8 Best Dog Breeds for Cold Weather Hiking

Alaskan Malamute
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Hiking with your furry friend can be one of the best experiences you can ever have. But hiking in the cold can be a bit tricky. Especially if it’s a long hike. You need to choose a dog breed that is not only up to the challenge but can thrive in the chilly conditions.

Not all dogs are going to enjoy it equally.

As a dog owner, you want to ensure that your dog is safe and comfortable during the hike. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the eight best dog breeds for cold weather hiking. These breeds have the stamina and thick fur needed to handle cold temperatures.

Importance of Choosing the Right Dog Breed for Cold Weather

Selecting the right dog breed for cold weather is crucial for ensuring the well-being and happiness of both you and your furry companion.

By choosing a dog breed that is well-suited for cold weather, you can avoid potential health issues and ensure that your furry friend stays comfortable and safe throughout your adventures. Whether you’re trekking through snow-covered mountains or exploring icy landscapes, having a dog that can handle the cold is essential for an enjoyable and worry-free adventure.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of cold-weather dog breeds, exploring their unique characteristics, popular breeds, and considerations to keep in mind when choosing the perfect companion for your outdoor pursuits. We will also discuss how to prepare your cold-weather dog for outdoor activities, including the importance of cold-weather gear, proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care.

So, if you’re ready to embark on an unforgettable journey with the perfect furry partner by your side, let’s dive into the world of cold-weather dog breeds and discover the ideal companion for your adventurous spirit.

Popular Cold-Weather Dog Breeds: Best Dog Breeds for Cold Weather Hiking

Before diving into the list, it’s important to note that every dog is unique, regardless of its breed. Therefore, the breeds listed below are generally well-suited for cold weather hiking, but individual dogs within these breeds may have different tolerances and abilities. Let’s explore the best companions for your frosty expeditions!

Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute

This breed was bred to work in cold weather and is perfect for cold weather hiking. It has a double-coat of fur, which helps insulate and keep it warm in cold temperatures. Its muscular body and sturdy structure make it very adaptable to even the toughest of cold-weather hiking trails.

Alaskan Malamutes are large dogs, typically weighing between 75 to 85 pounds. They have a friendly and outgoing personality, but are also incredibly strong and require regular exercise to stay in shape and maintain good health.

Best dog breeds for cold weather hiking? Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Siberian Husky, Newfoundland, Samoyed, Saint Bernard, Tibetan Mastiff

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog | Photo by Jorien Stel

This breed is known for its affectionate personality and its love for outdoor activities. It has a thick coat that provides insulation during cold hikes. The breed is also known for its agility, which comes in handy when navigating rough terrain during hikes.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are majestic and powerful, usually weighing between 70 to 115 pounds, which makes them ideal for cold weather hikes. Known for their friendly and often calm demeanor, these dogs have a strong affection for their families and enjoy being active outdoors. Despite their size, these dogs are rather agile.

Siberian Husky

Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky | Photo by Kateryna Babaieva

Overall, one of the best dogs for hiking/family dogs.

This breed was bred to do hard work in freezing temperatures, so it’s no surprise that it’s a great breed for cold weather hiking. It has a thick, double-coated fur that allows it to stay warm in cold temperatures. The breed is also known for its endurance and its ability to overcome obstacles during hikes.

Siberian Huskies are medium-sized dogs, usually weighing between 35 to 60 pounds. Their vibrant personalities and energetic nature make them popular additions to active families. Originally bred to endure the harsh climates of Siberia, Huskies excel in cold weather conditions.


Newfoundland dog
Newfoundland | Photo by Dariusz Sbirenda

Although this breed might not come to mind when thinking about cold weather hiking, Newfoundlands are surprisingly good at working in the cold. Their thick, waterproof fur provides insulation, and their large size and muscular structure make them perfect for hauling heavy loads during the hike.

Newfoundland dogs are significantly larger than the average dog, with males typically reaching heights of 28 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 130 to 150 pounds. Not only does their considerable size make them excellent for carrying heavy loads, but it also contributes to their impressive strength and resilience in challenging weather conditions. Their large, webbed feet give them superior traction in snow and icy conditions, adding to their suitability for cold weather hiking.

Despite their size, they are known for their gentle and friendly nature, making them wonderful hiking companions, especially in wintry conditions.


Samoyed | Photo by Arina Dmitrieva

This breed is a great hiking partner and loves being outdoors.

It has a thick, fluffy coat that provides warmth during cold weather hikes. Its sturdy structure and friendly personality make it a great companion for long hikes, and its independent nature means it won’t be afraid to forge ahead.

