Living in colder parts of the world can prove to be a challenge for people who love dogs. Many dog breeds don’t do well in cold weather. This means your options may be a bit more limited than those in more temperate areas. This can definitely be discouraging, especially if you’ve had your heart set on a particular breed of dog. However, there are still plenty of breeds that make wonderful canine companions, even in places that see a lot of snow.
There are several dog breeds that have been bred for harsh winter temperatures. They come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Their personalities are also different and can vary dramatically from one another.
Each breed has one thing in common. They all have thick fluffy coats that help them preserve their heat when things get chilly. This often serves them well in temperatures that hit below zero, too! In the article below, you’ll find 26 of the most popular cold-tolerant dog breeds to help you determine which one would be right for your lifestyle. Let’s jump in!
- Cold Weather Dog Safety
- Cold Weather Breeds
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamute
- American Eskimo Dog
- Saint Bernard
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
- Shiba Inu
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Tibetan Terrier
- Icelandic Sheepdog
- Chow Chow
- German Shepherd
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Finnish Lapphund
- Anatolian Shepherd
- Great Pyrenees
- Pyrenean Mastiff
- Caucasian Shepherd
- Final Thoughts
Cold Weather Dog Safety
Many dog breeds are more acclimated to living in cold weather due to having thicker coats. This does not mean they are invincible to cold weather. Any dog that’s left outside for long periods of time, can have several health risks, especially with exposure to their paw pads and other sensitive areas of their skin.
You will need to understand your dog’s cold-weather limits. You don’t want to risk exposure to potentially life-threatening health issues, like frostbite or hypothermia. If you plan to stay outside with your dog for longer periods of time, make sure they are well equipped to deal with it. You can dress them in outerwear, or equip them with snow boots to protect their paw pads.
Even if your dog is headed outside for short bursts of cold weather activity, these items can help keep them warm. When it comes to the health and safety of your pup, you can never be too cautious.
Cold Weather Breeds
Now that we’ve gotten that part out of the way, let’s take a look at the top dog breeds that are well suited for cold-weather living. Many of the dogs below are working breeds, so you’ll need to be prepared to handle the activity levels that are associated with owning a working dog breed.
Perhaps the most popular cold-tolerant dog breed in the world is the Siberian Husky. They’re the classic image of a snow dog, with their dense double coats, lithe figure, and striking blue eyes. These dogs were originally bred to help pull sleds and transport property across the frozen Russian tundra.
This job required them to be around humans most of the time, meaning they carry their fondness for people with them to this day. They are fantastic family dogs who enjoy spending time with the members of their pack.
This also includes small animals and even children, though it’s always a good idea to socialize them from an early age. Huskies have thick double coats and are notorious shedders that will need their fur managed on a regular basis to make sure it doesn’t end up on your couch, clothing, or in your home.
The largest Arctic sled dog gets their name from the place they originated from, as well as the tribe who developed them– the Mahlemuts. These dogs are an ancient breed with a history that goes back around 4,000 years. They were originally bred to help hunters with taking down large game, though these days they’re seen pulling sleds or simply making their owners happy.
Their thick, double coats help them to thrive in wet and cold weather. They have a tremendous affection for their family, including other pets and children. This makes them easy to socialize with, but training them might be a bit harder.
Malamutes are highly intelligent, with a stubborn streak that can make teaching them obedience more difficult than it needs to be. Still, they are wonderfully loyal pets who are capable of giving much love to their owners, provided they get their own way when they can!
The Samoyed is known for their thick and beautiful white coat. They are also incredibly affectionate towards their family. It’s important that you are able to care for their coat, as it is incredibly dense and can shed a lot! The fact that it’s also white in color means it’s going to show up everywhere if you don’t keep shedding under control. A good deal of maintenance is important to this breed’s appearance, but they make up for it by being absolutely adorable and charming.
This dog is another ancient breed originating from frigid Russia, originally intended for helping hunters and fishermen. They ended up being great at sledding as well as herding reindeer. While many of these dogs keep these jobs to this day, you’ll most often see the friendly Samoyed as a family dog.
