If you're the kind of person who's outside no matter what the weatherman's forecast is, you may be looking for a dog who can withstand the cold and snow of winter and summer's heat and humidity. There are several breeds who can tolerate hot and cold conditions, ranging from the little Parson Russell terrier to the mighty Labrador retriever.
Though a dog's physical traits indicate he is suited for outdoor life, his personality may not. Dogs are pack animals and many breeds become bored and frustrated when left outdoors, away from their people, often engaging in negative behavior such as digging and excessive barking.
The Canaan dog is the national breed of Israel, though he isn't so popular in the United States. Standing between 19 and 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 35 and 55 pounds, he's a medium-sized dog. He has a double coat consisting of a straight outercoat that's medium length on his body, shorter on his head and front of his legs and longer on his tail, top of his shoulders, ruff and back of his thighs. His short, soft undercoat changes density according to his environment, making him adaptable to a wide variation in temperature. The Canaan dog is alert, intelligent and active, as well as loyal to his family, though he is mistrustful with strangers.
As a hunting dog, the Sussex spaniel is historically a great outdoorsman. The American Kennel Club notes that he has an "abundant coat" that may be slightly wavy or flat. He's a medium-sized dog, carrying between 35 and 45 pounds on a relatively short frame. He stands between 13 and 15 inches tall. Though he enjoys time outdoors and his coat offers him protection when he's working outside, the Sussex spaniel is definitely not a yard dog. He's an eager to please, people-oriented dog who prefers to be with his family.
If you're looking for a canine athlete, consider the Chinook, a dog who was developed specifically for sledding. He stands between 22 and 26 inches tall and weighs between 50 and 90 pounds, a build that helps him in his physical endeavors. If you don't spend much time mushing in the snow, he'll make a willing hiking partner. He has a thick, double coat that goes through a semi-annual process known as "blowing coat," when he sheds heavily for about three weeks. He is a friendly, gentle dog, though he may be reserved with strangers.
Parson Russell Terrier
The Parson Russell Terrier's diminutive size doesn't seem to deter him from the most vigorous outdoor activities. Standing between 13 and 14 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 13 and 17 pounds, he's a sturdy little fellow who was bred to chase prey down holes. Whether his coat is smooth or broken, it's weatherproof, able to stand up to wet conditions and withstand rough terrain as he gives chase. As intelligent as he is energetic, the Parson Russell needs firm training, and a job doesn't hurt. A sport such as agility is a positive way to channel his drive.
The Labrador retriever isn't the most popular dog in the United States for nothing. Hunting assistant, playmate, service dog, search and rescue dog -- this guy does it all. At 21.5 inches to 24.5 inches tall and 55 to 80 pounds, he is a hardy, athletic dog. He wears a soft, weather-resistant undercoat topped by a dense, short, firm overcoat; together they protect him from cold, water and a variety of ground covers. At his best he's an outgoing, friendly dog who thrives when he's included in family activities. Because of his high energy level, he needs plenty of exercise and firm, consistent training.