And Why We Love them in the Lower 48 States
Some of the most popular breeds around today were bred to live and work in cold climates covered in snow. While many Americans associate snow breeds with Alaska, these winter-loving pups also come from Siberia, Japan, the Himalayas, the Alps, and even Turkey.
All snow breeds share a thick double coat that insulates and keeps them warm in the coldest weather. Healthy snow breeds usually have a layer of fat under their coat. Their undercoats are short and warm, while the overcoats are long and repel water. Many have piercing, almond-shaped eyes that are perfect for squinting to keep out snow.
Since most snow breeds were originally working dogs, these puppies crave vigorous outdoor exercise. They have thick skin on their paw pads and many breeds have long fur that covers the paws, so icy terrains aren’t a problem. These dogs love chilly walks and adore playing in deep, fluffy snow. It’s not usual to see snow breeds burrow into a snow bank and bury their heads and shoulders into the white flakes.
Discover Some of the Most Popular Snow Breeds
Akitas are stout, heavy-boned dogs with a long history in Japan. Akitas were originally bred as a cold-weather companion, helping Japanese to hunt large wildlife through the snow, as far back as the 17th century. These handsome puppies sport a dense undercoat and harsh outer coat. They are often independent and aloof but are also exceedingly loyal and protective of their masters.
The Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a favorite in North America. They were bred as sled dogs to haul heavy loads over miles of frozen tundra. As the name implies, Alaskan Malamutes were originally bred in Alaska, and are the oldest and largest sled dog breed. Because of their working background, Alaskan Malamutes have boundless energy and need lots of outdoor activity. To keep this breed happy and healthy, Alaskan Malamutes should not be housebound.
The American Eskimo Dog
This snow breed got an image makeover after World War II. They were originally called White German Spitzs but were renamed the American Eskimo Dog because of their white coat and love of cold weather – not for any association with Eskimo tribes. A thick undercoat keeps their bodies and perky ears warm in the winter. These fun-loving, loyal dogs also make great family dogs.
The Anatolian Shepherd
Anatolian Shepherds have been guarding flocks in Turkey for more than 6,000 years ago. These rugged mountain dogs have the double coat needed to weather winter storms, and the stamina to travel miles at a time. Like many shepherd breeds, Anatolian Shepherds are independent and protective. They need an experienced trainer who is able to manage their herding and guarding instincts.
The Bernese Mountain Dog
These large, lumbering canines are gentle and need little exercise. But they’re also strong, fast, and agile. These puppies have Swiss roots and were used to pull carts. Bernese Mountain Dogs love cold weather, do well with other dogs, and make loyal family pets.
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever
These sturdy pups have the dense double coat and stamina needed to hunt and retrieve ducks from the chilly waters around Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are intelligent and love kids, but they also need lots of vigorous outdoor exercise to stay happy and healthy.
The Chow Chow
Chow Chows have wooly coats that make them extremely tolerant to cold temperatures. This ancient breed was developed as a guard dog for palaces in China. When properly groomed, their dense double coat is a stunner. If you want a dog that does well on its own for hours at a time, a Chow Chow is a good choice. This breed has been described as aloof but is also very loyal and protective.
The German Shepherd
German Shepherds are one of the most widely-recognized breeds in America. These puppies love outdoor work and are often used for farm work, guard work, and as a police dog. These energic pups are smart and learn quickly. However, German Shepherds are very protective, and a good trainer is needed to control their guarding instincts.
The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Like the Bernese Mountain Dog, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs were used to pull small carts in the Swiss Alps. These gentle giants love cold weather and do well in high altitudes. These pups need only moderate exercise, although they can also happily hike and play the day away. Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are loyal and good with kids and other dogs.
Keeshonds are a water breed that originated in Holland. This snow breed’s double coat insulates while protecting them from the damp climates of northern Europe. Friendly, playful Keeshonds love families and other dogs, but they must have lots of vigorous outdoor exercise to stay happy and well-behaved.
These gentle giants originated on the chilly Canadian island of Newfoundland, where they have served as water rescue dogs more than a hundred years. Newfoundlands are friendly, patient, and protective. These puppies are also smart and obedient, making them relatively easy to train. Newfoundlands love kids and other dogs but they need outdoor space and exercise to stay centered.
The Norwegian Elkhound
As the name implies, these handsome pups originate in Norway, where they were bred as hunting dogs for elk and other large game. Norwegian Elkhounds loves cold weather, but can also do well in warm climates if they can avoid the heat of the day. Norwegian Elkhounds are very friendly, affable, and intelligent, making them a good family dog. However, their hunting history means they want and need lots of outdoor exercise.
The Saint Bernard
The huge, lumbering Saint Bernards hail from Switzerland, where they have been used as a mountain rescue dog for centuries. This snow breed loves cold weather and can hike for miles in the winter. But these puppies are generally a low-energy breed that doesn’t need a lot of daily exercise. Saint Bernards love children and families. They are friendly with strangers and also do well around other dogs.
This playful snow breed is famous for its happy, bright “smile.” Samoyeds originated in the Arctic climate of Siberia, so they do well in very cold climates and are not well-suited to hot climates. Bred as hunters and sled dogs, they are strong and agile. Friendly Samoyeds do very well with children, families, other dogs, and strangers. This athletic breed loves to hunt, so its instincts may be hard to curb around small animals or stuffed toys.
The Shiba Inu
Shiba Inus have fluffy double coats and trademark curled tails. These spirited snow dogs love to play in the snow and are energized by cold weather. The Shiba Inu was originally bred in Japan as a hunting dog, but their friendly disposition and intense loyalty have made them a popular companion dog in modern times.
The Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies really do originate in Siberia in Northeast Asia. They are popular sled dogs prized for their distinctive markings and their striking eye color, often different in each eye. Because these snow breeds were developed as sled dogs, they need a great deal of vigorous outdoor exercise to stay happy, healthy, and calm. Although Huskies prefer to be outdoor dogs, they are also loyal to their family and do well with children.
The Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiffs were bred in the heights of the Himalayas in Tibet, where they were guard dogs for the herd, palaces, and monasteries. Tibetan Mastiffs’ dense double coats keep them warm and dry in the coldest winter weather and make it harder for them to tolerate heat. These pups need an experienced trainer and lots of outdoor exercise to stay happy and healthy. They love children and families and are intensely loyal.
Snow breeds are a handsome group of dogs with hearty, spirited qualities. This group has a fascinating world history with one connecting string – they were bred to withstand winter weather. If you’re interested in bringing a snow breed into your household, remember their need for outdoor activities during winter months, and avoid placing them in situations with high temperatures. If you want to learn more about snow breeds and other types of puppies, research over 200 breeds of dogs by clicking here. If you already know what kind of puppy you want, get started here.