These dogs are naturally athletic and will need a lot of exercise. They are happy with daily walks of around 45 minutes, plus 15 or more minutes of games. They enjoy completing activities that get the cogs in their heads turning. Samoyeds are prone to becoming very bored, so you should keep them entertained however you can.
American Eskimo Dog
The American Eskimo Dog is known for its beautiful white coat and incredible affection for its family. They are also similar to Samoyeds in that they look like smaller versions of those big, white dogs, with no shortage of personality and love.
This breed is a descendant of an ancient line of dogs going back roughly 6,000 years, though they’re also closely related to the more modern German Spitz. Their dense, fluffy, gorgeous coats make them a perfect choice for families who live in colder places.
You will find that your American Eskimo is very smart and will get along with humans and other animals on a level of mutual understanding, especially if they are trained early on. They were bred to be docile and friendly, and as such make poor guard dogs. American Eskimos are very clingy dogs who get very sad when not given affection and praise. Their tendency to develop separation anxiety, plus their inherent intelligence, can make them prone to displaying destructive behavior.
The Saint Bernard is a huge, iconic dog that doesn’t do very well in warmer weather. They were bred for the freezing climate of the Alps, and as such will be very happy in cold places where they can use their thick coats efficiently.
These dogs are among some of the best family dogs on the planet. They carry an almost unlimited amount of patience and adoration for their humans. Saint Bernards are nurturing, loving dogs who get along exceptionally well with children as well as other animals. Saint Bernards aren’t quite as intelligent as other dog breeds and can be stubborn. They do, however, respond amazingly well to positive reinforcement.
Bear in mind that you will need to teach your Saint Bernard to not be too excited around those they love while they are still at a manageable size. Their huge adult bodies can easily topple over even the sturdiest humans. Beyond this, they are relatively easy to care for. They aren’t particularly excited about exercise, and as such will not need a lot of it. Around 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day will be enough to keep them happy.
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is an ancient Swiss Sennenhund breed. They have long, soft fur that makes them able to withstand cold temperatures in the Alps. Berners were originally bred to be an all-around working dogs, helping to pull carts, as well as herd sheep, and keep the property safe from intruders.
Their incredible work ethic makes them great at those jobs even today, though they have found a place in modern society as fabulously affectionate family pets. They are very gentle and get along well with children and pets. Berners extend this kindness to people they trust outside their families. They are protective of their homes, but hardly ever aggressive. Still, they have a tendency to be more reserved around those they’re not familiar with
Berners are very playful dogs who need a lot of interaction every day. They’re known to be lower-energy but need playtime in more intense spurts. They need about 45 to 60 minutes of total activity each day. You can divide this time into daily walks plus other activities like agility courses and training sessions. Berners are generally well-behaved, especially when trained properly, but can still be destructive if they get too bored.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
One of the most loyal dogs on this list is the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. They may look like the Berner, but they have shorter and denser coats. These large dogs were thought to have descended from dogs similar to the modern Mastiffs, brought by Roman legions to the Swiss Alps.
This dog is another great, versatile dog meant for everything from herding and guarding, to assisting soldiers during wartime. These dogs are relatively easy to train but have a need to be the Alpha. As such, they can be quite stubborn when not reined in early enough in their lives. They will need firm leadership and consistent training to be effective at their jobs, as well as to display the best obedience. They are loving dogs, though they’re not as patient as Berners.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are good at lots of different jobs, and as such have a relatively high need for activity. They enjoy being on task, and always want something that they can keep themselves busy with. As such, ensure that you bring them out for walks of around 45 minutes per day. You’ll also want to plan on giving them an ample 30 minutes or so of playtime.
Shiba Inus are smaller than the other dogs we have mentioned on this list. However, their courageous personalities rival those of the biggest dogs! Bred in Japan for helping with the hunt in rough, cold, mountainous areas, these dogs are excellent hikers in many different weather conditions.
They have bright, bold, and alert personalities, making them a suitable watchdog for the home. They are also highly trainable, given their eager-to-please personalities and high intelligence. While they are reserved around strangers, the Shiba Inu loves their family and enjoys playing with children.
These dogs have moderate-high energy needs. They will need around 50 minutes of exercise each day. You can give them the workout they need by taking them on hikes if you live in a place with more rugged terrain. Beyond this, they also enjoy agility trials. They also don’t bark much unless it’s a learned behavior, making them great in densely populated housing areas.
