The Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog

(Note: As I reread this prior to posting, I realized that it may sound bitter to those who don’t know me. So if you’re reading this and are not familiar with me, please read this post with the feel of barely-contained laughter and a good dose of sarcasm in your mind!)

The Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog

Let’s talk about breeds!

Specifically, let’s talk about a brand new breed, the Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog.

The Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk dog (henceforth referred to as the MNWTCD to save my broken hand), is a medium-sized, high-drive breed who was established for the purpose of chipmunk control. The official breed standard is below.

General Appearance  The MNWTCD is an intelligent working dog of strong predatory instincts. She is a loyal companion dog with the stamina to work all day. She is well balanced, fine boned, of medium size, with moderate muscling all over. She is attentive and animated, lithe and agile, with a fine, smooth coat that repels dirt. Her tail is carried high over her back, and her overall expression is one of vibrant intelligence and curiosity.

Size, Proportion, Substance  The preferred height for males is 18-20″, females 17-19″. Weight should be 30-35lbs for males, and 27-32lbs for females. Quality is not to be sacrified in favor of size. The impression should be of a well-balanced, square dog. Length from forechest to buttocks equal to or slightly greater than height at withers.

Head  Keen, alert expression, full of life and intelligence. Eyes: round or oval in shape, not protruding. Dark in color. Ears: Small “V”-shaped drop ears of moderate thickness carried forward close to the head with the tip so as to cover the orifice. Fold is slightly above the top of the skull. When alert, ear tips extend to be even with the eye. Skull: of moderate length and breadth, fairly wide between the ears, narrowing slightly towards the eyes. Stop should be well defined but not prominant. Jaw: powerful, without coarseness. Nose: must be black and fully pigmented. Teeth: of upper jaw should fit closely over teeth of lower jaw, creating a scissors bite. Teeth should be white and strong. One lower incisor to stick out slightly, in such a way as to benefit chipmunk ‘snagging’. Faults: weak or coarse head; light, blue, or yellow eye;  missing teeth. Disqualifications: prick or hound ears. Unpigmented or underpigmented nose leather. Overshot or undershot mouth.  Lack of protruding lower (“chipmunk-snagging”) incisor.

Neck, Topline, Body  Neck: long, clean, strong, and muscular, widening gracefully into the top of the shoulder. Topline: strong, running smoothly from the withers with a slight natural arch, not too accentuated, beginning over the loin and carrying through over the croup, with a slight dip behind shoulder blades. There is a definite tuckup of the underline. Brisket moderately deep, reaching nearly but not quite to the elbow. Ribs: well sprung but with no suggestion of barrel shape. Tail: long, carried level with the topline when at rest and over the back in a gentle curve when alert. Excessive curliness of the tail or low tail set to be considered a disqualifying fault.

Forequarters  The elbow should point neither in nor out, but straight back. Forelegs straight, giving appearance of strength and substance of bone. Joints turn neither in nor out. Both front and rear feet must be well formed. Nails strong and of moderate length. Front dewclaws should be present, strong, and positioned close to the leg. Dewclaws should be well connected to the leg, and should not be loose or floppy.

Hindquarters  Strong and powerful. The thighs are broad and muscular, smoothly molded, with long flat muscles that carry well down toward the hock. Feet as in front. No rear dewclaws.

Coat  Short, close, smooth and firm in texture, slightly thicker over the spine and along the tail. Any other coat shall be a disqualification. Old scars and injuries, the result of work or accident, should not be allowed to prejudice the dog’s chance in the show ring.

Color  Seal, black, or copper, with small white markings on the chin or chest permissable. Back toes should be white (to aid in spotting the dog from a distance in dark environments), front toes should be solid (to hide the appearance of dirt from digging up chipmunks). Faults: white markings on front toes or lack of markings on back toes. Excessive markings on chin or chest. Disqualifications: any color not listed, total lack of white markings on feet.

Gait  Free moving and animated, with reach in the forequarters and strong drive in the hindquarters. A tireless ground covering trot. The action is straight in front and rear.

Temperament  Keen intelligence and an independent spirit are hallmarks of the breed. It is in the MNWTCD’s nature to be loyal and loving with her family, but reserved and discerning with strangers. Alert, vigilant, devoted, and curious. Highly territorial, serving as a responsive companion and natural guardian. Very vocal, persistent, tenacious. Faults: extreme shyness, viciousness. Note: this breed is naturally reserved in new situations and around new people, and this trait should not be considered shyness.  


Other than me, who would want this dog? Note that the official standard doesn’t mention the pre-disposition towards allergies or urinary incontinence issues that runs in this breed. There is no mention of health testing, or of working trials. How do you know if your MNWTCD is a good chipmunker? Well, function follows form – if you believe the breed clubs who write the standards. If your dog has white on her back toes but not on the front, and the chipmunk-snagging lower incisor that sticks out, and is the right size with the right ear set… then by god, she must be a good chipmunk hunter!

Of course, this is all absolutely ridiculous. 

Or is it?

Wait, isn’t this exactly how we judge every single breed at AKC conformation shows? How is this not crazy? What am I missing? And who wants to be added to the waiting list for a Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog puppy of your own?



Filed under Breeding, Choosing a Dog, Dog Selection, Genetics, Layla

7 responses to “The Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog

  1. Very funny. I don’t think that it came across as bitter, but then, I know you.

    Are there chipmunking field trials? This breed clearly needs titles at both ends of the name.

  2. She is a cutey. Has she earned her championship yet in chipmunking?

  3. Ah yes, the Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog. A rare dog and a find!

    I believe they were first bred by Garrison Keillor’s grandfather who wanted a Lutheran hunting dog. The dog was not designed for big game, as Lutherans are a modest people who only need enough meat for the Powdermilk Biscuit gravy, and the dog could not be too flashy because, well, Lutherans are not flashy people like the Episcopalians.

    Hard to believe you found a pure Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dog!

    Terrific news and new hope for the breed!


  4. I did some more research and it appears this dog, while initially created by Garrison Keillor’s grandfather, was brought into an intensive breeding program funded by the Powermilk Biscuit company which, at one time, had 600 dogs and 10 kennel maids to take care of them.

    As you may recall, the slogan of Powdermilk Biscuits is “Made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers, so you know they’re not only good for you, but also pure, mostly”.

    It turns out the “pure mostly” line came to be after two dogs escaped their kennel and were found rolling in the flour and licking the edges of the bagging equipment at the Washburn A Mill machine where the flour for Powermilk Biscuits is ground. They threw out the ruined flour, of course, and hosed off the bagging machine too, but being Lutherans they figured they had to qualify the purity thing after that, and hence the modifier phrase.

    Tragically, all but two of the Minnesota White-Toed Chipmunk Dogs were destroyed in a horrible flour mill fire at the Washburn A Mill (this was the 1928 fire, not the 1878 explosion at the same mill). Some more history here >>

    Clearly a gene pool worth preserving!


  5. I just came across this post, courtesy of Crystal & Maisy’s blog post because the MWTCD caught my eye! As it turns out, I have two similar breeds: a Greater Midwestern Monty Hound and the North American Scamper Dog. I have yet to come across a good description of the breed standard for them. Dobby is a fine looking specimen!

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