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Top 10 Dog Breeds for Cold Weather

When winter winds whistle through the eaves, and snow blankets the ground in a frosty shimmer, the companionship of a dog suited to such icy environs becomes not just enjoyable but essential. For residents of cold climates, selecting a dog breed that thrives in frosty weather is crucial. Such dogs not only endure but relish the chill of a winter’s day, thanks to their unique physical and behavioral traits.

In this guide, discover the ideal characteristics to look for in a canine companion destined to share in the delights and challenges of life in a cold climate. Each breed mentioned not only possesses these qualities but also exemplifies them, ensuring that they are as content in a snowdrift as they are beside a crackling fire.

Traits & Characteristics Ideal for Cold Weather

To flourish in cold climates, certain dog breeds exhibit a combination of traits tailored to low temperatures, rigorous activities, and varying daylight hours. Here are some key characteristics that make some breeds particularly well-suited for colder regions:

  • Thick, Double-layered Coat: This is perhaps the most critical trait. The outer layer repels snow and ice, while the dense undercoat provides insulation against the cold. Breeds like the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute sport such coats, enabling them to endure even the harshest winter.
  • Compact, Strong Build: A robust body helps conserve heat. Dogs that are stocky and muscular, such as the Saint Bernard or Newfoundland, maintain their body temperature more efficiently in cold weather.
  • Dark-colored Eyes and Skin: Dark eyes and skin absorb solar radiation more effectively, offering an added warmth advantage on sunny winter days.
  • High Energy and Endurance: Dogs in cold climates need the stamina to trek through deep snow. Breeds with high energy levels and endurance are natural fits for active, outdoor lifestyles in cold settings.
  • Snowshoe-like Paws: Wide, large paws function like snowshoes, distributing the dog’s weight more evenly on snow and ice. The Samoyed, with its large, fluffy paws, is a prime example.
  • Good-natured and Adaptable Temperament: Cold weather often means spending more time indoors during extreme conditions. Breeds that are easygoing and can adapt to both indoor and outdoor environments make excellent cold-weather companions.
  • Strong Predatory Instincts: In snowy landscapes, a strong hunting drive can be beneficial. Breeds like the Akita have retained this trait, making them keen and alert even in snowbound territories.

Our Top 10

For those who live in regions where the mercury dips sharply and the snow falls thickly, choosing a dog breed that not only tolerates but thrives in such frosty conditions is essential. The right breed can embrace the wintry outdoors with vigor and provide loyal companionship through the chilliest months. From the rugged highlands of Japan to the snowy expanses of Siberia, these 10 dog breeds have evolved not just to survive but to flourish in cold weather. Each breed brings a unique set of traits that make them particularly adept at handling the cold—from thick, insulating coats to robust energy levels suited for active winter adventures. Here are 10 exceptional dog breeds that are perfect for cold climates, each with a rich heritage and a love for the cooler side of life.

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky in the snow

The Siberian Husky is a breed that epitomizes endurance and resilience in harsh winter environments. Originating in Northeast Asia, this breed was developed by the Chukchi people, primarily for sled pulling across expansive icy terrains. They possess a thick double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a longer, coarser topcoat, which effectively insulates them against sub-zero temperatures. Their almond-shaped, often blue or multicolored eyes not only give them a striking appearance but are also adapted to reflect glare from snowy surfaces, enhancing their vision in bright winter conditions. Energetic and agile, Huskies are also known for their friendly and gentle temperament, making them excellent companions, especially in active, outdoor-oriented families.

Alaskan Malamute

Another iconic sled dog, the Alaskan Malamute is built for strength and endurance. With origins tied to the Arctic’s indigenous peoples, these dogs were designed to haul heavy loads over long distances. Unlike the Siberian Husky, Malamutes are larger and more robust, with a powerful musculature that enables them to work in deep snow and harsh conditions. Their coat, which is thick, coarse, and designed to repel snow and ice, provides superb insulation. Malamutes have a friendly and sociable nature but can show a more independent streak, stemming from their historical role as survival partners in extreme conditions. Their loyalty and protective instincts make them not just workers but integral members of their human families.


