ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Samoyed

Samoyed dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Samoyed is an angel of the canine world dressed in a shiny, white robe with warm eyes, cute smile and a lot of love to give. It is one of the most beautiful dogs that came from the Northern European continent. Praised and respected by nomads since 4000 years ago, the Samoyed enjoys fame and appreciation these days too. It is a dog that came from frozen grounds to warm up man’s life. Not just a working dog, this type of dog has the amazing ability to sense its owner’s emotions and to do whatever it takes to make it all better.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group: Working Dogs
Height: Generally 1 foot, 7 inches to 2 feet tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 50 to 60 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 14 years

The name of this dog breed comes from the name of a tribe from the northern part of Siberia, namely the Samoyed. These people used the Samoyed dogs for the guidance of reindeer herds and for pulling sleds. Since these dogs shed a lot, people from the said tribe used to gather all the hair and make clothes with it that kept them warm. Fur traders took these dogs away from the northern territories in other parts of the world during the nineteenth century, where are now used as companion dogs.

The Samoyed is friendly, gentle, cheerful, intelligent, energetic and watchful, but somewhat stubborn, dominant, moody and sometimes naughty. If it is taught to listen to its owner, then it becomes gentle and patient year round. It is friendly with all people, including foreigners and with other animals too. Of course, there might be exceptions, but usually these dogs like cats.

This dog type loves to be outdoors, in a cool environment together with its human family that ideally is quite active. Since its coat is water resistant, it can stay out when the weather is not too friendly and it can accompany its owner for long walk, bike rides and jogging. The Samoyed likes to roam, so it should not be taken out without a leash, especially where there are little distractions like small animals or children.

The Samoyed is a powerful medium sized dog, well-muscled, with a prominent chest, long and slender legs. Its body is rather long than tall and provided with a broad head, a tapered snout that is specific to the Spitz family and a black nose that is rarely brown or dark red. Its eyes might be almond or dark and slightly distanced. As for is ears, they are small, rounded at the top, spaced and raised. Its tail is long, bushy, curved over the back or hanging.

The coat of the Samoyed is double, with a first fluffy, thick and short inner layer and a coarse outer layer. The hair of this dog type has hypoallergenic properties and its texture is similar with angora hair’s texture, which have both been successfully used to manufacture thick garments that protect very well against cold.

Main Highlights
  • The Samoyed dogs take their name from the Siberian Samoyed tribe.
  • In Europe, this dog breed was called the Bjelkier, which means “whitish”.
  • The Samoyed dogs were bred to guide reindeer herds, to pull sleds and to be a source of heat for people who used to sleep close to them.
  • The main physical characteristic of these dogs is the mane from around their necks.
  • The Samoyed dog breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club only in 1906 although it exists for thousands of years.
  • The mood of Samoyed dogs does not change as they get older. They tend to be very playful during all the stages of their lives.
  • Since they are so sociable, they want to be around their owners most of the time. If left alone for a longer period of time, they become quite destructive.
  • This type of dog does not have a specific smell like most dogs do. In fact, they completely lack dandruff, fact which makes them hypoallergenic.
  • The Samoyed looks like it is smiling all the time. This is because of the shape of its snout, but also because it has no reason not to be happy. This characteristic is often called Sammy’s smile.
  • That person who feeds this dog more and shows the most affection will be considered the owner. This dog likes all the members of the family, but only recognizes one as authority.
  • This dog type is very attractive to moving beings or objects, so if it sees a small animal running or an object rolling on the floor it will run to catch them.
  • Their charming appearance and sharp intelligence is very appreciated by those participating in various canine competitions.
  • The Samoyed is a special dog breed known for its extraordinary ability to perceive human emotions.
  • A copy of the Samoyed can be seen in «The Proposal», a movie where this teddy bear-looking dog plays an important role.
Breed History

Siberia, which is located in the northeastern Russia, is the home country of the Samoyed. In fact, there was a tribe called the Samoyed that was actually using these dogs intensively. At first, people from this tribe used to call the Samoyed, Bjelkier because of the white color of its coat. The Bjelkier was very useful for guiding reindeer herds, for hunting and for pulling sleds.

The primitive dogs, also known as the Spitz are not a category that comprises many dog breeds. Even so, the Samoyed managed to get in. Since this dog type is included in the Spitz category, it means that it was domesticated and proliferated approximately 3 thousand years ago.

A few examples of other dog types that is as old as this one is the Husky, the Malamute and the Chow Chow. The list can continue since there are 14 dog breeds that are considered primitive because they were created thousands of years ago.

