The Samoyed is a fine example of an ancient working dog. His eye-arresting beauty and gentle, companionable nature, coupled with his unusual intelligence, demand the love and loyalty of his owner, which he will return a hundredfold.
The correct pronunciation of the breed's name is SAM-A-YED, with the accent on the last syllable. The Samoyede peoples of Northern Siberia's name were pronounced Sama-yedya. The English, and then the Americans dropped the last "e" from Samoyede, hoping to simplify the name, but ignoring the predispositions toward diphthongs. The dogs are also affectionately known as Sammies.
Hardy, vibrant and even-tempered, the Samoyed was originally used to hunt, herd reindeer, and haul sledges for the Samoyede people they served in northwestern Siberia. The Samoyede tribesmen were peaceful nomads, who manifested extraordinary love for their beautiful dogs, treating them as members of the family. Thus their dogs developed a love and understanding of humankind and an unfailing sense of trust and loyalty which are retained in the breed to this day. The temperament of the well-bred Samoyed is a reflection of the breed's beginning: brought up within the family, eating at the campfire, and snuggling in the beds. This dog is the ultimate companion, gentle with family members and happy to work. They remain the delightful playmates and faithful protectors of children.
Samoyeds were brought out of Siberia at the end of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century to pull sledges on Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. These valiant dogs endured terrible hardships serving man in his quest for the poles and only a few returned. In 1911, a Samoyed lead dog on Amundsen's trip to the South Pole was the first animal over the pole. Clearly, no toy or miniature version of the Samoyed breed could have performed those tasks. Only one breed is the powerful, gentle, magnificent Samoyed. A true working dog.
The breed's history seems contrary to the Samoyed today, for few people
captivated by the dog's long white coat, smiling face, and affection for
people can imagine it pulling a sled or herding reindeer. The Samoyed seems
more at home on a sofa than in harness, but in truth, he is happy in both
The Samoyed in America
Most of the Samoyed strains in England and the United States are descended from the veteran expedition sledge dogs. The first American Samoyed, a Russian import, was registered with the AKC in 1906, although most of the present day American Samoyeds trace their ancestry to dogs imported after the first World War.
Despite his Arctic heritage, the Samoyed has adapted well to the warmer
climates, and even tolerates the heat of Florida, Texas, and Southern California.
He can sleep outside, although he certainly prefers to sleep inside, and
needs to spend a significant part of each day being a beloved part of the
family, in the center of everything you do. We Samoyed fanciers find this
zealous participation in the whole of our lives to be their greatest asset.
For details please refer to the AKC Breed Standard, as composed, adopted, approved and protected by members of the Samoyed Club of America, Inc. and adopted by the American Kennel Club.
Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1906, the Samoyed is a member of the Working Group (although some fanciers think the breed could do equally well in the Herding Group.) The breed standard describes it as a medium-sized dog of moderate build, almost square, with the length slightly longer than the height. It is a double-coated breed, well suited for work in cold weather. The undercoat is short, soft, and thick. The guard coat is long and harsh with straight hairs standing straight out from the body. The Samoyed people combed the undercoat for use in yarns. Today, some spinners include Sammy hair in hats, sweaters, and scarves.
Although the original Samoyed dogs were of several colors, the standard calls for the coat to be white, cream, biscuit, or biscuit and white. All other colors are disqualifications. Most Samoyeds are white and many have biscuit markings on the ears and/or around the eyes.
The recommended size for a male Samoyed is 21" to 23-1/2" at the tip of the shoulder blade (withers), and for a female 19" to 21". A male in this height range weighs from 50 to 65 pounds and a female from 35 to 50 pounds.
His magnificent white, cream, or biscuit coat has two layers: a dense, wooly undercoat which is typically shed out once a year; and a silver-tipped harsh outer coat of long, straight guard hairs. Grooming this lovely coat can be a pleasure or a chore for both dog and human.