Samoyeds are medium to large dogs, with males typically measuring between 21 to 24 inches in height at the shoulder, and weighing between 45 to 65 pounds. Females are slightly smaller but still robust, standing at 19 to 21 inches tall and weighing between 35 to 50 pounds. This size contributes to their strength and endurance on the trail. Samoyeds are also known for their white, dense, double-layer coat that not only provides them with warmth but also gives them a striking appearance.

Samoyeds have been known to sleep in the snow in their native Siberia. Besides their physical attributes, Samoyeds are incredibly friendly and sociable dogs with a strong desire to be part of family activities. Their alert and playful nature, combined with a significant amount of intelligence, makes them well-suited to a variety of outdoor activities.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard
Saint Bernard | Photo by Katerina

One of the best dog breeds for cold weather hiking is undoubtedly the Saint Bernard. The breed was originally used for mountain rescue in the Swiss Alps, so it has a proven track record of withstanding harsh, frosty conditions. The Saint Bernard has a dense coat to protect it from the cold, and a robust, muscular body ideal for long hikes in challenging terrains.

Saint Bernards are massive dogs, with males typically weighing between 140 to 180 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, but still large, standing at 26 to 28 inches tall and weighing between 120 to 140 pounds.

Despite their intimidating size, Saint Bernards are known to be gentle giants.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiff | Photo by Grisha Grishkoff

Another breed that can be considered one of the best dog breeds for cold weather hiking is the Tibetan Mastiff. Originating from the Himalayan region, they are well adapted to high altitudes and cold climates. Their thick, double coat acts as an excellent insulator, and they possess a powerful build and a fearless disposition that make them great companions for demanding winter hikes.

Tibetan Mastiffs are large and robust dogs, with males typically weighing between 90 to 150 pounds and standing around 26 inches tall at the shoulder.

Apart from their physical capabilities, Tibetan Mastiffs are known for their protective instincts, loyalty, and independence, traits that make them reliable companions during hiking expeditions, particularly in cold climates.


Originally from the mountainous regions of Japan, the Akita is a breed that is both stunningly beautiful and incredibly resilient. With their thick double coats and strong, muscular bodies, Akitas are well-equipped to handle extreme cold. These dogs are known for their loyalty and bravery, making them excellent protectors and companions. Whether you’re hiking through snowy trails or simply enjoying a winter stroll, an Akita will be by your side, ready to face any adventure that comes your way.

These are just a few examples of the many wonderful cold-weather dog breeds available. Each breed brings its own unique traits and characteristics to the table, so take the time to research and find the one that best suits your lifestyle and preferences. Remember, when it comes to finding the perfect four-legged adventure buddy, there’s a breed out there that’s just waiting to embark on new trails with you.

For more information on other outdoor dog breeds, check out the hiking dog breeds and adventurous dog breeds guides on our website.

What Qualities Make a Dog an Excellent Companion for Hiking in Cold Weather?

When it comes to choosing a four-legged companion to join you on your chilly adventures, the characteristics of cold-weather dog breeds play a crucial role. These furry friends are specially equipped to handle the rigors of frosty climates, making them the perfect companions for outdoorsy people and avid hikers like yourself.

1. Thick, Insulating Fur

A dog with a thick, preferably double-coat of fur is going to feel better in cold weather. Makes sense, right?

These kind of coats consist of two layers: an outer coat and an insulating undercoat. The outer coat acts as a shield, keeping the cold air and moisture at bay, while the undercoat provides an additional layer of insulation to keep your furry friend cozy and warm.

This provides essential insulation against frigid temperatures, keeping them warm and protected during cold-weather hikes.

2. Insulating Undercoat

The insulating undercoat is particularly important in coldest climates.

It consists of dense, soft fur that traps warm air close to the dog’s body, creating a natural barrier against the cold. This undercoat not only provides insulation but also helps regulate body temperature, keeping your canine companion comfortable in even the chilliest of conditions.

3. Cold-Weather Adaptations

Cold-weather dog breeds have also developed a range of cold-weather adaptations that enable them to thrive in wintry environments. These adaptations can include shorter ears and tails, which are less prone to frostbite, as well as protective features like webbed feet that provide better traction on icy terrain.

4. Robust Physical Structure

The size and body structure of cold-weather dog breeds also play a significant role in their ability to handle colder climates. Larger breeds tend to have more insulating body fat, which helps them retain heat. Additionally, their sturdy frames and muscular builds enable them to navigate through snow and withstand harsh weather conditions with ease.

A sturdy and robust physical structure, focused on strength and endurance, enables the dog to navigate challenging terrains with ease, making them an excellent companion for cold-weather hiking.

Long-distance cold weather hiking isn’t for everyone (neither dog, nor human).

Click here to learn more about outdoor dog breeds.

5. Energetic and Active Nature

An energetic and active nature ensures that the dog not only endures but also enjoys the hiking experience. Their enthusiasm and energy makes it also better and more enjoyable/bearable for you.

