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25 Best Dog Breeds For Outside Life (Our Picks For Best Outdoor Dog Breeds Go To…)

Best outdoor dog breeds for your family

The best outdoor dog breeds as related to climate conditions. This article is based on a Temperate climate with cool to cold winters. Think of Southern Canada or the Northern United States of America, kind of climate. After some serious research, we’ve come up with a list of dog breeds that make the most sense for outdoor life. We’ve focused on Mid-North America as our ‘control group.

How I Rank Dog Breeds

When determining the best dog breeds for outside life, we analyze many aspects of the breed. We look at the dogs’ size, climate zone suitability, and behavior as the three main deciding factors when we rank dog breeds as suitable for the outdoors. The rank scale is 1 for not suitable and 10 for perfectly suited for outdoor life.

The best outdoors dogs are larger breeds that can hold their body temperature better.
A group of different large dog breeds is shown. For colder climates, a larger dog with long hair is a good candidate to start researching the best outdoor dogs.

Dog Size Matters For The Best Dogs For Outdoor Living

Dog size determines the dogs’ ability to ward off predators. A Chihuahua will have a hard time fending off a coyote, for example. I have only chosen breeds for this list which are medium to large breeds. This will ensure the best chance of survival. Again, we recommend if you do decide to keep a dog outside, that you keep at least two dogs together. This will help to avoid any dog behavioral issues caused by the dog being lonely.

The other consideration with the size is heat retention. The larger the mass, the longer it takes to change temperature. By size alone, larger dogs are better suited, to a certain point of view that is. On the flip side, smaller animals take less time to warm up. But, this isn’t a case of big dogs vs small dogs, is it?

Climate Zones Of Earth – Understanding What A Dog Breed Can Tolerate

As I am certain you are aware, there are many climate zones on Earth. Many of these climate zones are cool to cold and a dog house is definitely a good idea. Making sure that the dog house is suited to the particular climate zone is a smart move or it defeats the purpose. Here’s a rundown of the basic climate zones here on Earth.

Arctic, Polar, And Tundra Climate Zones

The best outside dogs for northern climates are few and far between.
Living in the Arctic, are you? Only one or two dog breeds can handle it.

Arctic, Polar, and Tundra climates are cold for the majority of the year.  They usually only see a few months of the year above freezing, and some barely that.  If you live in this sort of climate, then when choosing the best dog breed for outside living in your area, you should only look at breeds suited for the extreme cold. This is the coldest of regions of the Earth and is only suited to breeds specifically bred for this climate such as Huskies for example.

Temperate Climate Zones

Boreal Forest

Drone / Aerial view of the northern Boreal Forest

Much of Asia and North America are covered by Boreal Forest.  This is the vast expanse below the tundra and is one of the Earth’s great sources of fresh oxygen.  The Boreal forests are usually below freezing for 4 to 6 months of the year. Winters can be harsh for small breeds or thin-coated breeds. A dog house heater is a great idea to keep your dog comfortable when they spend time outdoors.


Best outside dogs for higher altitudes are those that can handle the cold weather.
Many dogs that can handle cooler temperatures are good for mountain life.

As the height or altitude increases, so the temperate drops.  Higher altitude climates are characterized by typically higher winds and cooler temperatures than lower altitudes.  Winters can be harsh for small breeds or thin-coated breeds.

Grasslands and Temperate Forests

Cattle dogs are one of the best dogs for outdoor living in the Prairies.
In the grasslands and Prairies, you will often find the Cattle Dog.

The Temperate forests and grasslands typically have warm summers and cool winters.  The precipitation is usually year-round, with either rain or snow depending on the season.  Winters can be harsh for small breeds or thinly coated breeds. However, breeds like the Old English Sheepdog or the Saarloos Wolfdog both do well in this sort of climate.

Tropical Climate Zones

Deserts and Dry Grasslands

The best outdoor dogs are those suited to their climates.
Monument Valley Park Dog in Arizona – A perfect example of desert dog life.

Deserts and dry grasslands are hot, dry, and have either seasonal rain or minimal rain.  Not suitable for heavy coat dog breeds.

Tropical Grasslands and Rainforests

Best outdoor living dogs can handle the humidity and temperature extremes of where they live.
Here is a dog running in the rainforest on Vancouver Island BC Canada. These climates are very humid.

Tropical grasslands and rainforests are hot, medium to heavy precipitation, and typically lush with life.  Night temperatures only drop to cool at the lowest.  Not suitable for heavy coat dog breeds. Dog breeds like the Basenji do well in this climate.


Dogs are pack animals. Period. When we are analyzing breeds for the top dog breeds for outside life, we need to take the behavior into account. Dogs don’t like to be alone. Despite this fact, we’ve hand-picked a variety of breeds that are typically more confident and independent than other breeds. This is important for dogs who live outside so they can avoid behavioral problems. We strongly recommend that if you are considering keeping a dog outside that you make sure you have at least 2 dogs so they have company. Leaving a dog alone outside is considered cruel by some.

