The Samoyed is a breed of medium-sized herding dogs with thick, white, double-layer coats. They are a spitz-type dog which takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. Descending from the Nenets Herding Laika, they are a domesticated animal that assists in herding, hunting, protection and sled-pulling. Samoyed dogs are most often white, and can have a brown tint to their double-layer coat which is naturally dirt repellent. They are known to be used in expeditions in both Arctic and Antarctic regions and have a friendly and agreeable disposition.
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.
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
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 LevelHigh FriendlinessHigh Kid-FriendlyHigh Pet-FriendlyHigh Exercise NeedsHigh PlayfulnessHigh Energy LevelHighTrainabilityMedium IntelligenceMedium Tendency to BarkMedium Amount of SheddingHigh
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
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.
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:
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 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.
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