Active families in cold weather regions who are interested in adopting a dog will be looking for a breed that can tolerate the frigid climate and play in the snow with the children. The list of Nordic dogs is a long one but not all of those dog breeds will fit into a family with children. Small children and even older kids need a pet that can tolerate playing and activity just as much as it can tolerate four seasons. Kids need a dog breed that is patient and loving to ensure that all play is safe play.
These 10 cold weather dogs are the best breeds to introduce to a family with children. Although many are larger breeds it is important to remember that when the dog has an even temperament it is easy to train so the size tends to matter less. With the proper training a giant breed dog can be just as easy to manage as a small dog. Many large and giant breed owners swear by their family friendly dogs as being great companions for children. Check out the 10 best cold weather dogs for a family.
10. Estrela Mountain Dog
The Estrela Mountain Dog- or Portuguese Mountain Dog- is an ancient dog breed that most commonly worked as a livestock guardian or in drafting. This large breed dog is ideal for a family with a farm or a few acres of land. This breed’s thick coat comes in many colours- perfect for working in the Portuguese mountains. According to The Original Dog Bible edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe this mountain dog is highly adaptable and gets along well with children. Estrela Mountain Dogs are gentle and loyal and with the right home to explore they can make great pets for children. The Dog Encyclopedia (Dorling Kindersley) lists the Estrela Mountain Dog as being patient- a key ingredient to a good relationship with smaller children.
9. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute originated long ago as an Arctic sled dog and can withstand some of the coldest temperatures in the world. Even though this breed looks like a wolf the Malamute is widely regarded as a family dog and does surprisingly well indoors as long as it can be with its family. This friendly large breed dog thrives with its family members but according to PetMD can sometimes act strange towards other pets or livestock. The Alaskan Malamute has a dense undercoat and plays well outside in winter weather. Due to the size of the breed it is important to train it not to jump up on children right away. According to the book Alaskan Malamutes by Betsy Sikora Siino the ancient Nordic dog belonged to the Mahlemut tribe who bred the dogs to accompany them on polar bear and seal hunts. Present day this dog makes a great edition to any family with children.
The Samoyed is a beautiful, pure-white Siberian dog. The Original Dog Bible lists the Samoyed as a “hunter, reindeer herder and sled dog.” This breed was named after the nomadic tribe Samoyed that bred them and used them as working dogs. Westerners exploring the Siberian tundra discovered the breed in the nineteenth century and brought the dogs back. Soon the gleaming, long-coated medium sized dog became a favorite of English aristocrats. Although the dog has a tendency to herd children it is a friendly and playful breed that thrives with its family. PetMD describes the Samoyed dog breed as playful and “a perfect companion for a kid.” It has a mischievous nature and craves human attention- so it has a lot in common with children too!
7. American Eskimo Dog
Another long-coated pure white dog is the American Eskimo Dog. This family friendly dog has a rich and entertaining history. This medium sized dog’s history takes it on tour with the circus. In the late nineteenth century the beautiful white dog was a popular trick dog according to the American Kennel Clubs Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition. The American Eskimo dogs were often seen performing in circuses in the United States. Since then these Nordic dogs have become outgoing and energetic members of the family. This breed is ideal for children because it is gentle but playful.
6. Great Pyrenees
The last white dog on this list is the Great Pyrenees. This dog is a gentle giant that loves to spend time with its family. This breed is mostly white while some have grey markings- mostly around the face and ears. This is another winter dog that is ideal for a large property or a farm where is can work as a herding dog or a guard dog- both of which are jobs that the breed was created for. This dog has a booming voice which it used in the past as a flock guardian in the Pyrenees Mountains. This giant breed is described by PetMD as being extremely gentle with children. This breed is very affectionate with its family but flourishes outdoors doing its job. The Great Pyrenees is great for active families that enjoy training, challenging and playing with their dogs- especially out in the snow!