People living close to the Samoyed noticed that it sheds a lot of hair and they thought they could use that hair in order to make warm clothes. In addition, this dog has a high body temperature that can be used to warm up a person. Therefore, people used to sleep really close to them. Besides being so useful, the Samoyed was also a very resistant dog that had the needed strength and endurance to get the job done.

People from the Samoyed tribe lived off hunting. They used to follow reindeers because they needed food, but eventually they ended up domesticating them. Just like any other herd, the one they followed in their attempt to domesticate a few of its members comprised more docile and passive copies. So, the process was not too difficult and these animals soon became a symbol of wealth. The Samoyed dogs were there to protect the reindeers.

The first explorers of the frozen lands relied on the special qualities of the Siberian sled dog. In 1800, the explorer Robert Scott imported the first specimens to England, helping with breeding. Moreover, British zoologist Ernest Kilburn Scott spent 3 months with the Samoyed tribes in 1889.

He took with him to England a male puppy and later on imported a female. These few dogs and those brought by other explorers have formed the basis of the western Samoyed. The first breed standard was written in England in 1909 by the same British zoologist.

The first Samoyed was brought to the US in 1906 by fur traders. In 1923, people changed this dog’s name from Bjelkier to Samoyed. The AKC officially recognizes this dog breed in 1947 and categorizes it as working dog.

Size

The size of the Samoyed varies depending on gender. Generally speaking, it is a medium sized dog. Males stand at 21 inches tall, but there are also copies that may reach 23.5 inches tall. As for females, they are usually 19 inches tall, but may grow 2 more inches depending on each individual. Both males and females weigh 50 to 60 pounds.

Personality and Character

Just, like any other dog breed, the Samoyed is not a dog fitted for everyone. The ideal owner for this dog type should be sympathetic, patient and should know how to approach it. It has a strong personality and it can be stubborn, if not addressed properly, so it needs proper guidance.

The Samoyed is definitely a family dog. It was raised in the middle of families, so its instincts tell it to act like the family that takes care of it is the center of its universe. It behaves in such way that it pleases its owner. It is the type of dog that craves for attention, but it doesn’t do anything specific in order to get it.

Always its owner’s shadow, this dog type wants to be involved in all the activities that take place in its family. This dog just wants people to know that it is there in case they need it. This is also an aspect inherited from the way they were raised by the Samoyed people.

Therefore, an excellent choice for families, this dog has a gentle heart and it is patient. Aggressiveness is not something that characterizes it at all. It’s in its instincts to protect the little ones and to watch over them, making sure that nothing bad happens to them. The same thing can be said about other animals, especially cats.

Although it can be very vocal, the Samoyed is not suitable to be a guard dog. It befriends strangers because it thinks that every man is kind. This is also because it doesn’t like to stay alone. If left alone for too long, it may develop a destructive behavior and it may also become depressive. In addition, such a dog always needs mental stimulation. Boredom makes it start digging, barking or chewing different objects.

Health and Potential Problems

The Samoyed may be affected by the following diseases: gastric torsion, hip dysplasia, cataract, glaucoma, entropion, diabetes and others.

  • Gastric torsion. This is a sudden gastric affection that may be threatening for the animal’s life. It is associated with excessive bloating.
  • Hip dysplasia. A very common malformation of the hip joint, this affection may lead to arthritis after inflicting a lot of pain to the dog.
  • Cataract. This is an affection of the eye. It causes the loss of the normal transparency of the lens. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and it might lead to vision loss over time.
  • Entropion. Also an eye affection, it is characterized by inward rolling of the eyelid. This causes irritation to the eyeball, which generates other problems.
  • Glaucoma. Very serious and painful, this disease causes increased intraocular pressure. It can lead to blindness if not treated on time.
  • Diabetes. Very common in people too, not just in animals, this is a condition associated with a shortfall in the production of insulin.
  • Portosystemic shunt. This is a malformation of blood flow associated with the liver. Blood is shunted away from the liver. This means that blood toxins accumulate and generate further illnesses.
  • The Samoyed is also prone to arthritis. Kidney failure and urinary tract infections are also on the list. Among the less probable ones are anal glands disease and dwarfism.
Care Features

The Samoyed feels best in outdoor environments with lower temperatures side by side of an active family. Its rich and warm coat helps it cope with any weather very well, besides the really hot one. It needs a lot of daily exercise, such as long walks, jogging beside the bike and so on.

