The best cold weather dogs thrive when the temperature drops. “Breeds with thicker coats are typically derived from colder climate areas and will have a higher tolerance for low temperatures,” says Zay Satchu, DVM and founder of Bond Vet in Brooklyn, New York.
Whether you’re looking to dash through the snow or simply live in a climate where your daily walks could be pretty darn frigid, these cold weather dog breeds are excellent companions.
Alaskan Malamutes were originally bred by the Mahlemiut Inuit tribe to help haul heavy loads through snowy territory. These athletic dogs have a double coat of fur, meaning they have lots of built-in insulation for playing in winter wonderlands. Weighing in at 75 to 85 pounds, their large size means they’re ready to be put to work pulling sleds, making Alaskan malamutes the perfect addition to a family who loves winter sports.
Named for the Pyrenese Mountains where they were originally bred, Great Pyrenees are snow white dogs known for their strength and size. Full-grown Great Pyrenees dogs can weigh between 85 pounds and 100+ pounds. Their double coat insulates them from the cold, though it can also shed around your home (frequent brushing helps minimize this). Their sheep-herding roots mean they’re calm and collected, but also require lots of space to roam, making them ideal for outdoor adventures in cold climates.
Saint Bernards earned their saintly name by rescuing pilgrims traveling to Rome via the St. Bernard Pass, a treacherous part of the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. Their warm coats make them an excellent cold weather dog breed for outdoor adventures. They are the largest dogs on our list, weighing between 120 to 180 pounds, but their size is matched only by their loyalty to their lucky owners.
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Borzois, originally known as Russian wolfhounds, were bred by the Russian aristocracy for their speed in hunting wolves in frigid temperatures. With their long, silky fur and even longer legs, these elegant cold weather dogs love running and playing in the snow, making them perfect companions on hikes and runs.
Scottish Terriers, or Scotties, are originally from the Scottish Highlands. These low-allergen dogs have a soft undercoat and a wiry overcoat that insulates them from the cold. Scotties are independent-minded, but highly adaptable and are equally happy in an apartment as they are bounding through the snow.
Want a cold weather house dog that doesn’t shed? Meet the sheepadoodle, a cross between an old English sheepdog and a poodle. Sheepadoodles love exercise, and their warm coats mean they can keep up with you even when the temperature drops. Their teddy bear-like appearance and cuddly nature mean they’ll keep you warm all winter long.
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The thick double coat of a Shiba Inu makes them well-suited to colder climates. This makes sense, since they can trace their lineage back to 300 B.C., when they were bred to hunt prey in the mountains of Japan. These compact dogs weigh between 17 and 23 pounds and are known as the cats of the dog world for their independence.
Want a dog for all seasons but worried about shedding? There are short-haired dogs bred for cold weather as well. Border terriers are fantastic short-haired cold weather dogs. Their double coat of wiry fur requires little maintenance, and their small size (they weigh just 15 pounds!) mean they’re equally comfortable curled up on your couch on cold winter nights as they are bounding through a pile of fresh snow.
Beagles are another excellent short-haired cold weather dog. These beloved hounds have a strong sense of smell, no matter the weather, and are eager companions on winter walks. They are perennially one of the most popular breeds in America, and with their sweet demeanor, it’s easy to see why.
Irish setters, with their iconic red coats, are excellent family pets and cold weather dog breeds. Standing 2 feet tall, they’re better suited to the great outdoors than apartments. Once in their element, these intelligent, athletic dogs will frolic through any weather at your side.
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Caucasian shepherds, or Caucasian Ovcharkas, are massive dogs known for their loyalty and protectiveness toward their owners. This ancient breed can trace its origins to the Caucasus mountains, where these large, water-resistant dogs were trained to herd sheep, help hunt bears (yes, really!) and protect their owners’ homesteads.
A Pomsky is a hybrid cross between a Siberian husky and a Pomeranian. Known for their adorable looks and striking, light eyes, Pomskies blend high energy with a strong attachment to their owners. If you love huskies but live in a smaller home or apartment, a Pomsky could be the perfect cold weather house dog for you.
Newfoundlands are gentle giants named for their original home in Newfoundland, Canada. Known for their exceptional swimming abilities, they are used as companions to lifeguards in England and Wales, to retrieve fisherman’s nets, and can even do a breaststroke! Even if you’re not swimming or fishing in icy waters, Newfies are affectionate cold weather dogs who tend to be great with children and families.
Chow Chows are often compared to lions for their regal bearing and looks. They can be aloof like cats, too, but require minimal exercise and don’t give off typical dog smells, making them another strong choice for a cold weather house dog. Their thick fur means they can overheat in warmer climates, so keeping chow chows cool is key.
Haven’t quite found the right pup for you? Check out our full list of cold weather dog breeds.