Even though this Swiss mountain dog is short-coated the Appenzeller was made to work in all climates. Originally a farm dog this sturdy breed continues to work in its field- herding, drafting and stock guarding according to The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties by Liz Palika. This dog has the Swiss mountain dog tri-coloring and a short coat much like the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. This breed enjoys training that is fun and light-hearted making it a great companion for a child. It is also one of the smaller of the Swiss mountain dogs- weighing on average 66 pounds according to The Original Dog Bible. The breed is described as even-tempered, hardworking and friendly. This dog needs a yard to play with its family so it may not be a great city dog.
There is no better dog to play in the snow with than Canada’s own Newfoundland dog. This giant ball of fur is easy to train and eager to please. Nothing means more to a Newf than its family. According to About Dogs by Nicolae Sfetcu Newfoundland dogs “have been known to grieve when separated from their families.” Newfoundland dogs are the perfect example of “his bark is worse than his bite.” A Newf’s bark may be loud and scary but when it comes to guard dogs this dog is as bad as they come. It is far more likely to kill them with kindness. Newfoundland dogs have a long history of being search and rescue dogs in the icy, cold Canadian wilderness. According to the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada Newfoundland dogs are responsible for rescuing men and women from shipwrecks, deep snow and other disasters. This Canadian hero dog has been living as a companion dog for years now acting as caretaker- protecting the children in their family. Newf’s are gentle and mild tempered and they have been known to form special bonds with children.
3. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very old, historical dog breed that seems to be drawn to children. Ross D. Clark, DVM states in her book Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Bernese Mountain Dogs that skulls and skeletons “resembling the Bernese Mountain Dogs dates 400-800 B.C. were found in Germany and in ruins near Berne, Switzerland.” Berners are easy going and love spending time with their families. Not only will a Berner get along with the children but they also get along with other pets in the house. The breed is relaxed and easygoing. Despite popular belief not all Berners grow to be 120 pounds- many remain smaller. The fact is that if the dog’s parents are small it will likely stay on the smaller side and won’t fall into the giant breed classification. The Bernese Mountain Dog’s claim to fame is that it is the only one of the four Swiss mountain dogs with a long, silky coat. The working dog has now come down from the mountain and into the North American home. Bernese Mountain Dogs are becoming
The Leonberger is revered by pet experts as one of the best dogs for families with children of any age. The Leonberger originated in Germany and has webbed feet and a water resistant double coat- making it an excellent cold weather dog. According to The Original Dog Bible the Leonberger was bred for looks: it was bred to have a coat that resembles a lion’s coat. Since the dog came into existence it has been less of a working dog and more of a companion dog- honing its skills with children over generations. In his book The Complete Guide to Leonbergers John Belper describes Leonbergers as “notably family and children friendly” and states that the breed gets more and more even tempered as time goes by. The breed has known nothing but human companionship and it is affectionate, loving, loyal and gentle. These dogs can weigh between 90-130 pounds on average but are so delicate with people that you would never know it. The Leonburger is extremely intelligent and easy to train according to PetMD and it is not disturbed by the loud noises of children. It is also patient and tolerant. Every family considering adopting a dog should consider a Leonberger. They are great companions and absolutely adorable to look at.
1. Saint Bernard
The gentle and patient Saint Bernard is the closest thing to a nanny the dog world has. Often called “the baby-sitter dog” Saint Bernard’s appear to understand children and attend to their needs according to The Saint Bernard by Charlotte Wilcox. Among all of the giant breeds the Saint Bernard tops the list as the best family pet. The Saint Bernard’s nurturing instinct may come from its roots in search and rescue work. This historical breed was originally cultivated by monks at the Hospice of Saint Bernard in the snowy mountains between Switzerland and Italy. This dog has the ability to smell a human trapped under the snow and are thought to be responsible for saving over 2, 000 lives according to The Original Dog Bible. The breed is described as being friendly, affectionate and above all: tolerant. They are also quiet and slow moving- a great combination for small children but bad when it comes to protecting the home. Saint’s are just too happy and loving to be guard dogs. The most damage a Saint Bernard could ever do is knock something- or someone- over with its tail. It has a gentle nature with children most likely learned from the monks that bred them. For generations Saint Bernards have been kept as companion dogs and despite their size are considered great apartment dogs. They take care of the children in the home like their own puppies and are a great dog for a family looking for a big heart and slobbery kisses.