While some pups are best suited for warm and sunny days, cold-weather dog breeds have a thick double coat to help them thrive in winter. Many of these dogs’ ancestors hail from the Arctic or other frigid regions, though today they can be found throughout the world.
If you live somewhere cold, these dogs could be a good fit for your home (but make sure you invest in a good brush for all that fur). That said, pet parents should always be mindful of the temperature and never leave their dog outside when it’s too cold. Doing so can expose even the fluffiest snow dog to frostbite or hypothermia. These breeds also tend to be sensitive to heat, so extra precautions need to be taken when temperatures rise.
Here are some of the best dogs for cold weather.
1. Siberian Husky
The ancestors of today’s Siberian Huskies were developed by the semi-nomadic Chukchi people and have since grown in popularity around the U.S. These tenacious winter dogs thrive in cold weather thanks to their thick double coat that provides a cozy layer of insulation. But the Husky’s fur sheds a lot, especially in the spring and fall—so expect the fur to fly.
2. Alaskan Malamute
The native Mahlemut people relied on Alaskan Malamutes for survival, entrusting them to hunt seals, scare off polar bears, and haul heavy loads on sleds. Though they look a lot like Huskies, Malamutes are taller, around 20 pounds heavier, and have an even thicker coat.
3. Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard is the epitome of a snow dog—for centuries, they have been used as search and rescue dogs to find people buried under snow. While Saint Bernards still work as avalanche rescue dogs today, they’re also a popular family pet thanks to their gentle and friendly temperament.
4. Finnish Lapphund
It’s no surprise that the Finnish Lapphund comes from Finland, nor is it a shock that they have a thick weatherproof coat to keep them warm in the cold. This medium-size breed was originally used to herd reindeer, but they also make good-natured companions for active families.
5. Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhounds are cold weather dogs dating back to the Vikings. Now the national dog of Norway, Elkhounds were originally used as hunting dogs. This history means they can have a lingering prey drive and may chase after smaller animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, or cats. Introductions to cats must be done with care, and pet parents should keep their Elkhound on a leash or within a fence when outside.
6. American Eskimo Dog
Despite their name and resemblance to the Arctic fox, American Eskimo Dogs are descendants of the German Spitz and not related to North American Inuit people. But these dogs still thrive in cold weather thanks to their thick double coat and small, thick ears that help them retain heat in low temperatures.
7. Tibetan Mastiff
An ancient breed with written records dating back to 1100 BCE, the Tibetan Mastiff looks less like a canine and more like a lion. The giant dogs are broad with an ultra-thick, wooly mane that kept them warm in the Tibetan mountains, where the breed originated. Tibetan Mastiffs can be aloof toward strangers and, as with any breed, need consistent socialization.
8. Bernese Mountain Dog
An affectionate cold-weather dog breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle soul that loves to play. These pups were bred to be farm dogs in Switzerland and enjoy being outside. Their thick double coat protects their skin from moisture and low temperatures.
The Samoyed is an Arctic dog breed with an elegant white coat. These dogs were companions to the Samoyede people in Siberia for generations before coming to the U.S. in the early 20th century. Samoyeds are beloved for their friendly personality and face that’s shaped into a permanent smile.
10. Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees is a large working dog from the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. Though not of Arctic origin, this dog is built to navigate snowy terrain, where they historically guarded livestock from predators. Great Pyrenees are gentle and calm dogs that have a reputation for being great with kids.
The Keeshond is a fluffy dog breed from the Netherlands, where they accompanied their humans on barges and boats. Their thick fur is designed to keep them warm not only in cold weather, but in the frigid canal waters, too. Keeshonden (the plural of Keeshond) need to be brushed thoroughly several times a week, if not every day.
Along with their physical weight (which can reach well over 100 pounds), the Akita is a breed that carries significant cultural weight in Japan, where they are considered national treasures. Though typically independent and reserved, Akitas form strong bonds with their close family members. Their plush double coat comes in a wide range of colors.
13. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is one of the oldest dog breeds, shown in artifacts dating back to China’s Han Dynasty (200 BCE to 220 CE). Like other cold-weather dogs, they have a thick double coat that sheds heavily and needs consistent at-home grooming. Along with their fluffy coat, Chow Chows are identifiable by their flat face and blue-black tongue.
Newfoundlands—commonly called Newfies—come from Newfoundland, Canada, and are well-suited to winter. These large, powerful dogs were bred to work, helping sailors on ships and pulling carts. Like all double-coated dog breeds, Newfoundlands shed heavily in the spring and fall. This is a process called blowing coat, where the pup’s undercoat comes off in thick clumps to prepare for an upcoming change of season.
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