12 Snow Dog Breeds Who Love the Wintery Weather More Than Any Human Could
Not all dogs are equipped for cold temperatures and snowy weather. Some even turn up their noses when asked to do their business in the snow. But if you're the skiing and snowshoeing type, you may prefer to have a pup who's all-in for winter.
What Makes a Dog Love the Snow?
One major physical characteristic that sets snow dogs apart are their thick fur coats, says Kristin Dank, DVM at Duluth Veterinary Hospital. And oftentimes, two coats are better than one for these dogs that love snow.
"They tend to have thicker hair coats, and a really dense undercoat in addition to an overcoat, too," Dank says. "It really helps insulate them from the cold weather."
Remember that no human or canine should really be outside in extremely cold temperatures, though. Double-coated dogs, no matter how insulated, are still susceptible to frostbite, especially around the ears or on their feet.
So, who are the cold-weather warriors for your consideration? Dank is definitely used to seeing a few. After all, Duluth, Minn. receives an average of 86.1 inches of snow every year, well above the national snowfall average. Some of her most popular snow dog visitors are huskies, Great Pyrenees, and malamutes. Here are a few more snow dog breeds for your consideration.
Siberian huskies were born to run and absolutely love companionship. Huskies are the perfect cold-weather canine for active families that also live near a dog park or have other large furry friends in the household. While they aren't frequent barkers, they are a vocal breed, letting you know how they're feeling with a comical whine or moan. Exercise is essential for these active doggos; they were born for activity. Despite their affinity for romping around outdoors, they only need to be bathed a couple times a year. They've got self-cleaning down to a science!
*Rubs eyes* Is that a husky? Nope! It's an Alaskan malamute! These brown-eyed babies are always ready to cuddle or dash through the snow down a local trail. And with a double coat, they're well-equipped to do both! Are you an avid biker? Why not take your mal for a ride? Or more than likely, they'll take you for one! Much like a husky, mals are vocal and will have long, in-depth conversations with you, filled with "oooos" and "woos."
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese mountain dogs are loyal, easy-to-train, and absolutely adore snow. Most importantly, they're as sweet-looking as can be, with a permanent smile on their lips. Berners are commonly spotted with a thick, tricolor coat—answering the question what's black, white, and rust all over?
Contrary to the husky and malamute, Bernese mountain dogs are more content with lazing around the house as long as you're nearby. Just treat them to a brisk 30-minute walk every day, preferably through some flurries. But a warning: once they're outdoors in the snow, they're hard to coax back inside! Berners are a good reminder to make sure to keep a heated water bowl outside, for a quick drink break in between cold-weather play sessions.
American Eskimo Dog
Save for their dark eyes, American Eskimo dogs could blend right in with a snowdrift, especially if they're on the smaller side. Eskies are pure white—just like a fresh snowstorm! Standard American Eskimo dogs are upwards of 25 pounds, but what they lack in size, they surely make up for in eagerness to learn. American Eskimo dogs are historically one of the easiest dog breeds to train and take well to positive reinforcement training. What they need their owners to understand is that they need multiple walks each day to keep their happy-go-lucky demeanor intact!
Whoa there, big boy. Saint Bernards are lovable, snuggly giants, who can weigh up to 180 pounds. But in no way is their size intimidating—if anything, Saint Bernards' huge presence has a comforting effect. Originating in the Swiss Alps, Saint Bernards love the cold weather and are able to enjoy it, thanks to their double coats. While these pups don't need as much daily exercise as other snow dogs on this list, they need a round or two of purposeful exercise per day in order to keep their minds and bodies happy.
Labrador retrievers are a stranger to none, as they have consistently been named the U.S.' most popular dog breed. They possess the perfect combination of intelligence and adoration for their owners. And they sport the double coat you've been hearing so much about, whether they come in black, yellow, or chocolate. Labs also generally love kids and treat them like playmates. To make sure your Lab is happy as can be, take the time to train them and give them plenty of tasks. Because of their high intelligence levels, they have to be mentally stimulated on a regular basis. But after a rewarding training sesh, they're ready to lay on top of you while you surf channels!
