Chemdog Strain Family (aka Chemdawg)
Fans of the Chemdog (sometimes spelled Chemdawg) strain might have heard a tale or two about its whacky history. As much as we enjoy legendary strains for their mystery and intrigue, we also love unraveling their mythology to learn more, especially when it comes to strains related to things like Sour Diesel and OG Kush. Let's take a hard look at the Chemdog strain's origin story and the facts, myths, and drama surrounding this iconic piece of cannabis history. Special thanks to Matthew Riot and Notsodog for their Breeder’s Syndicate episode about the Chemdog (technically not Chemdawg) strain!
To start our story, we’ll need to go back to the summer of 1991 when The Grateful Dead were touring the country. Like many ‘dead heads’, two friends named Joe Brand and P-Bud intended to follow the tour from stop to stop. In order to make ends meet, they got their hands on roughly one and a half pounds of a strain called Dogbud, which they planned to sell in the parking lot of each venue. In an interview with The Adam Dunn Show, P-Bud said, “This was called Dogbud because I was told after you smoke it, you rolled over like a dog it was so strong.”
P-Bud had never seen a strain with quite the same strength or smell. There are some who say it originally came from Crested Butte, Colorado, or even from Hawaii, but P-Bud has been quoted saying the person he received it from got it from the Camas Valley in Oregon. Its exact lineage is still very much up for debate, but we’ll get to that soon.
The first night at the Deer Creek, Indiana venue, they called out “Kine bud” in the parking lot. Before long, they attracted a group of people waiting to get their hands on some of the Dogbud. One of those people was Greg Krzanowski, who would later come to be known as Chemdog. He’d just graduated from high school in Massachusetts, it was his first summer on the Grateful Dead tour, and, luckily, he asked the two friends for their phone number to keep in touch.
Chemdog loved the strain so much that he contacted P-Bud and Joe Brand at the end of the tour and they managed to send him another ounce or two, in which Chemdog discovered 13 fated seeds. According to the story told by all three of them, the 13 seeds in that package of Dogbud would eventually become some of the most influential cannabis plants of all time. They say that Chemdog popped four seeds in 1991 and, with no aspirations of breeding or what would come next, he tossed the one male plant. From the remaining three females, however, Chem Sis and the original Chemdog ‘91 (aka Chem ‘91) were born. The Chem ‘91 would eventually become most famous, but neither strain would become a household name for quite some time.
Knowing that he’d discovered something special, Chemdog made a point not to give out any cuts on the East Coast. However, around 1993 he did give Chem ‘91 to “Staten Island”, a former resident of New York who had moved to California. Staten Island was returning east to get a cut of the wildly popular Super Skunk and drove to Virginia where he traded SkunkVA (the person) an unknown cut for the Super Skunk. He then brought that Super Skunk to Chemdog in Massachusetts, and it was there that Chemdog finally let go of his Chem ‘91 cut in exchange for the Super Skunk, but only on the condition that Staten Island promised not to distribute it on the East Coast.
For nearly a decade there were a very limited number of Chem ‘91 growers on the West Coast, and even fewer on the East Coast. That would eventually change with the growing popularity of online forums, but before that happened in the mid 2000s, another Chemdog strain was born, which is arguably the ‘best’ Chemdog and easily the most debated part of the story. Remember those 13 original seeds? According to Chemdog, in 2001 he grew four more of the original seeds, which he labeled Chem A, B, C, and D. We’ll talk about those, too, but let’s finish up the story first.
After the first decade or so, Chemdog cuts began to make their way into the hands of more growers. Then, around 2005, buzz about the potent lime-green bud was launched sky-high by SkunkVA, who began sharing photographs and other information about the strain with the online ICMag community. Naturally, people all over began claiming to have the same thing, and although the Chem ‘91 and Chem D cuts were indeed spreading out, not everyone was being honest about what they had. Since people were still very secretive about their gardens, it wasn’t possible to sort through all the confusion, and the ensuing debate spawned controversy that became a catalyst for the strain’s cult following.
