first dog sled team to the summit of Mt. Washington, NH.
A road in New Hampshire was renamed Chinook Trail to honor Walden's famous lead dog.
Chinooks have been participating in AKC Companion events since January 2004, earning titles in Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Chinook was developed in the United States as a sled dog whose function was drafting and sled dog racing. Bred to combine the power of freighting breeds with the speed of the lighter racing sled dogs, he is an athletic, hard bodied dog showing good forward reach and rear extension in a seemingly tireless gait. The Chinook is an impressive dog, with an aquiline muzzle, dark almond eyes, black eye markings, a variety of ear carriages, and a tawny, close fitting coat. His saber tail is held in a graceful sickle curve. The male should appear unquestionably masculine; the female should have a distinctly feminine look and be judged equally with the male. A dignified and affectionate family dog, the Chinook is known for his love of children. The Chinook is to be presented in a natural condition with no trimming. The following is a description of the ideal Chinook.
Size, Proportion, Substance: The Chinook is a slow maturing breed. Size – Ideal height at the withers: males 24 to 26 inches; females 22 to 24 inches. Proportion – When measuring from point of shoulder to the point of buttocks the Chinook is slightly longer than tall. The proportion of height to length of body being as 9:10 in ratio. Substance – Muscular with moderate bone, a gender difference is easily discernible. The Chinook exemplifies a sound athlete in grace, muscle tone, movement, and carriage.

HEAD

The head is broad, wedge-shaped, and impressive but in balance with the size of the dog. Cheeks are well-developed and slightly rounded. The expression is intelligent, inquisitive and kind. The eyes are medium in size and almond in shape with black rims. The eye can be any shade of brown but dark brown is preferred. Dark markings around the eye that accentuate the eye and give character are desirable. Extended black pigment in an apostrophe shape at the inner corner of each eye is preferred. Disqualification-Any eye color other than brown. The ears are set near the top line of the skull. They are medium in size, V-shaped, and slightly rounded at the tip. The ear tip should be just long enough to reach the inside corner of the eye. Any ear type is allowed, including drop, prick, or propeller ears that maintain a fold when at attention. For aesthetic purposes, dropped and matched ears are preferred. The topskull is broad and slightly arched between the ears. When viewed from above, the topskull is almost square, gradually narrowing and flattening on top as it approaches the eyes. The stop is moderate and marked with a central furrow extending up the top skull. The muzzle is aquiline and shorter in length than the top skull, measuring from nose to stop as 2:3 in ratio with stop to occiput. Viewed from the front, the muzzle is tapered to form a blunt wedge. Viewed from the side, the top of the muzzle to the nasal cartilage and the top skull are almost parallel. The nose is large, prominent and the leather is solid black. The lips are black. Bite – The Chinook has a full complement of strong teeth meeting in a scissors or a level bite.

BODY

The neck is strong, balanced in length, arched, and covered with fur that forms a protective ruff. The skin on the neck is pliable but a pendulous dewlap is a fault. The neck blends smoothly into the withers. Topline – The back is straight, strong and level, with no sign of weakness. There is a slight arch over the loins. Faults-sloping topline, roach or sway back. The body is well muscled and hard. The chest is moderately broad, well filled and deep, and neither too broad or too narrow. The forechest has a prominent prosternum that extends beyond the point of shoulders when viewed from the side. The brisket reaches to or nearly to the elbows. The ribs are well sprung, oval in shape, flattening toward the lower end to allow for elbow clearance and efficient movement. The loins are muscular with a slight arch, having enough length to be athletic but still in proportion. The underline has a moderate tuck-up. The croup is muscular, slightly sloping, broad and without exaggeration. Faults-Narrow or barrel chest, dropped croup. Tail – The saber tail is moderately set just below the level of the topline and is well coated with distinct but moderate fringing. It is broad at the base, tapering to the end and reaches to the hock with a slight curve at the tip when relaxed. When alert or moving, the tail is carried in a graceful sickle curve, neither curling to the side of the body nor touching the back. The tail should never be docked. Faults-low or high tail set.

FOREQUARTERS

The shoulders are moderately laid back with the shoulder and upper arm forming an angle of approximately 110 degrees. The shoulder blade and upper arm are equal in length. The forelegs are straight, well-muscled, with moderate, oval bone. When viewed from the front, the legs are parallel, and straight. The elbows turn neither in nor out. The pasterns are flexible, moderate in length, strong, and slightly sloping when viewed from the side. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet are tight, oval in shape, with arched toes, webbing between the toes, and with strong nails. The pads are thick, tough, and darkly pigmented. The front feet may turn slightly outward when standing.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are muscular and strong, moderately angulated, and in balance with the forequarters. The slope of the pelvis is approximately 30 degrees off the horizontal with the angle of the stifle at about 110 degrees. The upper and lower thigh muscles are well-defined. The rear pasterns are parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the ground when viewed from any angle. The rear feet point straight ahead. Rear dewclaws must be removed.

COAT

The Chinook has a thick double coat lying close to the body. The outer coat is straight, strong, and coarse. The length of the outer coat is longer over the ruff, shoulder blades, withers, breeches, and along the underline and the underside of the tail but is never so long as to obscure the clean-cut outline of the dog. The undercoat is short and dense, downy in texture, providing insulation. The groin and inside of the rear legs are protected by coat. A winter coat feels soft and plush with coarser hair following the topline. A summer coat may be thinner, feel coarser, and should not be penalized. The tail is well-furred with feathering starting about four to five inches from the root. There is slight feathering of shorter hair along the back of the forelegs. The Chinook is shown naturally and trimming is not acceptable. Faults-Thin, sparse, or excessively short coat, long, rough, or shaggy coat, unprotected belly and/or groin. Trimming of the coat is to be severely penalized.
Color: Tawny coloration, ranging from a pale honey to a deep reddish-gold, is a distinguishing characteristic of the Chinook. Dilute tawny, and its associated diluted pigmentation of nose, lips, pads, and eye rims, is acceptable but not preferred. It is desirable for the ears and muzzle to have darker coloring than the body. This darker ear and muzzle coloring runs from a tawny that is darker than the body to a black shading, with some black shading being the most preferred. A black apostrophe shape mark at the inner corner of each eye is desirable. Symmetrical white or cream to pale gold markings are acceptable on the cheeks, throat, chest, breeches, and underside. Any other white markings are undesirable including blazes, socks, and scarves. Disqualification- Any color other than tawny as described.

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Chinook illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Gray Red Check Mark For Standard Color 458
Palomino Check Mark For Standard Color 282
Red Gold Check Mark For Standard Color 152
Silver Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 187
Black 007
Black & Tan 018
Buff 068
Gray & Tan 103
Tawny 198
White 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
Buff Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 031
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
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