Another cold-weather dog breed in Japan is the fluffy and courageous Akita. These dogs have very dense double-layered coats that help them stay safe and warm even in harsh weather conditions. These dogs have a lot of energy as it is, but you’ll find they are even more energetic in the winters when they can roll around in the snow!
Akitas were originally bred to be hunting companions. They have retained the prey drive and aggression from their hunting days, even if they weren’t taught to hunt. As such, it will be difficult to keep them in homes with other animals. However, they are immensely affectionate and loyal to their pet parents and other human members of their family. They still require socialization from an early age, as they can be wary of strangers.
Akitas are highly active dogs and will be happiest when they are outside playing. You should make it a habit to take them out on walks where they can stretch their legs, though be sure they are properly trained to be on a leash lest they get distracted and chase small animals!
The Tibetan Mastiff is known to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They are depicted with Himalayan cave drawings dated back thousands of years depicting large dogs that may have been their ancestors. These dogs were originally bred to be guardians of the home in those snowy mountains, so you can expect that they have that same watchful eye today. Their coats are extremely dense and thick, so expect to spend plenty of time grooming this breed should you welcome them into your home.
This capacity for guarding makes them more reserved and often wary of strangers, though their loyalty to their family is unmatched. This devotion makes them a great choice for a companion dog. They are quite in tune with their own emotions and those of their family. Their strong-willed nature means that you will need to show leadership in your training with them as early as you can.
These giant dogs will need a big space to live, with a nice, fenced-in yard to help them walk off energy in the afternoons. They’re not particularly high-energy dogs but will need exercise just like any other breed. Daily walks are a great way to help keep them satisfied, but it is important that you leash train them well early in their life if you don’t want to end up the one being walked!
Another dog hailing from Tibet is the Tibetan Terrier, bred to be companions for monks in the snowy mountains. These dogs are medium-sized and possess long, soft, double coats that keep them toasty even in cold weather. Because of their thick fur, they do require quite a bit of grooming and fur management in your home.
You should make it a point to socialize them early on to really bring out their bright personalities; Tibetan Terriers can be shy around new people, but really grow to love those they are familiar with. Once they’ve warmed up to you, they are very fun-loving dogs with a gentle disposition that lends itself well to therapy dog work.
Tibetan Terriers are happy living in smaller dwellings given their size; you’ll find that they’re not heavy on the barking, too. However, they will still need to be taken outside for playtime and walks as often as possible. They aren’t very active dogs, but still have a moderate amount of energy. You should as such give them 45 minutes of playtime and exercise every day. Try to add some variety into their routine, as this can help keep them entertained.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is certainly a unique dog, being the only breed known to have originated in Iceland. They were originally bred for protecting and herding flocks of sheep, though these days, their company is mostly enjoyed in the home.
They have a waterproof double coat that keeps them warm in the winters, making them an excellent choice for families who live in colder areas. While they’re not the most popular breed, this dog is a loyal and friendly companion. Again, due to their coats, expect to spend plenty of time grooming your pup to keep fur off your furniture and clothing.
They may bark when they see someone unfamiliar approaching their home, but Icelandic Sheepdogs are usually not wary of strangers. Instead, these dogs see every person that passes as a potential new friend. While this makes them a good fit for families even with young children, you should not have any birds in your home. This dog was bred to protect sheep from birds of prey, and as such will chase any feathered friend that shares their home.
Chow Chows are highly recognizable, with their regal lion-like appearance and blue-black tongues. They were originally bred to be companions in the cold, helping their humans in many different areas of life. These include herding, hunting, as well as pulling carts, and other vehicles.
Their protective nature makes them an excellent guardian of the home. They’re not exactly the friendliest dog, as they’re known to be very aloof. However, Chow Chows are happy in family homes even with children and other pets as long as they are socialized from puppyhood.
Chow Chows enjoy being the leader, which can make them pushy dogs. When training a Chow Chow, you should show enough authority to help them understand their place. Their stubborn nature can make training difficult, but you should press on with patience, firm guidance, and positive reinforcement. Chow Chows are not very energetic, so you don’t need to give them a lot of exercise for their satisfaction. Around 30 minutes a day should suffice, though you can take them out for more to prevent weight gain.
