Snow Dog Breeds - List With Photos
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The roughly 350 dog breeds recognized by the International Cynological Federation (FCI) are classified according to certain standards, characteristics or criteria. Sledge dogs, sometimes known as snow dog breeds, are one such category. These are dogs which can withstand the often sub-zero temperatures of cold weather areas. Dogs that live in these cold climates tend to have a double coat in order to keep them warm and insulated. But which dog breeds are considered snow dogs?
For more about snow dog breeds and sledge dog breeds, keep reading AnimalWised. Not only will we offer information about more than 30 different snow dog breeds, we'll see photos so you can know what they look like for yourself.
- Cold weather dog breeds
- How cold is too cold for dogs?
- Dogs in snow
- List of sledge dogs
- Canadian Inuit Dog
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamute
- Greenland Dog
- List of snow dogs
- Karelian Bear Dog
- Finnish Spitz
- Norwegian Elkhound
- Norwegian Lundehund
- East Siberian Laika
- West Siberian Laika
- Russo-European Laika
- Finnish Lapphund
- Chow Chow
- Akita Inu
- Snow dog breeds list
Cold weather dog breeds
According to the FCI, sledge dogs refer to Nordic dog breeds whose physical adaptations have allowed them the ability to pull sledges. In general, sled dogs have a thick coat, ideal for cold temperatures. Sledge dogs also live in packs with a marked hierarchy and are considered extremely strong dogs.
So, what’s the difference between snow dogs and sledge dogs? When we talk about snow dogs or cold weather dog breeds, we are not only referring to those which are able to pull a sledge. This classification also includes breeds which are better able to live in colder climates due to certain physical factors. For example, although you may have a Chihuahua in a cold-climate country, they are not dogs which can easily withstand low temperatures. Therefore, they would not be considered a snow dog. You also would need quite a lot of Chihuahuas to pull a sledge.
For more about breed standards and categorization, we recommend reading our article where we discuss how dogs are classified into types and groups?
How cold is too cold for dogs?
In general, small and medium-sized dog breeds experience cold-related problems when they dip below 7 degrees Celsius, while larger breeds start to suffer at a temperature of -1 ºC. This will depend on their type of coat, how accustomed they are to these colder temperatures and what protection you offer when in these cold temperatures.
For more about how to protect a dog in the cold, we recommend taking a look at our article on why my dog is cold.
Dogs in snow
Many dog owners wonder if it is too cold to walk their dog. In general, as we've already mentioned, it will depend on your dog’s coat type and breed. The colder the temperature, the shorter your dog’s walk should be. If, however, you have a snow dog breed with a heavy coat, you should not take your dog out in temperatures less than -1 degrees Celsius. Before venturing into the cold with your dog, we recommend keeping the following in mind:
- Make sure that your dog is dry before leaving the house.
- Make sure that all moisture is removed from your dog’s coat when you return home.
- Offer your dog toys for it to pursue, allowing you to take advantage of the short time outside.
- Provide your dog with adequate clothing, booties for legs and other accessories to protect them from the cold (if necessary).
- Avoid the use of antifreeze, as many contain toxic substances.
- Avoid unsafe areas or unknown terrain, especially if snowing or raining.
- Take water in a bottle to offer your dog. If not, your dog may resort to licking snow which can be harmful to its health.
- Puppies, older dogs or immunosuppressed dogs should walk for a shorter amount of time as they are less tolerable to the cold.
Now, let’s begin with our list of shed dog breeds!
List of sledge dogs
Sledge dogs are classified as any canine used to pull sleds in snow. According to the FCI, sledge dog breeds are grouped in GROUP V. To learn more, we suggest taking a look at our article where we list the types and breeds of Husky dogs.
Keep reading to discover our list of sledge dog breeds:
1. Canadian Inuit Dog
This Arctic breed of working dog, originally from Canada, is among the largest of the snow dog breeds. The Canadian Inuit Dog is capable of freight-hauling up to 80 kilos per 75 kilometers. In addition to its talents as a sled dog, the Canadian Inuit Dog is also known for being a capable hunter.
The Canadian Inuit Dog, sometimes known as the Canadian Eskimo Dog, is characterized for its solid and muscular body. Their coat is dense during the winter, but it will shed it in warmer temperatures. Its coat color varies and can appear in pure white, white with reddish or gray spots, reddish and silver cinnamon.