The eyes should be dark. The lips and eye rims are black. The nose may be black, liver, brown, or Dudley(flesh-colored.) Blue eyes are a disqualification.
The Samoyed should move at a trot with grace and dignity. His ground-consuming, steady pace is well-suited for herding reindeer over the tundra or pulling a sled to the South Pole. He has a deep chest, well-sprung ribs, strong loins, well-muscled rear, and a strong neck. Males should be masculine without aggressiveness; females feminine without appearing weak.
There are two disqualifications: Any color other than white, cream,
biscuit or combination thereof; Blue Eyes.
The Samoyed temperament is one of the breed's most highly prized qualities. They are "people dogs" and derive the happiness from being near their master. They do not make good yard dogs and often become prone to excessive barking when deprived of human companions. Samoyeds are excellent diggers and chewing may result from sheer boredom. Their nature is to be "talky." engaging in vocal communication with kennelmates and people. Their paws are frequently used to communicate their willingness to play or to be petted. This sort of "body language" is used to express themselves not only to human beings but to other dogs as well.
The Samoyed is keenly intelligent and friendly with other dogs. Even an adult male will sometimes care for a new puppy in the household. Some males live together, in complete harmony, for a lifetime and most seem to enjoy the company of other dogs. They are extremely sensitive to the moods of the household and react with obvious concern.
Samoyeds are active dogs. They are inquisitive, quick-witted, and mischievous, remaining playful through old age. With a twinkle in their dark, intelligent eyes and their ever present "Samoyed smile," they are truly dogs with Christmas in their hearts the whole year long.
Samoyeds are not a breed suitable for solitary confinement in the back
yard. Left without personal attention and companionship, a Samoyed is likely
to become a miserable, destructive problem dog. With love and nurturing,
he will enrich his owners' lives.
Feeding and Exercise
An 8 week old Samoyed puppy will need about ½ cup of kibble mixed
with warm water 3 times a day. A 2-3 month old puppy will need about 1
cup of kibble 3 times a day. As the puppy matures, cut to 2 meals a day
and feed the kibble dry. Depending on the amount of exercise your puppy
receives, his appetite will also increase. Be careful. It is far better
to keep him slightly underweight at this time than overweight. We highly
recommend giving a multivitamin daily throughout the life stages, but this
is not necessary. The foods today are well balanced and do not require
supplementation. However, the recommended daily ration listed on the bag
will usually exceed the amount needed to maintain a proper weight and we
feel supplementation is needed to compensate for this.
It is important to remember that dogs, like people, can have allergies to certain foods or ingredients. Two of the most prevalent allergies in dogs are wheat and corn. Recent nutritional research suggests that dog food based on lamb and rice carry the least possibilities of food allergies. Also, the absence of chemical preservatives is highly recommended. Table scraps are not recommended.
Clean water should be available to your puppy both indoors and outdoors at all times. We use stainless steel bowls for both food and water.
There are likely as many opinions on how to feed Samoyeds as there are breeders, owners, and pet food manufacturers. A good rule of thumb is to find out why the breeder recommends what he recommends. If it makes sense, continue with the breeder's program, graduating from puppy food to adult food at about one year of age. If a breeder cannot explain why he feeds as he does in a way that makes sense, further resolution of this issue should be made prior to purchase. Soliciting information from veterinarians and other breeders should help in this important decision.
Exercise also is a source of debate among breeders. It is generally agreed that, as fast-growing youngsters, Samoyeds can be susceptible to overexertion which puts stress and strain on joints and growing bones. When a puppy's muscle is strained, it may not support him as it would otherwise, causing excess wear and tear on other body parts. At the same time, it is important that a pup's muscles be exercised.
It is generally accepted that environmental factors, including nutrition,
influence a pup's development. Sliding repeatedly on a slippery wood or
vinyl floor may bring about disastrous results for an active puppy, as
can too much standing on the rear legs. These situations should be carefully
avoided. Some puppies demonstrate tremendous athletic abilities and want
to leap on and off everything in sight. Avoid allowing this.