The Newfoundland comes from the Canadian island of the same name, though their specific history is a bit unclear. They have dense coats that serve them well in the winters. These coats are also waterproof, making the Newfoundland adept at working near or in the water.
They have long since been companions for fishermen and hunters; these days they are also very good at water rescue. Outside of work, they make splendid family pets with their gentle and loving temperament. Their patience makes them a good choice for families with children. They have a deep loyalty to their humans, making them great watchdogs.
These dogs are fairly active and will need a lot of exercise every day. It’s a great idea to bring them swimming whenever you can, especially in the summer months when it won’t be too hard to keep up with them at the lake! These dogs enjoy cold weather, so expect that they will always want to play even when it’s snowing.
German Shepherds are one of the more popular breeds in the world. They handle the cold very well thanks to their thick double coat. German Shepherds are also notorious shedders, due to their thick and dense coats. Expect to spend plenty of time grooming this pup during shedding seasons.
These dogs are diligent working dogs that take on a lot of different jobs in the modern day, from being guides and sniffers, as well as helping with search and rescue. Despite their work ethic, these dogs are also all about having a good time with their loved ones. They should be socialized early on to help them keep their calm in most situations; their confident demeanor may make them a bit intimidating.
German Shepherds are wonderfully smart dogs who always love keeping busy. It’s a good idea to give them entertainment whenever possible; toys, games, and activities all help keep their minds active and away from any destructive tendencies! This dog is also quite high-energy. They will require a lot of exercise each day. You can split a 60-minute daily walk into 30 minutes in the morning and the rest in the early evening.
Known as the Gentle Lion, the Leonberger is a giant dog with a heart of gold. They were originally bred in Germany around the mid 19th century. During breeding, the goal was to create a massive dog with long fur and a dense undercoat, while keeping a very gentle temperament. Their covering helps keep them happy and healthy in colder weather.
They are often loving and caring towards their family, though their large stature may pose a threat to the safety of your toddlers. Always supervise interactions with your children and larger dogs just to keep everyone playing nice. Leonbergers are known to be a bit stubborn when they aren’t trained properly. It’s a good idea to start training young when they are more receptive.
The Leonberger is an active dog who will need a good amount of daily exercise. Daily walks are always a good idea, though they also enjoy other activities such as agility trials, carting, and even herding. These dogs are also excellent at swimming and water rescue, so you should try to bring them out to any bodies of water when you can.
The Norwegian Elkhound has worn many hats over the centuries they’ve been around. They have been guardians of their owner’s territory, the keepers of their flock, as well as companions in the hunt. Their thick double coats certainly help them with their work ethic. Their coats are water and dirt-resistant, keeping them exceptionally warm even in the coldest Scandinavian winters.
These dogs tend to be wary of strangers. They will bark when someone unfamiliar is in their presence. Norwegian Elkhounds are brave and always willing to protect their family. This loyalty is a wonderful trait that offsets their natural independent nature. They like to establish dominance, and as such will need a leader who can teach them what they need to do with firm but patient guidance.
Norwegian Elkhounds enjoy strenuous exercise and will require a lot of it each day. Try to give them 60 minutes of intense exercise, whether it’s running alongside you as you bike, or sprinting after a ball in the park. This helps calm them down for a nice leisurely walk that can end your session for that day. Also, try to give this dog a large yard they can run around in to help burn off anxiety and stress.
Another dog hailing from Scandinavia is the Finnish Lapphund. They’re not well-known in other parts of the world but have achieved renown in places like Norway, Sweden, and their native Finland. These dogs were bred to herd reindeer; this often entailed working in freezing temperatures.
Finnish Lapphunds have thick, long double coats that keep them toasty even in harsh conditions. Beyond their work, they make for loving family companions. They are submissive dogs who are always eager to please their owners. However, this devotion to their family can make it difficult to leave a Finnish Lapphund alone. They easily develop separation anxiety and may display destructive behaviors when they get too lonely.