In that sense, the popularity of Chemdog strains has a lot to do with the internet- its rise to fame came from online forums instead of just magazine centerfolds and traditional word of mouth. Eventually, the discussions on the ICMag forums caught the eye of the original Dog Bud crew and they reconnected. The trio’s story is that in 2006, Chemdog ended up sending the remaining seeds (aka the Reunion Seeds) back to P-Bud and Joe Brand, which is where Chem 1, 2, 3, and 4 came from. Chem 1 and Chem 4 were the standouts from that group and are still around today, but less popular than Chem ‘91 and Chem D.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s important to note that even though it’s widely reported, the ‘13 seeds’ story probably isn’t true. It’s easy to forget these days, but in the 1990s and 2000s, misdirection on sources and genetic lineage was a common way to stay ahead of con artists and law enforcement. The story told by the ‘Chemdog family’ may reflect a mix of old tales and honest recollections from a time when people didn’t ask for specific details. At this point, Joe Brand, P-bud, and Chemdog have all capitalized on the ‘13 seeds’ tale, and it’s understandable they’re all sticking to it. That being said, there's a lot of things that don’t add up. Let’s start by reviewing the basics and then consider some alternative theories that have been suggested.
What (or who?) is Chemdog? Where does the name come from?
Chemdog is both a person and a strain. The person’s name is Greg Krzanowski, and he’s the 17 year old kid from Massachusetts who bought Dogbud from P-Bud and Joe Brand in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead show in 1991. He’d go on to name himself after the strain, but how did the name change from Dogbud to Chemdog?
P-Bud told The Adam Dunn Show that he originally thought the Dogbud he had must have been pumped full of chemicals because of its fuel smell. That led to them calling it “chem weed,” and the first time the person Chemdog started the plants he combined all the names into simply “Chemdog.”
Additionally, P-Bud told High Times, “I’m so glad Chem found those seeds and did what he did with them. And it was never ‘Chem Dawg’—it’s always been ‘Chem Dog.’ It’s a combination of ‘Chemweed’ and ‘Dogbud.’” So, there you have it!
What are the original Chemdog genetics? What strains come from chemdog?
We think Breeders Syndicate put it best when they said, “We will never, ever, ever know what the hell it is.” Considering the mysterious origins of the original Dogbud, it’s nearly impossible to determine the exact lineage of Chemdog ‘91. However, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot of speculation.
Some say it’s a cross of Kush, Hash Plant, and Northern Lights, some say it’s a cross between Nepali and Thai, while others claim it’s a three-way cross of Thai, Hashplant, and Skunk. There is also a large group of people that believe its lineage includes Afghan. Truly, it’s almost impossible to know for sure without more advanced genetic analysis, but even that probably won’t put it all to rest. Although it’s definitely still a touchy subject, we have a better idea of how Chem D, Chem 1, and Chem 4 came to be.
On the Breeder Syndicate podcast, Matthew and Notsodog discuss Chem D and the possibility that it’s an accidental hybrid between Chem91 and Super Skunk, with Notsodog saying, “The D smells like Super Skunk when you crack the jar. I think that dead, rotten body nastiness, halitosis that everybody always talks about, that’s kind of a rank skunk kind of thing. The D herms sometimes like crazy in week 3 and 4, which the Super Skunk was famous for doing.”
Notsodog also believes it’s likely that Chem 1-4 have some NL5 Haze in them, saying “After seeing Chem 1, I think it’s the quintessential example of an NL5 Haze dominant pheno in the Chem 1-4 line. It’s very little Chem to me and it’s very NL5 Haze.”
So the original Chem ‘91 and Chem Sis are from 1991, but the genetics are unknown. The Chem D from 2001 is likely a hybrid of Chem ‘91 and Super Skunk, both of which Chemdog would have been growing in Massachusetts. If he had Chem '91 and Super Skunk plants anywhere near each other, it would've been hard to prevent the Super Skunk from pollinating the Chem '91 and producing seeds. When it comes to the ‘Reunion Seeds’ strains of Chem 1 through Chem 4, it's likely that they’re a hybrid of the Chem ‘91 or Chem D with NL5 Haze.
As for descendants of Chemdog lineage, there are quite a few you’re likely already familiar with. That’s because the Chemdog strain helped birth some of the biggest strains in cannabis history! The powerful effects and mix of funky odor and chemical cleaner profiles can be found in old legends and today’s top strains. We’re talking strains like OG Kush (potentially an S1 of Chem ‘91), Sour Diesel (Chem ‘91 X Super Skunk), GMO Cookies (Chem D X GSC), Motorbreath (Chem D x OG Kush) Giesel (Mass Super Skunk X Chem D), and more.
How many versions Of Chemdog are there? Which ones still exist? What is JB Chem?
If we’re talking about the versions that supposedly stemmed from the original 13 seeds, there was Chem ‘91, Chem Sis, Chem A-D, and Chem 1-4. The Chem Sis and Chem '91 came from the first four seeds Chemdog popped, Chem A-D were from the second group in 2001, and Chem 1-4 were the Reunion Seeds release from 2006. Today, you can still find Chem ‘91, Chem 1, Chem 4, and Chem D, as well as a Chem Sis S1 which is famously in the GG4 strain.
