The Breed History
A single dog named Chinook gave rise to this Northern type breed in Wonalancet, New Hampshire. He was born in 1917, the offspring of one of the Peary expedition dog's daughters. Chinook went to the South Pole on the Byrd expedition of 1927. In 1991, the UKC recognized the Chinook as a breed. Breed origins are not documented, though Spitz-type and Mastiff-types are thought to have been included. A very close brush with extinction occurred in the 1970's, but a few dedicated breeders gathered the 12 breeding dogs together in a few homes and by 1990, their numbers had increased to 140, and in '96, 450. A crossbreeding program has been instituted to help increase the gene pool of the dogs. Outcrosses are very selective, with 4 generation pedigree analysis to check for any disorders-only clear dogs are used. Offspring are then crossed with purebred Chinooks and in the fourth generation are considered for registration to register if all health checks and performance meet the breed standard.
Breeding for Function
A sled dog, built for speed and weight pulling, and endurance. They were also carefully selected for a gentle, tractable nature. This gave them a most suitable temperament as a house dog and they have become popular as a companion dog. In modern times, they have also excelled as therapy dogs, in obedience and agility, and carting/pulling.
Height at Withers: female 21- 25" (53-64 cm), male 23-27" (58-69 cm)
Weight: 55-70 lb (25-32 kg)
Coat: Tawny (honey to red-gold) color, dense double coat, of medium length, the low set tail hangs away from the body in a saber shape-has feathers hanging down, and is carried high when active. No white markings are allowed. Black markings at the inner canthus are desirable. No trimming is done at all. Outer hairs are harsh, undercoat is soft. Feet are well-furred and webbed. Ruff present.
Longevity: 12-14 years
Points of Conformation: Broad skull, moderate stop, no wrinkling of the skin on the head, cheeks are chiseled. The muzzle tapering but stays deep, eyes almond shaped and brown in color, though amber accepted but less preferred, nose is large and is set slightly ahead of the front lip line, lip margins and nose black, eyelid rims dark, slightly pendulous lips. Scissors bite. Ears are wide set, with thick leather and a good cover of fur, and variably set. From drop to prick or helicopter ears are accepted, though both ears should match in setting. Neck is moderately arched. Overall conformation is slightly longer than tall. Ribs well sprung, topline is level though with a curve slightly upwards through the loin. Thorax is deep. Abdomen well tucked up. Feet are oval and toes well knuckled up. Pads are thick and darkly pigmented, and plenty of fur is present around the foot and between toes. Limbs straight, with good bone and well muscled. Dewclaws on the forelimb may be removed, rear dewclaws if present are always removed. Front feet are slightly deviated outward. Gait is characteristically a long fluid trot.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Breed attributes reported include: Very calm, really friendly, not aggressive-though a reserved attitude to strangers or strange places is not discouraged. As a team dog, their aggressive tendencies to other dogs are not well developed. Shyness/ fearfulness is a problem in the breed, with 11% of Chinooks reported in the 2003 COA Chinook health survey.
Normal Breed Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 18.0% affected.
Epilepsy (Chinook Seizures): Both grand-mal and petit-mal seizures are reported in the breed. Breed specific petit-mal seizures are described as an episodic dyskinesia , which can involve just one limb, or a frozen stare. 2003 COA Chinook health survey reported 8% affected with some form of Chinook seizures. This disorder is being studied at the University of Missouri (http://www. canine-epilepsy.net/Chinook/chinook.html). Pedigree indicates an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Chinooks have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. A high frequency is reported by the OFA, but too few Chinooks have been screened to determine an accurate frequency.
Cryptorchidism: Undescended testicles occurs at a high frequency in the breed. 21.5% of males had unilateral cryptorchidism, and 7.7% of males bilateral cryptorchidism in the 2003 COA Chinook health survey. This is a sex-limited disorder with an unknown mode of inheritance.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 10.0% positive for thyroid auto-antibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Allergic Dermatitis: Presents with pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots). Reported in 9.6% of dogs in the 2003 COA Chinook health survey.
Gastrointestinal Disease: Chronic vomiting or colitis was reported in 7.5% of Chinooks in the 2003 COA Chinook health survey.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 3.45% of Chinooks CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds and geographic retinal dysplasia are recognized in the breed. Reported in 3.25% of Chinooks CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Anterior cortex punctate cataracts predominate, though posterior, nuclear, and capsular cataracts also occur in the breed. Identified in 2.92% of Chinooks CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Chinook with a cataract.
Isolated Case Studies
Anasarca: Multiple reports of fetal anasarca (hydrops fetalis) are reported in the breed. Affected puppies are born dead and edematous.
Tests of Genotype: none
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes hip radiographs, CERF eye examination, and either cardiac examination, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, patella evaluation or elbow radiographs. Optional recommended tests are; veterinary confirmation of Epilepsy/Chinook Seizures, Cryptorchidism, Dwarfism, or Allergies. (See CHIC website; www. caninehealthinfo.org).
- Breed name synonyms: none
- Registries: UKC, AKC Misc. class, CKC
- Breed resources: Chinook Club of America (AKC): www.chinookclubofamerica.org
Chinook Owners Association (UKC): www.chinook.org
Chinook Health Fund: http://chinookhealthfund.homestead.com/home.html
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