Samoyed (Sammie): Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Samoyed dog standing indoors in profile

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

The Samoyed is a large Siberian working breed with pointed ears, a thick double coat, and a classic spitz tail that curls over its back. Often referred to as Sammies, these gentle dogs are easily recognizable by their thick and fluffy white fur. 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. They have an incredibly efficient double coat that insulates them against freezing temperatures, and their upturned mouths prevent drool—and thus, icicles—from forming at their lips. Despite their inherent hardiness, Samoyeds are just as glad to lounge around as a family pet as they are to perform a job. With their friendly nature and easy-to-please personalities, Sammies make excellent companion dogs provided they get plenty of love and attention.

Breed Overview

Group: Working

Height: 21 to 23.5 inches (males); 19 to 21 inches (females)

Weight: 45 to 60 pounds (males); 35 to 50 pounds (females)

Coat: Double coat with thick undercoat and straight outercoat

Coat Color: Primarily bright white, sometimes cream or biscuit (very light brown)

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Temperament: Playful, friendly, loyal, energetic, alert

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Origin: Siberia

Characteristics of the Samoyed

The Samoyed is especially playful with its family, and its friendly temperament carries over to strangers, kids, and pets alike. This herding breed has a long history of working with other animals, so Samoyeds should only require basic socialization at first to maintain amiable personalities. They do have a prey drive, however, so they may need training to avoid chasing smaller dogs or cats. As high-energy dogs, Sammies are best suited for owners with plenty of time to dedicate to their daily exercise and training needs.

These dogs can do fine in warm temperatures, but don't be surprised if your Samoyed refuses to come inside in cold weather. Like other arctic breeds, snowy days are cause for celebration in the Samoyed's mind, and your dog will be especially happy to play outside with you or bury itself in a snowy mound. Some owners even provide kiddie pools filled with ice during the summer for this breed to play in as a special treat.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Samoyed

It may come as no surprise that the hardy, thick-coated Samoyed originates from Russia, a country where frigid temperatures demand 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 activities like hunting, herding reindeer, pulling sleds, and snuggling 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 have made Samoyeds a great companion to humans throughout their long existence, which has helped the breed proliferate. Arctic explorers first brought these dogs to England in the late 18th century, where their regal coats and warm personalities 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.

In 1906, a dog named Moustan of Argenteau was the first Samoyed officially registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the United States. While Sammies had already gained popularity among North American mushers, the recognition by the AKC marks the first official instance of Samoyeds being known as a premier, show-worthy breed.

Drawing of a camp of the nomadic people the Samoyeds

Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images

Two owners bringing a pack of samoyeds to a dog show at Crystal Palace, London.

Fox Photos / Stringer / Getty Images

John F. Kenney Jr. holding samoyed puppy
John F. Kennedy Jr. nuzzles up to a Samoyed pup from the sled dog concession, December 30, 1965. Bettmann / Getty Images

Samoyed Care

Samoyeds can be exceptional companions and loyal pets, but these dogs don't become their best without some work from their owners. Your Samoyed will need plenty of vigorous exercise and attention daily, along with consistent training and regular grooming. With the right care, this breed can become a beloved member of your family.


In terms of exercise, Samoyeds require more than many other active breeds. These dogs need at least two hours of activity per day in the form of running, long walks, or active play sessions combined with plenty of one-on-one bonding time with their owners.

A Sammie who is left to his or her own devices too often may act out due to physical and mental frustrations. Paying extra attention to this breed will help it stay happy and stimulated. Because they’re quite accepting of other dogs, having a canine playmate for Sammies is a good way to make sure that all of their exercise needs are met.


The Samoyed's fluffy coat doesn’t come without responsibilities. These dogs are intense shedders, and they require frequent grooming to look and feel their best. Because of their double coat, dirt and debris can get lost in their fur, which results in mats and tangles. Regular brushings are a key part of Samoyed care, particularly during their peak shedding seasons twice each 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. Owners should also trim their dog's nails, brush their teeth, and clean their ears with a pet-safe cleaner to prevent infections.


Training a Samoyed should be relatively simple once the basics are done, as these dogs form strong bonds with their humans and aim to please. However, this breed is known for having a stubborn streak at times. Obedience lessons should begin when puppies are seven to eight weeks old.