You may have also heard of a Chemdog version called the Joe Brand Cut (aka Joe B Diesel, JB Chem, or JB91). This is a highly disputed topic with lots of rumors and drama. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to get cleared up anytime soon, but here’s what we know:
JB Chem is a cut distributed by Joe Brand after he was given Chemdog genetics by IC Collective. It became clear to long-time holders of the original Chem ‘91 that the cut was something else, but it’s hard to say exactly what happened. Some assert that he received a mislabeled Chem ‘91 cut from IC Collective. According to IC Collective, however, Joe Brand and P-bud came to his house and smoked Chem ‘91 sometime around 2006. They’d both smoked the original Dogbud from that Deer Creek parking lot, but this was the first time they actually smoked the Chem ‘91. Joe Brand and P-Bud wanted to trade their Chem 1-4 for Chem D and Chem 91, but IC Collective said no. He says he gave them Chem D, but not Chem ‘91.
That’s when Joe Brand and P-Bud allegedly went to Nspecta of CSI:Humboldt and gave him their Chem 1-4. Since they were part of the original story, Nspecta agreed to give them the Chem ‘91. Afterwards, Joe Brand distributed cuts labeled as Chem '91 but for whatever reason, they were something else. Notsodog elaborates saying, “I don’t know how long Joe Brand had the real '91 before he lost it. But when he started trading people, that was my buddy Staten Island’s worst fear. They didn’t want people to start trade baiting it all over, which is exactly what Joe B and P-Bud started to do. Except for everyone that got the Dog from those guys didn’t get the Dog.” Eventually, when various breeders attempted to make crosses, they realized that it clearly wasn’t the real Chem ‘91.
Why isn’t it likely that all Chemdog strains come from the original 13 seeds?
When it comes to this particular topic, Notsodog said, “I find it very hard to believe that the Chem Sis, the Chem 91, the D, and the 1 and the 4 all came from the same hybrid.” The simplest explanation? Each group is distinctly different in ways that are highly unlikely for a group of 13 seeds. That’s not to say that it’s impossible though. In fact, there are two scenarios where it IS possible.
First, a single female plant could have been pollinated by three different males. One of them would have had to have the original Chem traits, another with Super Skunk traits, and the third with NL5 Haze traits. If that was the case, the bag of buds Chemdog received had seeds formed from each male. Mathematically, however, that’s pretty improbable. It’s nearly impossible that he would have randomly selected ONLY the chem-like seeds first, and then ONLY the Super Skunk male seeds, and then ONLY the NL5 Haze seeds. See what we mean? Technically, it’s possible. Just highly unlikely. Another possibility is that Chemdog’s original bag of Dogbud had a mix of buds in it, each with seeds from a different cross. Again, what’s unlikely is that he randomly popped the seeds so that each group matched perfectly.
What’s more, why did he only pop four seeds at a time? For new growers, it’s fairly reasonable they might only pop four seeds. But would he really have waited ten years to pop another four? Why did he save the last four?
Lastly, a bag of a dozen seeds with that much variation probably won’t yield that many winners, especially when most of them were 10-15 years old. Growers hunting for ‘keeper cuts’ tend to pop a minimum of 50 seeds with the hope of finding just one. Oftentimes, it’s best practice to run hundreds or even thousands. Basically, popping 13 seeds and getting 10 females is lucky enough, but finding 5 keepers from aging seeds is enough to at least raise an eyebrow.
Chemdog Strain Effects
First, it’s important to remember that this strain is STRONG. There’s a good reason why it was included in HighTimes The Strongest Strains on Earth 2016. At the time, that particular strain reached an astronomical 32.13% THC. Today, THC levels range from 17% to 25% but don’t be fooled. This strain can seriously knock you on your ass.
Plus, it’s important to note that different types of ChemDog have slightly different effects. Chem 4, for example, is supposedly a bit milder than other versions.
Westword says, “Instead of the hamster-wheel high, spinning brain and confused limbs that Chemdog gives users, Chem #4 is much easier on the mind, and the physical effects are felt earlier and stronger….It's not a criticism when I say that Chem #4's high allows a sense of satisfaction with being useless, because those guilt-free, stoney-baloney weekend nights are still therapeutic for those of us resigned to adulthood.”
