8 Dog Breeds That Love Cold Weather

From fluffy bodies to hairy toes and ears, dogs bred for the snow are naturally equipped to brave the icy conditions. Let’s learn all about them!

May 25, 2024By Lisa Szymanski
dog breeds that love cold weather

Deciding which dog to accompany you in a cold climate can be challenging when there are many snow breeds to choose from. Whether the fluffy Alaskan malamute or the feisty Akita, how do you know which is best to handle below-freezing temperatures? Well, each dog that we’re going to look at has specific traits, from double coats to webbed feet, to help them stay warm and comfortable. So, before you pick a Chihuahua to join you in Alaska, consider the following 8 dog breeds that love cold weather.

1. Siberian Husky

two siberian huskies sitting in snow
Huskies were bred for the snow.

Playful and energetic describe the Siberian husky, but there’s one quality about these dogs that is undeniably beautiful and very effective against the cold. It’s their woolly coat, of course! Huskies love to frolic in the frost, and many mushing dogs spend most of their lives outdoors, whether in snow or sunshine. The reason that these wolf-like dogs can tolerate extremely cold weather is because of their dense coats, which consist of two layers. The undercoat, which is the hair closest to the body, keeps the heat in, while the outer hair can repel moisture.

Huskies will curl up and cover their faces with their tails when they sleep to keep warm. They have long hairs between their toes to cover areas that might be exposed to frost. Ultimately, huskies were bred in Siberia and Alaska for sledding, so these active dogs are suited to snowy conditions.

2. Leonberger

leonberger standing in snow
Germany’s lion dogs can spend all day on the ice.

The Leonberger, with its long golden and dark brown locks, is described as a lion-dog. The males have long, thick hair around their necks to resemble a lion’s mane. But in addition to their beautiful looks, these big dogs were meant to adapt to the cold, so they have heavy and warm woolly coats. This German breed can manage freezing temperatures because their coat has two layers, much like the husky. Their hair serves the same purpose as a waterproof down jacket because it retains heat and keeps moisture away from their skin. If you want a large snow dog, then the Leonberger could be your next canine companion.

3. Alaskan Malamute

alaskan malamute in snow
Malamutes are large powerful dogs likened to wolves.

The Alaskan malamute is an arctic dog that can handle temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. In the 1890s, malamutes would travel to the South Pole and Greenland to deliver packages and assist with search and rescue missions. Thanks to their double fleece coats, they could work in temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, these giant sled dogs have inherited the winterproof traits of their ancestors and can easily face below-freezing conditions. Alaskan malamutes are undoubtedly beautiful, but consider their heavy shedding coats, grooming, and activity levels to help you choose the right dog for your lifestyle.

4. Akita

brown and white akita running in snow holding red toy
Akitas are energetic, snow-loving dogs.

When I hear of this cold-weather breed, I think of Hachiko, a white Akita who braved Japan’s icy winters while waiting for his owner’s return. He visited Shibuya station for nearly a decade and became a local legend. Thanks to his double-layered coat, he tolerated extreme weather conditions, including rain and snow, befriending many people along the way. Known as “a snow country dog,” the Akita’s intact coat helps them retain warmth. They absolutely love the frost and have their very own snow shoes! Akitas have webbed toes, making it easier to trudge through layers of ice. Their strong, muscular bodies allow them to push through frosty conditions. But before you adopt one of these fuzzy dogs, they need regular socialization to avoid aggressive behavior.

5. St. Bernard

saint bernard sitting in snow
Saint Bernard’s faced snow storms during their rescue missions in the Alps.

It goes without saying, that the dog bred for rescue missions in the snow-covered Alps is sure to thrive in cold weather. Saint Bernards are wonderful family pets because they’re gentle with the people they love, but don't underestimate them. They’re also considered guard dogs because of their sheer size and protectiveness. But if you’re looking for a loving companion to join you in subzero temperatures, the St. Bernard won’t need a doggy jacket or boots to keep warm. Their long hair helps regulate their body temperature, so they stay insulated and warm in the winter. Just remember, while your Alpine dog enjoys snowy conditions, they need some help to keep cool in soaring temperatures.

6. Chow Chow

chow chow sitting in snow
Chows have the softest fur that protects them against the icy cold.

You certainly can’t talk about fluffy dogs for winter without mentioning the Chow. This Chinese dog breed has an incredibly plush coat that provides the perfect insulation against extremely cold temperatures. These blue-tongued dogs can withstand below-freezing temperatures because they have a double coat. The hair against their skin is similar to wool, while the outer coat is rough and known as guard hairs. Their thick hair is meant to protect them against wind and frost, but it also helps them make it through the summer. But despite having their very own winter jackets, most Chow Chows don’t like getting their feet wet or too cold.

7. Keeshond

keeshond panting and sitting on grass
Fluffy and ready for the cold weather, the Keeshond or Wolfs spitz is definitely a snow dog.

If you want a friendly dog that is great with kids and perfectly suited to live in the coldest conditions, then the Keeshond is for you. This breed is descended from arctic dogs, and their chunky coats certainly point to their winter readiness. They are so fluffy, they look like an overgrown Pomeranian! The Keeshond is medium-sized, and whether a puppy or an adult, they absolutely love the snow. This doesn’t mean that they won’t come indoors to spend time with you and warm their feet after being in the cold. It’s always best to monitor your dog so you can prevent frozen paws or moisture on their skin.

8. Tibetan Mastiff

black tibetan mastiff
The Tibetan mastiff is a popular dog in Europe.

The ultimate snow dog is the Tibetan mastiff. These impressive and giant dogs have an immensely thick coat that locks warmth in, making it easier to withstand plummeting temperatures. Bred for the Himalayan mountains, these dogs have dealt with conditions below freezing due to their woolly hair covering their entire body. They are quite protective of their families as they were bred for loyalty and guarding. Astonishingly, male Tibetan mastiffs can grow up to 200 lbs, so leash training and socialization are important because of their large size and protectiveness.

Remember, while dog breeds, from the husky to the Tibetan mastiff, can handle very cold weather, they should always be monitored in frigid conditions. Even these fluffy snow dogs can experience hypothermia if they’re exposed to wind chill and temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.