10 Dog Breeds That Thrive in Cold Weather
Some dogs have been bred to be more tolerant of cold weather. They may have thick, insulating double coats and bushy tails designed to be wrapped around their faces to keep them cozy. Their paws are often wide and covered in snow repelling fur, and their ears tend to be small to prevent frostbite.
If you live in a region that has harsh winters or year-round cold weather, it could be challenging trying to keep a greyhound or chihuahua snug.
Here is a list of breeds that thrive in cold weather conditions.
When you think of snow dogs, undoubtedly, the popular Siberian Husky will be at the top of most peoples lists. They are known for their energy and endurance, their thick coat, and their ability to cope with sub-zero temperatures. All of these qualities make them excellent sled dogs.
While they are friendly and intelligent, they can be rather intense, are often prolific howlers and require a lot of exercise. As with many of the breeds on this list, they are also prolific shedders when their coat is molting.
Height: 20 to 23 inches
Weight: 45 to 60 pounds (male); 35 to 50 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Thick double coat that comes in a variety of colors including combinations of black, gray, white and tan
The gentle and fluffy Newfie was originally bred to support Canadian fisherman negotiating the icy waters of the North Atlantic. They helped with hauling the fishing nets and were known to dive into the waters to rescue those that fell overboard. They continue to be used for water-rescue now.
Despite their size, their shedding, and their propensity to drool excessively, they are a popular companion breed because of their calm and loving natures.
Height: 26 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 130 to 150 pounds (male); 100 to 120 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Thick, water-resistant, double coat in brown, black, gray or black and white
The Finnish Lapphund is a nordic breed developed to help move herds of reindeer across the tundra of Lapland in the Arctic Circle.
Finnies have an incredibly thick double coat and a distinctive curled tail that can be wrapped around their face to keep snow away and provide warmth.
This breed thrives on company and, while they can be a little wary of strangers, they are a friendly and energetic and remain popular in their native Finland. This in spite of them being prolific shedders and rather vocal.
Height: 18 to 21 inches (male); 16 to 19 inches (female)
Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Strongly built with a thick, harsh double coat and they come in a variety of colors
The Akita is the largest of the six ancient Spitz-type breeds that are native to Japan, and they retain great cultural significance to this day. They are thought to be a symbol of contentment and longevity.
The breed was initially developed as a watchdog and hunter in the cold mountainous regions of the country. They are always fiercely loyal, noble and quiet, but can be wary of strangers, strong-willed and don't always get on with other dogs.
Akitas, like many dogs bred to live in cold climates, have webbed toes, helping to distribute their weight better when walking on snow and ice.
Height: 26 to 28 inches (male); 24 to 26 inches (female)
Weight: 100 to 130 pounds (male); 70 to 100 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Large, powerful and with a broad head, erect ears and a distinctive curly tail; short, thick double coat and comes in a variety of colors; common variations include brindle and pinto (each with white markings)
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The Keeshond is another Spitz-type dog, but this breed doesn't originate from a country associated with such extreme cold weather conditions. They are native to the Netherlands where they acted as companions and watchdogs for the barges on the Dutch canals.
On the waterways, they often had to be out on top of the barge for long periods of time in all weather conditions, and their dense double coat kept them snug.
They are known for being friendly, affectionate dogs with plenty of stamina.
Height: 17 to 18 inches
Weight: 35 to 45 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Almost fox-like in appearance with a thick plumed tail and a mask around the eyes that gives the impression of wearing glasses; thick double-coat; usually a mixture of gray, black and cream and the shading can vary
The ancient Samoyed originates from Russia, where they had to cope with freezing temperatures working as hunters, herders and sled dogs for the semi-nomadic Siberian people the Samoyed. Their owners would also invite them into their tents to help keep them warm through the freezing nights.
They are known for being gentle and forming strong bonds with their families. They do need a lot of attention and can develop problem behaviors or separation anxiety without this.
Height: 21 to 24 inches (male); 19 to 21 inches (female)
Weight: 45 to 65 pounds (male), 35 to 50 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Pricked ears and a curled plumed tail; thick, water-resistant coat usually white in color but can occasionally also be cream or light brown
Alaskan Malamutes are often confused with Siberian Huskies.
A Malamute, however, is bigger and stronger, but not as high energy. They also often develop stronger bonds with their owners and are a more companionable breed.
They are not a pack dog and don't always enjoy the company of other dogs as much as a Husky will. Bred by the Mahlemiut Inuit tribe from Alaska for hundreds of years, they were able to pull heavy sleds over long distances and in frigid temperatures.
Height: 23 to 25 inches
Weight: 75 to 85 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Erect ears, an impressive plumed tail, and a very dense double coat; come in a variety of colors from shades of gray to black, sable, and shadings of sable to red
You may have noticed there aren't many small breeds on this list. The smaller the dog, the harder it tends to be for them to retain their body heat.
The Finkie, as they are often affectionately referred to, however, is a small, hardy hunting breed. They had to cope with the harsh conditions thrown at them in Finland.
Known for being amiable, fun-loving and full of energy, they also tend to be rather vocal and can have a high prey drive.
Height: 17.5 to 20 inches (male); 15.5 to 18 inches (female)
Weight: 25 to 32 pounds (male); 20 to 28 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Small, square, foxy-looking and has a medium-length dense coat that comes in shades of red
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The dignified and calm Great Pyrenees was originally bred, hundreds of years ago, to guard livestock in the mountainous Pyrenees region between France and Spain. To this day, they are still used for this job.
In the winter, temperatures in the mountains plummet, and the Pyrs exceptionally thick coat allowed them to stay out watching over their flock through the night.
Despite their size, they are known for being gentle and loyal towards their family. Early socialization and ongoing training are required, though to make sure their watchdog and barking instincts do not get out of control.
Height: 26 to 32 inches (male); 25 to 29 inches (female)
Weight: Around 100 pounds (male); Around 85 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Thick, weather-resistant double coat that is usually all white, although sometimes contains light markings in gray, red, tan or badger; males especially have a pronounced ruff around their neck
The Chow Chow is certainly a head-turner. With their majestic ruff around their face and their unique blue-black tongue, they can't help but attract admirers.
This ancient Chinese breed was originally used to guard the sacred temples erected in the freezing mountainous Northern Steppes regions that connected Mongolia, Siberia, and China. Their exceptionally thick coat kept them warm while performing this task.
Nowadays they are known for generally being loyal but independent, low energy and calm companion dogs. They can be aloof with strangers and don't always get along with other dogs.
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 45 to 70 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Heavy-boned, squarely built dog with a high set and curled tail, a large head, a deep muzzle, and a blue-black tongue; come in rough or smooth dense double-coats; pronounced ruff around their face and neck, giving them a lion or bear-like appearance; most commonly seen in a red coloring but also come in black, blue, cinnamon, and cream
While these breeds are ones that cope better in cold weather, you should still make sure that winter care and safety are top considerations when the harsh weather hits.
If your dog stays outdoors, they should have a warm shelter, and should always be brought inside if the temperatures plummet.
On walks, you should protect their paws from ice, grit and salt, and you should be mindful of where you walk. Don't let your dog stray out onto frozen ponds or lakes.