For more about this beautiful large dog breed, we recommend reading our article where we list 10 dog breeds that look like wolves.
2. Siberian Husky
The Siberian husky is an easily recognizable breed of sledge dog. Siberian Huskies are originally from Siberia, hence their name. They grew in popularity after being brought to the United States and bred during the early part of the 20th Century. They were officially accepted by the FCI in 1995. Characterized by a muscular body of medium to large size, Siberian huskies are covered by a layer of hard hair and are famous for their incredibly blue eyes.
Siberian Huskies are a playful and extroverted dog breed, but are also know for sometimes being naughty. For example, they love to jump over fences. For more about this lovely dog breed, we suggest taking a look at our article where we list the pros and cons of Siberian huskies.
3. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is another sled dog originally from the United States. Alaskan Malamutes are one of only two officially recognized Alaskan dog breeds. They are among the oldest sled dogs and bear a significant resemblance to the Siberian Husky. This large dog breed has a solid, strong and muscular body. It is characterized by its abundant and thick gray or black fur. The coat of an Alaskan Malamute is much longer than a Husky's, this being one of their most obvious differences.
As for personality, Alaskan Malamutes are generally faithful and friendly dogs that require frequent play and exercise. For more, read about the differences between the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky.
4. Greenland Dog
The Greenland Dog is originally from Greenland, where they were used as sledge dogs for Inuit populations. The Greenland Dog is considered one of the oldest sledge dog breeds in the world, dating back over 1,000 years.
Its characterized by its short, but strong and compact body with powerful legs. As with many types of snow dog, this breed has a double layered coat, a dense but soft inner layer and a straight external layer which is both hard and rough. Coat color can range from white, black and gray, solid or bicolor.
You may also be interested in reading our list of 18 oldest dog breeds in the world.
The Samoyed dog is originally from Russia and the Siberian region. There they were used as both sled and hunting dogs. This fluffy-haired dog exudes elegance and friendliness, owing to its laidback temperament. It has a thick double-layered coat covering its whole body. They have an equally fluffy tail and characteristic black eyes and lips.
For more about this friendly and sociable white snow dog breed, we recommend reading our breed file where we tell you everything you need to know about the Samoyed dog.
List of snow dogs
The above breeds are the only dogs officially classified as sledge dogs according to the FCI. All sledge dogs are also considered snow dogs, however, not all snow dogs are suitable for sled pulling.
Next, we list other snow dogs breeds capable of withstanding cold temperatures.
1. Karelian Bear Dog
The Karelian Bear Dog is from Finland and was originally used as a hunting dog. It is a medium snow dog breed that measures between 55 and 60 cm at the withers. It has a smooth and rough coat that can appear black or black and white in color.
The Karelian Bear Dog is known for its friendly relationship with humans, but they can territorial and/or even aggressive toward other dogs. Given their strong hunting instincts, they require lots of physical activity and games to keep them stimulated.
2. Finnish Spitz
The Finnish Spitz is a snow dog breed also originating in Finland, where it was used for hunting birds and moose. The Finnish Spitz is the national dog of Finland and is an incredibly popular companion animal. It is considered a small snow dog breed, only reaching between 45 and 50 centimeters at the withers.
The Finnish Spitz is characterizes by its thick, reddish, semi-long fur that is harder on the head and shoulders. If you have adopted this snow dog breed, you may find some naming ideas with our list Finnish names for dogs.
3. Norwegian Elkhound
There are two varieties of Norwegian Elkhound, grey and black. The Norwegian Elkhound was originally used for moose hunting and is the National Dog of Norway. The Black Norwegian Elkhound, only reaching 47 centimeters in height, is smaller than the Grey Norwegian Elkhound which tops out at 52 centimeters.
Both have a short and semi-long hard and smooth coat, as well as a tightly curved tail. In both cases, the gray or black solid color may be accompanied by some white markings.
4. Norwegian Lundehund
The Norwegian Lundehund originates from Norway, where it was used for hunting seabirds. The Norwegian Lundehund has certain anatomical adaptations that allow it to crawl in small spaces, such as flexible paw digits, a flexible neck and agile front legs (perfect for puffin hunting).
It has a short coat, which appears longer on the neck and thighs. It has a bicolor pattern which can appear combining red and white or yellow with black.