Since the Finnish Lapphund is happiest when it is able to herd, you can expect that they will need a wide, open space where they can get a lot of exercise. It’s important that they’re not kept indoors too long, especially in smaller dwellings like apartments. These dogs require a lot of time for walks and other fun activities. Playing fetch, training sessions, and agility trials are all good choices for helping satisfy your Finnish Lapphund’s need for playtime.
The Anatolian Shepherd has a name that may be confusing. They weren’t bred to herd, but instead to serve as a protector of their flocks. They have a double coat that sheds in the spring and summer months but stays thick in the winter to keep them warm even in freezing conditions. While they make excellent protectors, they’re not really suited for family life.
They’re better off in smaller families without children, as they don’t regard children as able to lead them. These dogs are both highly independent and loyal. They do better with an owner who is firm in their leadership. They need proper socialization from early on in their life to help keep them better adjusted in their adulthood. Without this socialization, they are prone to aggression towards strangers.
Anatolian Shepherds need ample amounts of exercise, as they are a fairly energetic breed. Since they are so used to patrolling around their flock or herd, they won’t be happy staying indoors for too long. They will need a large, fenced-in yard to play in, so they can burn off any excess energy and frustration. Taking them out for long, regular walks on top of their yard time will help keep them happy and healthy.
The Great Pyrenees was bred on and around the Pyrenees Mountains. They are a very ancient breed, with some of their ancestors thought to have been around some 11,000 years ago! These dogs have very thick double coats that work wonders in harsh winters, though they will need a good bit of maintenance. These pups shed a lot!
The Great Pyrenees is thought to have its origins as a shepherd’s dog. While many of them still have this role today, in the modern era, you’re more likely to see them hanging out with their family. They are fantastic companion animals with sweet dispositions that allow them to get along well with children. However, owners should take care to train them well at a consistent rate. Great Pyres are intelligent but are often more inclined to do their own thing.
Keeping a Great Pyre can be challenging. You will need to provide them with a lot of space that they can roam around in, making sure that your fences are high. Great Pyrenees have no trouble leaping over fences that are short enough to accommodate their impressive jump height. Beyond this, they will love navigating rough terrain with you on hikes, especially in the winter months. Try to give them daily walks of around 30 minutes each day. They aren’t particularly active but enjoy playtime a lot. Toys and games will work well in keeping them happy.
Another dog from the Pyrenees Mountains is the Pyrenean Mastiff. They are absolutely huge dogs, standing at around 30 inches at the withers, often weighing up to 180 lbs! Their dense and fluffy double coats keep them safe in the winters. They also shed excessively, so as with other breeds on this list, be prepared to groom them regularly.
They were bred around 800 years ago to answer the need for a good livestock guardian, as well as to be the shepherd’s companion. Pyrenean Mastiffs are a good choice for a family dog. They aren’t as affectionate as a lot of other dogs on this list, so keep that in mind. They get along well with children, though you should ensure your kids respect their personal space. Given their more independent nature and gargantuan size, obedience training must be done as early as possible.
Leash training is particularly important given the size of this dog, so be sure to stay on top of it from puppyhood. Your Pyrenean Mastiff will enjoy taking long walks with you. But, it will be hard to control them if they aren’t well behaved! Aside from the need to stretch their legs, Pyrenean Mastiffs aren’t particularly interested in strenuous activity. More consistent, but slower-paced exercise is good for them.
The Karakachan, also known as the Bulgarian Shepherd, is a large dog with a heart to match. They were bred by nomadic shepherds who settled in Bulgaria and Greece, with the need for a dog who could help protect their flocks. Their dense undercoats are essential to keep them warm in cold temperatures– especially on nights when they are guarding sheep. Their sense of duty can make them excellent guardians of the home, as they are wary towards strangers.
However, they have a deep loyalty to their families and will often be very sweet and patient to the members of their pack. You can lessen aggressive tendencies by socializing them from puppyhood. Try not to keep your Karakachan in smaller areas like apartment complexes. They need large, open spaces where they can roam. Beyond this, they can also be quite noisy given how alert they are.
You will need to give them at least 60 minutes of more strenuous activity each day. This can be in the form of a brisk walk, hiking, as well as playing fetch. If you’re lucky enough to have a farm with a flock of sheep, they will take to guarding and herding them perfectly well.
