Breed FAQ

One of the best ways to get information about Chinooks is to reach out directly to a Chinook Breeder or head onto Facebook and find that "Fun Spot" where "Chinooks" are all the talk. For those of you that like to do your homework before reaching out, we've provided the following Breed FAQ.

1. Because this is a rare breed, how long does it take to get a Chinook puppy?

The wait for a Chinook puppy can take from 6 months to two years. If you have specific interests regarding gender, coloration, markings, you may have to wait longer to get the specific puppy wanted.

2. I live outside the United States. Is there a Chinook breeder in my country?

The vast majority of breeders are in the United States, but Chinooks have been placed in other countries. Check our Breeders page to find a breeder where you are.

3. What is the average cost for a purebred Chinook? A Cross? What will I spend per year to care for my dog?

This can vary by breeder and each breeder should be contacted individually regarding cost. New owners are required to pay the cost of transportation of the puppy from the breeder to the new home. Many breeders will not ship by plane, while others do. For those breeders who do not ship, an owner can fly the puppy in the cabin of the airplane under the seat in front of them. The cost of this is the cost of the plane ticket, plus a charge for the puppy.

Breeders want to prepare purchasers to think about the costs of ownership before they purchase a dog and evaluate whether they can afford this potential expense. On average, a new puppy purchaser should be prepared to spend $500 per year for general maintenance of the dog – vet visits, heartworm, flea/tick products. However, owners should be prepared to spend up to $1,000 per year. Most dogs do not require this, but illness or an accident could require this amount of money. In addition, if the dog is a pet, the dog must be spayed or neutered. Breeders will expect new puppy owners to obtain certain health tests on their dog, regardless of whether the dog is a pet or a breeding dog. These include an eye examination – which cost between $25 and $100 depending on whether a vet visit is required and on what state you’re in – and a hip x-ray – which costs about $200-400 for both the x-ray and the OFA reading.

4. What type of temperament does a Chinook have?

Chinooks have gentle, calm, loving, happy temperaments generally. They are loyal and eager to please. Unlike other northern breeds, Chinooks are generally reliable off lead and are not runners – of course every dog requires training before they are allowed to be off lead, should always be supervised when they are off lead, and should never be allowed to be off lead in areas where traffic is present. Chinooks are considered a "reserved" breed, meaning they are friendly to strangers, but will generally be by their owner’s side. Puppies from all breeds must be properly socialized in order to ensure a healthy emotional development. If puppies of any breed are not exposed to children and other animals, they may be tentative with them as older dogs. Some Chinooks can be naturally shy, so early positive socialization is important. You should also choose a puppy from parents who are outgoing.

a. Are they good with other animals/pets?

Chinooks get along very well with other animals, including dogs, cats and other pets. Chinooks also do well with livestock. These dogs are bred to be non-aggressive, which is a hallmark for which they are known. Again, early positive socialization is a very important part of ensuring that any dog gets along with other animals.

b. Are they good with children?

Chinooks who are raised with children get along famously with them! Since they can be reserved, a dog not used to children should be introduced to a child in a calm manner. If you plan on adding children to a home after a Chinook puppy joins your home, make sure to socialize your Chinook puppy to children early and often to ensure an easy transition to a new baby.

c. What are the down sides of owning a Chinook?

Chinooks are not the type of dog used for protection. Some, but not all, will alert you to strangers, but they are bred to be non-aggressive. So if you are looking for a protective guard dog, this is not the breed for you.

Major shedding occurs twice a year, when the Chinook "blows coat". During the rest of the year, there is light shedding of hair. Chinooks have fur, so they are not hypoallergenic dogs. They are not recommended for people with allergies.

Chinooks can be diggers, and they cannot be trained away from this behavior. They don’t dig to get out of a containment, but dig holes to lie in and play in. People have had success with designating an area of a yard in which the dog is allowed to dig. Not all Chinooks have this trait, but owners should be prepared for this.

While Chinooks are generally quiet dogs, some are whineier than others. Whiney dogs tend to be whiney when excited, not when bored. Chinooks don’t tend to be big barkers, but they do talk – wooing, and making other noises.

Not all Chinooks like water. Most like to wade, and many are very active swimmers, but some don’t like water at all. If this is a critically important issue for you, you might consider another breed.

