9 Best Mountain Dogs

Man's best friend on a pow day

Ever dreamed of moving to the mountains and settling down? Get a nice house, a splitboard, a dog – it’s the ultimate fantasy, and one that’s surprisingly easy to accomplish if you’re willing to tear yourself away from the trappings of life in the UK, but that’s a story for another article… For now we’ll focus on the four-legged part of the plan: powder pooches!

Whilst there are tons of dog breeds that thrive in a mountain environment, not to mention cross-breeds, we’ve picked out a few that from our travel experiences that compliment an active, backcountry-based existence the best, whilst sneaking in a couple of Insta-famous dogs owned by pros. Brandon Cocard’s even has its own account! And as always, feel free to weigh in on how we’ve missed out your favourite canine variety in the comments below.

Our video editor @samuelmcmahon and his best friend dropping into some lines together in an abandoned #Avoriaz last week #splitboarding #dogswhoride @avoriaz1800 @avoriazsz #ukshred

A video posted by Whitelines Snowboarding (@whitelines_snowboarding) on

Australian Shepherd

OK, so we might be a little biased here as Whitelines’ own canine mascot is an aussie, but we’re far from the only snowboarders to recognise these Californian-originating (yeah, the Australian name is pretty misleading) fluff bombs as the perfect mountain companion. Torstein Horgmo has a miniature version, but maybe more famously Scott Stevens has a pair that he keeps so close to his heart that in the past they were featured as the graphic on his pro-model CAPiTA board:

Coming from a Tahoe climate, their double-layer coat keeps them both watertight and warm in the winter but sheds enough to keep them cool in the summer, perfect for an alpine lifestyle. As they’re very playful working dogs they love all the exercise they can get, making them ideal touring companions on the way up and down the mountain!


Whilst you might initially think of Bouncer from Neighbours when you imagine a Labrador, they’re actually pretty great in colder climates. Their playfulness makes for great riding companions, as you can see in the video above, but as they’re also highly intelligent (well, for a dog) labs are quite often used as avalanche rescue dogs by ski patrols. They’ve even got the word ‘rad’ in their name, what more could you ask for from a powder hound?

Bernese Mountain Dog

Gentle giants, the sheer size of these doesn’t make them great for your typical French apartment/Austrian basement, but out of doors Bernese Mountain Dogs are perfect for alpine climates. Originally bred to accompany Swiss dairy herders in the Alps, they’re strong enough to pull small carts, so plodding through backcountry snow is a walk in the park for them, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Siberian Husky

Mike Basich and his husky Summit. Photo: Dan Milner

Obviously these guys are perfect for a winter lifestyle, if they can stay comfortable in temperatures down to around -50°C then a typical day on the hill in Europe is no sweat for them, though be warned: they’re fiercely independent and may leave you for dust if they pick up the scent of something tasty in the woods. However, if you’re dead set on one and have the time and space to let them roam then you’d be hard-pressed to find a breed better suited to mountain living – treat them right and they’re extremely loyal in their own way.

Handsome boy #husky #siberianhusky #dog #snow #winter #photography

A photo posted by L O I S V E R O (@loisvero) on

Shiba Inu

Haru accompanied our editor on his last Japan trip. Photo: Matt Georges

As well as making great memes, Shiba Inus can make great shred dogs – they are from the land of the rising sun and neck deep pow after all. Haru (pictured, meaning ‘spring’) accompanies the Car Danchi crew during their ad-van-tures around the Japanese sidecountry and you can find them popping up round European resorts these days.

In breeder circles they carry the ‘independent’ tag that basically means ‘can be a bit of an asshole’, but as with all dogs if you invest enough training they should be alright, and we can think of few places better than a mountain environment that lets them make full use of their tough double coat to give them a happy foundation

Tibetan Mastiff

Another one to avoid if you’re short on living space, but if you have enough room to accommodate a beast that can grow up to more than 70kg then why not? Just look at that guy! Obviously well suited to the snow by means of their huge coats, they’re more of a lodge dog to come home to than an active touring breed as they were originally bred to be flock guardians. In fact they’re supposedly one of the most ‘primitive’ breeds going with a genetic lineage that diverged from wolves thousands of years before most domestic dogs.

They can be quite protective and a lack of consistent, rational discipline can result in the creation of dangerous, unpredictable dogs, although this is true of virtually every dog breed. With proper training they can become great family dogs. And if you think look like lions you’re not alone, in 2013 a Chinese zoo got in trouble for exhibiting one as such until guests complained it was barking.


Not technically a ‘proper’ breed if you’re into your kennel clubs, Tamaskans are bred from sled dogs and German Shepherds to look as much like Grey Wolves as possible, just without the tendency to rip out human throats. Like most of the breeds on this list they’re classed as working dogs, meaning that with the right training they’re obedient as well as energetic, great for taking out on mountain adventures.


A favourite of our editor, Leonberger literally means ‘lion shepherd’ in French and ‘mountain lion’ in German -either way it’s clear why when you see one, though at heart they’re great family animals as well as fantastic search and rescue dogs. They can be huge, though females are dramatically smaller than the male, something you may want to consider if this noble hound strikes your fancy.

Great Pyrenees

It snowed in Tahoe again ???? Thanks @gill_monty_photo ! @roo_bearcub

A photo posted by Brandon Cocard (@bcocard) on

The dawg of choice for all-terrain destroyer Brandon Cocard (it even has its own Insta account), Great Pyrenees dogs generally much prefer colder temperatures, becoming almost lazy in the summer but ready for anything come the winter. It’s described as loyal, attentive and composed, one to plod alongside you on long ascents rather than tear around looking for stuff to play with.

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