In more modern times, Samoyeds took part in Arctic and Antarctic explorations of Nansen, Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen. Britain’s Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII, loved the breed, and many of her dogs appear in the pedigrees of English and American Samoyeds today.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Samoyed in 1906. Today he ranks 72nd among the breeds registered by the AKC.
Is this breed right for you?
If you live in a cold climate and are looking for a warm and cuddly fur-friend that will stay by your side, then the Samoyed is right for you. With appropriate exercise, this breed does well in most dwellings, big or small. Big families with lots of children will love the sweet temperament of the kind and smiling Sammy. However, neat freaks should steer clear of this breed as heavy shedding comes with the territory. If you don’t mind the shedding, the odorless and hypoallergenic properties of the Samoyed’s magnificent coat provide an excellent source of warmth for cold winter days. Samoyeds tend to be prone to diabetes and hip dysplasia, among other minor health issues. Regular exercise and routine vet checkups are a must.
The standard states males at 21 to 23.5 in. at the shoulder; bitches 19 to 21 in. There is no disqualification for size in this breed. Size may vary from 17 to 25 in. though these extremes are typically sold as pets and seldom seen in the show ring. The majority of winning Sammies today fall within the middle of their standard size, rather than at the bottom or the top.
The well-bred Samoyed is an intelligent, gentle, and loyal dog. He is friendly and affectionate with his family, including the children, and thrives on being part of household activity.
The Samoyed is not a “lone wolf” dog — he enjoys close association with those he lives and is mentally and physically unsuited for being left alone in a kennel or back yard. His loyalty and alertness often make for a good watchdog.
At heart, the Samoyed is still a hunter. He is likely to chase after small animals that he perceives as prey. For his safety, he should always be leashed when he’s not at home in his fenced yard.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner.
Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, the Samoyed needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Samoyed puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
What You Need To Know About Samoyed Health
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.Health conditions that have been seen in the Samoyed include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), heart problems (like aortic stenosis and pulmonic stenosis), diabetes, and hypothyroidism.
The Samoyed Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Samoyed to achieve CHIC certification, he must have hip evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania (PennHIP), an OFA cardiac evaluation, an OFA DNA test for PRA, and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC’s website to see if a breeder’s dogs have these certifications.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs “vet checked” is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Samoyed at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The active Samoyed is not suited to apartment or condo life. A home with a large, securely fenced yard is the best choice. Because the Samoyed is a working dog, he needs room to romp and play.
Keep him mentally challenged with ongoing training and dog sports. Allow him to become bored and he’s likely to dig, escape, or chew to entertain himself. Note: The Samoyed should be kept on leash whenever he’s in public; he seldom can resist the lure of small, scurrying animals.
With his Nordic heritage, the Samoyed is a natural fit for cold climates, and he loves to play in the snow. Conversely, with his thick coat, he can be sensitive to heat. Do not allow him to exercise strenuously when it is extremely hot — limit high-level activity to early morning or evening when it’s cooler. During the heat of the day, keep your Sammy inside with fans or air conditioning.
You’ll need to take special care if you’re raising a Samoyed puppy. Like many large breed dogs, the Samoyed grows rapidly between the age of four and seven months, making them susceptible to bone disorders and injury. They do well on a high-quality, low-calorie diet that keeps them from growing too fast.
Additionally, don’t let your Samoyed puppy run and play on hard surfaces (such as pavement), jump excessively, or pull heavy loads until he is at least two years old and his joints are fully formed. Normal play on grass is fine, and so are puppy agility classes with one-inch high jumps.
Another important step in training a Samoyed puppy is socialization (the process by which puppies or adults dogs learn how to be friendly and get along with other dogs and people). Like any dog, he can become timid if he is not properly socialized and exposed to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences when he’s young. Formal puppy and obedience classes are also recommended to teach the Samoyed proper canine manners.
The Basics of Samoyed Grooming
The Samoyed’s thick double coat in white, white and biscuit, cream, or all biscuit stands out from the body as if surrounding the dog with a halo of hair. The undercoat, which is what protects the Sammy from the elements, is soft, short, thick and woolly. The outer coat is made up of harsh longer hair.
Brush the Samoyed’s coat at least once a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles and remove dead hairs that will otherwise wind up on your floor, furniture, and clothing. Expect to brush it daily during seasonal shedding periods. You’ll need a slicker brush, pin brush and metal Greyhound comb. Bathe the Sammie about every three months.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Introduce your Sammy to grooming at an early age so he will learn to accept it willingly.
Children and other pets
The Samoyed is deeply attached to his family, and this certainly includes children. A properly socialized Sammy truly enjoys the attention and company of youngsters if they are instructed on how to treat the dog with care and respect. Due to his size and strength, a Samoyed can easily knock over a small child without even being aware of what has happened, so a responsible adult should supervise all interactions between kids and canines.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
The even-tempered Samoyed also enjoys the company of other dogs. This is especially true if he has been raised with other dogs from an early age. (As in any breed, dogs of the same sex that have not been spayed or neutered may not be as tolerant of one another.)
Remember, though, that the Samoyed is hardwired to chase prey. For harmonious coexistence with cats and other animals in his household, training, socialization, and a proper introduction are essential. Following that, close supervision is advised.
Samoyeds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Samoyeds in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Samoyed rescue.
Did You Know?
You can save your Sammy’s hair from when you brush him and have it spun into yarn that can be knitted into a soft, warm cap, socks or scarf.
- Kaifas and Suggen, the lead dogs for Fridtjof Nansen’s North Pole expedition.
- Etah, the lead dog for Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole, the first to reach the pole.
- Samoyeds serve as the sled dogs of Stone Fox in the book of the same name.
- Xiah Junsu, member of South Korean boy band JYJ formerly from TVXQ, owns a Samoyed named Xiahky (which translates as “Raised by Xiah”).
- Mush was the name of the Samoyed dog owned by Karen Carpenter of the popular music group The Carpenters.
- Denis Leary owned a Samoyed named “Little Bastard”.
- Michelle Collins, star of British television soap operas EastEnders and Coronation Street owned a Samoyed called Jingle.
- Annabel Karmel (a British children’s cookbook author) owns a Samoyed called “Hamilton”.
- Sangchu is the name of the Samoyed in the 2012 Korean drama To The Beautiful You.
- King, the dog that appears in South Korean boy band EXO’s 19th teaser with Lay, Baekhyun and Chen, is a Samoyed.
- Johnny is the name of the Samoyed owned by Academy Award winning Actress Helen Hunt.
- Soichiro is the name of Kyoko Otanashi’s Samoyed in Maison Ikkoku.
A dream day in the life of a Samoyed
Playing in snow-covered fields with kids and adults, pulling sleds and keeping his human family warm is all in a day’s work for the Samoyed. This breed has a heart of gold and his true purpose in life is to simply be loved and help keep you warm with snuggles. As long as there are plenty of humans for the Samoyed to play with, this breed is a happy camper. Due to overheating tendencies, it’s best to keep the Samoyed clear of warm-weather climates.