Best Dog Breeds For Outside Life In Temperate Climates

Best Outdoor BreedsDog House Rank
Siberian Husky9
Bernese Mountain Dog9
Alaskan Malamute9
The Great Pyrenees9
Australian Shepherd8
Shetland Sheepdog8
Australian Cattle Dog8
Old English Sheepdog8
Norwegian Elkhound8
German Shepherd7
Irish Wolfhound7
Bearded Collie7
American Foxhound7
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog6.5
Labrador Retriever6
Rhodesian Ridgeback6
Belgian Sheepdog5

Dog Breeds For Outside Life Temperament and Climate Chart

Best Outdoor BreedsTemperamentClimate
Siberian HuskyLoyal, outgoing, mischeviousCold
Bernese Mountain DogGood-natured, calm, strongTemperate / Cool
SamoyedAdaptable, Friendly, GentleTemperate / Cool
Alaskan MalamuteAffectionate, Loyal, PlayfulTemperate / Cool
The Great PyreneesSmart, Patient, CalmCool
Australian ShepherdSmart, work-oriented, exuberantTemperate
Shetland SheepdogPlayful, energetic, brightTemperate
NewfoundlandSweet, patient, devotedTemperate
CollieDevoted, graceful, proudTemperate
St.BernardPlayful, charming, inquisitiveTemperate / Cool
Australian Cattle DogAlert, curious, pleasantTemperate
Old English SheepdogAdaptable, Gentle, SmartTemperate / Cool
Norwegian ElkhoundFriendly, confident, dependableTemperate / Cool
German ShepherdConfident Courageous, SmartTemperate
MastiffCourageous, dignified, good-naturedTemperate
VizslaAffectionate, gentle, energeticTemperate
Irish WolfhoundCourageous, dignified, calmTemperate
Bearded CollieSmart, Bouncy, CharismaticTemperate
American FoxhoundIndependent, easy-going, sweet-temperedTemperate
Greater Swiss Mountain DogFaithful, family-oriented, dependableTemperate
Labrador RetrieverFriendly, Active, OutgoingTemperate
RottweilerLoyal, loving, confident guardianTemperate
Rhodesian RidgebackAffectionate, dignified, even-temperedTemperate
KeeshondFriendly, lively, outgoingTemperate / Cool
Belgian SheepdogBright, watchful, serious-mindedTemperate

Top 5 Best Dog Breeds For Outside Life In Temperate Climates

Siberian Husky

Huskies make good outside dogs for colder climates. In fact, they don't do well in the heat.
Siberian Husky is a hardy dog that does well in colder climates.

A solid Husky can stand up to 24” at the shoulder, making them an excellent guard dog against most predators.  They are loving, affectionate dogs with a high level of intelligence. This intelligence makes them inquisitive, highly trainable, and mischievous.  Siberians have a powerful body and have been bred to work as sled dogs in the extreme cold of the far north. This has given the breed a high amount of stamina and energy which can make them challenging to keep up with.  

Due to this high energy, it is best to make sure they have lots of room to run around, but keep the fence solid and high or they will keep running. Siberians are known for their running abilities, never underestimate these beautiful, naturally clean dogs. They are one of our top favorites for the best dog breeds for outside life.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog can handle living in the mountains, hence the name.

Large and powerful, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a solid working dog.  They can stand upwards of 28” making them quite intimidating should any predator wander near, except for maybe a bear.  The Bernese Mountain Dog has a thick coat whit helps keep it warm in cooler climates. Originally bred for the mountain slopes and higher altitude pastures of Switzerland, these dogs are well-suited for cool temperate climates.  They are gentle and majestic with a hint of confidence to boot.


Small dog breeds that can live outside include the Samoyed. They aren't as big as some of their other outdoor cousins like the Husky.
Samoyeds love the outdoors. Although keeping their white coat clean can be a challenge.

The Samoyed is a beautiful and functional breed.  They possess a white, thick coat that protects them gracefully from the cold.  These dogs are perfectly suited for temperate and cool climates. Samoyeds are intelligent, confident, and social dogs prone to mischief like Huskies.  The Samoyed is best not kept alone in solitude, as this will definitely cause them to be destructive and ill-behaved due to their intelligence. Samoyeds are also good defenders as they typically stand up to 24” in height which makes coyotes no match for a full-grown Samoyed.

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the few dog breeds that can live outside in colder weather like its cousin, the Husky.
Alaskan Malamute, a cousin to the Husky, also does well in colder climates.

A larger cousin to the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute also comes from a far north heritage.  Alaskans are large and powerful with a thick and seemingly weatherproof coat. Malamutes stand up to 25” at the shoulder which again makes them quite formidable to all but bears in temperate and cool climates.  They are affectionate and loyal, intelligent and highly trainable, like their cousins.

The Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is one of the good outdoor dogs for temperate climates.
The Great Pyrenees is graceful, beautiful, and handle temperate to cool climates well.

The Great Pyrenees are another mountain dog breed well suited to temperate and cooler climates.  No stranger to higher altitudes, the Great Pyrenees is a large breed, often standing upwards of 32” at the shoulder.  They are formidable, steadfast, and beautiful guards with a thick weatherproof coat making them perfect to stay out on cooler days.  The Great Pyrenees is a calm and loyal dog breed but does not let its size fool you, they are fast to act when danger arises.

Last Thoughts

So, we’ve covered the different climate zones. We’ve covered many dog breeds that are well suited for the outdoors. As long as you are taking good care of your dogs and making precautions for things like rabies, heartworm, and so on, your dog should do fine outside. I’m not saying to leave your dog outside all hours of the day and night. This will depend on what climate and what breed you are in. In short, if you wouldn’t be comfortable outside, chances are neither is your dog. So, please use some common sense for your dog’s sake.

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