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Best Dog Breeds For Cold Weather & Snow – Top 20 & Guide

Written by Laura
Laura is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 7 October 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
dog breeds that love cold weather and snow
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Dogs can tolerate the harshest of temperatures and conditions. But there are some dog breeds that love the cold weather & snow. Granted, most dogs love the snow, it’s like a giant toy that has taken over the entire outside world. But certain breeds thrive in it.

A few are all-weather dog breeds, others are seemingly designed for the winter weather. So, which breeds love it the most, and what is it that makes them so compatible with these conditions?

What Makes a Dog Better Suited To Cold & Snow?

There are multiple physical characteristics that make a dog breed better suited to cold weather, including size, coat & more! To be snow-friendly, a dog breed must be prepared to fight hypothermia and frostbites, even as a puppy or small-sized dog.

Dogs that enjoy cold weather should also be able to stay and sleep outdoors for extended periods of time and remain completely heathy.

Large Dog Breeds

You probably noticed that the majority of dogs on the list were larger breeds. This is because bigger dogs conserve heat. The less skin you have relative to your body weight, the slower you lose warmth. Hence why small breeds have to wear coats on their winter walks!

Small Ears

For a lot of mammals, ears are like natural radiators. The blood vessels within them release the heat out of their bodies. That’s why Elephants have such gigantic ears, and these dogs, on the other hand, have smaller ones!

Dogs who come from warmer climates tend to have bigger ears to get rid of excess body heat, and dog breeds that love cold weather & snow usually have smaller ones, to keep it in.

Double Coats

All of the dogs mentioned in this last have double coats. This is when the fur is double layered for extra warmth and protection, divided into an underlayer and outer layer. Often, the inner layer is wooly for insulation and the outer layer is weatherproof. But they can also be finer underneath and wooly on the outside for other kinds of protection.

Paws & Claws

Many of the dogs on this list have large, extra hairy paws. This is so that they can keep warm and evenly distribute their weight on rocky or icy terrain for extra sturdiness.

All dogs have slight webbing on their feet, but some of these breeds have super webbed paws. This is to help them swim and stay balanced when walking on slushy snow.

A few of the dogs on this list also have dewclaws on their hind legs, which helps to give them extra stability and friction when walking in snow and ice.

Top 20 Dog Breeds For Cold Weather & Snow

Do you live somewhere that’s prone to colder temperatures and snow? If so, you might want to consider adopting one of these breeds.

1. Siberian Husky

Of course! Huskies are the most iconic cold-weather breed. They are medium-large sized dogs, known by their thick silver and white double-layered coats, often piercing blue eyes, stubborn independence, and vocal nature.

Huskies originate in Siberia, a country synonymous with ice and snow. They are famous for sled-pulling at almost unrivaled speeds. Their short-haired coats consist of an insulating, dense undercoat and softer outer coat to keep them warm in such conditions. They also have very tough pads, and hairy, webbed paws to protect them when walking on snow.

Huskies are very intelligent and have abundant physical energy. Because of this, they require a lot of exercise, patience, and mental stimulation. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort, they make fabulously fun, gentle, loving companions.

husky as guard dog
Huskies are not good guard dogs despite their intimidating stare.

2. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamutes were bred by the Mahlemut Inuit tribe from Alaska for hundreds of years and are also prolific sled pullers. They’re often confused for huskies as they have very similar appearances. However, they are bigger, stronger, and tend to have quite different characters. Due to their size, they don’t have the speed of Huskies, but they are able to pull much heavier sleds.

They don’t typically have as much energy as Huskies and are a lot more tactile, affectionate, and devoted.

3. Samoyed

The Samoyed is an ancient, medium-sized breed of dog, originating from Russia. They were bred to hunt, herd, and pull sleds in freezing cold conditions for the semi-nomadic Samoyed people. Samoyeds have fluffy, white, double coats that consist of a coarse outer coat for weather resistance, and a soft undercoat for warmth. They also have small ears for heat conservation.

Samoyeds are lively, playful, friendly dogs that are known for the strong, loyal bonds that they form with their families. However, they need a lot of attention & affection. They can develop separation anxiety and behavioral issues if they don’t receive it.

4. Saint Bernard

One of the most famous mountain dog breeds of all, St. Bernards are known for their huge size, thick, brown, black and white coats, droopy eyes, slobbery mouths, and gentle nature. They are the third-largest dog breed in the world and the biggest on this list!

Originating in the western Alps of Switzerland, France, and Italy, these gentle giants are famous for being mountain rescue dogs. In order to keep them warm, their double-layered coats consist of a coarse, water-resistant outer layer and thick, insulating undercoat. They also have extremely large, hairy, webbed feet, and hind dewclaws to keep them warm & steady on the rocky, icy terrain.

