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Can Dogs Handle Cold Weather?

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If you live in a cold climate then you probably wonder can dogs handle cold weather? Fortunately, there are many dog breeds that can handle cold weather and even like it.

In general, it’s the larger breeds that can survive cold weather. Most of the dogs that can handle cold weather weigh more than 50 pounds. They also will have an insulating layer of fat.

The breeds that can survive cold weather tend to have a thick, double-layered coat that helps them preserve body heat.

Genius Dog

Even though a specific breed can survive cold weather, your pet may still suffer from frostbite and hypothermia. It’s important for you, as a responsible dog owner, to keep your pet safe.

Check your dog’s paws often during the winter. Make sure they are not suffering from cracking, bleeding, or other injury.

After outdoor activity, wipe down your pet. Pay close attention to the belly, legs, and feet.

Also, puppies (even if the breed is OK in cold weather) are more susceptible to cold weather.

In this article I’ve grouped breeds based on weight. The weight estimates are the upper range for adult males. Usually a female dog of the same breed will weigh less.

Good Winter Dogs Up To 50 Pounds

Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu
  • Shiba Inu – 23 pounds
  • Icelandic Sheepdog – 30 pounds. Also known as the Icelandic Dog and the Icelandic Spitz
  • Tibetan Terrier – 30 pounds
  • American Eskimo Dog – 35 pounds
  • Keeshond – 45 pounds
  • Swedish Lapphund – 45 pounds

Good Winter Dogs 50 – 100 Pounds

Finnish Lapphund standing in winter.
Finnish Lapphund standing in winter snow.
  • Finnish Lapphund – 53 pounds
  • Norwegian Elkhound – 55 pounds
  • Siberian Husky – 60 pounds. Previously called Artic Husky
  • Samoyed – 65 pounds
  • Chow Chow – 70 pounds
  • Alaskan Malamute – 85 pounds
  • German Shepherd – 90 pounds

Good Winter Dogs 100 – 140 Pounds

great-pyrenees
Great Pyrenees
  • Great Pyrenees – 100 pounds
  • Komondor – 100 pounds
  • Bernese Mountain Dog – 115 pounds
  • Kuvasz – 115 pounds
  • Karakachan – 125 pounds. Also called Bulgarian Shepherd, Thracian Mollos or Ovcharsko Kuche
  • Akita – 130 pounds
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog – 140 pounds

Good Winter Dogs Over 140 Pounds

Anatolian Shepherd
Anatolian Shepherd
  • Anatolian Shepherd – 150 pounds
  • Newfoundland – 150 pounds
  • Tibetan Mastiff – 150 pounds
  • Caucasian Shepherd – 170 pounds. Also called Caucasian Mountain Dog, Caucasian Ovcharka, Caucasian Sheepdog
  • Leonberger – 170 pounds
  • Saint Bernard – 180 pounds
  • Pyrenean Mastiff – 240 pounds

Northern Breeds

akita
Akita playing in the snow.

The United Kennel Club (UKC) assigns recognized breeds into 8 Breed Groups.

Group 5 are the “Northern Breeds.” Here’s part of how their website describes this group:

The Northern Breeds were essential to the survival of Arctic people. These versatile dogs pulled sleds, herded livestock, hunted, and provided companionship in the harsh climate of the north. All but one of the Northern Breeds are Spitz types, ancient breeds whose small pricked ears, wedge-shaped heads and heavy coats reflect the heritage of their wolf ancestors.

Here is the UKC list of Northern Breeds. These are all breeds that can withstand cold weather and even thrive in it.

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Klee Kai
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Eskimo
  • Canadian Eskimo Dog
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Chinook
  • Chow Chow
  • East Siberian Laika
  • Eurasian
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • Finnish Spitz
  • German Spitz
  • Greenland Dog
  • Hokkaido
  • Japanese Akita
  • Japanese Spitz
  • Jindo
  • Kai
  • Karelian Bear Dog
  • Keeshond
  • Kishu
  • Lundehund
  • Norrbottenspetz
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Norwegian Elkhound
  • Russian-European Laika
  • Samoyed
  • Shiba
  • Shikoku
  • Siberian Husky
  • Swedish Elkhound
  • Swedish Lapphund
  • Volpino Italiano
  • West Siberian Laika

On the UKC website you can find useful information about each of these cold weather dogs.

A Final Thought

Almost no matter where you live, there will be periods of extreme cold during the winter. Therefore, even if your dog is outdoors most of time, you should still have a warm indoor place for her.

If your dog is one of the larger breeds, be sure to check out our article on beds for large dogs.