Why Do Dogs Love Snow So Much?
At some point in our lives, snow goes from being an exciting treat to a routine-disrupting headache. For many adults, that childlike wonder went out the window right around the time we became saddled with responsibilities, schedules, and aching joints.
But kids aren’t the only ones who find joy in the frigid white stuff. For the vast majority of dogs, snow is a very, very big deal. If you’ve ever seen a pup experience their first snowfall, you know: it’s their version of Christmas morning.
So, what is it about snow that gets their tails wagging? Scientific American spoke to a few canine experts, and when it comes to snow, it turns out that dogs are a lot like humans. But, unlike us, dogs never lose their childlike fascination with novel experiences.
"Many animals from temperate areas seem to really enjoy frolicking in the snow. I think it relates to the sensory qualities of snow and the bracing effects of cold weather,” Gordon M. Burghardt, a professor at the University of Tennessee, explained to Scientific American. “I think when watching dogs, for example, in snow we are not too far off in comparing their activity to that which we experienced as young children ourselves."
Many dogs love snow for the same reasons as toddlers: because it’s fun to play with.
"Dogs like to manipulate their environment," Stanley Coren, a scientist and Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and expert in canine psychology, told The Dodo. "They will play in pile of leaves, just like the way kids do—the mind of a dog is very much like that of a two-year-old."
Snow, Coren explained, provides dogs with a new material to interact with, which they find fun and exciting.
"They will roll and bounce in it—it's really the fun of manipulating something," he said. "It is essentially play behavior."
But not all dogs feel the same way. It’s much more common to see thick-coated Nordic breeds like huskies and retrievers playing in the snow than those with thin coats. Unlike chihuahuas, greyhounds, and other thin-coated pups, those breeds were bred to thrive in cold conditions. It allows them to play without becoming overheated. And then it really is just plain old fun when you don’t have to shovel it.