The Norwegian elkhound is a high-energy and ancient breed, dating all the way back to nearly 6,000 years ago. They got their start accompanying Vikings on missions, after all. Their long lineage has made for a very smart modern-day dog, so training, along with exercise, is a must. Because they're so intelligent, elkies do the best with more experienced dog owners who have time to devote to tasks like dock-diving and field trials. They're incredibly free-spirited and need to be able to follow their wanderlust. If you have the same attitude about life, then the Norwegian elkhound will take to you most kindly.
Few dogs are as mellow and mature (and as huge) as Newfoundlands. If you fancy having a black bear walking around your foyer, then look no further. Newfies are large, quiet working dogs that are famously good at navigating busy households, thanks to their high emotional intelligence. Because of their size, make sure to start training and socialization when they're a puppy so they don't bowl you over. Newfoundlands live a shorter life due to their larger-than-life size, but every year that they do have will be worth owning one of these big boys or girls.
Hello, beautiful! Samoyeds, nicknamed "Smiling Sammies," absolutely stun onlookers with their pure white coats and sweeping tails. Samoyeds were originally bred to work in the Artic, so you know they love the cold! But they're also remarkably great at tolerating more moderate temperatures. And if you need a workout partner, your Sammie is more-than-happy to oblige. They love running, fetching, snow-shoeing, you name it. These pretty puppies are quite vocal, however, so if you live in an apartment and have your heart set on a Samoyed, best start looking for a new place to live!
The Great Pyrenees is just that: great. Stoic like a lion and just as regal, these double-coated beauties were named the "Royal Dog of France" at the end of the 15th century. Because of their history of guarding sheep and preference for quiet environments, Great Pyrenees dogs absolutely thrive on a farm or ranch. Having a large property is also perfect for helping these pups fulfill their moderate energy needs. They will happily accompany you while you do chores around the property and are incredibly gentle with other animals, especially sheep! One thing to note: Great Pyrenees are sometimes regarded as being nocturnal, so they are more playful closer to bedtime and prefer to sleep during the day. But dogs are generally social sleepers and will take cues from their owner about when bedtime really is.
Although not a common breed in the U.S., the Finnish Lapphund is still one of Finland's most popular dog breeds and is regularly found throughout Scandinavia. They come in almost every color combination you could imagine, and despite their wolfish features, Lappies are a generally friendly breed. They are also incredibly gentle, making them popular with children and seniors alike. Like their other Arctic buddies, Lappies should only be exercised outdoors during the cooler parts of the day and don't do well in heat. When not on a walk, Finnish Lapphunds would love a secure yard to explore.
Keeshonds are extremely striking in appearance, but their personalities are just as loud—boasting a silly and affectionate attitude toward their owners. Their double coats resemble the salt-and-pepper color of older gentlemen, amplified by the spectacle marks around their eyes, giving them an overall very inquisitive look. Keeshonds are more vocal than your average dog, so be ready to have a lot of conversations! They are also highly intelligent and easily trained using positive reinforcement techniques. Keeshonds are companion dogs, so if you're not planning to be home a lot, then you may want to rethink your choice. They want to love on you at all times, but you have to be around for that!
Should I Own a Snow Dog Breed?
Just because the winters where you live are cold doesn't mean you automatically should consider adopting a husky or one of their peers. You have to take into account all four seasons, not just winter. Why? Heat and humidity are not a snow dog's friend.
"Dogs have to cool themselves down by panting," Dank reminds. "If it's really humid outside, they're not able to cool themselves down as well, because there's just more moisture in the air. That kind of helps to prevent that. And then if they have that thick undercoat, they're going to be a lot warmer, obviously, in the warmer weather."
If your hometown temperatures exceed the upper 70s at any given point, that's going to be too much for a snow dog, especially because they typically need lots of time outdoors to burn off their energy. And unfortunately, there's no grooming workaround.
"It's not good to shave them down," Dank says. "That thick undercoat does have some protective measures for helping them not get too warm. It can kind of trap some colder air near them. So if you do shave them down, they're going to have a harder time actually managing the hotter weather."
You heard her. Snow dog breeds are just happier and healthier in the cold!