Look for breeds that are known for their stamina and endurance, such as hunting dogs. These breeds will be able to keep up with your active lifestyle and won’t tire easily on those long, snowy trails.

6. Independence

Having a certain level of independence is crucial for a cold-weather hiking dog.

This quality allows them to confidently forge ahead on the trail, making decisions and navigating obstacles with their own instincts.

7. Affectionate and Friendly Demeanor

In addition to being a reliable hiking companion, a dog with an affectionate and friendly demeanor enhances the overall hiking experience. They provide a harmonious and cooperative atmosphere, both on the trail and as a beloved family pet.

Read more: How to Train Your Dog to Be a Hiking Companion?

Holding paw of dog

Considerations for Choosing a Cold-Weather Dog Breed

When it comes to finding the perfect furry companion for your cold-weather adventures, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. As an outdoorsy person and hiker, you want a dog that can keep up with your active lifestyle while also thriving in chilly temperatures.

Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing a cold-weather dog breed:

Size and Space Requirements

A crucial factor to consider is the size and space requirements of the dog breed.

While you may have plenty of room to roam during your outdoor adventures, it’s important to ensure that your furry friend will also have enough space to stretch their legs. Larger breeds, such as the majestic Bernese Mountain Dog or the powerful Newfoundland, often require more room to roam and play.

On the other hand, if you have limited space, you may want to consider smaller breeds that are still well-suited for colder climates, like the Siberian Husky or the Samoyed.

Grooming Needs

When it comes to grooming needs, cold-weather dog breeds often have specific requirements to keep their coats in top condition. The thick double coats of these breeds provide excellent insulation, but they also require regular maintenance.

Proper grooming is essential to prevent matting and keep your dog’s coat healthy and free from debris. Breeds like the Akita and the Alaskan Malamute may require more frequent brushing to remove loose fur and keep their coats looking their best. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to keep your dog looking fabulous, these breeds can be a great choice for you.

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization are important aspects to consider when choosing a cold-weather dog breed. As an outdoorsy person, you’ll likely want a dog that is well-behaved and can handle various situations encountered during your adventures. It’s important to choose a breed that is known for being trainable and social.

Breeds like the Newfoundland and the Bernese Mountain Dog are known for their friendly and gentle nature, making them great companions for both humans and other animals you may encounter on your hikes. Providing your dog with proper training and socialization from a young age will ensure they are well-adjusted and obedient in any situation.

By considering these three important factors – size and space requirementsgrooming needs, and training and socialization, you can find the perfect cold-weather dog breed that suits your outdoorsy lifestyle. Remember, it’s important to choose a breed that not only thrives in colder temperatures but also matches your energy level and can keep up with your adventurous spirit.

Preparing Your Cold-Weather Dog for a Hike

Now that you have chosen the perfect cold-weather dog breed to accompany you on your outdoor adventures, it’s important to ensure that your furry friend is well-prepared for the chilly conditions. In this section, we will explore the essential steps you need to take to get your dog ready for outdoor activities in cold weather.

Cold-Weather Gear

When venturing into the great outdoors with your canine companion, it’s crucial to equip them with the right gear to protect them from the elements. Investing in high-quality cold-weather gear such as waterproof jackets, insulated boots, and thermal sweaters can provide an extra layer of warmth for your dog. These items not only shield your dog from the cold, but they also help to prevent moisture from seeping into their fur, keeping them dry and comfortable.

The more serious the hike, the more preparation is needed.

Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining your dog’s overall health and well-being, especially in cold weather. 

Ensure that your dog’s diet is rich in high-quality proteins, which help to keep their muscles strong and their energy levels high. Incorporate healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, into their meals to promote a healthy coat and skin. Additionally, provide them with a well-balanced diet that includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals to support their immune system and keep them in optimal condition.

Health and Veterinary Care

Taking care of your dog’s health is of utmost importance, regardless of the weather conditions. However, in cold weather, it’s essential to be extra vigilant. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to ensure that your dog is in good health and to address any potential issues before they worsen.

Protect your dog from common cold-weather ailments such as frostbite and hypothermia by being aware of the signs and symptoms and taking necessary precautions. Additionally, maintain a proper grooming routine for your dog, including regular brushing to remove any ice or snow from their coat and prevent matting.

In conclusion, by following these guidelines and properly preparing your dog for outdoor activities, you can ensure that both you and your furry companion have a safe and enjoyable time exploring the wilderness. Remember, the bond between you and your dog grows stronger with each adventure you embark on together.

Featured photo by Till Daling

Please note that the information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional advice from a veterinarian or dog trainer. Always consult with a qualified expert before making decisions regarding your dog’s health, well-being, and training.

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