The Keeshond has a silhouette similar to their ancestor, the Samoyed. They are another dog who does fantastically in the snow, thanks to their bushy outer coats and dense undercoats. You’ll find that keeping a Keeshond in your family will change it for the better.
These dogs love to be at the center of attention and will always do their best to return that attention with love for their humans. They are deeply loyal to their family and make good watchdogs when trained properly. They are easy enough to train given that they are quite smart, but be warned that they have a talent for mischief! The early you train them, the easier it is to keep them well-behaved.
Keeshonds were bred to be companions on boats, and as such are fine living life in smaller places. This makes them a great fit for apartments, though it’s always a good idea to bring your Keeshond out whenever you can for their exercise. They are quite active and will require a lot of activity each day to tire them out– 60 minutes of walking and playtime. Otherwise, their mischief can spiral and turn into more destructive behaviors. On the flip side, they may just become a little crazier and start spinning in circles to burn off that extra energy!
Another flock protector is the Komondor, originating in Hungary. These dogs may look like nothing more than big balls of fluff, but they have a strong temperament that makes them capable guardians of the farm and the home. Their thick, shaggy coats help keep them warm even in the harshest of winters, though it needs a good deal of maintenance.
It may be hard to rein this dog in if it’s not done early enough, but the benefits are incredible. They have a strong loyalty to their human family and will do whatever is necessary to keep them safe. Socialization from early on is important if you want them to be more trusting of new people and animals. A properly trained Komondor is very happy to relax with their family as they are showered with affection.
Komondors are happiest when they live in rural areas with a lot of land to explore. The more to guard, the better! However, owners should take care not to give them too much leeway, as well as to secure the perimeter fence. Komondors can easily jump fences in an attempt to widen their patrol area. Because of their stubborn demeanor, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners.
The Kuvasz hails from Hungary. This dog was bred to be the steadfast protector of all the animals on the farm, from sheep to cattle and horses. They are covered in dense, white fur that helps to differentiate them from wolves that may harm their flock.
Their fur is also double-coated, which keeps them protected from bitter winter temperatures. These dogs are good at their jobs, being fearless in the face of danger. This makes them suitable as guard dogs for the home, as well. It’s a good idea to take a Kuvasz in only when you’ve previously owned a dog. They have strong instincts and tend to be independent; they will need a competent leader to help them behave.
Take special care to leash train them when they are young. These big dogs grow up to 30 inches in height and around 120 pounds in weight, making walking them difficult if they aren’t well-behaved. Exercise is essential to their happiness, as they are an active breed built for working. Give them around 60 minutes of exercise each day, taking care to give them variety in their activities. This helps to keep destructive tendencies at bay.
Also known as the Russian Bear Dog, the Caucasian Shepherd actually goes by a few different dog names. These massive dogs originated in Caucasus Mountain range. It’s not uncommon to find a Caucasian Shepherd that’s over 150 pounds, and some dogs actually grow to north of 200 pounds. Their dense, fluffy coats make them look even bigger than they are.
As with all thicker coated dog breeds, these pups will need regular grooming. They have a more laid-back temperament than other working breeds, but will still have more energy than a Mastiff, or Great Dane. These pups need a larger home and yard not only due to their size but also to accommodate their roaming guardian instincts.
This breed will require a very dedicated family. They are extremely headstrong and very independent. Caucasian Shepherds need a firm owner that’s experienced in managing hard-headed dogs. They are best in a single-dog household and don’t always mesh well with other dogs (especially males).
Living in a place with a colder climate does not necessarily have to be a cold experience when you have a loving canine companion to keep you warm. Each breed we have featured has unique traits that set them apart from other breeds. Each breed in this list will be sturdy in the face of freezing temperatures.
Whether you need a working buddy to help you complete difficult tasks in the snow, or simply a family pet who can make you happy, there’s certainly a frost-loving furry friend that suits your needs. It’s important that you know how best to approach their care so they can make many happy memories with you throughout their long and healthy lives. While taking care of your snow dog may be difficult work, their fuzzy hugs will always be enough to melt the ice of a dreary day.