The Best Snow Dog Breeds

Sledding, skiing, building snow forts — the list of cold-weather outdoor activities contains many pursuits you can enjoy with your friends and family. Ready to add a dog to the winter fun? Look for a dog bred with characteristics ideal for time in the snow. The following dog breeds are known for their love of cold weather; however, the American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that just because a dog was bred to endure chilly temperatures, it is not safe to leave him outdoors on cold days.

The name “Malamute” comes from the Alaskan Inuit tribe Mahlemiut, which developed this breed as an Arctic sled dog. In fact, the breed is the oldest and largest of sled dog breeds, and because of his bigger size, the Alaskan Malamute hauls heavier loads in the snow at a slower pace over long distances.

Though gentle and calm the majority of the time, the Great Pyrenees shows the protective traits he was bred for when he senses a threat. This dog, with his considerable strength and thick coat, originally guarded sheep from wolves and other predators in the snowy Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.

From his past as a watchdog and companion on Dutch canal barges, the Keeshond developed an abundant coat ideally suited to keep him warm in snow and frigid temperatures. The breed was — and is — so beloved in his homeland that he is still featured as a symbol of Dutch patriotism.

The large, friendly Newfoundland worked with Canadian fishermen on board their boats, and his natural swimming skills helped him make life-saving water rescues. Because he was bred to work in icy waters, the Newfoundland’s heavy coat continues to help him stay warm in cold and snowy weather.

An ancient breed that originated in Scandinavia, the Norwegian Elkhound was a companion, herder and hunting dog for Vikings.Today, the dog breed’s thick coat and hardy body make him feel at home in snow and chilly temperatures.

Did you know that this breed actually takes his name from a monk named Bernard?Starting around the year 1050, Bernard of Menthon and the other monks that lived at a pass in the Swiss Alps bred this dog’s ancestors to locate travelers lost in snowstorms. The large, powerful Saint Bernard retains the thick coat that makes him an ideal snowy weather dog.

This breed originated in northeast Asia. Well-known for his sled dog abilities in the snow and historic races across the frozen Alaskan terrain, the Siberian Husky is biologically conditioned to survive in freezing temperatures due in part to his thick coat.

One of the original guard dogs, this breed protected the isolated homesteads of the Himalayas, roaming the property and guarding the families.The freezing temperatures of the Himalayan Mountains helped the Tibetan Mastiff develop its massive double coat, one of the characteristics that help the dog withstand the snow and cold weather.

The “Holy Dog of Tibet” has long been associated with Buddhist monasteries, where the dog served as a protector and beloved companion. The breed’s long, double coat and large, flat feet are ideally suited to snowy terrain.

Live in a hot and muggy southern state like Florida? These are not the best dog breeds for you. Err on the safe side by keeping them in air conditioning when it’s really hot and muggy. Watch out for heat-stroke symptoms, especially when these breeds are puppies or seniors or when there’s a sudden fluctuation in temperature that doesn’t allow the dog to acclimate.


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