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A male Chinook
A male Chinook
Alternative names
Country of origin
United States
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
AKC: Working (FSS)  
UKC: Northern Breeds  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

The Chinook is a rare sleddog type or variety developed in the New England region of the USA in the early 20th century.


Standing 21 to 27 inches (53-69 cm) in height at the withers and weighing 55 to 90 pounds (25-41 kg), the Chinook is balanced and muscular. The medium-length double coat is “tawny” in colour, with darker shadings on muzzle and ears; white dogs are not allowed, nor are other colours. Eyes are brown to amber in colour. Ear carriage is variable, but dropped is preferred and the head more strongly rectangular than other sleddog breeds. The tail is a well-furred saber and not the usual brush or plume of Arctic breeds. Overall, the Chinook seems to owe more to mastiff than to spitz ancestry.


The breed is described as calm, nonaggressive and friendly, though sometimes reserved with strangers. They are inherently gentle with children.


Health issues in Chinooks are epilepsy, canine hip dysplasia, and eye defects.


The Chinook owes its existence to one man, Arthur Walden of Wonalancet, New Hampshire. The breed derives principally from one male ancestor born in 1917, named “Chinook,” who was Walden’s lead dog and stud. Chinook derived from a crossbreeding of husky stock from the Peary North Pole expedition with a large, tawny Mastiff-like male. Photos of “Chinook” show a drop-eared dog with a broad Mastiff head and muzzle. Walden’s leader was bred to Belgian Sheepdogs, German Shepherd Dogs, Canadian Eskimo Dogs and perhaps other breeds; the progeny were bred back to him to set the desired type and was apparently a strong reproducer of his own traits. Arthur Walden was an experienced dog driver with years of experience in the Yukon; he was lead driver and trainer on the 1929 Byrd antarctic expedition. He is credited with bringing sleddog sport to New England and with founding the New England Sled Dog Club in 1924. The 12-year old “Chinook” was lost on the Byrd expedition.

Control of the core breeding stock passed from Walden to Mrs. Julia Lombard and from her to Perry Greene in the late 1930s. Greene, a noted outdoorsman, bred Chinooks in Waldboro, Maine, for many years until his death in 1963. Rare and closely-held by Greene who was for many years the only breeder of Chinooks, the population dwindled rapidly after his death. By 1981 only eleven breedable Chinooks survived. Breeders in Maine, Ohio and California divided the remaining stock and managed to save the type from extinction. The Chinook obtained registered status with the United Kennel Club in 1991; current numbers of registered animals are around 400. The registry has a cross-breeding programme under which Chinooks are bred to individuals of other breeds thought to have contributed to Chinook development; fourth-generation backcross descendants of such crosses may be accepted as registered Chinooks.

Working Life

Although still used for recreational dogsledding by some owners, Chinooks today appear to be used largely as family pets. Individuals are also used for dog-packing, search and rescue, skijoring, and obedience and dog agility trials.


Chinooks are slowly gaining recognition by major kennel clubs.

External link

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