Newfoundland dog

Known for their giant size and immense strength, Newfoundlands are exceptionally well-suited to cold climates thanks to their water-resistant double coat, which keeps them warm even when wet. Originally bred as working dogs for fishermen in the Dominion of Newfoundland (now part of Canada), they are not only powerful but also possess excellent swimming abilities, often rescuing people from icy waters. Their thick undercoat provides insulation, while the outer coat repels water and snow. Newfoundlands are known for their gentle and patient demeanor, which makes them excellent family pets, particularly adept at interacting with children.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard

Originating from the Swiss and Italian Alps, the Saint Bernard is famous for its role in mountain rescue, its origins dating back to the hospice at the Great St Bernard Pass as a working dog for the monks. They are equipped with a dense, water-resistant coat that provides warmth in extreme cold. The breed has a powerful, muscular build that helps it move through deep snow and navigate rugged terrain easily. Historically used to locate and save lost travelers, Saint Bernards have a keen sense of smell and a natural ability to navigate through adverse weather conditions. Their calm and friendly temperament makes them a dependable companion in both rescue efforts and home environments.


With their stunning white coat and smiling expression, Samoyeds are not just beautiful but also incredibly functional in cold environments. Originating from Siberia, they were bred by the Samoyedic peoples to herd reindeer and pull sleds. Their dense, double-layer coat acts as an excellent insulator, and their characteristic “Samoyed smile” prevents drooling, which in turn prevents icicles from forming on the face. Physically, they are strong and agile, with a history that includes hunting, herding, and pulling sleds, making them versatile working dogs. The Samoyed’s friendly disposition, combined with its tolerance for cold, makes it an excellent family dog for active households in chilly regions.



The Akita is a noble breed from Japan, originally used for hunting bears in the snowy, rugged terrains of the Akita prefecture. They have a double coat—soft and dense underneath with a harsh, straight outer coat—that provides excellent insulation against severe cold. Akitas are large and powerful, with a strong-willed and courageous temperament that makes them effective guard dogs as well as loyal family members. Their somewhat aloof demeanor with strangers and protective nature makes early socialization essential. This breed’s physical strength and mental resilience make it well-suited for living in harsh climates.

Norwegian Elkhound

As one of the ancient Northern dog breeds, the Norwegian Elkhound has been used for centuries to hunt large game, such as moose and bear, in the cold Scandinavian forests. Their thick, weather-resistant coat provides superb protection against the cold and moisture. Norwegian Elkhounds are compact and athletic, with a high level of energy suited for long days in the wilderness. They are known for their bravery, independence, and the strong bond they form with their owners, making them excellent companions for active outdoor enthusiasts.


Originally known as a barge dog in Holland, the Keeshond is equipped with a very dense double coat, consisting of a thick undercoat and a longer guard coat, that provides outstanding insulation. This breed is particularly known for its distinctive “spectacles” — markings and shading around their eyes that give the appearance of glasses. Keeshonds are agile, sturdy, and very quick learners, making them easy to train. They are known for their friendly and outgoing nature, which makes them great family pets and cheerful companions in colder weather.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff outside

Bred by nomadic cultures of Tibet, China, Nepal, and India, the Tibetan Mastiff is used to guarding herds, camps, and monasteries at high altitudes. They have an immense double coat that protects them from the extreme cold and harsh winds typical in mountainous regions. This breed is known for its impressive size, protective instincts, and independent nature. Tibetan Mastiffs are typically nocturnal, which suited their traditional role as guardians. They require a firm, experienced hand in training and are best suited to homes with large, secure yards.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog

Originating from the Swiss Alps, the Bernese Mountain Dog was used as a draft dog and a general farm dog. Their long, silky double coat keeps them warm in icy conditions, though it requires regular maintenance to keep it in good condition. They are large, strong, and capable of heavy pulling, which made them invaluable in their traditional roles on farms. Known for their gentle and affectionate nature, Bernese Mountain Dogs are excellent family pets who thrive in a cold climate where they can participate in outdoor activities year-round. Their calm and patient demeanor makes them particularly good with children, solidifying their role as cherished companions in many households.


Choosing a dog breed that thrives in cold climates goes beyond personal preference; it demands consideration of the dog’s physical capabilities and behavioral traits. Breeds equipped with the aforementioned characteristics are not just surviving in the cold – they are thriving, bringing joy and companionship to their human counterparts in the winter wonderlands. Whether pulling a sled, guarding a homestead, or curling up at your feet, these breeds embody resilience and warmth, no matter the temperature outside.