Best Dog Breeds for Winter Sports

Posted by Billy Francis

If you’re searching for a furry friend to take along on a winter hike, cross-country ski trip or other pet-friendly winter activity, you don’t want a dog who shivers at the sight of snow flakes. These dog breeds are passionate about the powder, built for winter sports, and would love to join you for a romp through the snow.

Canine Characteristics for Cold-Weather Fun

Most athletic dogs over 35 pounds can pull a human over short distances in wintry conditions, but certain pups are built for the snow. Bred to help humans survive in harsh weather, dogs with these traits also excel in winter sports:

  • A thick winter coat or double coat to withstand freezing temperatures.
  • Strength to pull weight through the snow.
  • Stamina to go for long distances.
  • Intelligence to follow instructions and to help find trails in snowy conditions.
  • A good temperament to keep going even when the going gets tough.

These sturdy, sporty dog breeds are ideal companions for your next cold-weather adventure.

Alaskan Malamute

“Home is where the snow is.” Photo by @kimxlee__

Alaskan Malamutes, affectionately known as Mals to their pals, have winter running through their veins. Originally bred by the Malemiut Inupiaq people in Alaska, these powerful dogs tend to have large webbed feet that act like snowshoes in winter. Mals are slower than other sled dogs over long distances, but they enjoy taking part in activities that involve pulling weight.

The Alaskan Malamute’s love of humans makes them great family dogs, as long as they have plenty of space outside to burn off extra energy. If you’re looking for another way to harness your Mal’s “pawtential,” they make excellent therapy dogs due to their cuddly coats and tolerant temperament.

Siberian Husky

“Do I sound a little Husky?” Photo by @storyoftwotailsfarm

The Siberian Husky was imported to Alaska in the early 20th century to compete in long-distance races. This medium-sized breed has many similar traits to the Alaskan Malamute: hardworking, strong, loyal, and built to withstand days of play in wintery conditions. Huskies tend to be more agile and speedier than larger sled dogs.

Huskies are famous for their unique howling, which they often use to “talk” to their humans and express a wide range of emotions. If you welcome one of these pups into your home, be prepared for interesting conversations! And they aren’t just superstars at home. In 1925, a diphtheria epidemic was threatening the town of Nome, AK. The only serum known to prevent the outbreak was in Anchorage, 537 miles away. Balto, a Siberian Husky, and a number of other sled dogs were brought in to save the day. For his heroism, a statue of Balto was erected in New York’s Central Park.

German Shepherd

“I’m an all-weather Shepherd.” Photo by Tahoe on Unsplash

German Shepherds, among the most popular dog breeds in the world, are known for their intelligence and loyalty. The ultimate working dog, Shepherds are tall, relatively light, robust, and equipped with a double coat to fight off the cold. These winter-ready pups are excellent at tracking in any weather, which make them fine companions in case you wander off the trail.

They’re also affectionate and devoted dogs who make wonderful family pets. A word about those double coats, though: because of that outer layer of fur, German Shepherds shed year-round and require regular brushing. So you may need to keep a list of dog groomers handy.

Bernese Mountain Dog

“Who rescues who?” Photo by Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash

Don’t be intimidated by the imposing size of a Bernese Mountain Dog. “Berners” are affectionate and get along with the whole family. They’re also sturdy canines blessed with strength, speed and agility. Their wavy winter coats help insulate against the cold, making them ideal pets if you and your pack love to play in the snow.

Bernese Mountain Dogs weigh in between 75 and 110 pounds on average, but they’re also very gentle pups who are wonderful around children and other animals. They will find a way to always be in physical contact with their owners, whether that means squeezing under legs or leaning their body weight against them. And snuggling up to a Berner’s thick fur will always keep the chill off!


“Half cloud / half adorable.” Photo by @ragnaelise

A natural-born hunter and hauler, Samoyeds (Sammys) are actually a medium-size breed, but their thick double coats give them the appearance of being much bigger. These pups are naturally fast and friendly to humans, which makes them fine companions for winter activities, especially as those distinctive all-white coats are practically impervious to the cold.

Samoyeds bring joy with their “Sammy smiles,” a big grin that seems even bigger than other pups because of the contrast between their black mouth and white fur. Interestingly, their sparkling smiles have a practical function. By keeping the corners of their mouth turned up, Sammies avoid drooling, which prevents icicles from forming on their face in cold-weather conditions.

German Short-Haired Pointer

“Short hair, don’t care.” Photo by @raijamanz

The German Short-Haired Pointer (GSP) is characterized by its long legs, floppy ears and short hair, but that doesn’t mean it can’t handle winter weather. Snow and rain slide off their water-resistant coats, allowing GSPs to maintain a higher core body temperature. These tough pups are known for their endurance and can handle any snow activity.

German Short-Haired Pointers are incredible athletes. From agility to dock diving and more, this breed excels in sports whatever the weather.

St. Bernard

“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” Photo by

St. Bernards are gentle giants known for having friendly temperaments and being cuddly by nature. But they’re also active breeds who need plenty of exercise, which makes them great companion dogs for winter activities. There’s a reason why the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in snowy Avon, CO, chose a St. Bernard named Bachelor for its mascot! Size, power and being calm under pressure are some of the traits that help them come alive in the snow.

St. Bernards are natural born rescuers. The breed gets its name from the treacherous St. Bernard Pass in the Alps between Italy and Switzerland, where these noble dogs would come to the aid of people trapped in the snow after avalanches.

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Banner photo by Flickr/mtrienke.