Puppies need to potty after each nap, each meal, and after playtime. Most will give signs of searching for a place to go. Another idea is to take him out at each commercial. This all seems like a lot of work, but the puppy will pick up the idea pretty quickly. It does little good to rant and rave and stick the pups nose in the mess. Praise him a lot when he is a good boy outside.
If your puppy is to be left in your house alone, we recommend a cage.
This is for your pet's safety and the safety of your other prized possessions.
Puppies do chew, so remember, the cost of a crate is small in comparison
to the cost of a good pair of shoes or your carpet. Make sure to have safe
chew items available for the puppy. A cage will also help to housebreak
Grooming and Caring For Your Samoyed
Samoyeds do shed and the loose hairs can be easily removed from clothing with a lint brush. A daily brushing/weekly grooming, appreciated by the dog, also helps to reduce the amount of loose hair about the home. We use a pin brush with "extra long" pins and a metal comb. Brushing will remove most dirt and combing pulls out mats from the undercoat. Completely comb out before and after a bath so your dog will not mat. Baths should be given as needed. Be sure to rinse well. Nails should be clipped when you can hear them clicking on a hard floor or sooner. Flea dips/products should be used as directed by your vet. Remember, It is easier to groom your dog if it is trained to lay on its side.
Their white coats belie how easily they may be kept clean. Frequent and thorough brushing, at least weekly, is a necessity. Mature males shed profusly, usually once a year. Females shed twice yearly approximately 4 months after their estrus. Particular care is necessary in keeping the dog well brushed during this time. Shedding frequently produces matting, especially in the heavily coated areas over the back, under the tail, and around the neck. The Samoyed coat is odor free when dry, but can pick up undesirable odors from other sources. When wet, the coat smells like damp wool. Frequent bathing is unnecessary if sufficient care is taken in maintaining a regular brushing routine. The coat can be cleaned quite well by the use of grooming powder or chalk. The powder is worked into a dry, or barely damp, coat and carefully removed by brushing. Incidence of bathing is influenced by coat texture, with some lines having coats that almost never require baths. Samoyeds are not immune to the usual "hot spots" seen in the heavily coated breeds. Often persons who are allergic to other breeds are able to tolerate the Samoyed. Their coat combings may be spun into yarn and knit or woven into garmets.
Samoyeds are not high heat/humidity-tolerant dogs, though many live
in warm climates about the United States. Avoid situations in which the
dog may become overheated. Make certain your Samoyed has adequate ventilation
for their panting/natural cooling, a cool place to get through the hottest
parts of the day, plenty of fresh water, shade and/or cover, and air conditioning/fan
where necessary. Most owners report their dogs seek either air-conditioned
quarters, or subterranean coolness. If a hole-free yard is important, create
an approved digging area for the dog. Burying "treasures" like a beef shin
bone, and other items the dog likes in this area will encourage him to
dig there and not elsewhere.
The average life span is approximately 10 to 12 years, although today's
better nutrition and care frequently extend their life to 15 or more years of
age. Older Samoyeds tend toward obesity and should be diet-controlled to
produce less strain on older hearts and other organs. Benign skin tumors
and sebaceous cysts are occasionally seen. Kidney disease has been found
in older males. Malignancies may occur in older dogs of both sexes and
Arthritis is not uncommon. The aging Samoyed is one of the finest of all
canine companions. The relationship developed between man and Samoyed through
the years of association is a gentle, comfortable, and very strong bond
of mutual love and understanding which is beautiful to behold. The greatest
gift the master of a Samoyed can give to his dog is the privilege of spending
his declining years at his master's side. The Samoyed earns such reward
by a lifetime of intense and faithful devotion.
An untrained Samoyed, no matter how sweet the disposition, can be a problem dog. Basic obedience/house-training is a necessity.
