"The history of the Chinook has been passed down in letters, interviews, and by word of mouth. It changes as new information is discovered and validated.
Arthur Walden's famed lead dog, Chinook, was born in New Hampshire on January 17, 1917. He was tawny with a black mask and descended from mixed parentage. His dam was a Greenland Husky, his sire, a large tawny, Mastiff/St. Bernard-type dog. Chinook had the intelligence, power, endurance, speed, and friendly nature that Walden was trying to develop in a sled dog. He was a great lead dog, but was also known for his gentle disposition toward children.
Chinook was bred to German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Sheepdogs (at this time, all varieties were considered the same breed) from working backgrounds, Canadian Eskimo dogs, and perhaps other breeds. These offspring were bred back to Chinook, and to each other to create the Chinook breed. He was considered a sport of nature because he sired pups that resembled himself in size, color, drive and intelligence.
In 1965, the Guinness Book of World Records recorded the Chinook for the first time as the "Rarest Dog in the World", with only a hundred twenty-five living, and the number dropping rapidly. By 1981, there were only 11 breedable Chinook dogs in the world.
The Chinook breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club (U.K.C.) in March of 1991. The Chinook Owners Association, the national breed club of the U.K.C., also maintains a cross breeding program and Chinook crosses recognized by the program are eligible for Limited Privileges registration with the U.K.C. The Chinook today is a valued family pet, as well as an excellent sled dog. They have gained popularity in both obedience and conformation shows and have demonstrated their ability in weight pulling competitions, assistance dogs for the disabled, recreational sledding, skijoring, agility, flyball, and even herding. The Chinook is a wonderful all around dog with an exceptional disposition and undying loyalty to its family."
COA website, 2017
'Chinook' is the Inuit word for 'warm winter winds'. The Chinook breed was recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2010 and is one of the rarest in the world with currently only around 1,600 dogs worldwide of which only 200 are breedable. All purebreed Chinooks originate from 3 breeding lines (11 dogs) in an attempt to save the breed from extinction in the 1980's. The Chinook Owners Association, based in the United States, has recently introduced the Chinook Breed Conservation Program (CBCP) in order to "maintain a healthy, genetically sustainable Chinook population, with the breed’s historical temperament, working ability, structure, and appearance" (CBCP, COA: 2017) and possibly create a new breeding line.
All the information on the history of the Chinook breed can be read in detail, including photos, on the Chinook Owners Association (COA) website. The following information is a quote taken from that website to provide an accurate and summarised history of this breed for users of the Swiss Chinooks website with permission from the COA.
Arthur Walden and Chinook - late 1920's
Arthur Walden and his Chinook team - December, 1922