One of the beautiful things about the canine kingdom is that it’s full of dogs with varying characteristics and traits. They vary based on their coats, their personalities, and their energy needs. But did you know some pups really prefer the cold weather over warmer climates? In fact, they were built to sustain the cold weather.
These pups thrive in cold and snowy regions and hold multiple jobs, from sled dogs to search-and-rescue pups that seek out wayward travelers. In years past, these pups were used to keep their humans warm during camping and trekking expeditions.
Today, these snow dog breeds are still very much in demand, and if you live in a cold climate, you might be looking for your perfect furry friend.
Snow Dogs Breeds
While a select few might come to mind, there are actually more than a dozen snow-loving dog breeds that enjoy a cold climate. Let’s take a look at the most popular.
1. German Shepherd
A real workhorse, the German Shepherd has found itself a much sought-after breed for police, military, and security work. However, its thick coat also makes it a wonderful candidate for snow work, such as tracking down people who have gone missing.
The breed is very loyal, loving, and devoted — both to its people and the job at hand! However, this is not one pup you want to leave out in extreme temperatures for too long.
Have you ever seen a White German Shepherd frolicking in the snow? Now you see it, now you don’t!
2. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is one of those pups that just laps up the snow. This affectionate pup, known as the most popular dog breed, will literally run out the door, dive into a pile, and try its best to create a snow dog angel… ask me how I know!
They even like to play fetch with snowballs, though it doesn’t always work out that well.
On the plus side, during the winter, this is a great way to exercise your labs. Just be sure to have a towel ready when they come in to avoid tracking snow all throughout your home.
If you’re looking for a regal pup that loves the snow, the Akita is happy to oblige! This ancient breed originated from Japan, where it once served the Imperial family. It was a watchdog and hunted in the mountainous regions of Japan. Today, it’s happy as a pet, though it still retains its cold-weather hunting instincts.
The Akita has a dense undercoat that helps keep it warm in the colder weather. The rough outer coat helps to prevent the snow from seeping into its skin, and its webbed toes help it maintain its balance. As far as its personality, the Akita is known for its stubborn streak but is very loyal to its family.
4. American Eskimo Dog
The American Eskimo Dog is a giant bundle of white floof that you can tell is built for cold climates. Its thicker coat resists water and it has thicker ears that help it maintain warmth.
You’ll need to keep your American Eskimo Dog well exercised, lest it find a way to keep itself busy. The good news is these snow dog breeds are extremely intelligent and take to training very easily, especially if you support it with positive reinforcement.
With the right attention to its needs, this snow dog can also be a great family pet.
5. Tibetan Terrier
Possibly one of the cutest on this list (shh, don’t tell the others), the Tibetan Terrier is originally from where else? Tibet. They are built to withstand the colder climate and temperatures, with a double coat that safeguards them against the chill. Even more unique, their large feet are flat and round to help them navigate the terrain better.
If you’re looking for a pup to lounge around, believe it or not, the Tibetan Terrier is one of the snow dog breeds that will be more than happy to cuddle up after a long day’s work. They were originally used in monasteries to provide protection, and they also make excellent herding dogs.
6. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a thing of beauty with its gorgeous tricolor coat and its oh-so-sweet face. This dog breed has a very thick coat that keeps it warm, and it’s more than happy to romp in the snow … for hours. And hours. It would stay outside all day if you let it.
However, indoors, Bernese Mountain Dogs are sweet family pets who love their people and are content to laze about. In fact, they don’t need a ton of exercise. They can thrive with just 30 minutes of movement a day.
7. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Commonly referred to as “the poor man’s horse,” the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was put to work in the World War II era as a draft dog, one that pulled carts and even sleds when necessary. This pup looks like the Bernese Mountain Dog, but its coat is shorter yet no less protective.
This breed still has the strength necessary to carry out all of the above tasks, but it also fits well in many different households with its gentleness. Plus, it doesn’t have extreme exercise needs, which is always a plus.
8. Saint Bernard
Did someone call for a gentle giant? The Saint Bernard originated in Switzerland, where it was originally bred to help track down helpless travelers who got lost in the Swiss Alps. The Saint Bernard is more than able to withstand cold temperatures thanks to its thick double coat and can trek for miles in deep snow to help those who need it most.
Those who own Saint Bernards know they don’t require much activity at all, a moderate 30 minutes per day will keep Saint Bernards satisfied. Then, you can curl up with this lovable beast and pray it doesn’t drool all over you while you do.
9. Alaskan Malamute
This is one of the American dog breeds that hails from Alaska and is, thus, accustomed to cold climates. Alaskan Malamutes have a storied history that dates back to freighting in the Alaskan tundras and is the oldest of the sled dog breeds. It was originally bred by the Mahlemiut Inuit tribe.
The Alaskan Malamute is often compared to the Husky, but it is both larger and stronger, which helps with dog sledding. However, the Alaskan Malamute doesn’t need as much exercise. This breed is also not a pack dog, like Huskies are, and prefers its own company.
10. Great Pyrenees
Gentle and intelligent, the Great Pyrenees is another snow dog breed that warrants a closer look. Its gorgeous coat blends in with the snow, and it looks regal while doing so. They are very sweet dogs that love their families, but they also are real workhorses.
