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Brrr! If you live in a cold climate and are considering adopting a dog, you'll want to make sure the pup you bring home will be able to handle freezing temperatures. Not sure where to start your search for cold weather dogs? Here are 10 of the best dog breeds for cold weather.
1. Bernese Mountain Dog
Looking for a walking partner? The Bernese mountain dog is a large breed that's sturdy on their paws and is known to be able to carry heavy loads. While they don't have a high need for exercise, they do have endurance — so they can keep you company on long, cold walks.
2. German Shepherd
Known as a highly intelligent watchdog, the German shepherd, with its double coat, is one of the best dog breeds for cold weather. Make sure to train them at an early age and have them exercise and socialize regularly so that they don't develop overprotective or aggressive behaviors.
3. Great Pyrenees
This double-coated dog has a long outer coat and does well living in both rural and suburban areas. They're independent, hard workers and have been used as sheepherders and sled dogs. Give the loyal and friendly Great Pyrenees something to do, and they'll keep you great company in a cold climate.
If you're looking to welcome a small to medium size dog into your household, look no further than a well-behaved and affectionate keeshond. With warm layers of fur, you won't have to worry about their insulation in the cold weather. Just keep in mind that if the temperatures spike in the summer, a keeshond can easily get overheated.
Newfoundlands are bred to be cold weather dogs. Gina DiNardo, vice president of the American Kennel Club, told Outside, "the Newfoundland has a heavy coat that protected it from the icy waters it was originally bred to work in, making it ideal for colder weather." Newfoundlands also have large paws that help to steady them on ice and snow. Just be sure to trim their nails regularly, which need more attention due to carrying a large load!
6. Saint Bernard
This massive dog makes for a great family pet. Saint Bernards are known for their devotion to their humans, especially children. For years, Saint Bernards were used to help find trapped humans after avalanches. You might not use your Saint Bernard as a search and rescue dog, but you can be sure they'll be comfortable in winter weather.
7. Shiba Inu
According to the American Kennel Club, Shiba Inu, originally from Japan, are muscular and sturdy, which helps them enjoy romping in the snow. Shibas have a double coat of thick fur that helps protect them from the elements while ensuring they stay warm.
When you think of the best dog breeds for cold weather, you probably think of ones with lots of fluffy fur. What about a dog who looks like a mop? The Komondor, aka the Hungarian sheepdog, has a white corded coat, making them look like the sheep they were originally bred to protect. The cords allow them to live comfortably in weather extremes.
9. Norwegian Elkhound
Originating in Norway, it's only logical that the Norwegian elkhound is well-suited to an icy climate. Their exercise needs are high, so they'd love a hearty romp in the snow. The Norwegian elkhound's double coat keeps them cozy in winter, but prepare yourself for their major seasonal shed as spring rolls around.
10. Siberian Husky
Bred to be sled dogs, the Siberian husky is biologically conditioned to survive — even thrive — in freezing temperatures. They're worker dogs with dense undercoats and plush, thick fur to keep their bodies warm in cold weather. Just be aware that in warmer temperatures, a husky may dig holes in your yard to lie in and cool themselves off.
Caring for Cold Weather Dogs
Even though these breeds are especially suited for cold weather, it's still important to make sure your dog stays warm. Try to keep your cold weather dog inside if the temperature is freezing or below, or if there's ice or snow on the ground. When you do venture out together, make use of dog booties and a sweater or jacket to help your pet protect their paws and maintain their temperature.
Cold weather dogs need exercise regardless of the weather. Make an effort to get your dog outside for a walk, run or jaunt around the yard. When the weather is dangerous, find ways to keep your pet active indoors. And follow the advice of the American Veterinary Medical Association to "check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding."
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.