Keep a supply of "cookie" treats handy. When the puppy does what you want, it gets a cookie. Corrections can be handled by gentle shaking the pup by the back of the neck and firmly saying "No". If you have no experience in lead breaking a puppy, a training class is helpful. Remember, a puppy grows up, and a dog that pulls on the other end of the leash is no fun. Most important of all is to be consistent.
It is recommended that puppies attend a puppy kindergarten/socialization class where owners are taught how to establish a working relationship with their dogs, and puppies receive important socialization with people and other dogs. Samoyeds and their owners benefit from obedience classes at least through the pup's first year of life. Samoyeds generally want to please a fair and consistent owner and are very trainable with voice commands. Harsh training methods are not necessary with a properly bred Samoyed. To find obedience instructors, ask the breeder or a local veterinarian. Many local kennel clubs offer public classes. Another source of instructors is the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors which routinely advertises in dog publications.
Samoyeds can be very vocal, in part due to their unusual intelligence.
They should be taught the meaning of Quiet and Settle for their owners'
and neighbors' benefit.
Always weigh your dog before taking it to the vet. Sammies look much heavier than they really are, and it is very easy to overdose them. They are very sensitive to anesthetics and tranquilizers. Please stress this point with your vet.
Hip dysplasia, a progressive degenerative joint disease, plagues all large breeds. Hip dysplasia ranges from very mild cases with no apparent ill effects to crippling cases severe enough to require euthanasia. There is a genetic (thus inherited) component to the cause. Environmental factors may contribute greatly to manifestation of symptoms and absence of symptoms if not absence of the disease. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) serves as an evaluator/registry of dogs' hip conformation. Dogs over the age of two may be radiographed by a veterinarian, who submits the x-ray and the proper form to OFA. Radiographs are evaluated by three board certified radiologists. Dogs who are evaluated free of hip dysplasia are issued a number and letter rating E (excellent), G (good), F (fair). This number may be supplied to buyers by breeders as a reference to the hip status of an individual pup's lineage. Dogs whose hips do not pass, receive no number, but owners are issued a report stating the degree of hip dysplasia to be borderline, mild, moderate, or severe.
Similarly, the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) maintains a registry of Samoyeds and other breeds whose eyes have been examined and certified by CERF-certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists. Progressive Retinal Atrophy, PRA, is an inherited characteristic wherein the eye's retina loses its sensitivity to light over time. Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists examine for the presence or absence of this eye anomaly and many others. The examination takes just 20 minutes and is painless for the Samoyed. Often, there are eye clinics at dog shows by Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists at minimal costs. Many breeders insist on this certification testing as they've tested their stock.
Many breeders are benefitting from recent research indicating the need for Thyroid testing and evaluation of their Samoyeds. Under-active (Hypo-) and over-active (Hyper-thyroidism) can manifest itself in many ways involving the immune system, the endocrine system, and the digestive system. It's a simple blood test and should be considered whenever symptoms indicate. The importance of this test is gaining recognition in many breeds.
The Samoyed is a double-coated breed and can be subject to flea and
tick allergies and hot spots. Regular grooming, appropriate insect control
programs, and good animal husbandry practices will avoid these problems.
Breeders may have their
dogs screened by a veterinarian for particular disorders and the individual's
status may be reported to any of several registries.
OFA - Orthopedic Foundation For Animals.
Requires x-rays taken of hips and elbows by a veterinarian and sent to OFA. The standard OFA certification number format for Samoyed hips is SA-1234E24M where:
SA indicates "Samoyed"
1234 indicates that this is the 1,234'th Samoyed to be registered by the OFA as free of hip dysplasia.
E indicates the hips were rated as Excellent. Good (G) and Fair (F) would also be clear of hip dysplasia.
24 indicates the age in months of the Samoyed when the hips were x-rayed.
