"Bred to combine the power of freighting breeds with the speed of the lighter racing sled dogs, the Chinook is an athletic, hard bodied dog showing excellent forward reach and rear extension in a seemingly tireless gait."
The History Behind the Unique Hallmarks of the Chinook Breed
Arthur Walden was an adventurer and headed to Alaska in 1896 where he took every job coming his way but he loved dog punching (hauling freight with a dog-sled). His favorite lead dog was a Husky mix named Chinook. When Walden came home to Wonalancet, he started breeding dogs to create the ideal "sledge dog" (freight-pulling dog), this dog had to be strong to haul heavy freight but also have stamina, endurance and the speed of the lighter sled dogs and he had to be intelligent and of good temperament to fit into the American home. Chinook was born to a mother that was tied to exploration. His dam Ningo was a Greenland Husky and the granddaughter of Robert Peary's North Pole expedition lead dog Polaris. His sire Kim provided the size, as he was a large Mastiff cross. Chinook was one of 3 puppies born on January 17th, 1917 and he became Waldens favorite due to his intelligence, excellence as a lead dog on the sled team (he had an amazing sense of direction) and his gentle and kind demeanor. He was named Chinook after Walden's favorite sled dog back in Alaska. Chinook fulfilled all of the criteria that Walden had set out to create in a sledge dog and he became the foundation sire of this wonderful breed we know now.
Historic Looks and Conformation:
The historic Chinook was a larger dog with good bone (intermediate bone structure), a good chest, a broad head and strong muscular hindquarters. Chinook himself was between 90-100+lbs. Chinook produced offsprings that resembled him in size, structure and temperament. Ultimately, Chinooks were bred to be smaller even during Walden's days to be able to compete in New England sled races with the smaller and faster Husky-type dogs. The smaller Chinooks of today are more agile and faster than the larger historic Chinooks and excel at agility and other fast speed sports.
Our goal is to continue lines of the historic larger and quieter Chinooks that resembles power and endurance.
We aim to create the intelligent companion that a Chinook promises to be, a wonderful family pet but also that dog who will accompany you on long hikes, will pull your sled or cart and excel at competitions. A dog that will be your couch-potato buddy as well as your jogging and hiking companion.
Many of us Chinook breeders are relatively new to dog breeding and rely on established breeders as mentors. Ultimately, breeders develop their own set of breeding practices and goals for their program and establish their own lines. Having multiple lines that can be crossed with each other is critical for creating a genetically diverse breed. Any breeding practice that becomes singular is likely to hurt the breed. Unfortunately, new and younger breeders of today are encouraged to breed purely for genetic diversity which can and will hurt this lovely and still young breed. I am not the experienced, long-term breeder myself yet but I have great experienced mentors and I do my research. Below please find some quotes from J.S. Bell DVM,, a veterinarian who has written many articles on matters of breeding and genetic diversity.
Maintaining and Improving Breeds
Authored by Jerold S Bell DVM, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts Universityjerold.firstname.lastname@example.org
Genetic studies of dog breeds show that they lose on average 35% of their genetic diversity through breed formation. Genetic studies also document the increased homozygosity found in dog breeds.
There is no specific level or percentage of inbreeding that causes impaired health or vigor. If there is no diversity (non-variable gene pairs for a breed) but the homozygote is not detrimental, there is no effect on breed health. The characteristics that make a breed reproduce true to its standard are based on non-variable gene pairs (homozygosity).
An unfortunate development in dog breeding is recommendations designed for the preservation of rare and endangered species. These involve outbreeding (reducing homozygosity and average inbreeding coefficients) and increasing minor gene or chromosome segment frequencies. Dog breeding requires diverse lines, and not a homogenized and randomized outbred population. Outbreeding will not reduce the frequency of breed-related genetic disease, as the causative genes are already dispersed in the breed gene pool. Genetic selection for quality and against undesirable traits is what causes homozygosity and reduces the frequency of minor genes and chromosomal segments. Blindly selecting for them without knowing their effect could significantly reverse selection- based breed improvement. Studies in genetic conservation and rare breeds have shown that this practice actually contributes to the loss of genetic diversity. By uniformly crossing all “lines” in a breed, you eliminate the differences between them, and therefore the diversity between individuals. Eventually, there will not be any “unrelated line” to be found. Everyone will have a mixture of everyone else’s genes. This practice in livestock breeding has significantly reduced diversity, and caused the loss of unique rare breeds.
Homozygosity is synonymous with pure breeds. It is not inherently correlated to impaired genetic health, and does not have to be artificially controlled.
We plan our breeding based on selecting toward the Chinook breed standards, based on the ideal temperament, performance, and conformation, and using historic information on pedigree and modern genetic tools to breed against Chinook-breed- related health issues, such as seizures, dwarfism and MDR-1 mutations. Maintenance of the Chinook-breed characteristics and health are the primary drivers of our breeding program.