The Chinook is a rare breed of sled dog, developed in the state of New Hampshire during the early 20th century. The Chinook is New Hampshire's official state dog.
The Chinook owes its existence to one man: Arthur Treadwell 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 the lead driver and trainer on Byrd's 1929 Antarctic expedition. He is credited with bringing sled dog sports 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 Julia Lombard and from her to Perry Greene in the late 1940s. Greene, a noted outdoorsman, bred Chinooks in Waldoboro, 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 UKC in 1991; current numbers of registered animals are around 800. Only about 100 puppies are born annually worldwide. The registry has a cross-breeding program 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 UKC purebred Chinooks if they meet the Chinook Owner Association's Cross Breeding Program requirements.
Chinooks joined the American Kennel Club (AKC) Foundation Stock Service in 2001 and were later added to the AKC's Miscellaneous Class in 2010. Finally, in January 2013 the Chinook became the AKC's 176th breed and joined the working group. Chinooks are still working for recognition from other major kennel clubs.