The Samoyed is a large and gentle breed of dog that is easily recognizable by its thick and fluffy white coat. Often referred to as Sammies, Samoyeds crave attention and are more than happy to put in a bit of work for their humans, be it herding, hunting, or hauling a sled. Sammies are perfectly optimized to withstand cold weather, with an incredibly efficient double coat that insulates them against freezing temperatures and an upturned mouth that prevents drool—and thus icicles—from forming at their mouth. Despite all this, Samoyeds are just as glad to lounge around as a family pet as they are to hold a job. And with their friendly nature and easy-to-please personalities, Sammies make excellent animal companions—provided they get plenty of love and attention.
- Group: Working Group (AKC)
- Weight: about 45 to 60 pounds (male) or 35 to 50 pounds (female)
- Height: about 21 to 23.5 inches (male) or 19 to 21 inches (female)
- Coat + Color: Samoyeds are known for their coats, which include a thick undercoat beneath a soft and straight outer coat. Their fur color is primarily white, though some Samoyeds have a more cream or biscuit (extremely light brown) colored coat.
- Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years
Characteristics of the Samoyed
|Tendency to Bark||Medium|
|Amount of Shedding||High|
History of the Samoyed
It may come as no surprise that the hearty, thick-coated Samoyed originates from Russia, a country where the weather often demands a well-insulated barrier against the cold. Their name comes from the semi-nomadic Samoyede people of Siberia, who have relied on the breed for centuries for things like hunting, herding reindeer, pulling sleds, and huddling up with for warmth on freezing Arctic nights.
Sammies are classified as a basal breed, meaning their existence pre-dates the origins of most modern dog breeds. Their strong work ethic and incredibly friendly nature has made them a good companion to humans throughout their long existence, which has helped the breed proliferate. It was Arctic explorers who first brought the breed to England in the late 18th century, where the Samoyed’s regal coat and warm personality made them a fast favorite among the English elite. They were the breed of choice for Alexandra of Denmark, who became Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions in 1901 after the death of Queen Victoria.
The first Samoyed officially registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the United States was a dog named Moustan of Argenteau, who joined the AKC ranks in 1906. While Sammies had already gained popularity among North American mushers, it marks the first instance of Samoyeds being recognized as a premier show-worthy breed. Today, Samoyeds rank 65th in popularity out of the 193 AKC-registered breeds.
That huge fluffy coat doesn’t come without its responsibilities. Samoyeds are intense shedders, and require frequent grooming to stay at their best. Because of their double coat, dirt and debris has a way of getting lost in their fur, meaning mats and tangles are not uncommon. Regular brushings are a key part of Samoyed care, particularly during their peak shedding season, which usually happens twice a year. While it is possible to properly groom a Samoyed at home, it is often recommended that Sammies receive professional grooming services to ensure that their baths and brushings are done as thoroughly as possible.
In terms of exercise, Samoyeds need daily walks and plenty of attention from their human companions. A Sammie who is more often than not left to his or her own devices may act out due to physical and mental frustrations. Long walks, active play sessions, and a good daily dose of one-on-one bonding time help Samoyeds stay happy and stimulated. Because they’re quite accepting of other dogs, having a canine playmate for your Sammie is a good way to make sure that all of their energy needs are met.
Training a Samoyed is often easy, as they have strong bonds with their humans and aim to please them. While a Sammie may be a little bit stubborn about picking up new behaviors, actively working on training helps strengthen their bond further and plays on the Sammie’s working history. Nosework, agility, and herding are all good ways to make use of a Sammie’s natural talents.
Common Health Problems
Similar to other purebred dogs, Samoyeds do have some common health issues, though they are generally known for being pretty healthy dogs. If purchasing a Samoyed from a breeder, ask for a complete health history of their genetic line so that you know whether your dog will have a higher propensity for one of these more common Samoyed health conditions.
· Progressive Retinal Atrophy (RTA)
· Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy (a genetic kidney disease)
· Diabetes Mellitus (failure of the pancreas to regulate blood pressure)
· Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (an obstruction or blockage in the blood flow to the heart)
Diet and Nutrition
Samoyeds don’t require any sort of special diet. Most are perfectly happy and healthy eating high-quality commercial or home cooked food, though as with all dogs, they should be watched for signs of weight gain and have their diets limited accordingly if they’re packing on too many pounds. If you notice uncontrolled weight gain, potential food allergies, or gastric distress, talk to your vet about customizing a diet that will work best for your Samoyed. In addition to meals, Samoyeds need plenty of fresh water.
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
There is a perfect dog out there for everybody. Continue reading through our dog profiles to learn about other popular breeds and how to care for them, or just go to a shelter and see who you connect best with. You can also find a list of Samoyed breed rescue groups through the Samoyed Club of America.
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