Some dogs have been bred to be more tolerant of cold weather than others. They typically have thick, insulating double coats and bushy tails designed to wrap around their bodies to keep them cozy. Plus, their paws are often wide and covered in snow-repelling fur, and their ears tend to be small to prevent frostbite. These dogs are generally fairly large, though there are some breeds on the smaller side as well. They tend to be quite athletic and range in personality.
Here are 10 dog breeds that thrive in cold weather conditions.
Cold weather care and safety should be top considerations, even for breeds meant to withstand the cold. Your dog should always have access to warm shelter when the temperatures plummet. On walks, protect paws from ice, grit, and salt. And don't let your dog stray out onto frozen ponds or lakes.
01 of 10
When you think of snow dogs, undoubtedly the popular Siberian husky will come to mind. Huskies 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. They are also prolific shedders.
Height: 20 to 23 inches
Weight: 45 to 60 pounds (male); 35 to 50 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Thick double coat; colors include combinations of black, gray, white, and tan
02 of 10
The gentle and fluffy Newfie was originally bred to support Canadian fishermen negotiating the icy waters of the North Atlantic. These dogs helped with hauling the fishing nets and were known to dive into the water to rescue those who fell overboard. They continue to be used for water rescue today. Despite their massive size, their high shedding, and their propensity to drool excessively, they are a popular companion breed because of their calm and loving nature.
Height: 26 to 28 inches
Weight: 130 to 150 pounds (male); 100 to 120 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Thick, water-resistant double coat; colors include brown, black, gray, or black and white
03 of 10
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 them to keep snow away and provide warmth. While they're wary of strangers, these dogs thrive on company and are typically friendly and energetic. However, they are prolific shedders and rather vocal.
Height: 18 to 21 inches (male); 16 to 19 inches (female)
Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Muscular; thick, coarse double coat; comes in a variety of colors
04 of 10
Native to Japan, the Akita was initially developed as a watchdog and hunter in the cold mountainous regions of the country. These dogs are fiercely loyal, noble, and generally quiet. They can be wary of strangers and strong-willed, and they don't always get on with other dogs. Like many dogs bred to live in cold climates, Akitas 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: Broad head; erect ears; distinctive curly tail; short, thick double coat; common colors include brindle and pinto (each with white markings)Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
The Keeshond is native to the Netherlands, where it acted as a companion and watchdog for the barges on the Dutch canals. On the waterways, these dogs 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; thick plumed tail; mask around the eyes; thick double-coat; usually a mixture of gray, black, and cream but shading can vary
06 of 10
The ancient Samoyed originated in Russia, where it had to cope with freezing temperatures working as hunters, herders, and sled dogs for the semi-nomadic Siberian people. These dogs are known for being gentle and forming strong bonds with their families. But they do need a lot of attention and can develop problem behaviors or separation anxiety without it.
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; curled plumed tail; thick, water-resistant coat usually white in color but can occasionally cream or light brown
07 of 10
Alaskan malamutes are bigger and stronger but not as high energy as a husky. They also often develop stronger bonds with their owners and are a more companionable breed. But malamutes 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, these dogs are 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; plumed tail; very dense double coat; colors include shades of gray, black, sable, and red
08 of 10
The Finnish spitz, or Finkie, as they are often affectionately called, is a fairly small but hardy hunting breed. Helped by their thick coat, these dogs 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, fox-like build; medium-length dense coat; comes in shades of redContinue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
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. They are still used for this job today. In the winter, temperatures in the mountains plummet, and the breed's exceptionally thick coat allows the dogs to stay out watching over their flock through the night. These dogs are known for being gentle and loyal toward their family. But socialization and training are required to keep their watchdog and barking instincts in check.
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; usually all white; sometimes contains light markings in gray, red, tan, or badger; males especially have a pronounced ruff around the neck
10 of 10
With their majestic ruff around their face and their unique blue-black tongue, chow chows 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 generally loyal but independent, 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, square build; high set, curled tail; large head; deep muzzle; blue-black tongue; comes in rough or smooth dense double coats; pronounced ruff around face and neck; commonly red but other colors include black, blue, cinnamon, and cream
Breeds to Avoid
In general, the very small dog breeds and the breeds that have lightweight coats are not ideal if you live in a region that experiences lots of harsh, cold weather. For example, it could be challenging trying to keep a chihuahua or greyhound snug. Other breeds that need protection from cold weather include the pug, Great Dane, French bulldog, boxer, and Yorkshire terrier.