Bred to blend the power of freighting breeds with the speed of lighter racing dogs, the impressive Chinook is considered to be an "in-between" sled dog. This means that it is neither a full-on sprinter nor a long-distance endurance freight puller. It combines the attributes of both sledding types. These are agile, balanced animals with an easy and seemingly tireless gait. Unlike most other sledding breeds, Chinooks do not have pricked ears, fluffy coats or bushy plumed tails. They range from pale gold to a rich honey color, with dark almond eyes and dense double coats that generally lie close to the body. At first glance, the Chinook looks much more like a slightly longer haired yellow Labrador Retriever than one of the Spitz-type Northern breeds. Males should look masculine, and females should have a distinctly feminine appearance. These gender differences should be obvious to onlookers. Chinooks have webbed paws with thick, well-furred pads, perfectly suited for pulling sleds in harsh frigid climates.
Size and Weight
According to the AKC breed standard, adult male Chinooks should stand from 24 to 26 inches measured at the withers, and mature females should be between 22 and 24 inches in height measured at the same place. The United Kennel Club standard varies slightly, putting mature males from 23 to 27 inches at the withers, and mature females between 21 and 25 inches in height. Chinooks typically weigh between 55 and 90 pounds. The UKC places males at an average weight of 70 pounds and females at 55 pounds. As in most breeds, males tend to be larger than females, although this is not always the case. The foundation sire of this breed, a large mastiff-husky-other mix named “Chinook,” weighed around 100 pounds. Chinooks are stocky and strong, capable of both power and speed. This breed matures slowly. Individual dogs may not reach their full size and weight until four years of age.
Coat and Color
The Chinook has a thick, medium-length double coat that is supposed to be some shade of tawny in color, ranging from a light honey to an orangey-yellow to a reddish-gold. Darker markings on the ears and muzzle areas, as well as on the inner corners of the eyes and on the guard hairs of the tail, are desirable. Other acceptable markings include buff patches on the cheeks, throat, muzzle, toes, chest and belly. There should be no white markings anywhere on the coat of a Chinook.
Chinooks do not require a great deal of maintenance. Their heavy coats should be brushed regularly, probably several times a week, especially if shedding becomes a problem in the home. Chinooks do shed heavily several times a year (this is called “blowing their coats”). They will need extra brushing during those periods. They don’t require frequent bathing, unless they get especially muddy or dirty, which can happen because they do like to dig. Their smooth coats are not prone to matting, as are those of some other double-coated breeds. Because of their thick coats, Chinooks probably aren’t the best choice for people with allergies. Additional grooming will depend on how much time the dog spends outside and the condition of the yard or surroundings. In the show ring, Chinooks are shown in a completely natural condition, with no trimming whatsoever, even of whiskers. Honorable scars are not to be faulted.