Chinooks are not natural retrievers. They can be trained to retrieve, but are not like Labs or Retrievers in relation to ball drive – eventually they get bored with the game and want to do something else. If playing ball is important to you, this may not be the breed for you.

5. What health problems are in the breed and what sort of health certification should a purchaser be asking for?

Chinook breeders are striving to breed for health, but excellent health of the dam and sire does not always prevent problems in the offspring. While all breeders hope to produce only healthy puppies, new owners should be prepared to deal with any of the health issues known to the breed. The major health problems in the Chinook breed are: hip dysplasia, eye disease, seizures, shyness, and cryptorchidism. Minor issues include skin and gastrointestinal problems. Every purchaser should ask to see OFA/PennHIP (hip) certification and OFA (eye) evaluation on the dam and sire of the litter. Breeders should provide verbal assurances that, to their knowledge, the sire and dam are free of health problems. The breeder should disclose health problems with progeny from both parents and known health problems in both lines. For a more thorough understanding of health issues, please review the report from the 2003 Chinook Health Survey

Test breedings: Sometimes a breeder will attempt a test breeding with a dog who is affected with a genetic disease. The most common examples of test breedings are dogs with mild dysplasia or cryptorchidism. The breeder should disclose the nature of the genetic disorder in the affected dog, and the reason for the test breeding. Limited test breedings are anticipated by the COA’s Breeder’s Code of Ethics.

6. What is the average size of males and females? What are the benefits/drawbacks to each gender?

Males can range from 60-90 pounds. Females are slightly smaller ranging from 50-65 pounds. Both females and males make excellent pets. Males tend to be slightly more affectionate and attentive than females. Females can be more independent and freethinking. Intact males can be dog aggressive toward other males, particularly intact males, if they are not adequately socialized to other males when they are maturing.

7. How much exercise do Chinooks require?

Chinooks need regular, vigorous exercise to stay healthy mentally and physically. Putting a dog in the yard by itself is not enough exercise. They need exercise where the human interacts with them. Long, daily walks, with frequent (at least 4 times weekly) trips to areas where they can safely free run. Thirty minutes to an hour of walking/running/working a day is sufficient enough to keep them happy and healthy.

8. Can a Chinook live in an apartment? Do I need a fenced in yard?

A Chinook can live in an apartment if adequate exercise is provided. Breeders will require written permission from landlord and will likely want to speak with the landlord before making a placement decision. Most breeders require new owners to have a fenced yard before they place a puppy. Fences provide a safe area for the dog to exercise and allow the owner the luxury of staying inside during inclement weather while toileting their dog. Several breeders do not recommend electronic fencing. This fencing does not keep other animals out, and will not keep a determined Chinook in. These dogs have a high pain tolerance and will go through an electronic fence if they feel they need to. In addition, someone who wants to steal your dog can easily remove the electronic collar from the dog. Ultimately, electric fencing is not as reliable as other types of structural barriers.

Potential owners should beware that Chinooks do not do well living outside. They do not want to live separately from their family, and will develop behavioral problems if they are not integrated into the family. If you’re looking for a dog to live on a chain in your backyard, this breed is not for you.

9. Are Chinooks easy to train? What type of obedience training do they need?

Chinooks are very intelligent and learn quickly if training is consistent. Chinooks are sensitive dogs, so positive training methods work best for this breed. Owners are encouraged to redirect unwanted behavior. Most breeders require puppy purchasers to take their puppy to "puppy kindergarten" and basic obedience. Some even offer a rebate if a purchaser earns an obedience title.

10. Do Chinooks shed? What are their grooming/bathing requirements?

Some Chinooks shed more than others; most shed twice yearly and a bit daily. Vigorous brushing daily will help a lot with the shedding. Their double coats do not need regular bathing and actually are healthier with infrequent bathing. If you must bath them, a non-detergent shampoo works best. Be sure to rinse out all the shampoo. The biggest grooming requirement is keeping nails trimmed as they have thick, fast growing nails. Chinooks need to have their teeth regularly brushed.

11. I want a Chinook with down ears; what are the chances?

Chinooks ears come in three varieties: down, prick, or helicopter (flying). You will not know when you take the puppy home what the ears will do. It is not until after teething that you will know what the ears will do.