Saint Bernards may look like a handful but are famously sweet-natured, affectionate, calm, and quiet. They also love children.

5. American Eskimo Dog

One of the only small-medium sized breeds on this list, American Eskimo Dogs were first used as watchdogs in the American mid-west. They were not chosen to be guard dogs because they are aggressive, rather for their alert, vocal nature. And as the name would suggest, this dog breed loves cold weather & snow!

Their tiny ears and thick, white double coats helped them to stay warm while working outdoors.

Personality-wise, American Eskimo dogs are very intelligent, active, playful, and friendly.

6. Chow Chow

The majestic Chow Chow looks more like a bear or lion than a dog. With their small ears, golden manes, thick, wooly double coats, and blue-black tongues, this large, ancient Chinese breed was originally used to guard sacred spiritual temples in the freezing, mountainous regions of the Northern Steppes.

Chow Chows are very independent, quiet dogs. They’re often aloof with strangers, and they don’t always get along with other dogs. However, they are known to be very loyal and loving with their families.

phylogenetic tree chow chow breed
Genealogical tree of the Chow Chow breed in comparison to other ancient dog breeds.

7. Norweigan Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhounds are one of the hardiest dog breeds around. This fearless, medium-sized breed was originally used to track and hunt moose, elks, wolves, even bears since the Viking times in Scandinavia. To keep warm, Norwegian Elkhounds have a double coat made up of a warm, smooth, dense undercoat and a protective outer layer of silvery fur.

They’re known for their bold, energetic, playful nature, strong-willed independence, and loyalty to their family.

8. Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan Terriers, also known as the “Holy Dogs of Tibet” were often kept by Tibetan monks as good luck charms and guard dogs for their mountain top temples. These medium-sized terriers have a fantastic sense of balance and instinct for retrieval, which also made them perfect for retrieving things that had fallen down the mountains.

Their broad, flat, webbed feet are ideal for mountainous terrain, and their protective double coat, usually either grey or brown and white, keeps them warm. Tibetan Terriers are known for being gentle, affectionate, sensitive, and friendly dogs.

9. Newfoundland

Another gentle giant, Newfoundlands were originally bred to help Canadian fishermen work in the icy North Atlantic sea. They helped to haul the fishing nets on board, and were known to dive into the waters to rescue anyone that fell overboard. They are still used for water-rescue today and are natural-born swimmers.

Their huge, strong, muscular frame, gigantic webbed feet, water-resistant outer coat, and insulating undercoat make them one of the best dog swimmers in the world, especially for cold waters. They actually have the longest toes of all breeds, so their feet act like flippers! Newfoundlands also have dewclaws on their hind legs, which would help them navigate the icy, snowy environments they were bred to work in.

They can be black, black and white, grey, or brown. Despite their excess shedding and drooly nature, they are a hugely popular breed. This is because Newfoundlands are among the gentlest, sweet-tempered, and loving dogs there are.

newfoundlands love snow
These gentle giants love the snow!

10. Komondor

Komondors, also called Hungarian sheepdogs, are a large, fearless breed of dog with a long history of guarding livestock throughout Europe. They’re not specially bred for freezing temperatures but were intended to be weather resistant so that they could work in any conditions.

As a result, they have long, thick, double coats consisting of corded fur often referred to as ‘mop-like’. Their unique coats were also intended to be predator-proof and would aid the dogs in fighting off coyotes.

Despite being guard dogs by nature, Komondors make gentle, calm, and affectionate pets.

11. Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized, nordic dog breed, originally used to help move herds of reindeer across Lapland. They have tiny ears, webbed feet that act like snow-boots, an incredibly thick double coat. and a distinctive curly tail that can be wrapped around their face when sleeping for protection. They’re usually a combination of black, white, and brown.

The Finnish Lapphund is an extremely social dog that thrives in a big family. While they can be wary of strangers, they are otherwise friendly, faithful, vocal, calm, and courageous.

12. Keeshond

Unlike most of the other breeds on this list, Keeshonds don’t originate from a country with extreme weather conditions. They come from Holland and were first used as companionable watchdogs for barge boats on the Dutch canals.

However, they did have to be out on the barge roofs for long periods of time, and in all weather conditions. So their small ears and silvery double coat, consisting of a wooly, insulating undercoat and protective outer coat, to help keep them warm. They are known for being bright, affectionate, playful, agile, and quick!

13. Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiffs are a huge breed, first used as guard dogs for livestock, tents, monasteries, and palaces in nordic regions. They’re still used as guard dogs today by Tibetan tribes.

Their unbelievably thick, double coat has a water-resistant outer layer and an insulating, wooly undercoat, which keeps them warm in the coldest temperatures imaginable. Their coats are usually black, tan and white, and are so warm that they can easily overheat in warm, summer temperatures.

Though stunning to look at and very intelligent, these dogs are more suited to experienced owners. They are tenacious, strong-willed, and very stubborn.

14. Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog, on the other hand, has the perfect temperament for new owners. Originating in Switzerland, this large breed was first developed for helping to haul heavy loads and guard livestock in all weathers.

Their extremely dense, silky, long-haired double coat helps to keep them warm in all but the very coldest of temperatures.

Bernese Mountain dogs have lots of energy and are exceptionally faithful and loyal. An ideal family dog, they are gentle, tactile, playful, affectionate, and intelligent.

15. Shiba Inu

The other small-medium breed on the list, the Japanese Shiba Inu was first bred to hunt in mountainous terrain across Japan. They have small ears and a stiff, golden double coat that stops them from feeling the cold.

Shiba Inus are incredibly fast and agile dogs that love the outdoor life. They’re confident, faithful, and affectionate with their families, but tend to be shy and suspicious of strangers.

16. Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a large, ancient dog breed that was originally bred to guard livestock in the Pyrenees mountains in Europe thousands of years ago – and still do today! Their exceptionally thick, white double coats that are rough on the outside and silky underneath, beautiful manes, plumed tails, and feathery legs & feet all helped to shield them from the cold weather & snow while on guard during the night. They also have dewclaws on their hind legs to help them better navigate the snowy terrain.

The Great Pyrenees are known for being confident, strong-willed, diligent dogs. Though they aren’t always the most affectionate breed, they are very gentle, loving, and loyal to their families and patient with children. That said, socialization and training should begin early on with this breed, as they can become overprotective without it.

17. Anatolian Shepherd

The only dog on this list to originate from a predominantly hot country, Anatolian Shepherds are among the earliest hunting & guard dogs of Mesopotamia, Turkey. Anatolia is known for its dry, hot summers and cold, wet winters. As a result, they are a big, strong, rugged, all-weather breed with short, wiry double coats that protect them from the elements, without being too heavy.

That said, their coats are extremely thick around the throats in order to protect them from predatory attacks.

These dogs are sweet-natured with their families, bold, proud, and independent, but protective and territorial. They are always ‘on duty’ and aren’t very welcoming to strangers or playful in general, preferring to go on walks than play games.

18. German Shepherds

Probably the most popular breed on this list, German Shepherds are a medium-large breed with a relatively modern origin, dating back to 1899.

They were originally used for herding sheep in Germany, and have a short, thick black & brown double coat to help protect them from the cold weather whilst working. However, due to their strength, courage, and intelligence, they are now commonly used as police and military dogs.

They are currently the second most popular dog breed in the US, and this is likely due to their loyal, protective nature. Though there are many incidents of German Shepherds being aggressive, this is likely due to improper training by owners who want a ‘tough’ status symbol. With proper socialization and training, these dogs can be gentle, loving, affectionate, and tactile.

Also, check out our amazing article on black GSDs and on the best GSD puppy names!

dogs that love snow
German Shepherds love cold weather!

19. Karakachan Bear Dog

The Karakachan Bear Dog was originally bred to be a guardian of livestock for Bulgarian shepherds in cold, mountainous areas. To keep warm in these conditions, they have tiny ears and a stiff, protective outer coat and heavy, insulating undercoat. These big, brave dogs wouldn’t hesitate to fight predators such as wolves and even bears to keep their sheep safe.

These dogs are naturally vigilant, protective, independent, and dominant. Though they are very loving with their families, without proper socialization and training, they can become overprotective of their homes to outsiders. Vladimir Putin famously has a Karakachan dog.

20. Akita

The Akita is a large, northern Japanese breed that is thought to be a symbol of contentment and longevity in Japan. They were initially bred to be guard dogs and hunters in cold, mountainous regions. Their small ears and thick double coat and webbed toes helped them to keep warm and distribute their weight evenly when walking on the terrain.

Japanese Akitas are golden and white in color, whilst American Akitas are typically darker brown and white. They are courageous, calm, and fiercely loyal to their families.

However, these dogs are naturally wary of strangers & often don’t get along with other dogs. This is likely innate because their ancestors were used for dogfighting.

Those are the 20 dog breeds that love cold weather & snow. Are you thinking of adopting a cold-weather dog breed? Let us know in the comments down below!

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