You could once find the Great Pyrenees in the mountainous region between Spain and France, where they were bred to guard livestock, something they still very much do. They have thick coats that help them weather the climate, and they are a great cold-weather companion, as well.
11. Norwegian Elkhound
One of the Hound dog breeds, the Norwegian Elkhound, has Nordic traits. It hails from Scandinavia and is actually an ancient breed — it dates back 6,000 years! — that was used to hunt in the snowy weather region. It has a smooth overcoat, and its undercoat is wooly, no doubt to keep it warm while it trots through the snow.
A protective sort, the Norwegian Elkhound is also very agile and has the endurance to see out tasks to completion. It looks like a cross between a German Shepherd and a wolf but with a rounder face.
Training your Norwegian Elkhound is a must, and I highly recommend that inexperienced dog owners pass on this breed because they can be high maintenance with their intelligence and exercise needs.
The Keeshond is a giant, fluffy, teddy-bear-looking, snow-loving dog that you just can’t help but admire for its looks right off the bat. Even better? Their personalities are just as stunning as their appearance.
The Keeshond has an immense double coat that provides significant protection against the cold, and it comes in a black-and-white, salt and pepper look. It used to serve as a riverboat watchdog in Holland.
If you own a Keeshond, be prepared to be loved… a lot. This great cold-weather breed is so affectionate and is a companion dog to its core.
One of the mountain dog breeds, it is a working dog that traveled with fishermen, carrying out water rescues in freezing temperatures. Its coarse coat provided it with much protection against icy waters.
Surprisingly, the Newfoundland, while built for endurance, can be a lazy sort. It even makes a great house pet for families with children, thanks to its seemingly endless patience.
14. Siberian Husky
One of the most popular types of Huskies, if not the most noteworthy, the Siberian Husky is the ultimate in Arctic sled dogs. It comes from Northeast Asia around the Siberia region and appears to be a leaner, more vocal version of the Malamute.
This snow dog breed is well known for its energy and endurance, which it uses to pull sleds long distances.
The Siberian Husky is, like the Samoyed, a very vocal breed and comes off as very intense. If you own a Siberian Husky, you’re sure to notice their high intelligence and friendliness, which also makes them a good pet — but be sure to exercise them regularly!
One of the most well-known sled dog breeds, the Samoyed is a friendly-looking dog with the coined Samoyed smile that earned the breed the nickname “Smiling Sammies.”
Originally bred in the Arctic, Siberia technically, where they were used for herding reindeer and hauling sleds, there’s no doubting the Samoyed thrives in the cold. A thick double white coat keeps the Samoyed warm, and it prefers to be outdoors.
Samoyeds as pets are best kept busy with playing in the snow, playing fetch, or running around enjoying outdoor adventures. One thing you must know about a Samoyed is that it’s very vocal, so you will either need to implement some good training or, at the very least, live somewhere where the neighbors won’t complain.
Should You Consider Getting a Snow Dog?
Like most other dog breeds, not all dogs on this list are for everyone, so if you’re considering adopting one of these pups to be your next pet pal, let’s make sure they fit in your lifestyle.
Ideally, you want to live in a cooler climate. Florida, for example, is not a great place for many of the pups on our list to live, though there are some notable exceptions that do well in warmer weather, such as the Lab. Living north, where there’s an abundance of snow and cooler weather, is your best bet.
Second, these pups tend to be very active. Do you have the means to sustain their high energy levels? If not, it’s a good idea to get one more suited to your lifestyle.
What Characteristics Do Snow Dogs Share in Common?
The most common characteristics snow dog breeds have in common center on their physical traits. They have snow-repelling fur and dense double-thick coats that help them stay warm and keep them protected from the elements.
Many, but not all, have a curved fluffy tail that wraps around their bodies to shelter from the wind and cold. Small ears are common in some of the snow dog breeds to help prevent frostbite, as are wide paws.
Do Dog Breeds That Enjoy Snow Have To Work?
Most of the cold-weather dog breeds listed here do need jobs because they are very high-energy pups that thrive when kept busy. They were originally bred to work and never lose those instincts, so if you don’t give them a task, they will find their own, and you might not like it.
How Much Exercise Do Cold-Weather Dogs Require?
This truly depends on the breed. While all of the pups on this list need exercise, the duration varies from around 30 minutes for a Saint Bernard or Newfoundland to up to 2 hours per day for a Husky and Samoyed.
What Temperature Is Too Low for a Breed of Snow Dog To Be Outside?
Even though these are dog breeds that love the snow, they are still susceptible to the harsh temperatures. However, snow dog breeds tend to be more resilient. In fact, the Siberian Husky, known for carting sleds through extreme temperatures, can stay warm and stand temperatures even as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit, but they have to be acclimated to it.
If your pup is an indoor dog to start, they will not be up to those temperatures and could be subject to frostbite and hypothermia. Experts say to prevent prolonged exposure to the outdoors when temperatures reach 20 degrees or below.
There’s no doubt that all of the dogs on this list are stunning creatures. However, it’s a good idea to delve into their personality traits and their energy needs before you consider adopting one. That said, even though they’re cold-weather breeds, that doesn’t mean they can live solely outside.
If they are destined to be outdoor-only dog, make sure you have a covered surface, preferably heated, for them to escape to when the conditions become extreme.