5. East Siberian Laika
The East Siberian Laika is a Russian snow dog breed, originally used for hunting. This snow dog breed breed, officially recognized in 1947, has a medium and compact body with a large head and powerful muscles. Its coat is smooth, hard and dense, appearing more bushy on the head and tail. Find out more of its compatriots with our list of Russian dog breeds.
6. West Siberian Laika
Also native to Russia, this time hailing from the Urals area, the West Siberian Laika was also used as a hunting dog breed. Recognized by its long and muscular body, this Laika dog breed has a thick and smooth coat.
These dogs are protective and have a strong hunting instinct which will require a lot of positive reinforcement and correct socialization.
7. Russo-European Laika
The Russo-European Laika is a Spitz-type hunting dog originated in the Russian forests which form part of Northern Europe. Recognized in 1952, the Russo-European Laika was originally used as a hunting snow dog. Today, however, it is a popular companion animal.
The Russian-European Laika is a medium and strong dog with a long and muscular body. It has a thick, hard and woolly coat which can appear black, white or bicolor.
The Norrbottenspets is a breed of spitz-type dog from Sweden, where it was originally used as a hunting dog. It is believed by some that the Norrbottenspets descends from some Laika varieties.
The Norrbottenspets is one of the smallest snow dog breeds and is characterized by its active and courageous personality. It has a thin and dense double mantle, which is more-often-than-not solid white with some brown patches.
9. Finnish Lapphund
The Finnish Lapphund is a snow dog breed of the Spitz type from Finland, where it was used for a long time as a herding dog. This medium sized dog breed has a muscular but slender body as well as a docile and cheerful personality.
Its fleecy coat is semi-long, rough and appears more abundant in the neck and thighs. In terms of color, the variations include black accompanied by brown, with a white chest and neck.
For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss what are the different types of shepherd dogs.
The Eurohound is a variety of dog breed not yet recognized by the FCI. This snow dog breed adapts well to snowy climates and is the product of a cross between the Siberian Husky and certain pointer breeds. It has been used as a sledge dog and hunting dog. As it is a mixed breed, no uniformity in its appearance is expected, although most of the specimens are characterized by a slender body with long legs and short fur.
11. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is a dog breed from China and was originally used as both a guard dog and companion. This ancient dog breed existed almost 2000 years ago. Chow Chows are a medium to large dog breed with a lion-like appearance. It is characterized by its thick mane of hair which accumulates around its head. As for the color, it varies between reddish, yellow, white and black.
For more about this incredibly cute dog breed, we recommend reading our article where we discuss everything you need to know about the dog with a blue tongue.
12. Akita Inu
Akita Inu is a large Japanese snow dog breed with a strong and elegant body. This dog breed has slanted eyes and a playful and calm personality. As for its fur, it is smooth and and can appear striped, white, and sand in color.
The Akita Inu has a hard, smooth outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat allowing it to withstand colder climates. For more about this fluffy dog breed, we recommend reading our Akita Inu breed file.
Snow dog breeds list
According to the FCI, other cold weather dog breeds include:
- Icelandic Sheepdog
- Norwegian Buhund
- Swedish Lapphund
- Swedish Shepherd
- German Spitz (large spitz, medium, small and dwarf varieties)
- Volpino Italiano
- American Akita
- Hokkaido Dog
- Kai Ken
- Kishu Dog
- Shiba Inu
- Japanese Spitz
- Korea Jindo
If you want to read similar articles to Snow Dog Breeds - List With Photos, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.
- About sprint racing sled dogs. Endurance Kennels (2016, junio 16). Retrieved from: https://www.endurancekennels.com/about-eurohound-sprint-racing-sled-dogs/
- Akita. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/255g05-es.pdf
- Pastor finlandés de Laponia. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/284g05-es.pdf
- Chow-chow. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/205g05-es.pdf
- Norrbottenspitz. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/276g05-en.pdf
- Canadian eskimo dog. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/211g05-en.pdf
- Perro cazador de alces sueco. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/042g05-es.pdf
- Husky siberiano. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/270g05-es.pdf
- Malamute de Alaska. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/243g05-es.pdf
- Perro de Groenlandia. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/274g05-es.pdf
- Samoyedo. Federation Cynologique Internacionale, 2019. Retrieved from: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/2<