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Chinook dog - a rare breed

In 1965 the Chinook ended up in the Guinness World Records book as the rarest dog breed.

The Chinook is a gentle and friendly dog.

Now there is renewed interest in chinook breeding

The Chinook is one of the world's rarest dog breeds. [In 1981 there were] the fewest remaining Chinooks, only 11 [breedable] individuals left. Today, interest in the breed has been revived.


           he first Chinook, called Chinook, was born in the United States in 1917 and is the ancestor of all current indi-

          viduals of the breed. The Chinook was owned by an American explorer Arthur Walden, who wanted to breed working dogs for his travels in Antarctica. He was also particularly interested in the dog's easy-going nature. Chinook means "warm winter wind" in Inuit. The Chinook was a mixed-breed dog whose mother was a Greenland Husky and whose father was a large dog resembling a mastiff and a [Saint] Bernard. [It] was crossed with German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, which at the time were considered one and the same breed, as well as with Canadian Shepherds and possibly other breeds.

Now about 100 puppies per year

          The Chinook was considered a "sport of nature", as it passed on its own appearance and character to all its offspring. On his last remaining expedition to Antarctica in 1929, the then 12-year-old Chinook disappeared. One morning he vanished on his own and was never found again. The dog's disappearance caused great sadness and was reported abroad.

Chinook dog breeder

At the very least, there were only 11 chinook left. Now there are about 100 born every year.

           When Arthur Walden returned to the US from Antarctica, all his remaining dogs ended up with Perry Greene. After his death in the 1980s, there were only 11 Chinooks left in the world, all of which are descended from the present-day Chinook. Most of the current Chinook breeders are in the United States. About 100 new puppies are born every year. There are currently only 75 breeding Chinook bitches in the world. Therefore, for the time being, [only the United Kennel Club] allows to crossbreed other dog breeds with Chinooks in order to improve genetic diversity and prevent the breed from becoming extinct.

         Swiss Dr. Lynn Philipp aims to be the first Chinook breeder in Europe. She owns two Chinooks, five-year-old Manuk and three-year-old Nana. Both dogs were born in the USA, from where they traveled as puppies to their new home country.

Almost unknown dog breed in Europe

     The Chinook is a working dog, but they are also suitable as companion dogs. They have a good temperament, especially around children. Chinook breeders are proud of this. Manuk is a typical male Chinook, very friendly and sociable even with strangers. He is also more playful and whimsical. Nana is a typical female Chinook. She is more independent and reserved with strangers, but very friendly with children and older people," says Lynn Philipp. [She] is planning her first Chinook litter for spring 2020 [and] almost fell in love with the breed by chance. "I wanted to get a large dog and I went through the breeds online in alphabetical order. I saw the name 'Chinook' and it sounded like a fun word. When I saw a photo of a Chinook, I immediately fell in love with their expression and look".

Bred to be a working dog

       Chinook puppies are rare, and buyers can have to wait up to two years for a puppy. The Chinook was originally bred to be a working dog and is well suited to pulling a sledge. The dog's height at the withers is about 53-66 cm and weight 25-45 kg. The males are larger than the females. The breed is distinguished by its ears, which come in three different types: pricked, floppy and 'helicopter'. Unfortunately for puppy buyers, it is not yet possible to tell what kind of ears a puppy will have as an adult.

large family dog

The Chinook is characterised by its ears, which come in three different types: pricked, floppy or 'helicopter'. It is not yet possible to tell from a Chinook puppy's ears when it is a puppy during puppyhood what kind of ears it will have as an adult.

       The Chinook is always yellow-brown in colour, ranging from lighter brown to reddish-brown, with a black "rim" around the eyes. The fur is thick and semi-long. They shed a lot of hair twice a year during the moulting season, so the breed may not be suitable for grooming enthusiasts, as [Lynn] Philipp says they will have hair "everywhere". The breed is also a good companion dog, [and does not  need] a lot of exercise to stay in good condition. Chinooks can live to the age of 16, which is a very old age for a large dog.

Kind and friendly

      Chinooks are generally gentle and friendly. Sometimes they behave and look a bit funny and [goofy]. They have an intelligent and thoughtful look in their eyes and seem to be thinking things over in their minds. Chinooks are slow to mature, usually not until they are 3-4 years old. They therefore remain playful and active for longer.

         The Chinook is a big and strong dog, but they are not known to have ever behaved aggressively towards humans. Chinooks are not bred to be guard dogs, so they do not defend people or their territory. Therefore, they do not behave aggressively. Adult males may be [competitive] with each other if there are females [on heat] in the vicinity.

Tuuli Turtola

Photos by Lynn Philipp

Translated (with permission) by Lynn Philipp (03 October 2022)

Published 08.11.2019 (original in Meidän Koira)

Meidän Koira Article

[The Chinook breed:] One of the rarest

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