Think your pup has what it takes to brave the Sochi climate and bring back the gold from the Winter Games? Here are our favorite picks for dog breeds that could dominate the 2014 Winter Olympics, along with the sport we'd like to see them participate in.
1. Norwegian Lundehund
With unique features like six toes on each foot and the ability to tip their head backward until it touches their backbone, the Norwegian Lundehund has the perfect blend of flexibility and agility for figure skating. Layback spins and Salchows notwithstanding, the Lundehund's small build and even disposition makes them a perfect companion for skating enthusiasts and domestic households alike. An arctic breed originally used to hunt Puffin birds, the Lundehund makes a loyal, playful companion, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
2. Alaskan Malamute
Originally used by Inuit tribes to pull sleds, the Alaskan Malamute is a large, robust dog bred for it's strength and perfect for the Nordic combined - an Olympic sport in which athletes compete in both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Their durability, strength and speed allow them to perform tasks that would normally require several smaller dogs and would serve them well in a dual sport capacity. With an energetic, friendly and patient personality, Alaskan Malamutes get along with children and would do best with an active family.
A Siberian breed bred for pulling sleds and herding reindeer, the Samoyed could easily win a medal in a cross-country skiing event. While covering 15 or 50 kilometer courses (the standard length for the men's events) may be challenging for some breeds, the Samoyed's history of covering long distances in Arctic conditions would give them a leg up on the competition. Recognized for their playful personality and protective nature, Samoyeds bond well with people and are loved by both dog fanciers and families of every kind.
4. Siberian Husky
A sled dog revered for being able to traverse even the most cold and difficult Alaskan terrain, a team of Siberian Huskies would make formidable competitors as an Olympic ice hockey team. While the breed still serves as a sled dog, they also make wonderful family pets. True to their working nature, Siberian Huskies love to play and run and do best with active families that can provide them with plenty of exercise. If left alone for too long, they may become destructive.
An independent, powerful breed, the Akita's strength and thick double coat would make it a threat on the Sochi slopes during alpine skiing events. An excellent watchdog and loving, loyal companion, their "pack leader" personality would allow them to excel in training and dominating winter sporting events. Because of its tendencies to be territorial and stubborn, a strong hand in training is essential for having an Akita in the home.
6. Finnish Spitz
A lively, active breed, the Finnish Spitz's trainability and agility makes it a perfect match for the luge - a small one or two-person sled that athletes use to slide feet-first down a track. With a clever nature and brisk, quick movement (that was essential for hunting small game), the Finnish Spitz would have no trouble navigating a track and would be more than happy to learn the ropes from an active owner.
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