While your Sammie may take some time to pick up new skills, actively working on training helps your dog understand its role and maintain desirable behaviors. The Samoyed's working history is a benefit for training, as these dogs enjoy the process of learning. Nosework, agility, and herding are all great ways to make use of this breed's natural talents.

Portrait of a Samoyed
The Spruce / Kevin Norris
Samoyed dog sitting on green velvet chair

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Closeup of a Samoyed's fur
The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Common Health Problems

Similar to other purebred dogs, Samoyeds have some common health issues, though they are generally regarded as a healthy breed. Responsible breeders will test prospective parents for inherited conditions, and if you adopt a Samoyed puppy, you should be provided with its family medical history.

The following are conditions most commonly seen in this breed:

  • Glaucoma: This painful condition causes pressure to build up inside your dog's eyes and eventually leads to blindness.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Affecting the cells of the retina, this eye disease most commonly presents in adulthood or at a senior age, and it eventually leads to blindness.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Common in large breeds, this condition causes a malformation in your dog's joints as they age. Severe cases of dysplasia may require surgery.
  • Samoyed Hereditary Glomerulopathy: This genetic kidney disease causes a buildup of toxins in the blood.
  • Diabetes Mellitus: This type of diabetes causes failure of the pancreas to regulate blood pressure.
  • Hypothyroidism: Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism affects the body's ability to produce important hormones.
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis: This condition causes an obstruction or blockage in the blood flow to the heart.
Samoyeds as Pets

The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

Diet and Nutrition

Feed this breed high-quality commercial or home-cooked dog food twice per day. Like other dogs, Samoyeds should be watched for signs of weight gain and have their portions limited accordingly if they’re packing on too many pounds. In addition to a proper eating schedule, this working breed needs plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.

Talk to your veterinarian to determine a healthy diet plan for your specific dog based on its age, weight, and activity level. Your vet can also help customize meals if you notice weight gain, potential food allergies, or gastric distress.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Samoyed

While Samoyeds aren't especially rare, this breed may be difficult to find in shelters. If you're interested in adopting a Samoyed, check with breed-specific rescues or visit your local shelter to meet a similar dog in need of a forever home.

If you're planning to adopt a Samoyed puppy, it's essential to research responsible breeders. Potential adopters should be able to meet the litter's parents, see the conditions the dogs are kept in, and be provided with their family medical history (including any relevant genetic tests). These puppies typically cost between $600 and $1,500, but prices may be closer to $3,000 depending on pedigree and availability.

These resources for the national breed club, breed-specific rescues, and the AKC can help you start your search:

These groups will be able to provide guidance about Samoyed adoption, and may even refer you to a local branch or rescue. If you aren't certain this breed is right for you, you might be able to foster a Sammie to see if they are a good fit for your home.

Samoyed Overview

  • Gentle and friendly temperament

  • Can withstand cold climates

  • Great for families with children and other pets

  • Large amounts of shedding

  • Needs lots of time and attention

  • Can develop habits like chewing furniture if left alone

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you love the Samoyed, you might also like these similar breeds:

There is a perfect dog breed out there for everyone. With a little research, you can find your next best friend!

  • Is a Samoyed a Good Family Dog?

    Samoyeds are incredibly friendly and loving family pets, and these dogs usually get along very well with strangers and other animals. Because of the breed's high energy level and need for attention, Samoyeds do best with active families.

  • Is a Samoyed a Husky?

    While the two breeds have a lot in common, the Samoyed and Siberian Husky are not the same. Huskies were bred for pulling sleds over long distances, while Samoyeds are herding dogs at heart. Samoyeds are typically solid white and Huskies can have a variety of coat colors.

  • Are Samoyeds Lazy?

    Well-trained Samoyeds can be quite calm in public, so these dogs may be mistaken for having low energy levels. On the contrary, this working breed actually requires great amounts of exercise every day to expel its energy, and it needs dedicated owners with plenty of time for activities.

  • Are Samoyeds Easy to Train?

    Thanks to their history as working dogs, Samoyeds are eager to please their owners and should be relatively simple to train. However, this breed is known for having a stubborn streak, so owners should be prepared for consistent reinforcement of training throughout their dog's life.