Linda Sarhan has been a freelance writer and researcher for 20+ years and has a B.A. in English and creative writing.
If you live in a colder climate or an area that is prone to harsh winters, you may want to consider choosing a dog breed that is more adapted to cold weather. There are many dog breeds to choose from that were bred to withstand the harsh snow and temperature of winter. Here are just a few to consider when choosing which dog breed is best for you.
Named after the native Intuit tribe, Mahlemuts, they were originally bred in Alaska to be sturdy working dogs. They would pull sleds filled with goods long distances in the heavy snow, therefore they have thick fur that helps protect them from the harsh winters. These are very intelligent, strong willed dogs. However, they are very affectionate and friendly which makes for a wonderful family dog.
Akitas are medium to large dogs with a thick undercoat and harsh outer coat. This helps insulate them to protect them from the frigid temperatures and snow during the winter months. They were originally bred in Japan as winter hunting dogs. They were only owned by royalty, but were revered as a symbol of long life, health, and happiness. Most Akitas are stubborn and independent, however, they are very loyal and protective of their human family.
American Eskimo Dog
If you are looking for a spirited, medium-sized dog, then perhaps consider an American Eskimo Dog. It was bred from a variety of European spitz breeds, such as the German spitz, the Italian spitz, the Keeshond, and the Pomeranian; all white in color. Therefore the American Eskimo Dog has a short thick undercoat and longer hairs forming the outer coat. This breed is playful and highly intelligent. They were originally used in circuses and other performances because of their agility and ability to quickly learn tricks.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are one of four Swiss mountain dogs bred as farm dogs. They have long, thick, silky double coats perfect for withstanding the cold temperatures in the mountains of Switzerland. They have a calm, confident temperament, which makes them the perfect companion dog as well as an excellent work dog.
Known for its black or blue tongue and extra thick coat, the Chow Chow is often described as "lion-like" in appearance. The Chow Chow is a medium-size dog with a muscular build and thick bones. It is believed that the Chow Chow originates from the Arctic regions of northern China and was used not only as a companion but as a working dog as well. Although affectionate and loyal to family, this breed is also stubborn and independent.
The fur coat of the Great Pyrenees is long, thick, and weather resistant. Although believed to originate in Central Asia or Siberia, this breed became popular among Europeans as a herding dog. It also was used in the 17th century by French nobility as a court dog. They make great guard dogs but are also affectionate and tolerant with their human family.
Considered one of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world and the only dog native to Iceland, the Icelandic Sheepdog was built for the snow and ice. They are a medium-size dog and can have either long or short coats. They have a playful, inquisitive temperament and make excellent family dogs
The Keeshond is a small to medium-size dog with a thick, fluffy coat. They are believed to be descended from various Arctic breeds. They have a very outgoing personality and get along not only with humans but with other dogs as well. They learn quickly, therefore make great dogs to train.
The Kuvasv is a muscular dog with a thick outer coat and a fine, soft undercoat. Although originally from Tibet, the Kuvasz gets its name from a Turkish word meaning "armed guard of the nobility". This breed was then developed further in Hungary. It was a popular choice in Hungary and parts of Europe as a companion dog for nobility. It has a loyal and protective nature but shows subtle affection to its human family.
If you are looking for a dog that loves the water as well as can withstand colder climates, consider getting a Newfoundland. This is a large breed with a thick, heavy coat that is designed to protect it from swimming long distances in icy waters. The Newfoundland is a great option for families. Although the Newfoundland is an active breed, it also has a gentle disposition.
Often confused with the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky was bred in Northeast Asia as a sled dog. They are very friendly and affectionate and make loving family dogs more so than guard dogs. They have thicker coats than most breeds. In fact the undercoat has been described as feeling like cashmere and they have a longer outer coat. Due to this, the Siberian Husky thrives in colder climates.
The image that comes to mind for most people when they think of Saint Bernard is the dog with a barrel around its neck. There is good reason why this image is seared in most people's mind. They were bred to locate lost travelers in a snowstorm. In fact, they were used to help people travel through a dangerous pass between Switzerland and Italy. Not only do they make excellent sled dogs, but they are also wonderful guard dogs and have helped rescue victims of avalanches. They can have long or short coats but both of which are thick and able to withstand frigid temperatures.
Considered to be one of the smallest breeds in Japan, it was once used to hunt wild game including boar and bear. The thick coat of this breed helped protect it from the cold altitudes and thick underbrush of Japan's mountains. Because this breed was bred for mountainous regions, this is a very agile breed. The Shiba Inu also has keen senses, which makes it more alert to what is going on around them.
Considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most expensive dog breed in the world, the Tibetan Mastiff was originally isolated to the Himalayas. With its extremely thick coat of fur, this breed is quite comfortable with cold weather. They are very independent and highly intelligent. Because of this, safety can be a concern with this breed. So if you let this dog outside be sure to keep an eye on it; it tends to want to roam out on its own.
This breed is smaller than the Mastiff but just as durable during extreme temperatures. Aside from its weather protective thick coat, its has large, flat rounded paws that act like snowshoes. This is perfect for the snowy regions of Tibet and other regions with harsh winters. They are extremely intelligent and can be quite mischievous. However, they make a wonderful pet for families with children.
There are many other breeds that do well in cold climates. Most dogs with a thick double coat won't be a bothered by the frigid temperatures compared to breeds with thinner coats. But do not assume that just because a breed is better designed for cold weather that they won't be susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. These dogs still get cold despite their build. It is best to keep the dog, any breed, indoors when the temperatures drop down low.
© 2014 Linda Sarhan
Karen Ray from Oklahoma on September 24, 2014:
Good information. People don't always think about those things before selecting a dog. We have Corgis and we live in Oklahoma where we have what is called the "Dog Days of Summer", which means it is hotter than h. e. double l. They have 2 layers of hair and want to stay under the A/C all summer, but love it outside during the winter months. Voted up and useful.