It is so curious and independent that it loves to explore the surroundings on its own. Therefore, its living space should be properly restricted. It often gets vocal making a sound that resembles the sound of a wolf. Otherwise, it doesn’t bark too frequently unless it has a good reason or it is very bored.

The Samoyed is a smart and opportunistic dog that will quickly figure things out and try to determine its owner to let it do whatever it wants. This type of dog will always search the easiest and most efficient method to get what it wants. Therefore, training will not be easy, but it can be easier if started when this dog is little.

This dog has a particular way of ignoring a command if it doesn’t want to do it. Many owners have concluded that, in fact, this is a less intelligent dog that simply can’t do what it’s told or it doesn’t understand. Things are, of course, different because the Samoyed simply acts like it doesn’t hear or understand whatever it doesn’t want to do.

The Samoyed reaches maturity at around one and a half years of life. Obedience training can be started sooner, at one year and other types of training as soon as it is 4 months old. Firmness and perseverance are very important when it comes to training this dog. Flexibility is not something it should be aware of.

It often happens for the Samoyed to perform beautifully in class, but to act like the constant less intelligent and deaf dog at home. This happens because it is challenged by competition in class, but not challenged by anything at home. Since it doesn’t have competitors, it might not want to do anything.

Feeding Schedule

The Samoyed’s daily amount of food recommended is 1.5 to 2.5 cups divided into 2 equal meals. Regarding the ingredients of the dry food type fitted for this dog breed, they should be balanced and meat should be the main one. This dog breed is a great lover of fish too. One can supplement its diet by giving it fish treats.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat of the Samoyed is thick, rough and not wavy at all. It is also dense and fuzzy, protecting it from low temperatures. Among the colors of this dog’s coat are pure white, which is mostly preferred, biscuit, cream and champagne too. In warm weather, this dog breed should be monitored as they are prone to overheating.

The Samoyed requires daily brushing and combing in order to keep its coat in perfect condition. This dog breed has the tendency to slowly shed once or twice a year. Moreover, bathing is difficult because of its coat density, so one can use dry shampoos from time to time. Talcum powder is also effective and permitted.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Samoyed is gentle and patient with children, but it needs early socialization and firm education in order to unconditionally obey its owner. It has protective instincts when it comes to the little ones, but still needs a little guidance at the beginning. As for other pets, this dog type might get along fine with both dogs and cats, or it might see them as competitors. It really depends on how possessive or emotional it is.

The Samoyed is a dog that makes a wonderful partner for any active person that has enough resources and time to care for and educate it. This dog has a strong personality and it gets very attached to its owner and its owner’s family. Very enjoyable playmates for children, these dogs are calm and friendly with almost everyone.

It has a proud attitude, elegance and a strong constitution that may inspire fear, but in fact it is extremely gentle. A little difficult to groom, this dog type stands by its owner’s side unconditionally.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Charlotte Kingston

    Are vegetarians Sammys possible? Or will this harm their health?
    My vegetarian aunt is getting a Samoyed but would like the dog to be vegetarian too. How foolish or wise is her decision? Although she wants what’s best for the dog. Shouldn’t dogs be able to freely eat meat? Science-based information regarding this will be very appreciated. Any experiences with vegetarian Sammys?

  • Red Smith

    We’ll be moving to New York City by the end of the year with our Samoyed. Are ordinary dogs other than service animals allowed to ride the subway? What are your experiences about it? My dog is big, fluffy and very gentle.

    • Dogs are allowed in New York subway but it should be placed in a carrier which can be a challenge for a Samoyed. The city is quite dog-friendly, but it has numerous restrictions that you have to abide.

  • Winona Matthews

    My friend is getting a Samoyed from a breeder, but has some concerns. The pup’s dad and mom have open sores on the nose and ears respectively. She’s wondering if these are contagious and a common problem with Sammys? Any thoughts?

  • Samoyeds are quite prone to skin problems, which include the rare Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease. It would be very important to confirm with the breeder what the history of the open sores are, as they can be an acute flareup or something more chronic and hereditary. It is your right to ask questions from the breeder before getting a puppy to prevent complications in the future for both your fur baby and you as a pet parent.

  • Dogs can live in a vegan diet and thrive well. Unlike other animals, dogs are omnivores, which means they are not limited to just consuming meat. It is quite unconventional because we’re used to buying dog treats and dog food that are primarily meat-based, but vegan and vegetarian style dog food products are starting to grow in the market. She can discuss this with the veterinarian as well, if she’s having doubts about the idea and to clarify more questions.

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