Chem D, on the other hand, has been known to blast smokers into next week. Okay, not literally, but it does have an incredibly intense high that’ll last for hours. The potent cerebral effects kick in almost immediately, sharpening the senses and creating a heightened awareness of your surroundings. This can be a bit disorienting at first, but it slowly transforms into a mental state that’s creative, introspective, and perfect for conversations. There’s also a palpable sense of physical relaxation, and just a BIT too much will generally have you “rolling over like a dog.”
The classic Chem ‘91 also packs a heavyweight punch, but it leans slightly more into the physical effects, with a bit less versatility and overall potency than the Chem D. Longtime Chemdog fans might prefer the Chem D, but the Chem ‘91 is a breeder’s favorite and it’s usually the one you’ll find in modern Chemdog crosses.
Considering the wide array of effects, this strain is useful for medical marijuana patients in a variety of ways. Those suffering from stress, anxiety, and/or depression may enjoy the initial euphoric lift, while those dealing with chronic pain may want to have an extra puff or two to really kick off the physical relaxation properties.
Essentially, this versatile strain may provide temporary relief for many ailments. However, its potency means that novice users may want to smoke with care until they’re more comfortable with how the effects hit them.
When it comes to overall flavor, aroma, and appearance, it’s again important to differentiate between the different versions of Chemdog. ChemD and Chem 4, for example, have distinct differences.
While they’re similar in bud structure (tight, thick buds up and down the fairly bushy plant with an excellent calyx/leaf ratio), the taste and smell are completely different. On the ICMag forum, Crazy Composer has even said, “The #4 smells very, VERY similar to the SFV OGK, lemony candy….The D smells rancid most of the time. I have some descriptions of what I think it smells like, but some Chem D superfans take issue with my translation of the smell. The #4 smells lemony, the Chem D smells terrible/awesome at the same time. Go figure.”
The “issue” that some superfans may have with his description of Chem D likely stems from his article in The Best of High Times Ganja Guide 2009 when he said, “The smell of Chemdog D bud as it ripens is somewhat offensive. Not fruity at all, the skunky, rotten nature of the aroma can be a bit off-putting to most noses. The best way to describe it is a little disgusting, but it’s the closest I can get: Fresh CDD smells a lot like…ahem…a gum or mouth infection….But as is so often the case with fine cannabis, a rancid smell often translates into a super-dank taste.”
So, if you’ve got some Chemdog on your hands and you’re not sure which version you’ve got, the aroma can tell you a LOT. For those that actually intend to grow Chemdog, you can expect slight differences in their appearances as well.
On another ICMag forum thread, Crazy Composer has said that the Chem 4 plant is sturdier and less lanky than Chem D with bigger buds and slightly different nutritional needs. The sturdiness is particularly useful because the yield tends to be larger in Chem 4 as well. Additionally, he says Chem 4 has an average stretch. Within that same forum, Wonkanobe (aka Chemdog) said, “the 4 will have mature trichs before the hairs all turn red.”
Crazy Composer concludes by saying, “But as for the D... I've got several of them finishing up right now, and their branches are flopping all over the place, using each other to hold themselves up. The lower branches just hang down toward the ground like a weeping willow tree. If the D had the branches of the #4, I'd be even happier, because the #4 has sturdier branching, making them a little easier to grow... but I'm certainly not complaining!”
Chemdog Strain Seeds and Grow Info
While several places advertise Chemdog seeds, it’s hard to tell who has “authentic” seeds. However, we’re comfortable recommending CSI Humboldt, SkunkVA of Lucky Dog Seeds, and JJ NYC of Top Dawg Seeds. The first two have been known to have some seriously primo Chem ‘91 and Chem D seeds. If you shop elsewhere, be sure to pay attention to their appearance and aroma descriptions, as that will give you a good indication of the specific type of Chemdog you’re getting.
When it comes to actually growing Chemdog, an experienced hand is generally preferred. It’s prone to molds and mildew, so indoor growers will require excellent ventilation, humidity control, and good air circulation. The average outdoor grower shouldn’t attempt this strain unless they live somewhere warm with dry mediterranean summers. It’s particularly sensitive to extreme weather conditions, so most growers choose to cultivate Chemdog indoors for maximum environmental control.
It’s important to remember that the different types of Chemdog have different growing requirements as well. The consensus seems to be that Chem D grows faster than Chem 4, so keep that in mind if you’re unsure which type of seeds you’ve got your hands on. The former tends to flower indoors at 9 weeks, while Chem 4 tends to flower at 10-11 weeks with slightly larger indoor yields. Additionally, Chem D may require extra support in the form of stakes due to its lanky nature.