Snow Dogs: 6 Great Breeds for Cold Climates

Holly Zynda
Published: January 11, 2017

A man walks two dogs in Central Park as a snowstorm hits New York.
(STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

If you love to live, work, and play in the snow, you might just find the perfect four-legged companion among these cold-weather breeds.

Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees has a coat as white as fresh-fallen snow, and this pooch is right at home in the cold. Bred as an all-weather herding dog, the Great Pyrenees is agile, intuitive, and eager to work no matter how rugged the terrain. Males stand as tall as 32 inches and can tip the scale at 120 pounds. Females are a bit slighter but still large.

These dogs demonstrate the calm and patience needed to bring unruly herds to order, making them a nice addition to a big, playful family. And their friendly smile will warm your heart on even the most frigid of days.


This elegant canine is physically powerful, temperamentally suited to children, and cold-weather ready. The average Newfie weighs in at 120–150 pounds and stands 26–28 inches. The breed’s broad, muscular build and webbed paws — and its deep protective instincts — make it a born water-rescue dog. Its double-thick water-resistant coat suits it particularly to snow and cold.

The breed’s ancestry is uncertain. But whether it descends from the French Boarhound or the Great Pyrenees, its progenitors were surely large and strong.

For all this dog’s toughness, the Newf’s eyes are windows to a gentle soul. A perfect companion for snowy frolics with the whole family.

Alaskan Malamute

The Malamute is a sled dog, bred for strength, endurance, and adaptability to Arctic conditions. Slightly less stocky than the Newfoundland, a large male Malamute can weigh upwards of 95 pounds and reach a height of roughly 23 inches (females are a bit slighter).

The oil in the dog’s double-insulated coat protects it from the stinging Alaskan cold. Designed for distance and speed, this racer can keep pace with you all day long. So make sure your Malamute gets plenty of exercise. And remember, this dog is born to pull. Design your training routine to marshal this pup’s natural leadership abilities and you’ll be a team for life.

Bernese Mountain Dog

With a stylish thick tri-color coat and a proud stature, the Bernese Mountain Dog loves active outdoor work. When the mercury drops low, these distinctive canines are at their best. Whether performing the high-elevation draft and droving jobs for which they were bred or just enjoying high-energy games in the snow, the Bernese always gives 100 percent effort to the task at hand.

Standing an average 25 inches and weighing up to 110 pounds, this pooch is strong and hearty, perfectly matched to a rugged rural lifestyle.   

A Shiba is pictured as people walk through the snow covered streets in Vienna.
(Patrick Domingo/AFP/Getty Images)

Shiba Inu

This sandy-colored, medium-sized dog is familiar to meme readers as “Doge,” the internet-speak canine we’ve come to know and love. But much more than a pretty face, this high-energy pup is also a champ in cold weather.

Originally bred in Japan for hunting, the Shibu Inu boasts the keen senses and the thick fur that suit it to tracking in stormy mountains. Unlike many chilly weather breeds, though Shiba Inu’s coat is short, requiring less maintenance than some snowy breeds. This slight canine generally weighs between 18 and 24 pounds.

Like any hunting dog, this smart, confident pooch will benefit from high-energy activities and a training regimen that is gentle but firm and consistent.

Akita Inu

Another cold-weather hunting breed from Japan, the Akita has regal origins, once owned only by Japan’s imperial family. Medium-sized (71–99 pounds for females, 99–130 pounds for males) and dense furred, this alert, intelligent dog is great for strong-willed and patient owners. The time and effort of your training will be well-rewarded: courage and loyalty are hallmarks of the proud Akita.

Supply your Akita with plenty of mentally-engaging activities to help exercise those instincts in a positive, healthy way.

Holly Zynda is a copy editor, proofreader and writer with a lifelong passion for the written word. She owns and operates Owl Intermedia, a content production and editing company, and has provided writing and editing services for companies ranging from GoPro and to The California Environmental Protection Agency and Genentech.

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