1. What is the Cross Breeding Program?

In the early 1980’s there were only 11 breedable Chinooks in the world. In order to increase genetic diversity and avoid significant in-breeding, breeders working to save the breed bred out to non-Chinooks from breeds that were part of the original formula in creating the Chinook breed. The idea was to breed these Chinook Crosses back to purebred Chinooks, creating new lines. Thus, in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, there were several cross-lines in existence.

In the mid-90’s, the Chinook Owners Association, in cooperation with the United Kennel Club (UKC), codified a program to manage Chinook crosses and regulate future breeding of these dogs. The Cross Breeding Program recognizes the importance of the infusion of new genes into the Chinook breed. The program permits only breeds purported to be in the Chinook to be used as non-Chinooks, and requires at least four generations of breeding back to a purebred Chinook before a line can be considered purebred. At the final generation, the litter is not automatically accepted as purebred. Instead, individual dogs from the litter at two years of age may apply to be registered as a purebred. In order to qualify as purebred, the dog must meet the breed standard according to a UKC judge and must have passing hips and eyes by recognized hip and eye registries. One Chinook Cross line has already produced three purebred dogs, and several other lines will be offering dogs for examination in the next few years.

This is a unique program, and it has been recognized as a positive way to save rare breeds. The UKC allows intact crosses that are approved in the COA’s program to be registered in the UKC Limited Privileges Program. This allows intact crosses to participate in UKC venues. This is an exception for our program, as all other dogs in the LP program must be spayed/neutered. The COA holds a National Chinook Cross Specialty each year, and may provide other conformation venues for crosses.

2. What is the difference between a Purebred Chinook and a Chinook Cross (re: health, temperament)?

Chinook crosses have the same superior qualities of purebred Chinooks. They are intentionally bred for the same appearance, structure and temperament. The 2003 health survey found no significant differences related to health, although Chinook crosses clearly had a lower incidence of eye problems. First generation crosses, dogs coming directly from the non-Chinook breeding, tended to have some of the breed qualities of the non-Chinook breed. For instance, a first generation Husky cross may have a tendency to run (a distinctly Husky trait) and a first generation German Shepard line may have more guarding instinct (a Shepard trait). These non-Chinook traits all but disappear in the second generation. Chinook crosses can participate in all UKC dog sports except conformation showing. As long as an owner does not want to participate in conformation showing, there is no difference in relation to access to dog venues. Crosses tend to have a little higher drive, so they may make better working dogs – they’ve had great success in sledding, agility and obedience.

3. How can I make sure I’m getting a Chinook Cross that is approved by the Chinook Owners Association?

Puppy buyers should always beware of unscrupulous breeders in every breed. There are people who may try to sell "unregistered" purebred or crossbred Chinooks. If a dog is "unregistered" there is no way for you to verify that you are getting a Chinook. If you are buying a Chinook for its characteristics but you don’t buy a registered Chinook, you may not get what you want.

There are only two registries for the Chinook breed, the United Kennel Club and the Chinook Owners Association. The United Kennel Club is the only national registry for the purebred Chinook. The AKC is considering acceptance of the breed, but has not accepted the breed as of yet. A UKC registered Chinook will have a pedigree issued by the UKC. The Chinook Owners Association acts as the registering body for Chinook Crosses. The COA issues a Certificate of Acceptance, signed by the COA registrar, to all crosses accepted into the Cross Breeding Program.

When buying a purebred Chinook, buyers should ask to see the UKC pedigrees from both parents. When buying a Chinook cross, buyers should ask to see the Chinook Cross’s COA Certificate of Acceptance and the purebred’s UKC pedigree. Most Chinook breeders are also providing DNA parent verification to demonstrate parentage and authenticity.