10 Dog Breeds That Love the Snow
These pups all thrive in the cold winter weather including the popular Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and Norwegian Elkhound.
Temperatures have plunged with a major cold front impacting most of the country this winter. Despite the appeal of nestling under blankets and hibernating until it's warm, if you're a dog owner, you have to brave the cold at some point. Even your daily walk together can be a daunting task, especially when snow covers the ground in every direction. The only thing that can make this experience worthwhile is seeing the pure joy of your dog frolicking through the snow.
Lots of dogs enjoy playing in snow because it's something new and exciting. For some breeds, it's important to bundle them up in a warm winter coat and pair of booties. As an added note, for any dog that lives where it snows, chances are you and your pooch will encounter rock salt, which can wear down your dog's paws. To avoid rawness and chapping, try using your own homemade paw balm as a natural remedy after an afternoon of playtime in the snow.
There are many types of dogs that enjoy being in the snow, but there are certain dog breeds that were literally built and born for a winter wonderland. These dogs were bred to live and work in cold climates, enduring entire days spent in snowy landscapes, herding, tracking, and standing watch. Some of these dogs (like the Norwegian Elkhound) descend from the age of the Vikings while others (like the Siberian Husky or Bernese Mountain Dog) have been faithful companions to farmers, hunters, and explorers throughout history. According to experts like the American Kennel Club, these breeds are the best type of dogs to own if you're keen to live amid snow because they not only love it, they live for it.
A quintessential snow dog, the Siberian Husky was bred for sledding and pack work. They are extremely friendly and, if you make them part of your pack, they will be loyal for life. They were bred in northeastern Asia, and were used to haul light loads across frozen wastelands in sub-zero temperatures, making them an ideal breed for snow. Huskies are high-energy dogs with sociable personalities, and they're a great choice for both families and those with a penchant for outdoor adventures. Through snowball fights or winter hikes, you can be sure your Husky will be by your side.
The Samoyed has a thick and fluffy all-white coat that blends in effortlessly with an icy tundra. This is essential because they were bred in Siberia, where temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Their mouths are also upturned just at the corners to keep them from drooling, which prevent icicles from forming around their face. These dogs have been used to sledge (move passengers or cargo across icy terrain), hunt, and herd for a thousand years, and even tagged along on some famous expeditions.
At first glance these sweet pups might appear to be a hybrid of a gold retriever and a polar bear, but the Great Pyrenees is, in fact, its own unique and wonderful breed. These dogs were bred centuries ago to help shepherds protect their sheep atop the snowy Pyrenees mountains. Their double coat and white coloring allowed them to blend in and stay warm in their cold surroundings, traits which cemented their affection for snow. In disposition, they are docile and calm, but can spring into action if they sense a threat. Their gentle demeanor and fierce loyalty make them excellent pets, and their penchant for snow serves them well in the north.
Known for their immense size, the Saint Bernard is among the world's most beloved breeds, having been the heroes of many rescue stories throughout history. Interestingly, monks are to thank for this unique breed. They spent centuries establishing these bear-like dogs as an aid to help pilgrims cross the snowy St. Bernard pass to Rome. At 8,000 feet above sea-level, this pass was incredibly treacherous and these dogs often acted as search and rescue teams, helping lost or injured travelers who'd become victims to the snow.
Weighing in as one of the world's largest dogs, the Newfoundland's immense coat makes it an ideal breed for the snow. These dogs are natural explorers, and make exemplary companions on outdoor hikes and trips. Just ask Lewis and Clark—they traveled with a Newfoundland called Seaman during their historic 8,000-mile trek across America. This breed has a long history as heroic rescuers, and they are known for their particularly sweet temperament. They can fit in seamlessly with a family or a solo adventurer—just give them lots of snow to explore.
These medium-sized hounds date back to the time of the Vikings. The Norwegian Elkhound is famous for its agility, intelligence, and devotion to humankind. These dogs were bred to hunt and hold prey for huntsman, making them ideal hunting dogs, especially in cold wintry climates. They are bold, energetic, and utterly devoted to their families, making them magnificent watchdogs and guardians. Word to the wise: With such a beautiful thick coat comes lots of shedding, so if the Elkhound is the perfect dog for you, you may want to invest in a large brush and vacuum.
American Eskimo Dog
In the early 1800s, waves of German immigrants arrived in America, bringing both their culture and their Nordic dogs. The American Eskimo or "Eskie" descended from these dogs (called German Spitz), and after the U.S.'s entry into WWI, the breed's name was changed to a more patriotic option. These dogs remain true to their Nordic ancestors with a thick white coat and an affinity for snowy weather. This intelligent, small and highly social breed is "eager to please" and would make an excellent pet for a family.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Don't let their size fool you! These beautiful dogs are gentle giants. The Bernese Mountain Dog is calm in temperament, but their excitement shines through when faced with mounds of snow to play in. These dogs are perfect for families, especially with young children, because they are so docile. That being said, they usually pick one person that they are most loyal to, so consider yourself lucky if that's you. If you're looking for a companion to go sledding, snowshoeing, or hiking, the Bernese is a solid choice.
The Shiba Inu is an ancient Japanese breed, having graced this world since 300 B.C. While short in stature, this dog is an agile and skilled hunter. Shibas almost went extinct after World War II due to Japan's wartime deprivations, but have since bounced back as a population as Japan's number one companion animal. They've also become popular in the U.S. in the last 50 years. Being small and friendly, these dogs are great for apartments, as long as you have a park nearby. These are high-energy and playful dogs, meaning they'll need consistent exercise (especially in winter) to be happy.
This majestic wolf-like creature known as the Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs. Their thick, coarse fur and strong builds make them an ideal dog for this kind of freighting, but they can also be great lifelong companions. Experts say these large-breed dogs are playful, gentle, and good with kids. They just need training at an early age to ensure the owner is seen as "Alpha" of the pack.