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With the winter season well upon us, there's no better time to look at some of the most winter-friendly dog breeds. Here are 20 different dogs and what makes them such a good fit for the snow and cold weather.
The Akita was bred to be a royal breed in Japan, originally used for tracking and hunting in cold areas. Their thick fur keeps them warm in the winter, thanks to its dense undercoat and tough outer coat.
The Alaskan Malamute is known as the largest and oldest of the arctic sled dogs. Similar to the Siberian husky in looks, the Alaskan Malamute actually has a heavier, coarser, longer coat that keeps them warm. Unsurprisingly, they are native to Alaska.
The American Eskimo Dog is a smaller cold-weather breed. They have a thick, fluffy white coat, fur-covered ears and a mane around the neck. Their coat not only keeps them warm, but also keeps them dry by whisking away moisture. This breed actually originated in Germany and was called the White German Spitz, but was renamed after World War II.
The Anatolian Shepherd originated in Central Anatolia, Turkey, where winters are harsh and very cold. Their coat is only about an inch long but has a thick undercoat. Given their rugged and tough nature, this breed is made for the mountains.
Unsurprisingly, the Belgian Sheepdog originated in Belgium as a herding dog. They have a double coat with a long, harsh topcoat and a soft, thick undercoat. Their head, ears and leg fronts have a short coat while the rest of the body has long fur. All of this helps keep them warm in colder temperatures.
The Berger Blanc Suisse was bred from the white-coat line of the German Shepherd Dog. They have a medium-length double coat, with a short and fine undercoat and a dense, harsh outer coat. Their fur helps keep them warm in the winter and they tend to love the snow and colder weather.
The Bernese Mountain Dog was originally bred for the mountains in Switzerland. They have a moderately long and thick double-layered coat that helps them tolerate the cold. Their double coat is woolly on the underside with a long, wavy topcoat. They love the outdoors, especially during the colder months.
Chow Chows have a thick, puffy, woolly coat that makes them very tolerant of the cold. They have two coat variations: rough and smooth. The rough-coated Chow Chow has a thick over coat and a soft, dense undercoat as well as thick fur around their head, neck and tail. Smooth-coated Chow Chows have a thick outer coat but no ruff or feathering. Both coats, however, keep each type of Chow warm in cold weather.
German Shepherds have a double coat that evolved to protect them from rain and snow. Most have medium-length coats that are straight but some have longer coats or wavy and wiry fur. Because of their double coat, German Shepherds tend do quite well in cold weather.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog was originally bred in the Swiss Alps as a draft dog for farmers, herdsmen and merchants. They have a double coat, with a dense outer coat, one to two inches long, and a thick undercoat. Their top coat can be short, straight and fine or long, wavy and coarse. Either way, their double coat provides sufficient insulation in cold temperatures.
The Great Pyrenees is a very old, winter-loving breed that originated around the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France and Northern Spain. They have a weather-resistant double coat that helps them tolerate cold temperatures. Their over coat is long, flat, thick and full of course hair while the undercoat is dense, fine and woolly. The double coat is even thicker around the neck and shoulders, creating a mane that's more pronounced in males than females. To help help insulate them, the backs of their legs are feathered and they have a long, plumed tail.
The Keeshond is another smaller-sized cold-weather dog breed. They have a double-layered coat consisting of a thick topcoat and a down-like undercoat. The two layers work together to help keep the Keeshond warm, which is especially important given its size. This same coat helped insulate them when they were originally serving as watchdogs on riverboats in Holland.
Leonbergers are well prepared for snow and cold temperatures. They have a water-resistant double coat on their bodies and shorter, fine hair on their muzzle and legs. The topcoat is long, durable and thick, while their undercoat is shorter and fluffier. They have long hair behind their ears, on the back of their legs and on their tail. In addition, Male Leonbergers have a mane made of long fur around their head and neck.
Newfoundlands are large dog breeds with thick fur and hefty bodies, which allow them to tolerate extremely cold weather. They have a fluffy, thick, water-resistant double coat with a long, course topcoat and a dense undercoat. Historically, the Newfoundland's heavy coat protected it in cold and icy water when hauling in fish and rescuing people. Today, it allows them to thoroughly enjoy winter and cold weather.
The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient breed from Scandinavia, bred to hunt in the colder climate. Their double coat is thick and weather-resistant, keeping them warm and dry during winter and cold weather. The topcoat is short and thick, while their undercoat is dense, soft and woolly. This makes them great cold weather companions.
The St. Bernard originated in the western Alps of Italy and Switzerland with a variety of tasks, including rescuing people trapped in the mountain snow. They have a double-coat that falls into one of two categories: short and long. St. Bernards with short coats have dense and smooth body fur, long and dense fur on the tail, and bushier fur on the thighs. Those with long coats have wavy fur with feathering on the legs and a thick, bushy tail. Either way, the St. Bernard is well equipped to tolerate cold weather.
The Samoyed originates from Siberia and was originally bred for hunting, herding reindeer, and hauling sledges. They have a dense double-coat that helps them tolerate the cold. The undercoat is short, soft and thick with fur growing out to the topcoat. The topcoat is long and coarse and keeps the undercoat relatively clean. Samoyeds also have a mane of long fur around the neck and shoulders as well as a bushy, long-haired tail. These two coats combine to keep them warm in the cold.
The Shiba Inu is another smaller cold-weather breed. Originally bred in Japan for hunting, these dogs do well in cold climates and mountainous terrain. They have a double-coat that's comprised of a thick, soft undercoat and a stiff, straight topcoat. However, the fur on their body, face, ears and legs is actually quite short. But their double-coat keeps them warm and allows them to enjoy the winter weather and snow.
Perhaps the most famous of cold weather dogs is the Siberian Husky. They were originally bred in Siberia as working sled dogs, meant to haul goods over long distances in cold climates. They have a thick, medium-length double-coat with a straight topcoat and a dense, short undercoat. The Siberian Husky's double-coat helps insulate them, while also maintaining their sleek and agile look.
The Tibetan Terrier is another smaller breed on the list. They were originally bred as guard dogs in the snowy mountains of Tibet (unsurprisingly), thus are built to tolerate extreme cold weather and terrain. They have a double-coat made of a thick, long over coat and a soft, woolly undercoat. And their large, flat, round paws act like snow shoes, providing traction in the snow.