M indicates the Samoyed's sex, i.e. Male (M) or Female (F).
For example the number SA-1234G25F-T would indicate a Samoyed who was the 1,234 Samoyed registered by the OFA as free of hip dysplasia x-rayed, rated by OFA as "good" at 25 months of age, and was a female. The "T" suffix on the number used to stand for "tattooed", now it is used to show that the animal is permanently identified. This identification may be in the form of a tattoo, microchip, or DNA profile. X-rays taken when the dog is between 6 and 23 months old can be sent to OFA for a preliminary evaluation. To be assigned an OFA number, the dog must be 24 months of age or older.
OFA Elbow Registry
OFA Hip Registry
Reducing the Frequency of Hip Dysplasia: A Progress Update
Dr. Corley, 2300 Nifong Blvd, Columbia, MO 65211, (314)442-0418.
Web site "http://www.offa.org"
CERF - Canine Eye Registration Foundation
Requires an eye exam by a certified veterinary opthalmologist associated with CERF. Free brochures available.
Canine Eye Registration Foundation
1717 S. Philo Road, Suite 15
P.O. Box 3007
Urbana, IL 61803-3007, (217)693-4800
web site "http://www.vmdb.org/cerf.html"
Show or Pet Quality
The AKC's Samoyed Breed Standard is a written description of the breed by which dogs are judged at shows and it includes only two physical DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: Any coat color other than white, cream, biscuit or combination thereof and blue eyes.
Breeders' criteria for show/pet puppies will vary significantly, depending upon their goals and gene-pools. The conformation requirements (skeletal and muscular build) for show prospects vary from breeder to breeder. Some sell any pup who is up on all fours as a show prospect. Others test, prove their stock at great expense in conformation/obedience/herding trials, certify the parents, and have significant records about all dogs in the pedigrees. These efforts are costly, to the breeder. Some place importance on titles in pedigrees, while others do not exhibit their dogs at shows for a variety of reasons.
As individuals, some Samoyed puppies are better suited to some endeavors than others. A buyer's goals should be made clear to breeders, clearly communicated both ways.
The buyer's best aide in puppy and breeder selection is education. A
good way to start is by asking individual breeders to recommend books and
videotapes. All breeders interested in their puppies' welfare and in the
breed's welfare should be willing to help any way they can.
Bred for centuries to be instinctively loyal to his people, the Samoyed is an excellent breed choice for families willing to commit to responsible ownership of an active, intelligent, working breed. Those desiring an independent, aloof pet should not consider the Samoyed, as a Samoyed's favorite resting place is where his people are!
Samoyeds are very versatile dogs. Samoyeds are one of very few non-AKC-Herding-Group
breeds eligible for training and competition in AKC Herding Trials. Samoyeds have achieved the highest Obedience titles under expert trainers. Samoyeds have earned OWS certifications in sledding, back-packing, skijoring, weight pulls, and therapy dog activities. Samoyeds have assisted humans to reach both poles of the planet and continue to enrich the lives of their owners today. They are great alert dogs, but not good watchdogs as they love humans.
The following is a suggested list of supplies you may want to purchase for your puppy.
1. Good premium dog food (Iams,
Eagle, Nutro Max, Pro Plan, Eukanuba)
2. Multivitamin (Pet Tabs Plus, Canine Plus)
3. Hex or jewel link choke collar
4. 6 foot leather (preferred over nylon) training leash
5. Stainless steel bowls for food and water
6. Pin brush with extra long stainless steel pins with rounded points (Not a slicker brush)
7. Long tooth comb (#1 All Systems, Chris Christensen, Hindes, P.S.I., and Lambert Kay make good Quality combs
8. Pet nail clippers
9. An excellent book on Sammies is "The Complete Samoyed" by Robert and Dolly Ward.
10. A sturdy collapsible cage is useful in housebreaking and when traveling with your dog.
11. High velocity dryer (Metro, K-9, Challenger)